After making their first playoff appearance since 2018, it seemed the Los Angeles Chargers were finally headed in the right direction. This was a hot team that had the potential to make a postseason run. Instead, the Chargers collapsed in the Wild Card round and blew a 27-point lead in the 31-30 loss against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Drama surrounds the franchise once again. Is Los Angeles anywhere close to contending soon? Is coach Brandon Staley really the answer? The Chargers hope to get back on track in the offseason, led by a strong 2023 NFL Draft. Check out several needs Los Angeles could address in April.
2022 Season Record: 10-7
Status of Coach: Brandon Staley – Safe
Positions needed by the Chargers
- Defensive line
- Wide receiver
- Tight end
Notable Draft Picks
- Round 1, Pick 21
- Round 2, Pick 54
Potential First-Round Targets
The Chargers’ first-round selection will be interesting. There is not one obvious need that is above the rest. Los Angeles could focus on the best value instead of taking one position in particular.
Fortifying the defense is one option. The Chargers have had one of the NFL’s worst run defenses in back-to-back seasons. Even with improved linebacker play in 2022, Los Angeles finished last in allowed yards per carry. It could be finally time to invest in a spacer eater at defensive tackle.
However, the No. 21 pick is an awkward spot to target a defensive tackle. Jalen Carter and Bryan Bresee – the top DTs – will likely be selected in the top 10. Siaki Ika is the third-best interior defensive lineman, but some grade him as an early second-rounder. Ika is still a name to watch as he has the strength to eat blocks and good athleticism for his size that gives the Baylor product pass-rushing upside.
For a safer pick, Alabama safety Brian Branch is an intriguing prospect. He did a little bit of everything for the Crimson Tide, from a nickel to play in the box against the run. The Chargers could use a free safety following Nasir Adderley’s struggles in the 2022 season. Branch has the traits to play free safety with his ball tracking and zone coverage. Plus, he would be a big help in stopping the run.
The rare 3 play, 3 stop sequence from a defensive back.
Brian Branch showing off the play recognition, ability to evade blockers and superb tackling ability in space.
The dude just doesn’t miss tackles and that’s very valuable for any defense. pic.twitter.com/mvFwu9rAaq
— Derrick (@Steelers_DB) January 18, 2023
Don’t be surprised if Los Angeles opts to add to its offense instead. Wide receiver Keenan Allen and Mike Williams are a great duo, but when they were injured the Chargers clearly lacked depth at the position. USC wide receiver Jordan Addison would be a good fit with his great speed and route-running. Some believe Addison will be a slot wideout at the next level, but his route-running and quickness could be enough to excel on the perimeter as well.
A tight end is another uneasy position. Gerald Everett comes off a great season but has one season left on his contract, and the Chargers lack depth. Michael Mayer, the best tight end of the 2023 class, could be on the board at the No. 21 pick. He would be hard to pass on with his all-around game. Mayer is an excellent blocker and can be a security blanket for Herbert with his soft hands and crafty route-running.
Learn More About the AFC West Draft 2023
- Denver Broncos 2023 Positions Needed & First Round Draft Picks
- Kansas City Chiefs 2023 Positions Needed & First Round Draft Picks
- Las Vegas Raiders 2023 Positions Needed & First Round Draft Picks
Potential Second-Round Targets
With the No. 54 selection, Los Angeles should have options on the defensive line. Several needs, like safety or wide receiver, must be addressed but there are far more valuable defensive line prospects in the second round.
The Chargers could shore up their defensive end depth with Will McDonald IV (Iowa State) or Tuli Tuipulotu (USC). McDonald has a high upside as a pass rusher with his speed and length, while Tuipulotu has an intriguing frame that allows him to play on the edge or in the interior.
Michigan defensive tackle Mazi Smith is another potential second-round target. He is a fantastic run-stuffer backed by immense strength. Plus, Smith has pass-rush upside thanks to his unusual quickness.
Los Angeles has tough decisions to make in the offseason, especially in the 2023 NFL Draft. Should getting Herbert more targets or improving the run defense be the highest priority?