History of Los Angeles Chargers First-Round NFL Draft Picks All Time

From Los Angeles to San Diego and back to L.A., the Chargers have always managed to find talent with their first-round picks. Here's their full Round 1 history.

For the better part of their history, the Los Angeles Chargers have been a competitive football team, and a flourishing record of first-round NFL Draft picks has a lot to do with that. The Chargers have experienced their ups and downs in Round 1, but overall, they’ve gathered the necessary talent to set a strong foundation generation after generation.

Los Angeles Chargers First-Round Draft Picks Throughout History

The Chargers have one of the more intriguing team histories when it comes to first-round picks in the NFL Draft. Despite being around since 1961, the Chargers have only picked three future Hall of Famers in Round 1 and didn’t select their first one until 1979.

From 1994 to 2000, the Chargers only had one total first-round pick: Quarterback Ryan Leaf, who’s recognized as one of the biggest NFL Draft busts in league history. Luckily, the Chargers were able to bounce back with the LaDainian Tomlinson selection in 2001. And in recent years, players like Justin Herbert and Joey Bosa have helped revitalize the franchise.

It’s worth noting that Philip Rivers was the QB the Chargers ended up with in 2004, but they originally selected Eli Manning before swapping him to the New York Giants in exchange for Rivers.

2024

  • Joe Alt | Pick 5
    OT, Notre Dame

2023

  • Quentin Johnston | Pick 21
    WR, TCU

2022

  • Zion Johnson | Pick 17
    G, Boston College

2021

  • Rashawn Slater | Pick 13
    OT, Northwestern

2020

  • Justin Herbert | Pick 6
    QB, Oregon
  • Kenneth Murray | Pick 23
    LB, Oklahoma

2019

  • Jerry Tillery | Pick 28
    DT, Notre Dame

2018

  • Derwin James | Pick 17
    S, Florida State

2017

  • Mike Williams | Pick 7
    WR, Clemson

2016

  • Joey Bosa | Pick 3
    DE, Ohio State

2015

  • Melvin Gordon | Pick 15
    RB, Wisconsin

2014

  • Jason Verrett | Pick 25
    DB, TCU

2013

  • D.J. Fluker | Pick 11
    OT, Alabama

2012

  • Melvin Ingram | Pick 18
    DE, South Carolina

2011

  • Corey Liuget | Pick 18
    DT, Illinois

2010

  • Ryan Mathews | Pick 12
    RB, Fresno State

2009

  • Larry English | Pick 16
    LB, Northern Illinois

2008

  • Antoine Cason | Pick 27
    DB, Arizona

2007

  • Craig Davis | Pick 30
    WR, LSU

2006

  • Antonio Cromartie | Pick 19
    DB, Florida State

2005

  • Shawne Merriman | Pick 12
    LB, Maryland
  • Luis Castillo | Pick 28
    DE, Northwestern

2004

  • Eli Manning | Pick 1
    QB, Mississippi

Manning was immediately traded to the New York Giants in exchange for Philip Rivers.

2003

  • Sammy Davis | Pick 30
    DB, Texas A&M

2002

  • Quentin Jammer | Pick 5
    DB, Texas

2001

  • LaDainian Tomlinson* | Pick 5
    RB, TCU

2000

The Chargers traded the 13th pick to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

1999

The Chargers traded the eighth pick to the Arizona Cardinals.

1998

  • Ryan Leaf | Pick 2
    QB, Washington State

1997

The Chargers traded the 16th pick to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

1996

The Chargers traded the 21st pick to the Detroit Lions.

1995

The Chargers traded the 29th pick to the Carolina Panthers.

1994

The Chargers traded the 15th pick to the San Francisco 49ers.

1993

  • Darrien Gordon | Pick 22
    DB, Stanford

1992

  • Chris Mims | Pick 23
    DE, Tennessee

1991

  • Stanley Richard | Pick 9
    DB, Texas

1990

  • Junior Seau* | Pick 5
    LB, USC

1989

  • Burt Grossman | Pick 8
    DE, Pittsburgh

1988

  • Anthony Miller | Pick 15
    WR, Tennessee

1987

  • Rod Bernstine | Pick 24
    RB, Texas A&M

1986

  • Leslie O’Neal | Pick 8
    DE, Oklahoma State
  • James FitzPatrick | Pick 13
    OT, USC

1985

  • Jim Lachey | Pick 12
    OT, Ohio State

1984

  • Mossy Cade | Pick 6
    DB, Texas

1983

  • Billy Ray Smith | Pick 5
    LB, Arkansas
  • Gary Anderson | Pick 20
    RB, Arkansas
  • Gill Byrd | Pick 22
    DB, San Jose State

1982

The Chargers traded the 22nd pick to the Green Bay Packers.

1981

  • James Brooks | Pick 24
    RB, Auburn

1980

The Chargers traded the 26th pick to the Green Bay Packers.

1979

  • Kellen Winslow* | Pick 13
    TE, Missouri

1978

  • John Jefferson | Pick 14
    WR, Arizona State

1977

  • Bob Rush | Pick 24
    C, Memphis

1976

  • Joe Washington | Pick 4
    RB, Oklahoma

1975

  • Gary Johnson | Pick 8
    DT, Grambling State
  • Mike Williams | Pick 22
    DB, LSU

1974

  • Bo Matthews | Pick 2
    RB, Colorado
  • Don Goode | Pick 15
    LB, Kansas

1973

  • Johnny Rodgers | Pick 25
    WR, Nebraska

1972

The Chargers traded the 11th pick to the Green Bay Packers.

1971

  • Leon Burns | Pick 13
    RB, Long Beach State

1970

  • Walker Gillette | Pick 15
    WR, Richmond

1969

  • Marty Domres | Pick 9
    QB, Columbia
  • Bob Babich | Pick 18
    LB, Miami (OH)

1968

  • Russ Washington | Pick 4
    OT, Missouri
  • Jim Hill | Pick 18
    DB, Texas A&M-Kingsville

1967

  • Ron Billingsley | Pick 14
    DT, Wyoming

1966

  • Don Davis | Pick 7
    DT, Los Angeles State

1965

  • Steve DeLong | Pick 6
    DE, Tennessee

1964

  • Ted Davis | Pick 8
    LB, Georgia Tech

1963

  • Walt Sweeney | Pick 2
    G, Syracuse

1962

  • Bob Ferguson | Pick 8
    FB, Ohio State

1961

  • Earl Faison | Pick 7
    DE, Indiana

*Inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame

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