The Chargers went into another disappointing season after high expectations going into 2023. Most of the season, the offense was hot and cold until Justin Herbert went down and missed the final three games. He had to deal with injuries to his pass catchers all season.
Mike Williams went down early and was gone for the season. Keenan Allen was dominant in the first 13 weeks but would miss most of the season’s final month. Joshua Palmer missed time, and Quentin Johnson did not step up as a first-round pick. The tight end position never had a steady option with a rotation most of the season with Gerald Everett as a free agent.
The run game was so ineffective for fantasy that Austin Ekeler was regarded as a bust in 2023—the run game ranked in the bottom ten in the league. Ekeler and Joshua Kelley are pending free agents heading into the offseason. The one thing solid about the offense was the line, which protected Herbert greatly.
On the defense side of the ball, the Chargers allowed the fifth most yards in the league in 2023. The defense was not great, with only eight picks on the season. That ranked as the second-worst in the league. They did have 48 sacks, which ranked in the top ten, but they did have seven in one game against the Raiders. They are also potentially losing Michael Davis (CB), Kenneth Murray (LB), Austin Johnson (DT), and Alohi Gilman(S).
The team has many high-end contracts to make decisions on. Allen and Williams, who are over 30, will make $66 million in 2024. Khalil Mack, who has been great, is also aging and costing the Chargers 38 million in 2023. The Chargers have $45 million in the hole, the third worst heading into the offseason. Now that the team has signed Jim Harbaugh, the Chargers will do a quick turnover to make them competitive.
1.05 Marvin Harrison Jr., WR Ohio State
Marvin Harrison Jr. (@OhioStateFB) is without a doubt one of the top prospects of this class regardless of position:— Nathan Cooper (@ncoopdraft) January 23, 2024
But what really stands out is his concentration, especially when defenders are tackling him before the ball even arrives👇 pic.twitter.com/6unPESrcZT
The Chargers will be thrilled to land Harrison with the fifth pick of the NFL draft. Based on what you know about the Chargers, they are currently loaded at receiver, but Harrison is a generational talent that can’t be passed here. He had two dominant seasons at Ohio State, with 2,400 yards and 28 touchdowns. He is coming off a season where he just won the Beliefnikoff Award for the best receiver in the country. The Chargers must pair this future star with their young franchise quarterback, Justin Herbert. Harbaugh has experience playing against Harrison, who has done well against his former college team. Harbaugh knows that rivalry aside, Harrison is a player he will want on this team.
If we looked at the Chargers receivers, they have two aging veterans who both dealt with injuries in 2023. They have huge cap hits that could be cut to save desperately needed money. Joshua Palmer has been solid but not elite in his time with LA. Last year’s first-round pick, Johnston, did not look great in 2023. They need to get Herbert this cheap WR1 on the team as he heads into his contract bump. Harrison can replace Allen as a technician receiver in the offense. He has elite athletic traits and knows how to track the ball well. Harrison teaming up with Herbert’s big arm will significantly help the Chargers offense.
2.37 Chris Braswell, EDGE Alabama
In the draft’s second round, the Chargers switched over to the defensive side of the ball. The Chargers need to start getting young again on the defensive line, as many of their stars are beginning to get older. Braswell had a breakout senior season with 10.5 tackles for loss and eight sacks. As I mentioned above, Mack could be cut based on his cap and age for the team. Braswell could fill in on the line or as an outside linebacker. He was great in coverage over his time in Alabama. He even got a pick and returned it for a touchdown. Braswell made it on Bruce Feldman’s freak list as number ten due to the combination he offers. He also has the length and flexibility to do well as a blitzer for the team. He could help make an impact in his first year as a Charger.
3.69 Blake Corum, RB Michigan
One of my favorite players in the draft is Michigan RB Blake Corum. Ability to run incredibly low to the ground makes him hard to bring down. Wasn’t used heavily as a receiver, but has soft hands and is more than capable. 47 total TDs the last two seasons. pic.twitter.com/1RZTHWyFlo— Kyle Lindemann (@LuckIsMadeFF) January 24, 2024
In the third round comes a much-needed revamp of the backfield with the selection of Corum. Harbaugh gets his Michigan guy in Corum, who helped lead the team to a National Championship. Corum was a three-year starter but turned up the last two seasons. He had 2,700 rushing yards and 45 touchdowns.
Corum has some fantastic talent that will work at the NFL level. He can work in multiple schemes due to his versatility. Corum has the homerun ability to take one to the house, something the Chargers didn’t have on the team. He is a slippery player whose smaller frame makes him get past defenders quickly. He was even an Academic All-District 5 honors in 2021. The kid is brilliant and should adapt to the NFL field.
The Chargers need a change with Ekeler being a free agent. He had his worst season as a pro, with under four yards per carry. He was not used as much as a receiver and is getting close to that 30-year-old hill. Corum should be able to come in as a day-one starter and help out the Chargers. They need to get the run game going to help open up play action in the offense. His durability is the only thing that doesn’t make him an early second-round pick. Due to being overworked during the 2022 season, he suffered a knee injury. Corum has a good amount of mileage for a smaller back. His pass protection does need some work if he is going to be a three-down back. Corum’s issues won’t stop him from making an impact at the NFL level with his former college coach.
