The Los Angeles Chargers are gearing up for their big move to the brand new SoFi stadium at Hollywood Park. Just last week, they released their updated uniforms, which are absolutely amazing, and early in the 2020 NFL Draft, they selected their franchise quarterback of the future in Justin Herbert.
It will be interesting to see how life after Philip Rivers will go for the Chargers, as it will be the first season since 2004 where the team didn’t have the eight-time Pro Bowler on the roster. They’re coming off an abysmal 5-11 season, so I am sure head coach Anthony Lynn is feeling his seat getting warmer and warmer.
The Chargers clearly need to weigh when to turn the keys over from Tyrod Taylor to Justin Herbert. The team thinks very highly of Taylor, so he might just be the starter for the 2020 season. Despite that, the team’s primary goal will be putting Justin Herbert in the best position to succeed.
One thing is certain: The Chargers’ division got a lot tougher after draft weekend. The Super Bowl-winning Kansas City Chiefs got better, as they added the talented LSU running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who should add another dimension to their star-studded offense.
The Denver Broncos added a plethora of dynamic weapons for quarterback Drew Lock, including the sensational Jerry Jeudy, the electric KJ Hamler, and the athletic Albert Okwuegbunam. So, did the Chargers get better this weekend? Let’s take a look at how Chargers’ general manager Tom Telesco’s 2020 NFL Draft class grades out.
Who did the Los Angeles Chargers draft?
- Round 1, No. 6 overall: Justin Herbert, QB Oregon
- Round 1, No. 23 overall: Kenneth Murray, LB Oklahoma
- Round 4, No. 112 overall: Joshua Kelly, RB UCLA
- Round 5, No. 151 overall: Joe Reed, WR Virginia
- Round 6, No. 186 overall: Alohi Gilman, S Notre Dame
- Round 7, No. 220 overall: K.J. Hill, WR Ohio State
Best Player: Justin Herbert
Leading up to the draft, there was much discussion about whether the Chargers preferred Tua Tagovailoa or Justin Herbert. Well, the Dolphins made the choice easy for them and the Chargers ended up with Herbert. Herbert has his detractors, but he an athletic player with an absolute hose for an arm. The Chargers would be wise to let Herbert be the understudy of Taylor for the 2020 season, but something tells me that Herbert will see significant playing time by the end of the year.
Best Value: K.J. Hill
Many in the draft community had a third-round grade on the talented slot receiver from Ohio State, so selecting him in the seventh round is a tremendous value. Hill is a quick and shifty receiver who should develop into a quality player at the next level.
Biggest Reach: Joe Reed
Giving that the Chargers only had six draft picks and drafted quality players with those picks, this is not an easy decision. Out of the players the chargers selected, the lowest-rated on my big board was wide receiver, Joe Reed. He is not a bad player, but Los Angeles was able to grab a better player at the same position two rounds later.
Biggest Sleeper: Joshua Kelley
Despite re-signing Austin Ekeler, the Chargers had a big hole at running back due to the departure of Melvin Gordon. Joshua Kelley is a great north-and-south runner, possessing impressive quickness and outstanding vision. He was a gem at the 2020 Reese’s Senior Bowl and should be able to win significant carries in 2020.
Draft Grade: C+
While the Chargers did walk away from this draft with their quarterback of the future and an outstanding linebacker, the draft class only produced one immediate starter in Kenneth Murray. The rest of their picks seem like role players and depth guys.
My biggest question from the Chargers’ draft class is, why did the team completely ignore their biggest need, which is left tackle? Just who will be protecting Taylor’s blindside in 2020? They did sign Bryan Bulaga in the offseason, but he has been a right tackle his entire career, so I don’t see moving him to the left side as a viable option.
Can Justin Herbert become the Chargers’ franchise QB?
While Herbert is a tremendous prospect, the drop-off from Tagovailoa is quite significant. The question I have is – does Justin Herbert energize the Chargers fan base as they move into their new home? The answer to that question remains to be seen, but good luck selling tickets in 2020.
Landing Herbert with the sixth pick was a good move by Telesco, but not finding a left tackle in a talented 2020 group is cause for concern.