(CBSLA)- The Los Angeles Chargers have had a largely quiet free agency period from an additions standpoint. While the team added tackle Bryan Bulaga, defensive tackle Linval Joseph and corner Chris Harris, it’s been more notable for the big names that have left. Quarterback Philip Rivers and running back Melvin Gordon both packed up for other locations in the AFC.
Now, the team enters next week’s NFL Draft with the sixth overall pick. Despite head coach Anthony Lynn’s declarations that the team is fine with going into the season with Tyrod Taylor as the starter, most of the draft world expects the team to take a quarterback. Question is, who will it be? Let’s take a look at the latest mock drafts from analysts to get a sense of where things currently stand.
Ryan Wilson (CBS Sports), Chris Trapasso (CBS Sports)- Josh Herbert, QB, Oregon
Herbert has been attached to the Chargers for months due to the expectation that the Dolphins, one pick ahead of the Chargers, would take Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa. The 6’6″ 237-pound Herbert spent most of his four years as Oregon’s starter, taking the full-time duties in 2018 & 19 following a couple of injury plagued seasons in his freshman and sophomore campaigns.
There is plenty to like about Herbert, who Lance Zierlein of NFL.com compares to Eagles starter Carson Wentz. Herbert’s senior season in 2019 was strong completing 66.8 percent of his passes for over 3,400 yards and 32 touchdowns despite a receiving corps that was ravaged by injuries. Still, questions about his leadership or play down the stretch of his senior year have kept him from being talked about as the number one guy despite his prototypical size. However, he’s still looked at as a viable top line starter in the league and would offer a nice replacement for Rivers.
Pete Prisco (CBS Sports), Mel Kiper Jr. (ESPN), Josh Edwards (CBS Sports)- Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
This has started to bubble up more recently with the Dolphins being rumored to having taken a liking to Herbert. The biggest question with Tagovailoa is durability. He suffered two high ankle sprains, a broken wrist and a dislocated hip during his time with the Tide, undergoing three different surgeries as a result. While the medical reports on him have looked good so far, until he proves capable of lasting a full season, the question is there.
But, the reason for selecting him this high (or in Edwards’ case, trading up to snag him before the Dolphins) is easy. He’s extremely talented. He won’t blow people away with arm strength, but accuracy and touch to all areas of the field proved to be strengths in Tuscaloosa as he completed 69.3 percent of his passes in three seasons with the Tide (two as a starter). Add in an 87-11 touchdown to interception ratio and you understand why “Tank for Tua” became a slogan for NFL fan bases last year.
R.J. White (CBS Sports)- Jordan Love, QB, Utah State
This is a bit of a curveball, but Love has become beloved as the fourth QB in this class behind Burrow, Tagovailoa and Herbert precisely because of his arm talent and flashy plays outside the pocket. Several analysts have said they see pieces of Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes in his play style. But, the problem is it’s just been flashes of that play. The potential is tantalizing. After 2018, when he completed 64 percent of his passes for over 3,500 yards and 32 touchdowns, big things were expected in 2019.
But, his interceptions went up (6 to 17) while the touchdowns (20) and completion percentage (61.3) went down. So the question is, which guy is he? And can he find more consistency to his game.
Tom Fornelli (CBS Sports)- Jedrick Wills Jr., OT, Alabama
This pick would solidify an offensive line that has been annually beset by injuries like clockwork. The current group of Mike Pouncey, Trai Turner, Forrest Lamp and Bulaga looks great on paper, but the team is missing another stud tackle. Adding Wills, who has been compared to former Eagles stalwart left tackle Jason Peters, to the mix would provide upgraded protection for Taylor and whoever the team may draft later or sign (Cam Newton?) after the draft.
Will Brinson (CBS Sports)- Jeffrey Okudah, CB, Ohio State
Okudah is looked at as the top corner in this draft. A sticky cover corner, he broke up 17 passes in his last two seasons with the Buckeyes and picked off three passes in 2019. But, the Chargers already have a secondary featuring the aforementioned Harris, Casey Heyward and Desmond King along with safeties Derwin James and Nassir Adderley. Adding to that group would make it even tougher, but it feels like there are bigger needs elsewhere. Still, if Okudah falls to them at this point, he may be hard to pass up.