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Why Offensive Tackle Should Be the Chargers First Round Draft Pick

The Los Angeles Chargers must continue to shape their offensive line to protect franchise quarterback Justin Herbert.

The 2021 NFL Draft is kicking off on Thursday. The Los Angeles Chargers are preparing for the draft like usual, but this year will be different. Newly-hired head coach Brandon Staley will be a part of the draft process and will help make the tough decisions, unlike in previous years with former head coach Anthony Lynn. The Chargers are in win-now mode and proved it when they signed star center Corey Linsley during NFL Free Agency. That signing filled a major hole for the 30th-ranked offensive line in 2020. The Chargers also added guard Matt Feiler, previously from the Pittsburgh Steelers, to a three-year contract.

The Chargers currently hold the 13th pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. Los Angeles is more than capable of staying put and choosing the best player available like in years past, or they could trade up or down and draft the player they want. Regardless of what they do, the Chargers draft pick in the first round should be spent on an offensive tackle.

Chargers Draft Targets at Offensive Line

Penei Sewell – Oregon

Rashawn Slater – Northwestern

Christian Darrisaw – Virginia Tech

Teven Jenkins – Oklahoma State

Samuel Cosmi – Texas

Alex Leatherwood – Alabama

penei Sewell chargers draft targets nfl offensive tackle 2021
Credit: Abbie Parr/Getty Images

A note to keep in mind is the Chargers have not taken a lineman with their first pick in the draft since D.J. Fluker out of Alabama in 2013. Since then, the offensive line has struggled, and it clearly isn’t where they want it to be. If the Chargers want to continue putting up big-time numbers on offense, they will need protection not just for this season, but for the next five to eight seasons in the future. Drafting one of those names mentioned above should solidify their line for years to come, even more so with the free agent additions.

If the Chargers trade up for any reason, it would most likely be to draft Penei Sewell from Oregon. Sewell is projected to be a top draft option and it is very unlikely he is available at the 13th pick. Do not be surprised if the Chargers make a strong push for Sewell to team him up with former teammate Herbert.

If Los Angeles decides to stay at 13 and choose the best player available, Rashawn Slater and Christian Darrisaw make a lot of sense. Both Slater and Darrisaw are starting-caliber linemen who will instantly change the dynamics of the offensive line. If one of those two are available at 13, it would be wise to not pass on them. The only other position that would make sense during the first round for LA would be at cornerback. But with Chris Harris Jr. and Michael Davis leading the way, an offensive tackle is the biggest priority.

A first-round Chargers draft pick on an offensive lineman in an investment for years to come and a needed addition to compete now.

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