After a busy offseason spent upgrading the offensive line, it’s time for a Los Angeles Chargers mock draft. While Justin Herbert’s stats tell the story of a phenomenal rookie season, the 2021 NFL Draft will be crucial to putting the structure around him for long-term success.
The 2020 NFL Draft couldn’t have gone much better for Los Angeles. It found its franchise quarterback, with Herbert showing flashes of the talent that could help this team be a perennial AFC contender. But a great quarterback isn’t enough. If Chargers want to one day exercise the demons that have haunted these fans for years.
Some of the team’s needs entering the offseason are already taken care of. All-Pro Corey Linsley center will provide a huge upgrade at the position, keeping the interior pocket clean for Herbert. Likewise, Matt Feiler should be a stone wall in pass protection. Of course, there’s more work to be done. With the help of this loaded draft class, though, the Chargers can become a playoff contender next season.
With the help of The Draft Network’s simulator, let’s dive into our Los Angeles Chargers mock draft.
Los Angeles Chargers mock draft: Building team around Justin Herbert
First round, 13th overall: Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama
In an ideal scenario, Penei Sewell or Rashawn Slater is available for the Chargers. With both off the board, Los Angeles exercises a little patience at offensive tackle. While cornerback isn’t the team’s biggest need in the 2021 NFL Draft, Brandon Staley’s defense could use a reliable No. 1 cover weapon.
Patrick Surtain II came to Alabama as a top recruit and started immediately, impressing college coaches and even NFL scouts with his talent. He only got better with more experience, showing outstanding instincts for a young player and rarely making a technical mistake. He received an outstanding 88.6 PFF coverage grade this past season and thanks to Caleb Farley’s back injury, Surtain is easily the best cornerback in the draft class.
Surtain can lineup opposite of Michael Davis and it won’t take long for the rookie to be the best cornerback in the secondary. With him roaming one side and Derwin James Jr. on the other, quarterbacks are going to have some difficult Sundays. All of that sticky coverage means Staley can unleash blitzes from every direction, helping make this one of the NFL’s best defenses.
First round, 29th overall*: Liam Eichenberg, OT, Notre Dame
- Los Angeles Chargers mock draft trade: Send No. 47 overall, 97th overall and 241st overall picks to Green Bay Packers for 29th overall
We know general manager Tom Telesco isn’t afraid to get aggressive. Last year, he traded the Chargers’ second (No. 37) and third-round picks to move up to No. 23 overall and grabbed linebacker Kyler Murray. Given the emphasis this offseason on protecting Herbert, there’s no reason to think a similar move wouldn’t be made to grab an offensive tackle.
Outside of Sewell and Slater, Eichenberg might be the most pro-ready tackle in the draft. Notre Dame is also a practical factory for offensive linemen, making this an even safer bet. Incredibly, per Pro Football Focus, Eichenberg didn’t allow a single sack in his last two seasons on the left side. He won’t have that kind of success in the NFL, but his skills as a pass blocker are perfect for the Chargers.
Plug him in at left tackle, along with the moves already made, the Chargers might have a top-10 offensive line in 2021. If that’s the case, Herbert could go from Rookie of the Year to making his first playoff start. That’s easily worth sacrificing a third-round pick to jump up more than 20 spots, especially with another third-round selection still in the back pocket.
Third round, 77th overall: Tylan Wallace, WR, Oklahoma State
Mike Williams is entering a contract year and there’s a realistic chance Los Angeles lets him hit the open market in 2022. Even if he returns, there’s no such thing as too many weapons for a quarterback. Given the number of 3WR sets we’ll see from the Chargers, it only makes sense to add a player like Tylan Wallace.
A 5-foot-11, 194-pound wide receiver isn’t the size you’d expect from a player with Wallace’s skills. He didn’t just impress on 50-50 balls at Oklahoma State, he relished every opportunity to make a contested catch. It doesn’t really matter the size of the cornerback, he just knows how to position his body and makes the difficult catches look easy.
In 2021, Wallace can be on the opposite side of Williams with Keenan Allen in the slot. Facing single coverage, his speed will help him get separation. In an instant, Herbert will see a small window 20-plus yards down the sideline and Wallace will make the catch that leaves everyone amazed. This would be a fun pairing for the next four-plus years.
Los Angeles Chargers mock draft: Day 3 targets in 2021 NFL Draft
- Fourth round, 118th overall: Jaylen Twyman, DT, Pittsburgh
- Fifth round, 159th overall: Tre Brown, CB, Oklahoma
- Sixth round, 185th overall: Shaka Toney, EDGE, Penn State
- Sixth round, 198th overall: Justin Hilliard, LB, Ohio State
What do you think about our Los Angeles Chargers mock draft? Let us know in the comments below.