4.104 Kris Abrams-Draine, CB Missouri
In the fourth round, the Chargers run back to the defense with the addition of Abrams-Draine from Missouri. The Chargers secondary needs some new corners, and Abrams-Draine would be a great addition. He was a tackling machine in college with 136 tackles, seven interceptions, and 34 pass deflects as a three-year starter. Abrams-Draine also was great his senior year, with opposing quarterbacks having a 64.3 QBR against them. His biggest knock is that he can be aggressive as a corner, allowing big plays and making fantastic stops against receivers.
The Chargers had eight interceptions and haven’t been able to find a partner to go with Asante Samuel Jr. Abrams-Draine, who has a great blend of length, speed, and quickness for the position. He could even play in the slot with his ability to cover underneath roles well. He would make a great addition to a secondary who needs to make big plays. His instincts for the game make him a great value in the fourth round.
5.137 Javon Solomon, EDGE Troy
In the fifth round, they found a potential star for the defense in Solomon. He went to Troy, where he had a dominant senior season. He would finish with 16 sacks, but he had 35 throughout his four years in college. Solomon has great quickness and is expensive off the line of scrimmage. His sping move already looks like an NFL player, and he hasn’t even played yet. He would be a great replacement if the team decides to move on from Mack this offseason. Soloman is short for someone who plays on the outside and is coming in at 6’2″. He needs to make better decisions with hand placement, as it can limit his rush. He has some work to do, but he could be a pass rusher star in the future.
6.182 Christian Jones, OL Texas
In round six, the Chargers address their offensive line with Jones. He was a four-year starter who improved in each season. Jones improved on his sacks given up over each year in college. Last season, he did so well that he did not give up a sack. He played right tackle for the majority of his college career. He is a strong run blocker who would help a team that was not great at running the ball last year. Jones has great hands and quick feet that could make him a rotational player on the offensive line. He could easily play RT or RG at the NFL level. Jones still needs to work on his pass protection. I’m not convinced he has turned it around to be an elite blocker in one season.
7.222 Gabe Hall, DL Baylor
The Chargers first pick in the seventh round goes with Hall, out of Baylor. He is a big 6’6″, 287 lb. defensive lineman who has been solid in college. In three seasons as a starter for Baylor, he had 72 tackles, 16 tackles for loss, and 11.5 sacks. Hall’s production did all each of that year until his senior season. His senior season wasn’t as good as years past, but there were flashes for the young linemen. Hall has an aggressive motor, and he is very agile. He has a wicked first spin move against offensive linemen. He does need to be in the right scheme to excel at the NFL level. The Chargers could lose Austin Johnson, who has played well for them, so they could be looking to bring some depth to the position. He would likely be a backup who could become a rotational player someday.
7.255 Jared Wiley, TE TCU
Jared Wiley, 2023 first-team All-Big 12, is a fun tight end to watch.— Cody (@TheCodySpears) January 25, 2024
You know the top 25 prospects already thus having an idea of where to pivot in the first two rounds.
Follow me for more looks at obscure prospects you'll be taking at the back-half of rookie drafts. I'm just… pic.twitter.com/DPMJeFNL2J
The Chargers’ last pick of the draft is Wiley, a massive 6’7″, 260 lb. tight end. He broke out during this senior season with 520 yards and eight touchdowns. Wiley is an all-around type of player. He is a solid blocker, which you want from a tight end. Wiley is a natural playmaker in the passing game who can be a strong route runner. He has the talent to do things with the ball after the catcher, which can be great for an offense. His techniques as a receiver for getting open still need to be worked on. He has talent that needs to be coached up.
The Chargers could lose some of their starting tight ends, so Wiley would have a chance to compete in year one. Jim Harbaugh used Vernon Davis as a weapon during his coaching career at San Francisco. Wiley will have to work on his game, but he has the potential to be a gem in the seventh round.
For fantasy, Harrison going to the Chargers makes him easily 1.01 in 1QB formats and close to almost in Superflex rookie drafts. If Allen stays, Harrison should still be able to make a big impact on the team. He would have a WR2 upside in his rookie season. He would be someone to grab since he’ll be attached to Herbert for the next five seasons.
Corum would also be worth taking in the second round of rookie drafts. Unless they bring back Ekeler or a high profile back in free agency, Corum would have a role in this good offense. He could make some noise as a rookie with his home run ability. Depending on who the Chargers bring in at tight end, Wiley would likely be a fourth-round pick in rookie drafts.
Due to the veteran presence, Braswell would be more valuable as a long-term player for the defensive side of the ball. He could have a few decent games, but he’s not someone I’d take highly in IDP leagues. Abrams-Draine would be someone I’d take in the second to third-round range. If that is the case, I could see him playing inside as a nickel player and would be in for many tackles. He also has interception value too. Solomon would be an upside pick in the third to fourth round that could provide big play value. Hall would likely go undrafted in rookie drafts.
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