With the 2021 NFL draft just six days away, writers, analysts and fans continue to predict how it will all unfold for the Chargers.
For Daniel Popper, the team’s beat writer for The Athletic, he sees them taking their left tackle of the future with pick No. 13 and trading up in the second-round for a cornerback.
In the first-round, Popper selects former Northwestern tackle Rashawn Slater.
It’s the Chargers’ dream scenario. Slater is a no-brainer pick for the Chargers, who had one of the worst offensive lines last year. They addressed three needs in free agency by signing All-Pro center Corey Linsley and guards Matt Feiler and Oday Aboushi. But they still have a “hole” at left tackle, as head coach Brandon Staley described it. Slater is a polished prospect, even if his arm length eventually forces a move inside.
Just a couple of weeks ago, Slater is consistently mocked to Los Angeles. However, he’s slotted as high as No. 8 to the Panthers, who will be in search of quarterback Sam Darnold’s blindside blocker.
If Slater is sitting there when L.A. is on the clock, it’s a no-brainer.
Many believe that Slater should play guard or center due to his lack of height and length, but he has the agility, athleticism and technique to thrive on the outside.
The selection of Slater allows him an opportunity to fill the need at left tackle and if it doesn’t pan out there, he could simply kick inside and be a staple up front for the next decade.
After taking a tackle, Popper has the Bolts trading up nine spots from No. 47 overall with the Bengals to select former Georgia cornerback Eric Stokes.
The Chargers need to find a starting corner in the first two rounds, and waiting for pick No. 47 might be too late. As soon as Samuel went to the Jets, I started considering a trade for Stokes, who has the size, speed and inside-outside versatility that would make him an ideal fit in Staley’s defensive scheme.
Stokes has the prototypical length for the position with play speed, physicality and plus coverage ability to match up against opponent’s best wideouts. His ability to play both man and zone coverage at a high level are necessary traits for head coach Brandon Staley’s defense.
Overall, this is a solid haul for a Chargers team whose two biggest needs are tackle and cornerback.