Perfect offseason gift for Chargers at each position of need
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!
In the spirit of the holiday season and the offseason coming up, we decided to gift Los Angeles with the most ideal and realistic acquisition at each position of need, using the 2021 NFL draft and free agency as our outlets.
Offensive tackle — Jalen Mayfield, Michigan
Sam Tevi has been the team’s best offensive lineman this season, which makes it more difficult when it comes time to decide which of the three starters, Tevi, Dan Feeney and Forrest Lamp will be back next season. In this scenario, I’m assuming Feeney and Lamp are the only two back while Tevi is finding a new home.
The loss of Tevi wouldn’t be all that significant when considering how rich this year’s tackle class is. Many assume that Los Angeles needs to draft a tackle in Round 1 and while they could go that route, the team selects a plug-and-play starter in Round 2 with Mayfield.
Mayfield manned the right tackle position for Michigan but he played left tackle early in his collegiate career. The 6-foot-5 and 320 pounder struggles with speed at times, but he has the length and overpowering hands to neutralize power and control the point of attack as well as the athleticism and movement skills to flourish against the run and in motion.
Guard — Joe Thuney, Patriots
Like I mentioned, I can see the Chargers re-signing Lamp, but the team relegates him to a depth piece and looks to free agency to fill the void. Assuming general manager Tom Telesco is not fired, he’s notorious for going the free agency route to find offensive linemen. In this case, he makes the splash signing on Thuney.
Thuney, who has developed into one of the league’s most premiere guards, has yet to miss a game in his five-year college career. Earning second-team All-Pro honors in 2019, Thuney has followed that up with another impressive season. While he will likely command a hefty paycheck, he is worth every single as Los Angeles looks to build a wall for QB Justin Herbert.
Edge defender — Kwity Paye, Michigan
There are a handful of Chargers fans who believe the offensive tackle position absolutely needs to be addressed in Round 1. However, the most important position in football outside of quarterback is edge defender. Every team must have defensive playmakers along the front line with the potential to disrupt the timing and rhythm of the passing game.
No pressure, no diamonds.
Los Angeles currently ranks No. 21 in team pass rush win rate, which primarily has all been EDGE Joey Bosa. I expect Melvin Ingram to walk in free agency. While Ingram has been out, the team hasn’t gotten much out of the players that have filled his void, Uchenna Nwosu and Jerry Tillery.
With that being said, the Bolts address in the position in the first round with Paye. Paye, the 6-foot-3 and 271 pounders, is an explosive and speedy pass-rusher who wreaks havoc in opposing backfields, both against the pass and run. He needs to add more counters to the bag of tricks, but he has the skillset to be productive for a very long time at the next level.
Intrigued yet? How does 25 quarterback pressures in three games sound?
Pro Football Focus’ Nick Farabaugh believes Paye and the Bolts would be a perfect fit, too.
The Los Angeles Chargers are a fascinating landing spot for Paye. They love to run multiple fronts and use their guys up and down the line. Paye can fill a need there. While working as a defensive end on the interior, Paye has the right amount of sand in his pants to hold his weight and go at it with the biggest of linemen. His explosiveness on the interior is inherently disruptive as well. Still, Paye can stand up and work at outside linebacker, too. The Chargers like to do that at times, so Paye is a nice plug and play here for the Chargers.
Tight end — Hunter Long, Boston College
Hunter Henry has played his way into a contract extension, which I expect both sides to get done this offseason. However, the Chargers will need to figure out what to do with the depth. Virgil Green is a free agent and I don’t expect him to be back while Donald Parham and Stephen Anderson are just proving to be developmental players.
Knowing that the Chargers will have an extra third-round pick for Philip Rivers, this could be where they draft a player to complement Henry with someone that has starter upside. Long is a smart, willing blocker who shows athleticism in his routes, has very good speed, and chunk yardage creation after the catch, possessing the ability to be a monster off of play action.
Long finished his stint with the Eagles with 89 catches for 1,297 yards and nine touchdowns.
Cornerback — Trill Williams, Syracuse
This is another position that many fans believe could be addressed in the first-round, especially due to the regression of Casey Hayward. The Chargers could release Hayward and save $9.75 million in cap space. But I believe the team will blame the woes on his injuries and give him another chance to prove himself before his contract is up at end of the 2021 season.
Michael Davis is set to be a free agent at the end of this season, but he’s been one of the best defenders this season and has played his way into a contract extension. Chris Harris Jr. hasn’t been perfect and while he’s another player that could be cut, I don’t see them doing that, either. At the end of the day, they all return and look for depth and a future starter in the draft.
Williams is a name that has gone under the radar, but I believe he will become more well known as we get closer to the draft. The 6-foot-1 and 198 pounder is a long and rangy corner and is extremely competitive. Williams has jumped 40 inches and has been clocked at a laser-timed 4.34 in the 40, per The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman.
In 28 games, Williams amassed 93 tackles, 10 passes defensed, four interceptions and three passes defensed.