Chargers Mock Draft 2021: Is offensive line the way to go?

The Los Angeles Chargers are a team blessed with talent. With stars like Joey Bosa, Keenan Allen, and Derwin James, this team could be competitive next year if they can fill out the rest of their needs. Still, young upstart quarterback Justin Herbert is back at the helm for a hopefully impressive sophomore season, and the Chargers will build around him through the NFL Draft. Now, the Chargers also have needs on both sides of the ball. In this 7-Round Chargers 2021 Mock Draft, they try to round out the roster and make the playoffs in 2021.

Los Angeles Chargers Post-Free Agency 7-Round 2021 Mock Draft

  • Round 1, Pick 13: Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech
  • Round 2, Pick 47: Kelvin Joseph, CB, Kentucky
  • Round 3, Pick 77: Hamsah Nasirildeen, S, Florida State
  • Round 3, Pick 97: D’Wayne Eskridge, WR, Western Michigan
  • Round 4, Pick 118: Robert Hainsey, OL, Notre Dame
  • Round 5, Pick 159: Tre’ McKitty, TE, Georgia
  • Round 6, Pick 185: Jaret Patterson, RB, Buffalo
  • Round 6, Pick 198: Jordon Scott, IDL, Oregon
  • Round 7, Pick 241: Jason Pinnock, CB, Pittsburgh

Chargers 2021 Mock Draft | Pick-by-pick analysis

Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech

The Chargers’ two biggest needs are cornerback and offensive tackle. However, protecting Herbert certainly has to be at the top of the priority list. Over the last few seasons, Los Angeles’ offensive line has done them in badly.

Now, Bryan Bulaga is not always healthy, and no one inspires confidence on the other side. Thus, a first-round tackle, especially in this absurd tackle class, has its merits. In addition, with so many cornerback needy teams in front of them, the value makes more sense for tackle, too.

Thus, when Christian Darrisaw is on the board at 13 in this 7-Round 2021 Mock Draft, the Chargers need to run the card in as fast as they can. Boasting fantastic athletic tools and a serious mean streak, Darrisaw can clear the entire way for running backs.

The biggest key for Darrisaw is his improvement over his three years in Blacksburg. Of course, Darrisaw came into college with great athletic tools but raw with his technique. This year, he showcased how advanced he can be mixing up his sets and changing his style based on different pass-rushing styles he encounters.

For what it’s worth, Darrisaw is the furthest thing from a finished product. The balance, strength, and footwork are all fantastic. On top of that, his hand usage is only improving as he continues to work. Still, his inconsistent placement and timing with his punches can lead to him becoming too top-heavy at times.

Nevertheless, with Joe Lombardi’s zone scheme and Darrisaw’s apparent upside, this is a natural pick. He is a natural plug-and-play starter for the foreseeable future in Los Angeles in this scenario.

Kelvin Joseph, CB, Kentucky

As mentioned above, the Chargers need a cornerback badly. Similar to the tackle class, cornerback is deep. There will be guys on Day 2 that the Chargers can be comfortable with plugging in and starting from Day 1. As a result, they take advantage of it and grab Kelvin Joseph in the second round.

Joseph, in particular, is a guy who fits what the Chargers need at the position. After the release of Casey Hayward, they need a potential shutdown boundary cornerback who can be a playmaker.

When Joseph plays his best football, that is him. Of course, his inconsistency is why he is not a first-round pick at this juncture. Joseph’s length and aggressiveness at the catch point are two great traits to have. He even moved around the Wildcats’ secondary a bit. There were times when Joseph would play at dime backer or shadow the opposing team’s top target, which is indicative of Joseph’s talent level.

He lacks mental polish and is still inexperienced. Most of all, it is that inexperience that will give Joseph a few hiccups early on in his career. However, this is a guy that Brandon Staley should be willing to ride out the turbulence with in his rookie season. Joseph’s ceiling is that of a top-10 cornerback, and that is why the Chargers take a swing on him here.

Hamsah Nasirildeen, S, Florida State

An underrated need for the Chargers after losing Rayshawn Jenkins, they will need safety help. James has not shown the ability to stay healthy, and Nasir Adderley has been both injured and inconsistent. Those two as a duo could be dynamite, but there are too many question marks.

If the value is right early enough in the 2021 NFL Draft, taking a safety early is not out of the cards for Los Angeles. That becomes especially true when a guy like Hamsah Nasirildeen falls to their first third-round pick.

Nasirildeen is a positionless player. With experience in the slot, as a dime backer, and at both safety spots, you can use him wherever you want in the secondary.

This is the type of guy that the Chargers can relish because it gets them quality depth across the board. And in today’s NFL, you can never have enough versatility on the back end. Nasirildeen has the range to work as a deep safety and the fluidity to cover in man coverage. So, this is a welcome addition for the Chargers.

