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ESPN's Barnwell Projects Bolts to Trade Up for 1st-Round WR


We're one week and one day away from the 2023 NFL Draft.

And with the Chargers slated to pick at No. 21 in the first round, many are wondering what direction the Bolts will go?

Offensive skill players was the theme in the latest Mock Draft Tracker, but what if Chargers General Manager Tom Telesco decides to swing a trade?

ESPN's Bill Barnwell recently published his annual all-trades mock draft, which looks at a trade scenario for every pick in the first round.

While there has been some chatter that the Bolts could potentially trade down next Thursday night, Barnwell actually had the Bolts going the other direction.

Barnwell hypothesized that the Chargers would trade with the Patriots to move up to the 14th overall pick. The Bolts would give up Nos. 21 and 54 while getting a fourth-round pick (No. 135) in return from New England.

Check out some photos of the Chargers first workout of the 2023 off-season program at Hoag Performance Center.

This deal would leave the Chargers without a second-round pick but give them a pair of fourth-round selections.

Barnwell's reasoning was that the Bolts could jump ahead of other teams who could be looking at wide receivers.

He wrote:

L.A. general manager Tom Telesco almost always stays put in the opening round of the draft, but that's not an option here. The Chargers are at the beginning of a group of teams that expect to look for wide receivers, but any of those can move ahead of L.A. to make a trade with the Buccaneers or Seahawks.

In this case, the Chargers would be moving ahead of the Packers (No. 15) to land their favorite wide receiver in this class. The Packers drafting a wide receiver in the first round still seems to be a theory as opposed to something that might actually happen, but this would be a way for the Chargers to land Jaxon Smith-Njigba (Ohio State) as the long-term replacement for Keenan Allen. A more speedy option could be in play, although the Chargers probably would feel confident they could stay put and grab Zay Flowers (Boston College) or Jalin Hyatt (Tennessee).

Smith-Njigba, who Barnwell projected to the Bolts at No. 14 after the trade, battled injuries in 2022 as he had five receptions for 43 yards in just three games.

But the former Ohio State standout was among the nation's best players in 2021, including in the Rose Bowl Game in January of 2022 when he had 15 catches for 347 yards and three scores.

The Chargers were among seven teams Barnwell had trading up in his piece, while the other 24 picks were either trades that moved down or involved a player.

There are only 31 picks in the first-round this year because Miami forfeited its 2023 first-round selection. The Broncos, Rams, 49ers and Browns traded away their 2023 first-round picks.

The Chargers full list of 2023 draft picks can be found here.

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