Chargers find their Quarterbacks of the Future
April 30, 2020
It is not often that a football team can find their future offensive leader and their future defensive leader in the same draft. The Los Angeles Chargers hope that they just accomplished that in the 2020 NFL Draft. The Chargers used two 1st round picks to acquire their quarterback of the future on offense and the quarterback of the future on their defense. Here is a synopsis of all six Charger draft picks from the 2020 NFL draft held on April 23rd through April 25th:
Round 1A – Justin Herbert, Quarterback, Oregon, 6'6", 238 pounds – With the 6th pick in the first round, the Chargers selected their quarterback of the future in Herbert. A four-year starter for Oregon, Herbert is an athletic big man, running a 4.68 forty with a strong arm. He graduated from Oregon with a biology degree and a 4.01 grade point average. He was the Rose Bowl Offensive MVP and Senior Bowl MVP.
With the selection of Herbert, the Chargers have completed the transition from quarterback Philip Rivers to a more athletic group of quarterbacks. All three of the current Charger quarterbacks (Tyrod Taylor, Easton Stick and Herbert) are athletic quarterbacks or as Head Coach Anthony Lynn stated: "They have arms that can make every throw, they're mobile and just allow you to do more things. These guys, they can run around a little bit."
Round 1B – Kenneth Murray, Linebacker, Oklahoma, 6'2", 243 pounds – The Chargers traded a second-round pick and a third-round pick to the New England Patriots in exchange for the 23rd pick in the first round and with the 23rd pick, selected Murray. Lynn described Murray as an "old school linebacker. A very physical football player." Murray also ran a 4.52 forty, had a vertical jump of 38" and did the bench press of 225 pounds, 21 times. Murray will eventually become the quarterback of the defense.
Murray is just not an athlete, as he graduated in December with a degree in communications in three years. For the Charger fans that think that the team gave up too much to acquire Murray, a draft value chart used by NFL teams shows that the value of the 23rd pick in the first round was 760 points. The 2nd and 3rd round picks traded to the Patriots were valued at 765 points. It was a good trade and fair to both teams. The Chargers plan on playing Murray this season at weakside linebacker.
Round 4 – Joshua Kelly, Running Back, UCLA, 5'10", 212 pounds – The Chargers did not have to go far to find their replacement for Melvin Gordon. Kelly played at UCLA the past two seasons and played at Eastside high school in Lancaster, so he is staying at home with the Chargers. Like Herbert and Murray, Kelly performed well at the NFL combine, running a 4.49 forty. Kelly is scheduled to graduate with a degree in Sociology from UCLA.
Kelly led UCLA in rushing yardage the past two seasons, going over 1,000 yards in both seasons. Kelly was All-Pac-12 second team in 2019. In both 2018 and 2019, Kelly won the Henry R. Red Sanders Award as the team's Most Valuable Player. Lynn described Kelly as a, "Physical, downhill runner. He is battle tough. He's another one of those young men that has been through something, is high-character and great intangibles. At the same time, he's a good football player. That's what I was focused on."
Round 5 – Joe Reed, Wide Receiver, Virginia, 6'0", 224 – Reed is a player that brings versatility to the Chargers roster. He can play multiple roles, including wide receiver, running back and kick returner. He has a muscular frame to go with his 4.47 forty speed. Reed won the Jet Award, named in honor of 1972 Heisman Trophy Winner Johnny "The Jet" Rodgers, as the top return specialist in college football in 2019. Reed returned five kickoffs for touchdowns in his career at Virginia.
In his career at Virginia, Reed caught 129 passes and had 16 touchdown receptions. He will be a wide receiver with the Chargers, but they will move him around on offense. Coach Lynn said of Reed: "He is a multi-purpose threat. This guy plays wide receiver, he plays running back. He's a return guy. He has been highly productive. We needed a multi-threat like that. I felt like he was the guy."
Round 6 – Alohi Gilman, Safety, Notre Dame, 5'10", 204 - The Chargers needed to find a replacement for safety Adrian Phillips and Gilman will help. Phillips, a special teams star for the Chargers, departed as a free agent, signing with the Patriots. Gilman was primarily a box safety who was good in pursuit. He is a high energy player that is always around the ball.
Gilman started his career at the Naval Academy but transferred to Notre Dame after a year. He has decent speed at 4.6 in the forty, but his strength will come from his instincts. He will join former Notre Dame teammates Drue Tranquill, Jerry Tillery and Isaac Rochell on the Chargers. All four play on the defensive side of the ball. Gilman graduated with a degree in economics from Notre Dame.
Round 7 – KJ Hill, Wide Receiver, Ohio State, 6'0", 196 pounds – Hill was a steal in the 7th round. He set the Ohio State record as the all-time leader in pass receptions with 201 receptions. He also had 20 touchdown receptions. Hill does not possess great speed at wide receiver, but he is a sharp route runner. He will likely end up on special teams and as a slot receiver. He does have experience returning punts at Ohio State. Hill graduated with a degree in communications from Ohio State.