How athletic is the Chargers’ 2021 draft class?

Athleticism has been coveted by the Los Angeles Chargers in recent years.

Teams draft player that they believe will help put them in the best positions to win football games.

However, one of the key traits that has been highly coveted as of late when determining who is brought in is athleticism.

For the Chargers, it has been a priority in recent years.

How did they fare with this year’s haul?

According to Relative Athletic Score (RAS), a measure created by Kent Lee Platte, Los Angeles’ draft class averaged a RAS of 6.94 (out of 10).

RAS uses a combination of size and athletic testing numbers to produce a composite score for each player.

A player must have a total of six recorded metrics from any of the following: Height, Weight, Forty yard dash, Twenty yard split, Ten yard split, Bench Press, Vertical Jump, Broad Jump, Short Shuttle, 3-Cone.

Note: These numbers were recorded from each player’s perspective pro days because the 2021 NFL Scouting Combine was cancelled due to COVID-19.

Of the past three draft hauls, this year’s RAS was the lowest. The 2019 draft class averaged a RAS of 8.63 while the 2020 class averaged a RAS of 7.38.

Offensive tackle Rashawn Slater, tackle Brenden Jaimes and linebacker Nick Niemann were the only three players that had great RAS scores. The rest of the class had average scores, with the exception of running back Larry Rountree III who had a poor score.

The higher the RAS score does not mean the player will have better chances of being successful in the NFL, but the athleticism does come in handy as the game is only getting faster by the year.

What NFL executives said about Chargers draft

There’s been a consistent trend with the Los Angeles Chargers and when they’re picking in the first round.

A week later from the 2021 NFL draft, and the Chargers are still receiving high praise from national writers and analysts for their haul.

But how do those among the league feel about the team’s draft class?

The Athletic’s Mike Sando spoke to a few NFL executives to get their opinions on Los Angeles’ draft.

Like the rest of the population, they were impressed with what general manager Tom Telesco did, especially with the selection of offensive tackle Rashawn Slater.

“I hate to say it, the Chargers, they just sit and pick and they pick good players,” an evaluator said. “It has been like that the last three or four years. Derwin James, Justin Herbert, Rashawn Slater. They don’t ever trade, they just always seem to be in this sweet spot to get good players.

Many, including myself, did not expect Slater to see a slide to where the Bolts were selecting at No. 13, but after he did, it was a no-brainer for the team who needed a franchise left tackle.

“The draft fell to them in a meaningful way, but you do get confirmation bias, where everyone gave them Slater, so the fact that it worked out that way leads everyone to say it was a great pick,” an exec said.

Even though he will start his professional career as quarterback Justin Herbert’s blindside blocker, people around the league feel like he will have the most success inside at guard.

“I think he will be a really good offensive lineman, and I think guard is going to be his best spot,” an exec said.

Only time will tell how Slater pans out at left tackle, but given how he fared against Chase Young along with other elite edge defenders, I think he will be just fine.

What scouts said about Chargers RB Larry Rountree III ahead of draft

NFL scouts had nothing but great things to say about the Chargers’ sixth-round pick.

The Chargers drafted running back Larry Rountree III with the thought of him serving as a key special teamer in his rookie season. But in the eyes of NFL evaluators, the team might have something more valuable.

The Athletic’s Bob McGinn spoke to a few scouts to get their thoughts on Rountree and one of them said that he is “one of the better backs that was not being talked about.”

Known for his physicality as a runner, Rountree was highly praised by another scout for it.

“He runs every play like it will be the last time he’ll ever touch the football,” the scout said. “He’s violent. I loved the kid. His passion, his drive, his maturity. If he can get it, and that’s for coaches to say, he’s talented enough as a player.”

From an athletic standpoint, Rountree isn’t going to knock your socks off but he still has a skillset that translates to production on the field.

“He doesn’t have top-end speed,” a scout said. “He’s got feet and balance. He’s really good in pass (protection) and blitz pickup. He attacks guys. Knocks ’em on their butt. Likes to play in close games. I just like everything about him.”

Rountree enters this summer in a competition with Justin Jackson, Joshua Kelley and Darius Bradwell for a roster spot.

POLL: Who was your favorite pick of the Chargers 2021 draft class?

The Los Angeles Chargers strung together an impressive haul. Who was your favorite player selected?

The Chargers made nine selections in the 2021 NFL draft.

Five were spent on the offensive side of the ball, while the other four were on the defensive side of the ball.

Another look at Los Angeles’ haul:

Round 1 – OT Rashawn Slater

Round 2 – CB Asante Samuel, Jr.