D’Wayne Eskridge, WR, Western Michigan

Another need the Chargers clearly have is at wide receiver. While Jalen Guyton certainly is promising, there is a need for another steady, dynamic target in the offense.

Specifically, the Chargers do not really have a guy who can create after the catch. So, adding in D’Wayne Eskridge can get them a speedy deep threat and someone who can be dynamic on those manufactured touches. It is something that the Chargers have lacked in recent years.

Eskridge has the ability to be a terrific return man. His work in the slot and over the middle of the field could open up Los Angeles’ offense. It would leave all the intermediate stuff open for Allen to eat underneath as well. Overall, this fit makes a lot of sense for both sides.

Robert Hainsey, OL, Notre Dame

The other big need the Chargers still have on the offensive line is guard. Matt Feiler should fill in one spot nicely, but they still lack another guard opposite of him. Oday Aboushi is quality depth and could start in a pinch, but he might not be the guy you want as the full-time starter there.

In this Chargers 7-Round 2021 Mock Draft, enter Notre Dame product Robert Hainsey, who started over 30 games along the Fighting Irish offensive line. That experience should make him relatively pro-ready and allow him to play early in his career.

Hainsey can play all five positions along the offensive line. With his athletic gifts, Hainsey should fit well into Joe Lombardi’s zone scheme at guard. His delightful hip mobility and angles in space make him ideal for the zone-running scheme he’d walk into. On top of it, they get a ton of versatility all across the offensive line, which never hurts.

Tre’ McKitty, TE, Georgia

After losing Hunter Henry to New England, tight end suddenly becomes a need for the Chargers. They did sign Jared Cook, and Donald Parham is still there, too. Cook should be the incumbent starter and do a fine job in that role, but he isn’t getting any younger. Additionally, tight ends notoriously take multiple years to get up to speed. Even with this in mind, they can afford to wait for value despite this being a limited TE class.

Tre’ McKitty will give them a pick with some upside still as a receiver. As a blocker, McKitty should be one of the best, if not the best, on the roster right now. Even for the Chargers’ high-octane offense, that is always a valued tool. McKitty’s performance at the Senior Bowl proved he had a little more to show as a receiver than just what he showed on tape. He can be a “move” tight end and be a mismatch in a few years if he polishes up his routes.

Jaret Patterson, RB, Buffalo

Running back is another one of those positions the Chargers could address earlier if the value is right. Of course, it should be on the backburner with Austin Ekeler and Joshua Kelley there. A late-round guy to add more to the committee and be a piece of the rotation will do.

An uber-productive running back in Jaret Patterson can bring just what the doctor ordered to the Chargers’ backfield. With production and record-setting performances, Patterson is rightfully highly-regarded out of the MAC.

Patterson has phenomenal vision. He is certainly tiny, and that will hold him back to a degree. However, there are not many guys at his size that have the contact balance, physicality, and quickness to work within the tackles.

Patterson is one of the guys that can bang around the bigger guys because he has a compact frame. To take his game to the next level, Patterson needs to develop as a receiver. The Chargers can certainly develop that aspect of his game nicely.

Jordon Scott, IDL, Oregon

Another need that is more for the future than right now. The Chargers have nice pieces on the interior of their defensive line, but Linval Joseph is not getting any younger at nose tackle. While Joseph likely has more quality years in himself, the search for the heir (or at the very least some insurance depth) should start now. Thus, Jordon Scott is a welcome piece for the Chargers in this 7-Round 2021 Mock Draft to potentially find Joseph’s successor.

Scott is a burly, stout run defender at the point of attack. With ample pop in his hands and pads, Scott proved to be a tremendous run defender for the Ducks. While he does not have a lot of explosiveness or offer much in the way of pass-rush ability, Scott’s run-stopping ability is still a valuable tool in the base defense.

Jason Pinnock, CB, Pittsburgh

Doubling down on cornerback makes sense for the Chargers. There is a significant depth void they must fill on top of a starting position. Enter in Jason Pinnock, who tested out of the gym at Pittsburgh’s Pro Day last month.

Pinnock boasts impressive explosiveness and football IQ for the position. He has lots of experience working on an island and in man coverage in the Panthers’ quarters scheme. So, it should be a natural transition to a scheme like Staley’s, which utilizes lots of two-high shells along with quarters.

Pinnock’s athletic tools give him starting upside if he can learn to clean up the rough edges of his game — mainly getting his head around at the catch point and learning to stay attached in that hip pocket as he makes his transitions. This guy gave up many deep balls not because he was smoked off the line of scrimmage but because of subtleties. Mastering those will make or break his NFL outlook.

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