A confession. In my long (long) sports writing career, I have never done a mock draft before. Never. That changes here, as we have our Chargers 2023 full mock draft.
Writing/doing mock drafts has become a become a cottage industry on the side for sports writers. You can draft anything, you can draft candy during Halloween, draft your favorite days of the week, favorite players to ever wear No. 77. You can draft beers and do a draft of draft beers.
It never ends.
My biggest thing about reading NFL mock drafts is that they are usually based on who they want the team will draft, not who they will.
So for my first Los Angeles Chargers 2023 Mock Draft (I think I have to call it Vol. 1, right? Isn’t that how things go in the mock draft world?) I looked back at who the Chargers have drafted the last five years. Some teams like certain schools, certain areas. It has to do with where they have good scouts. The Chargers are going to be partial to players on the West Coast. Why? Because they undoubtedly have better – more reliable – contacts out here.
Before I do my first mock draft, let’s talk about why these will be players the Chargers take.
Chargers Last Five Drafts
In the last five NFL Drafts the Chargers and GM Tom Telesco have made 36 picks. Basically, they have used every pick they have. This tells me the Chargers aren’t one for trading up or trading down in the NFL Draft. It’s a bit of a boring strategy, but hey, the Chargers are in the playoffs right now, so it’s effective.
Those 36 picks have come from all over the country, mainly Power 5 schools. Again, there are some NFL teams that love finding players from Western Appalachian A&M, more power to them, but that doesn’t seem to be Telesco’s style.
In the last five years, the Chargers have taken three players each from Notre Dame, Georgia and UCLA. They have taken two players each from Northwestern and Florida State.
They also took one social medial quarterback from Oregon. He’s pretty good.
So when doing a mock draft for the Chargers, this tells us their sweet spots, so for my mock, you’re only going to see players from big schools, because those are the type of players the Chargers take.
Now let’s get on with it.
My Chargers Mock Draft Vol. 1
First Round (currently 22, but subject to change).
DB Malachi Moore, Alabama
He’s a playmaking safety/cornerback that the Chargers can plug right into the secondary. Good size at 6-foot. And listen, the Chiefs are in this division. The only way you’re going to beat the Chiefs is with a pass rush and guys who can cover. Moore can cover. Let Joey Bosa do the pass rushing.
Why Moore? Ok. The Chargers desperately need a defensive tackle, but the best two guys on the board are going to be gone by the time the Chargers pick. The Chargers will be picking in the 20s and Moore fits what the Chargers look for. A good player at a big school who has had some success. You don’t want to reach for a DT here, so take a bonafide cover man.
Second Round (55)
DT Gervon Dexter Sr. Florida
Now you get your defensive tackle. He’s 6-foot-6, 312 pounds. He started 12 games at defensive tackle as a redshirt sophomore. The Chargers desperately need a nose tackle in the middle who can suck up a double team and allow the edge rushers to make plays.
Why Dexter Sr.? DT is the Chargers biggest need. It came down to Dexter and Baylor’s Siaki Ika, who both seem to be in that second tier of available defensive tackles.
Third Round (86)
OL Luke Wypler, Ohio State
A versatile player who can play center and guard. The Chargers already have a good center in Corey Linsley, but he got hurt some in 2022, and it was bad for the Chargers. In the third round, Wypler provides a winning pedigree and the ability to move around. He’s a depth piece now, but maybe a starter down the line. He has not declared for the NFL Draft yet.
Why Wypler? I know, linemen are boring, but do the Chargers need a wide receiver or a running back right now….or a quarterback? No. Offensive line depth is the biggest need after defensive tackle.
Fourth Round (125)
WR Dontayvion Wicks, Virginia
Keenan Allen and Mike Williams aren’t getting any younger, and it’s worrisome that both got banged up in 2022. I was tempted to go TE here. I love the Notre Dame tight end Michael Mayer, but he’s going to be gone in the top 10. Wicks fits the Allen/Williams mold in that he’s 6-foot-2. You think that doesn’t matter, but it does. The Chargers have tall wide receivers now and base a lot of their offense around that.
Why Wicks? Wicks set a Virginia record for receiving yards in a season with 1,203 in 2021. He missed the end of the Cavs season with a bone bruise. If he’s still around in the fourth round, he’s a great fit.
Fifth Round (158)
TE Cameron Latu, Alabama
At this point in the Draft, you take the best player available, and if he fits in one of your needs, that’s ever better. Latu is 6-foot-5, 244 pounds. The Chargers could use a tight end in the middle of the field and you know he can block, because he went to Alabama.
Why Latu? It fits – again – the Chargers mold, a good player from a big program. He’s from Salt Lake City, so he’s a West Coast kind of kid. That matters at this stage of the draft.
Sixth Round (199)
DL Gabe Hall, Baylor
If the Chargers don’t get Ika out of Baylor, they could do worse by taking a flyer on his partner on the defensive line. Same body type as Dexter out of Florida, 6-foot-6, 300 pounds. I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of seeing Morgan Fox as a down lineman getting blown off the ball for the Chargers. They need beef up front.
Why Hall? Again, at this point in the draft you want the best player available. Hall had a knee injury in 2019 and was redshirted in 2020. That’s what you’re going to be left with in the sixth round, players with some baggage, but potential upside.
Seventh Round (240)
RB Travis Dye, USC
A local boy from Norco (yes, that matters) Dye transferred to USC from Oregon. He led the Trojans in rushing this year. He can return kicks, which is something you would love to get from a seventh-round pick.
Why Dye? I like his size, not because he’s super big, he’s not, he’s kind of built like Austin Ekeler a little bit. It’s the seventh round, there’s a lot of good running backs still on the board, but Dye is a local product who could maybe be a contributor. It’s tempting to go find another offensive lineman here, but Dye would be hard to pass up if he’s still around.