Round 3 – WR Josh Palmer & TE Tre’ McKitty

Round 4 – EDGE Chris Rumph II

Round 5 – OT Brenden Jaimes

Round 6 – LB Nick Niemann & RB Larry Rountree III

Round 7 – S Mark Webb

We felt like L.A. brought in players that could make an impact right away as well as others that will be key pieces down the road.

We want to hear who your favorite selection was. Vote in the poll below to let your opinion be known.

[crowdsignal poll=10827424]

Why Chargers fans should be excited about EDGE Chris Rumph II

The Chargers’ fourth-round pick is a polarizing pass rusher who has the upside to be disruptive in the NFL.

The Chargers entered the draft needing to add another player who would fill out the edge defender group. In the fourth-round, the team selected former Duke EDGE Chris Rumph II.

Starting 11 of 36 career games for the Blue Devils, Rumph II recorded 124 total tackles, an impressive 33 tackles for loss, 17.5 sacks, two forced fumbles, and five passes defended.

This was a position that I had a lot of my attention on, wondering who head coach Brandon Staley would bring in that meets his criteria, with that being a player that has athleticism, length and versatility.

Rumph met all those traits to a tee.

According to Pro Football Focus, Rumph II lined up 346 times on the defensive line, primarily as a wide-9, but he was also deployed in the box 193 times as an inside linebacker.

Rumph II, the 6-foot-5 and 236 pounder, possesses a wiry frame with long arms coupled with explosiveness, short-area quickness and natural bend that enables him to live in opposing backfields.

While lacking a complete arsenal of pass-rush moves, Rumph II shows quick hands and the desired length to keep his chest clean.

Rumph is effective when used to blitz from the inside, showing good snap instincts and timing to shoot gaps.

Rumph has impressive lateral agility on slants/twists.

Rumph has good core strength and flexibility to get skinny through narrow windows.

While he’s not one to take on offensive tackles in heads-up situations in the run game due to his lack of size and strength, Rumph reads and processes things very quickly, showing the range, speed and backside pursuit ability to make plays.

The big knock on Rumph II is that he can struggle if blockers win inside leverage and control his chest plate or against combo blocks due to his lack of power and bulk, but you’re not going to see any plays taken off, even if he’s beat – always showing good competitive toughness.

The lack of size and strength would also show as he would fail to bring down ball carriers when he had them in his grasp (as seen in the first clip above).

Rumph’s physical profile may be working against him at the moment, but the concerns he draws should be mitigated by the polarizing pass-rush skillset he has and him landing in the most ideal situation to mold him into a great player in this league.

Rumph will be playing under Staley, the defensive guru who has worked with the likes of Von Miller, Khalil Mack and Bradley Chubb, while being the one who unlocked the full potential of others like Leonard Floyd and Justin Hollins.

He will also be coached by Jay Rodgers, current outside linebackers coach and former Bears defensive line coach, who developed players like Eddie Goldman, Bilal Nichols, Roy Robertson-Harris, as well as numerous veterans, including Mitch Unrein and Nick Williams.

Overall, Rumph’s blend of athleticism, length, fluidity and hand technique gives him an exciting ceiling. He projects as a sub-package contributor initially, but Rumph could eventually blossom into a double-digit sack artist once he physically matures and is properly coached up and utilized.

Handing out awards for Chargers’ 2021 NFL draft class

Chargers Wire’s Gavino Borquez neglects the draft grades and gives out some awards to some of the players selected.

The Chargers took nine players in the 2021 NFL draft.

There are many who believe draft grades are foolish because if the player that received a “D” turns out to be an All-Pro player, then it doesn’t necessarily correlate to the letter grade given.

So rather than going through all of that, why not hand out some awards in a different fashion?

Best bang for the buck: OT Brenden Jaimes

I figured that the Chargers would address depth along the offensive line with one of their two third-round picks, given the pool of talent still available. But even though the team passed up on the position altogether when many were projecting them to, Los Angeles still got a high-upside lineman in Round 5.

Having started 40 games at Nebraska, Jaimes is a battle-tested lineman who is an excellent technician in pass protection. He gives L.A. much-needed depth and versatility on the line. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him carve up a starting role next year.

The eyebrow-raiser: OT Rashawn Slater

Turn on any Northwestern tape dating back to 2017 when Slater was a freshman and he will have you in complete awe with his play on the field. But if you really want a clinic, go watch the 2019 tape against Ohio State, where he stymied Chase Young through all four quarters.

Slater is a menace up front. He is technically sound with his upper and lower body, very intelligent, physical and consistent which shows both in the pass and run-blocking department. It’s rare that a defender is getting by him or he’s consistently generating movement in the run game.

