Since drafting Justin Herbert with the sixth overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, the Los Angeles Chargers have gone all in with their roster. While trying to maximize having a star quarterback on a rookie deal, the front office has attempted to put together a roster full of elite. While the team has found success in the regular season, they have continued to fall short when it matters.
After not making the playoffs in 2021, Herbert and the Chargers managed to earn a trip to the postseason in 2022. Unfortunately for the team, their time in the playoffs didn’t last long as they fell to the Jacksonville Jaguars in the Wild Card Round.
With a first-round exit, the Chargers have attempted to re-tool in the offseason, but things have not gone to plan for the franchise.
The Chargers made their splashiest signing with the addition of veteran linebacker Eric Kendricks. In addition, they brought back several players including Trey Pipkins III and Donald Parham.
But the team has also undergone some major losses. To the shock of many, young safety Nasir Adderly announced his retirement. In addition, players such as cornerback Bryce Callahan and linebacker Kyle Van Noy seem ready to find new homes.
Arguably the biggest blow that the team has faced is the trade request made by superstar running back Austin Ekeler. In recent seasons, Ekeler has been the driving force of the offense, and the veteran is now on the search for a new contract.
With how the offseason has played out, the Chargers could head into the 2023 NFL draft with several major needs to address. Luckily for the team, at pick 21, they could have their selection of talented prospects.
Here are 3 players the Chargers could target in the first round of the 2023 NFL draft.
Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State
Since he arrived in the NFL, Justin Herbert has had the luxury of throwing to a top wide receiver duo of Mike Williams and Keenan Allen. But the pair of pass catchers have spent significant time on the sideline, especially in 2022. In turn, the Chargers offense has suffered in a big way. If the Chargers are looking to address the wide receiver in a big way, adding Ohio State’s Jaxon Smith-Njigba could be the best option.
During his time at Ohio State, Smith-Nigba appeared set to be the school’s next elite wide receiver. In 2021, while sharing the field with Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave, Smith-Njigba was arguably the team’s best pass catcher. He finished his sophomore season recording 95 receptions for 1,606 receiving yards and nine touchdowns.
Many expected that Smith-Njigba would continue to grow his game heading into 2022. Unfortunately, a hamstring injury sidelined him for much of the season.
Now back in full health, Smith-Njigba appears ready to make an impact at the next level. Joining the Chargers could allow him to do just that.
Smith-Njigba is arguably the best slot receiver in this year’s class, but he can also line up on the outside. With this versatility, he could fit in perfectly alongside Williams and Allen. If the Chargers are looking to add a pass catcher, he should be their choice at pick 21.
Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas
If Ekeler and the Chargers are unable to reach a new deal and the team chooses to trade him away, running back instantly becomes a major need for the offense. Adding a player such as Bijan Robinson of Texas could be an option if that is the case.
During his time at Texas, Robinsn looked elite from day one. With how he played each week, he is now being regarded as one of the best running back prospects in recent history.
Over his three collegiate seasons, Robinson rushed for 3,410 yards and 33 touchdowns on 539 carries. Through the air, he added 60 receptions for 805 receiving yards and eight touchdowns.
Robinson has the potential to be a game-changer on offense. With a Chargers team that is loaded with talent, he could be the ideal addition.
Dalton Kincaid, TE, Utah
If the Chargers choose to not address either wide receiver or running back at pick 21, tight end could also be an option. While both Gerald Everett and Donald Parham Jr. will be back in the mix next season, the team could look to add a game-changer at the position. Utah’s Dalton Kincaid could be just that.
During his time at Utah, Kincaid showed that he has all the tools to be an elite tight end. While he must still improve his blocking, his ability to impact the passing game can’t be ignored.
Over the past two seasons, Kincaid was arguably the team’s best playmaker through the air. In 25 games over that stretch, he recorded 106 receptions for 1,400 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns. This includes 16 receptions, 234 yards receiving, and one touchdown USC in Week 7 of the 2022 season.
While adding a tight end may not be the popular pick for the Chargers, it could make the most sense. In a 2023 class that is full of talent at the position, Kincaid could be arguably the best available option at pick 21.