The Los Angeles Chargers will look like a much different team in 2020 as head coach Anthony Lynn enters his fourth year at the helm. Long-time quarterback Phillip Rivers has departed to Indianapolis as a free agent, and former Pro Bowl running back Melvin Gordon is now with the rival Denver Broncos. The team will look to use the 2020 NFL Draft to replace those significant needs and get back to the NFL Playoffs after missing the postseason in 2019. And this updated Chargers 2020 7-round mock draft would help them accomplish that goal.
As of right now, the 2019 backup and former Buffalo starter Tyrod Taylor will open the season as the primary signal-caller for the Chargers. The 2020 season will be Taylor’s tenth in the league, so the team will likely lean on his experience and grit early on. He has playoff experience and could help mentor a young quarterback as the team looks to stay competitive in the AFC West with the Super Bowl-winning Kansas City Chiefs.
Team Needs: QB, OT, CB, OG, RB
Despite the presence of Taylor, the most significant need for the Chargers entering the 2020 NFL Draft remains the quarterback position. The team needs a new face to this proud franchise, and they could look to grab one as early as the first round. There are some great options early in this draft, so it would be wise for Los Angeles to act quickly to get their future starter behind center.
In addition to the quarterback, the team will also need to find a suitable downhill complement to 2020 breakout running back, Austin Ekeler. The former change-of-pace back took over the reins last season and looked like a real star in the backfield. Los Angeles will also need to look for help at offensive tackle, as former blindside protector Russell Okung is gone. Depth is also required on the interior of the offensive and defensive lines, as well as in the secondary.
Round 1, Pick 6: Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
This pick may be a surprise to some, as fans and draft analysts have earmarked Tua Tagovailoa to the Miami Dolphins since the start of the 2019 season. However, with recent rumblings about Miami’s continued interest in the Oregon triggerman, Justin Herbert, the marriage between Tagovailoa and the Chargers may not be so far-fetched. The former Alabama star would be a great fit as a young leader for this Chargers’ team.
Tagovailoa’s injury-history may be scary to some inside the NFL, but reports have been positive recently, and the value here at number six may be too great to pass up. This move will keep Tua and his family relatively close to home, and he is a guy that this fan base can get behind. The situation could not be better for Tua, as he can also sit behind the veteran Taylor until he is 100% ready to play and cease control of this team in Los Angeles.
Round 2, Pick 37: Lucas Niang, OT, TCU
As previously mentioned, the team will be in the market for some offensive line help, and particularly at the tackle position. The team lost their 2019 left tackle, Okung, in a trade to the Carolina Panthers this offseason and could use an upgrade over the incumbent, Trent Scott. Los Angeles signed former Green Bay starter Bryan Bulaga this offseason, who should step in and start at the right tackle spot right away.
Niang is another prospect that has injury concerns, which leads to a discount here with the 37th pick. However, he is extremely long and even agile for his size, plus he has experience at both tackle spots. He is a more natural fit on the left side but would give the team flexibility with their new left-handed quarterback, Tagovailoa. Niang has all the tools to be one of the better tackle prospects drafted here and could end up being a great value pick for the Chargers.
Round 3, Pick 71: Bryce Hall, CB, Virginia
The Chargers added a big piece to their secondary this offseason with the signing of former Denver slot specialist, Chris Harris. The playmaking cornerback has insisted he can play outside as well as the slot, so that gives the team some excellent versatility. The team also re-signed Michael Davis to a one-year deal and still have Pro Bowl returner and slot man Desmond King as an option at one of the corner spots.
If Los Angeles decides to add some size to the perimeter this offseason, Hall is a player that could intrigue them. He was thought of as a potential first-rounder early in the season, but he did not record any interceptions before suffering a season-ending injury after six games. Hall is not an elite athlete, but the talented cover man has excellent size with long arms and deflected 21 passes in 2018. He would be a substantial addition to the Chargers’ secondary at this point in the draft.
Round 4, Pick 112: Cam Akers, RB, Florida State
As I mentioned before, Los Angeles lost Gordon to free agency and could be looking to add a talented complement to the speedy starter Ekeler. Akers was a do-it-all back for the Seminoles and a significant contributor since his true freshman season. At 5’10”, 217lbs, he has the perfect size for an NFL running back and runs extremely hard.
Akers also displays some excellent hands and run after the catch ability, which will be an added value for the Chargers. He also has a knack for finding the end zone and would immediately slot in as the short-yardage and goal-line back for this team. Take a look below at each of the 18 touchdowns that Akers scored for the Seminoles last season.
Watch every Cam Akers touchdown for Florida State from the 2019 season. pic.twitter.com/OKBYvHqApG
— James Simpson (@JS_Football) April 9, 2020
Gordon was a tremendous asset in the red zone and on passing plays in recent years, so Akers will look to replace some of that production in 2020.
Round 5, Pick 151: Jonah Jackson, OG, Ohio State
The Chargers have struggled to find offensive line help through the draft in recent years, failing on early-round picks like Dan Feeney and Forrest Lamp. The team attempted to fix this issue by acquiring Pro Bowl guard Trai Turner in the Okung trade with the Panthers. Turner should help solidify the interior of this line next to pivot man Mike Pouncey.
However, Los Angeles will take another crack at drafting a guard here with the versatile guard from OSU, Jonah Jackson. The Buckeyes’ offensive line did a great job protecting new quarterback Justin Fields during his Heisman run last season, and Jackson was a big part of that. He is an excellent pass blocker with quick feet and offers the exceptional pulling ability. Jackson should compete to start from day one in this offense.
Round 6, Pick 186: McTelvin Agim, DT, Arkansas
The Chargers boast one of the most formidable defensive fronts in the league, due to star pass-rushing duo Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram. However, the team released defensive tackle Brandon Mebane, who had been with the team for the past four years. Los Angeles did add long-time Minnesota DT Linval Joseph to the mix, and he should provide a steady veteran presence upfront to replace Mebane.
Los Angeles could stand to add some depth to their defensive front seven and in the middle of their defensive line. Agim has a lot of natural raw ability from the tackle position, as he is swift and explosive getting into the backfield. The former defensive end will need to get stronger to challenge as a starter, but he has some excellent tools to work with for this Chargers’ defensive unit.
Round 7, Pick 220: Isaiah Coulter, WR, Rhode Island
Keenan Allen has been an absolute stud for this team since he was drafted in the third round back in 2013. The Chargers also have Mike Williams, who seems to be improving each year and gives them a talented and powerful complement outside. However, another loss for this team in the offseason was deep threat, Travis Benjamin. Los Angeles does have some other young receivers, but none with the explosive speed that Benjamin provided.
Coulter was part of a prolific receiving duo last season at Rhode Island, along with Aaron Parker. I’ve previously discussed Parker as a great jump-ball, possession receiver. Parker was the speed threat for the Rams in 2019 and could be the perfect replacement for Benjamin on the Chargers. This addition also gives their young quarterback an exciting new weapon to grow within the offense and find success early in their careers.