Daniel Jeremiah’s Pre-Combine Conference Call: Discussing Which Prospects Fit the Chargers’ Draft Needs
Analyzing the Chargers’ draft needs with NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah.
With the NFL Scouting Combine quickly approaching, NFL Network’s Draft Analyst Daniel Jeremiah held his annual conference call on Friday, fielding questions about prospects and team fits around the league.
For the Chargers, they’re top positional needs include wide receiver, tight end and edge rusher to name a few. While the priority in which they presumably address each specific needs could change following the free agency period, the Chargers will have to be much more calculated with how they go about spending relative to the aggressive nature they pursued players last offseason. Currently, the Chargers are $20.5 over the salary cap, according to OTC, meaning roster cuts, trades or contract restructures are soon to come.
In addressing the NFL Draft in its entirety, Jeremiah said tight end, edge rusher and cornerback are the deepest positions. Meanwhile, at wide receiver, he sees a decline from how the position has stacked up the last few years.
“I don’t think the wide receiver group is quite what we’ve seen in the years recently here, but it’s deep at some other positions for sure,” Jeremiah said.
Here’s more on the Chargers’ top draft needs, with analysis from Jeremiah:
The Chargers will routinely be mocked to speed wide receivers all throughout the draft process after last season proved it was a missing ingredient to their offense. Jeremiah classified wide receiver as a “big need” for the Chargers, but also added that there’s options in free agency to explore as well.
“There are guys on that list that can move,” Jeremiah said of the free agent wide receivers. “I just think it’s an element [wide receiver] that needs to be added. I’m not beholden to that being the first-round pick.
“If you aren’t able to do it in the free-agency period, it’s not an ultimatum that your first-round pick has to be a speed receiver. You can find guys throughout the draft that can really run. It just has to show up at some point in the offseason.”
Jeremiah’s mock draft 2.0, released on Tuesday, has the Chargers taking TCU wide receiver Quentin Johnston with the No. 22 overall pick. He likes Johnston’s burst to fly downfield, but also mentioning several other options that fit the mold of a first-round wide receiver that the Chargers could be in the running for.
Particularly, Jalin Hyatt from Tennessee and Zay Flowers from Boston College sit as other notable options.
“The vertical stuff is obviously what he does best,” Jeremiah said of Hyatt. “I’ve seen him flash the ability to get in and out of breaks. He just doesn’t do a ton of it. So my thing with him is I think there’s a high floor because worst case scenario he’s gonna stretch the field, he’s gonna take the top off at defenses, you’re gonna be able to put him in the slot, you’re gonna be able to run deep overs, you can run verticals, and you can just pitch him the ball and let him do some things after the catch with his speed.
“He’s not super elusive. He’s going to need work to develop the full route tree. That’s not going to happen right away. But I just think in the immediate term, you’ve got an elite field-stretcher. I think you got to know what you’re buying there and know what that role is going to be. If you’re going to bring him in there and ask him to be Keenan Allen, that’s not going to work because that’s not who he is.”
Flowers, a prospect whom Jeremiah sees as a late first to early second-round pick he says, met with the Chargers at the East-West Shrine Bowl.
“We’ll see the rest of the testing when they run and all that, but it’s one of those things where you watch, you’re like ‘gosh he reminds me of T.Y. Hilton’ and then when you pull the numbers, they’re like twins,” Jeremiah said of Flowers. “I think he’s a great player … we’ll see how he runs. I’m a big fan of his.”
Among other speed options the Chargers could presumably target beyond the first-round, Jeremiah highlighted Nathaniel Dell from Houston, Tyler Scott from Cincinnati, Charlie Jones from Purdue and Marvin Mims from Oklahoma.
“There’s flyers in this draft you can get,” Jeremiah said of the speed in this year’s wide receiver class. “I know Nathaniel Dell is under sized. He’s 5’8″ 1/2 and 163 pounds, but he’s like Marquise Brown, like big time juice and acceleration. He’s got really good hands. Tyler Scott from Cincinnati, I think is probably going to go on day two somewhere. He’s vertical and can really go. He can take the top off. Charlie Jones, I think you’ll see him run well from Purdue. Marvin Mims, probably more of mid 4.4-type speed from Oklahoma, but a really good overall receiver, good route runner and can get vertical if you need him to do that. So there’s going to be options throughout the draft if you want guys that can roll and get on top of the coverage.”
If there was ever a year to be in need of a tight end, it’s this one. Jeremiah has six tight end prospects ranked inside the top 50 players on his big board. He also stated on the conference call, the depth of the tight end position goes well into the third-round.
“In terms of the number of guys, I have 11 tight ends with top-three round grades, which is a ridiculous number,” Jeremiah said. “It is just a really, really good group.”
Utah’s Dalton Kincaid is Jeremiah’s top tight end in the draft, and the ninth overall player on his big board. He says Kincaid carries with him similarities to Travis Kelce from a pass-catching standpoint.
“He’s just sudden in everything that he does, he separates, he’s outstanding after the catch, he can win on contact over the middle of the field,” Jeremiah said of Kincaid. “He’s really, really good after the catch.”
Other tight end options in the first to second round include Notre Dame’s Michael Mayer, Georgia’s Darnell Washington, Oregon State’s Luke Musgrave and Iowa’s Sam LaPorta.
If in fact the Chargers opt to address tight end after Day 1 of the draft, they should still be in good hands due to the depth of the position.
“I think this tight end group is the best I’ve seen in the last 10 years,” Jeremiah said. “It’s outstanding.”
Khalil Mack and Joey Bosa are as good of an edge-rushing duo as it gets, but the depth behind the lethal pairing is quite worrisome. While there’s bigger needs, edge probably won’t be selected on Day 1 of the draft, and rather targeted in the mid-rounds.
However, Jeremiah said there’s plenty of impact players in the middle round to choose from. Specifically, he named Andre Carter from Army, Byron Young from Tennessee and Dylan Horton from TCU.
“In terms of the mid-round edge rushers, Andre Carter from from Army is tall and long, just needs to get physically stronger. But he’s kind of a Max Crosby-light there. He’s he’s got that same height and length. So he’s an interesting one as a mid-round guy.
“Maybe not as big of a guy, but Byron Young’s got some real twitch and some juice from Tennessee, double digit sacks. He’s got quick feet and can get off the ball. He’s just a little bit tight and a little bit undersized. Another big guy would be Dylan Horton from TCU. He’s long, almost 6’4″ 265 pounds, and kind of reminds me of like a Charles Omenihu as a player.”
Jeremiah thought adding depth along the defensive line through the draft is something they must do at some point, not just for pass-rushing purposes, but to aid their run-defense.
“The run defense has been the bugaboo for a few years now, so continuing to get stronger and stouter at the point of attack,” Jeremiah said. “Maybe mix in a younger edge rusher as well.”
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Nick Cothrel is the publisher of Charger Report. Follow Nick on Twitter @NickCothrel for more Chargers coverage.
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