Best fit: CB Asante Samuel, Jr.

Prior to the draft, the player who was viewed as the ideal fit for the Chargers was Jaycee Horn, but Samuel Jr. also fell in the same conversations.

Samuel Jr. can play outside and defend the slot. He flourishes in man coverage, where he’s smooth at flipping his hips and running with receivers as well as in zone coverage, where he shines when reading route concepts and making plays on the football.

Samuel Jr. can do it all and him having a skillset tailor-made for what head Brandon Staley requires at the position will go a long way.

Most enticing: EDGE Chris Rumph II

Rumph enters the NFL with not a lot of sand in his pants but the guy is an energizer bunny when he is on the field.

He will need to get into an weight room to add strength to hold up against NFL offensive linemen and make an impact in the run game, but Rumph has the athleticism, bend, range and motor to be a top-notch pass rusher in this league.

Plus, it’s exciting to think what Staley can do with him after he contributed to the career year that Rams’ Leonard Floyd had in 2020.

Best phone call: WR Josh Palmer

It doesn’t happen that often that a player is asking for the team to send them the playbook already when he receives the draft phone call. Well, Palmer might have been the first.

What scouts said about Chargers TE Tre’ McKitty ahead of NFL draft

The best has yet to come for the Chargers’ third-round pick, tight end Tre’ McKitty.

The Chargers needed to round out the tight end group, so the team used one of their third-round picks (No. 97 overall) on Tre’ McKitty, the former Georgia product.

McKitty was drafted for his blocking skills, where he will have a role is an inline blocker right off the bat. However, he has true potential to make an impact through the air than most realize.

The Athletic’s Bob McGinn talked to a couple of NFL evaluators prior to the draft to get their perspectives on McKitty, and one of them sees him as a viable option to be the complete package at the position.

“He’s a little bit of a project who has a lot of upside,” said one scout. “He’s not a freakish athlete, but you see enough traits in there. Nice (catching) radius, big hands. He competed as a blocker.”

For the Bulldogs in 2020, McKitty only posted six receptions in four games, which marked a career-low.

“He wasn’t used well enough at Georgia,” a second scout said. “Athletically, it looks like he belongs. He’s going to need some work. He’s more of a receiving tight end than an in-line blocker.”

Before transferring to Georgia, McKitty had 50 catches in three seasons at Florida State.

Overall, McKitty has potential to not only be a stout blocker but someone who can be counted on as a reliable receiver in this league.

1 thing to love about every Chargers rookie from 2021 NFL draft

The Los Angeles Chargers struck gold in the 2021 NFL draft. But what’s the main trait that makes the players so great?

The Chargers’ haul from the 2021 NFL draft continues to receive high praise from the general population.

While very few have mixed feelings, I wanted to give you one thing to love about every prospect that Los Angeles drafted.

2021 Senior Bowl proved to be important to Chargers’ draft

For Chargers general manager Tom Telesco, the draft starts in Mobile.

The draft starts in Mobile.

For the 32 NFL teams in attendance, the Senior Bowl is a chance to see some of college football’s top players square off in a week of practices and a full game to wrap things up in order to prove to them that they can prepare, practice and compete like pros.

Within all of the action on the football field, this is team’s first opportunity to sit down and get to know the prospects after watching them for years at their perspective school and talking to their coaches to gain more information on them.

However, this year’s Senior Bowl was even more vital to team’s evaluation process than previous ones because of the limited exposure to players during the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused a handful of cancelled games and opt outs.

Chargers general manager Tom Telesco already had a track record of drafting players that partook in the event. But him and the evaluators really took advantage of this one in particular, as the team went on to select five players that they had the chance to watch and meet with.

Wide receiver Josh Palmer, tight end Tre’ McKitty, offensive tackle Brenden Jaimes, running back Larry Rountree III and safety Mark Webb all participated in the 2021 Senior Bowl.

That marks 21 Senior Bowl participants that Los Angeles has either signed or drafted since 2017.

The other 16?

G Dan Feeney, Indiana  – 2017

S Rayshawn Jenkins, Miami – 2017

DB Desmond King, Iowa – 2017

DE Isaac Rochell, Notre Dame – 2017

LS Cole Mazza, Alabama  – 2017

DT Justin Jones, NC State – 2018

K Michael Badgley, Miami – 2018

LB Uchenna Nwosu, USC – 2018

C Scott Quessenberry, UCLA – 2018

LB Drue Tranquill, Notre Dame – 2019

S Nasir Adderley, Delaware  – 2019

QB Justin Herbert, Oregon — 2020

RB Joshua Kelley, UCLA — 2020

S Alohi Gilman, Notre Dame — 2020

WR K.J. Hill, Ohio State — 2020

Telesco stuck to his guns this year, bringing in good football players that are also good people, tough, competitive and fit the culture of what he wants them to be both on and off the field.

