The Los Angeles Chargers continue to look like a team on the rise going into the 2019 NFL season. With the selections below, you can see the direction I believe the team will be taking in the 2019 NFL Draft as they attempt to build on their second place AFC West finish in 2018.
The 2019 NFL Draft will give the Los Angeles Chargers a good opportunity to build their team as they look towards making a Super Bowl run in 2019. The team owns seven selections in next month’s draft. Highlighted below are a few players that could pique their interest.
Round 1, Pick 28: Christian Wilkins, DT Clemson
The Chargers could go in a few directions with the 28th pick, including a trade up for a successor at quarterback. For this mock draft, I have them staying put and selecting the former Clemson Tiger Christian Wilkins. Wilkins is a smart and explosive penetrator in the mold of current Chargers defensive tackle Brandon Mebane. The team dipped into the Atlantic Coast Conference talent pool in 2018 and hit a home run with Derwin James. I believe they will do the same here with Wilkins. Depth is needed with the potential loss of Corey Liuget to Free Agency. So Wilkins should step into a significant role right away.
Round 2, Pick 60: Chris Lindstrom, OG Boston College
Los Angeles turns back to the ACC talent pool again here with this pick. Offensive guard has long been a trouble spot for the Chargers. The team has spent premium draft picks on players such as Dan Feeney and Forrest Lamp in recent years, but are still without an answer at either spot. Feeney has been inconsistent early in his career, while Lamp has only appeared in two games in two seasons. Lindstrom is a bulldozer at the guard position and would help solidify the protection as Phillip Rivers reaches the twilight of his career.
Round 3, Pick 91: Will Grier, QB West Virginia
The Chargers finally land their successor to Philip Rivers here in the 3rd Round of the draft with the selection of West Virginia quarterback Will Grier. Grier is a fiery competitor that can make all the throws. He also has enough mobility to make him a threat on the run. Grier is a former transfer from Florida who has dealt with some off-the-field trouble. Luckily, he lands in the perfect situation to sit behind a future Hall of Famer in Rivers. Grier gets a great mentor and time to hone his skills in Los Angeles. Rivers likely has another two to three years of solid production, but is likely on the back end of his career and could give way to Grier sooner than later.
Round 4, Pick 130: DaMarkus Lodge, WR Mississippi
The Chargers look to add another playmaker for Phillip Rivers here in the fourth round. Lodge is the less-heralded of the Mississippi trio but is a very talented and productive receiver in his own right. Lodge is coming off a senior season in which he racked up 877 receiving yards and four touchdowns. He would slot in nicely next to Keenan Allen and former first-round rounder Mike Williams.
Round 5, Pick 166: Chuma Edoga, OT USC
The overhaul of the offensive line continues here with the selection of Edoga. The University of Southern California continues to produce solid NFL lineman and the Chargers could use some depth at the position. Offensive tackle Russell Okung is entering his tenth season but continues to be a solid blindside protector. Edoga is a big tackle prospect with long arms that projects to the blindside in the NFL. At this point in the draft, Edoga’s upside would present an excellent value selection for Los Angeles in the fifth round of the draft.
Round 6, Pick 200: Jalen Jelks, EDGE Oregon
The ability to rush the passer is not a weakness of the Chargers, as they boast two of the best in Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa. However, depth is needed in this area, and that is where the selection of Jalen Jelks comes in. Jelks is another long Oregon edge rusher in the mold of a Dion Jordan or DeForest Buckner. He is not as explosive an athlete as those two, which shows on tape and will likely affect his draft spot. Jelks was a productive, three-year starter for the Ducks but may struggle to find a true position in the NFL. He may have to settle in as a situational rusher on obvious passing downs.
Round 7, Pick 242: Caleb Wilson, TE UCLA
This selection continues a streak of three straight Pac-12 players drafted by Los Angeles. Wilson is a big, athletic tight end who seemed to impress NFL personnel at the NFL Combine. This pick will provide some insurance for the Chargers for Hunter Henry. Henry continues to work himself back from the torn ACL he suffered during minicamp last season. Wilson is a good athlete but does not boast the most reliable hands. He will also struggle as a blocker right away. These deficiencies could force him down the draft quite a bit into the later rounds.