Chargers Three Round NFL Mock Draft

The Los Angeles Chargers have been quiet since the start of the 2023 NFL free agency period began, which officially started on March 15th. The Chargers needed to restructure some contracts to get under the salary cap. They added former All-Pro linebacker Eric Kendricks but lost linebacker Drue Tranquill, who was a free agent and signed with the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Chargers did re-sign starting right tackle Trey Pipkins, defensive end Morgan Fox, and quarterback Easton Stick. But for the most part, the Chargers have been quiet in free agency, which means the NFL Draft will be the significant source of new talent for the Chargers this off-season.

There will be a need to get a new contract done with quarterback Justin Herbert and the Chargers would like to get an extension done with running back Austin Ekeler as well, but those deals are not priorities to get done before the NFL Draft, which will be held from April 27 through April 29 in Kansas City, Missouri.

The Chargers improved defensively last season and do not have any immediate concerns with their starting 11 on defense, although you can never have enough cornerbacks. They do need depth on defense, which can be addressed in rounds 4 through 7. What the Chargers need is more speed on offense. They need to get better, faster and younger at the skill positions. This is an early three round mock draft for the Chargers.

Round 1 – Dalton Kincaid, Tight End, Utah. The Chargers re-signed tight end Donald Parham to a two-year contract worth $2.650 million, according to Spotrac. Gerald Everett started and caught 58 passes for 555 yards, his best season in the NFL. Everett also tied for the NFL league lead with seven dropped passes. Everett has one year left on his contract, which will pay him $5.5 million.

Kincaid played two seasons at the University of San Diego, where he was a third team FCS All-American as a sophomore at San Diego. Michael Bandy, a Chargers wide receiver in this past season, was a first team All-American on the same San Diego team. In two seasons with San Diego, Kincaid had 68 receptions for a total of 1,209 yards and 19 touchdowns.

Kincaid transferred to Utah and in the past two seasons at Utah, caught 106 passes for 1,400 yards and 16 touchdowns. He was named a 3rd team FBS All-American. But his game against the USC Trojans during the 2022 regular season really stands out. In that game, Kincaid caught 16 passes for 234 yards and one touchdown in leading Utah to a 43-42 win over USC. He caught all 16 passes targeted at him.

In the USC game, Kincaid showed the country and NFL scouts his wide variety of receiving skills. He is a fluid route-runner with terrific hands and an athletic receiver with a wide catch radius. He runs well after the catch. His 35 career touchdown receptions in college are an indication that he is very effective in the red zone. Kincaid will give the Chargers a talented young receiver on a rookie deal and a new target for Herbert.

Round 2 – Zach Charbonnet, Running Back, UCLA. Running backs in the NFL have a limited shelf life. The Chargers have Ekeler under contract in 2023 at $6.25 million. He is in his seventh season in the NFL, all with the Chargers, and in the last year of a four-year, $24.5 million dollar contract. Ekeler has been a star for the Chargers, leading the NFL in touchdowns the past two seasons with 38. In six seasons, he has caught 389 passes. Ekeler is underpaid but under contract. At least for one more season.

Charbonnet is a bell-cow running back who could replace Ekeler if he leaves after this season. The 6-foot-1, 220 pound back rushed for 1,359 yards in ten games last season at UCLA, adding 14 rushing touchdowns and 37 receptions. He will not be brought down by arm tackles, will bounce off tacklers and has the speed and acceleration for explosive plays. Charbonnet ran a 4.53 forty at the NFL combine and had a 37” vertical jump.

Charbonnet is insurance if Ekeler leaves or gets hurt. Ekeler is a leader on the team and well-liked on the team and in the community. The Chargers do not want to lose him. The Chargers also have running back Joshua Kelly, who has been a solid contributor at running back. But he is in the last year of his four-year rookie contract. Adding Charbonnet would be the right move for the future.

Round 3 – Trey Palmer, Wide Receiver, Nebraska – The Chargers need a legitimate outside receiving threat, someone who can stretch the field and give Herbert a downfield target to throw to. Palmer is fast. The 6-foot, 192-pound speedster ran a 4.33 forty at the NFL Combine and in high school Palmer ran a 10.42 in the 100 meters to win the Louisiana state championship and was a four-time state champion in the 200 meters, breaking a 34-year-old state record with a 21.1 200-meter win in his senior season.

Palmer spent his first three seasons at LSU, where he did not play a lot. Palmer caught 41 passes and had three touchdown receptions with LSU. He did return a kickoff for a touchdown and a punt for a touchdown. In his lone season at Nebraska, Palmer caught 71 passes for a school-record 1,043 yards and nine touchdowns. He also rushed for 75 yards on five carries.

Palmer would replace DeAndre Carter returning punts and kickoffs, he would replace Bandy in the slot, and he could line up outside as a deep threat for Herbert, replacing Jalen Guyton in that role. Carter signed with the Las Vegas Raiders and Guyton, who is coming off an ACL injury, is a free agent and the Chargers have parted ways with him. Bandy is a free agent and recently played with the Houston Roughnecks of the XFL. Palmer could fill multiple roles for the Chargers.


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