2021 NFL draft grades: Analysts give Chargers’ haul highest praise

The Los Angeles Chargers 2021 NFL draft class received nothing but great remarks.

The 2021 NFL draft is officially in the books.

The Chargers got better on both sides of the ball, all while bringing in players that upgrade the special teams department.

In the eyes of national writers and analysts, this was by far one of Tom Telesco’s best haul since he has held the role of general manager.

A look at the experts’ grades and overall review of Los Angeles’ selections:

NFL Media’s Chad Reuter: A

“Slater only lasted to No. 13 overall because of his average length for the tackle position. But he’ll more than overcome that, and find success in the NFL, because of his athleticism and toughness. Samuel’s slight frame (5-10, 180) also cost him draft position, but again GM Tom Telesco found value by selecting the future starter midway through Round 2. Palmer and McKitty give Justin Herbert needed depth at pass catcher and will help negate some of the production lost by Hunter Henry’s exit in free agency.

Adding Rumph’s Gumby-like bend off the edge should bolster the Chargers’ pass rush, while James’ positional versatility should give the team’s O-line more flexibility. Rountree looked like a third-round pick at times at Missouri; he could be a Justin Jackson-type value pick for the Bolts.”

Yahoo Sports’ Nick Goss: A-

“The Chargers got a left tackle for franchise QB Justin Herbert with the selection of Northwestern offensive lineman Rashawn Slater in the first round. They also added a talented wide receiver for Herbert’s passing attack in Tennessee star Josh Palmer.

One of the best picks in the second round was Los Angeles drafting Florida State cornerback Asante Samuel Jr. at No. 47 overall. He has great instincts and athleticism, just like his father.”

ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr.: A

The Chargers’ top two needs headed into this draft were clearly defined: a left tackle to protect Justin Herbert and a starting-caliber corner. General manager Tom Telesco hit both of those early, and he didn’t have to reach.

Rashawn Slater (13) was a popular fit for mock drafts, and there were some teams that had a higher grade on him than Penei Sewell. He has the potential to be an All-Pro left tackle. Now, with the additions in free agency of Corey Linsley and Matt Feiler, this offensive line is suddenly one of the league’s 10 best. Herbert was pressured a whopping 217 times last season. I said it on Thursday — this pick is a dream come true for the Chargers. I thought cornerback Asante Samuel Jr. (47) would go earlier than he did, but he could play in the slot or outside as a rookie. L.A. upgraded with both of these picks.

Wideout Josh Palmer (77) averaged 21 yards per catch in 2018, and his numbers would have been better if he had consistent quarterbacks throwing to him. Tight end Tre’ McKitty (97) wasn’t used much as a receiver in his lone season at Georgia, but he can block a little bit. Versatile linebacker Chris Rumph II (118) was one of my top available prospects for Day 3, and I’m curious where he’ll fit in Brandon Staley’s defense. Larry Rountree III (198), my eighth-ranked running back, put up 3,720 career rushing yards at Missouri.

Again, Telesco didn’t reach to fill two big voids, and so this class is one of the best of the year. This team absolutely got better.

USA Today’s Nate Davis: A-

“It fell pretty nicely to the Bolts, but their top two choices, OT Rashawn Slater in Round 1 and CB Asante Samuel Jr. in Round 2, have a chance to be franchise cornerstones – Slater the bodyguard this offense needed to get for offensive rookie of the year Justin Herbert. Pass rusher Chris Rumph II (Round 4) could blossom under new coach Brandon Staley.”

The Ringer’s Danny Kelly: A-

“I love what the Chargers did this weekend, especially in the early rounds. Los Angeles nabbed its long-term solution at left tackle, offering reliable protection for second-year quarterback Justin Herbert, and added depth and playmaking talent to an already strong defensive backs group. Plus, I really like Palmer, who offers big-play potential and has the skill set to be the eventual replacement for Mike Williams, who will play this season on his fifth-year option.”

Draft Wire’s Luke Easterling: B+

“After their first two picks, anything else was just gravy. Rashawn Slater was a steal outside the top 10, and gives Justin Herbert the franchise left tackle he needs. Asante Samuel Jr. was another bargain, and filled their biggest need on defense. Josh Palmer and Tre’ McKitty both bring tons of athleticism and potential to the passing game, while Chris Rumph II has tons of upside as a pass rusher. Brenden Jaimes and Larry Rountree II were their best picks on Day 3.”