The first round of the 2023 NFL Draft is exactly a week away.
NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah, who is also the radio color commentator for Chargers games, held a conference call Thursday morning in advance of the offseason spectacle.
Here are five takeaways from Jeremiah:
1. A possible trade down
As is the case every year, the draft is unpredictable. Sitting at pick No. 21, there will be many intriguing prospects that still sit on the board for the Bolts.
But what if the board shakes out a certain way and opens up the possibility of moving back?
Jeremiah believes that not only is it possible, but it would make some sense for the Bolts in this draft given who can be available late in the first round if a trade down were to occur.
"I think that's a real possibility and I think as you're ready to pay Justin [Herbert], having more cheap starters is going to be the way to go," Jeremiah said.
"I think trading down makes a ton of sense," Jeremiah later added. "If they were to trade down, now you start looking at edge rushers and receivers, I think there's value down there at the bottom of the first round."
The wide receiver position is one of the most commonly mocked positions for the Chargers at No. 21. In the latest edition of the Chargers Mock Draft Tracker, nine out of the 14 mocks had the Bolts selecting a receiver.
A potential trade down would likely eliminate the possibility of some of the top receivers in the draft but would still allow the Chargers to draft someone that fits the traits Jeremiah believes the team could look for.
"Receiver-wise, I think you're looking for guys who can stretch the field vertically," Jeremiah said. "I think there's a chance you see one of those top wide recievers, one of the top five or six guys, Zay Flowers could be in that mix at that point.
"I think [Jordan] Addison will be gone, [Jaxon] Smith-Njigba will be gone, there seems to be some late push and buzz around the league for Quentin Johnston, who's getting a lot of attention, I think he's probably gone," Jeremiah added. "When you're looking at Jalin Hyatt from Tennessee, and you're looking at Zay Flowers, those are probably the two guys I think would be interesting fits if they were to trade back."
Receiver wouldn't be the only position Jeremiah would be looking at for the Bolts in a possible trade down scenario though.
Edge rusher has been a position that, while not as popular as receiver, has been previously mocked to the Chargers throughout the draft process.
Depending on who's available, Jeremiah has a couple names in mind that he believes would fit with the Bolts.
"We'll see where some of these edge rushers go like Myles Murphy, Will McDonald IV would another one I think is interesting," Jeremiah said. "Felix Anudike-Uzama from Kansas State. You get one of those guys, maybe BJ Ojulari would be another one you could consider.
"I think there's a good group of edge rushers you could be picking from if you traded even to the top of the second round if you were to trade all the way out," Jeremiah added. "I think there's some guys who would fit."
2. CB among deepest positions
Jeremiah believes this is a good year to look for a cornerback after Day 1.
While the top of the class remains impressive with Oregon's Christian Gonzalez and Illinois' Devon Witherspoon, Day 2 will also have some very talented players available.
In fact, Jeremiah believes that for teams looking for a wide receiver and cornerback with their first and second-round picks, he would opt for a receiver in the first and a cornerback in the second, as this year's cornerback class is deeper with talent.
"I think that's what goes on in draft rooms and that's maybe not what everybody understands, is that you don't make that one individual pick in a vacuum," Jeremiah said. "You're kind of looking at your collective haul in terms of how you negotiate, your strategy.
"This might be the first time I can remember in a long time that I would advocate taking the wide receiver first because I actually like the [cornerback] group in the second round that you would be staring at more than I like the receivers you'd be staring at," Jeremiah added.
Jeremiah has six cornerbacks in his latest Top 50 prospects list, including three in the top 20.
He has a lot of corners in mind once the second round hits.
"When you get to the second round, the corners, we'll see what happens with Emmanuel Forbes, I think he's got a real chance to go in the first round even though he's 170 pounds currently," Jeremiah said. "With him, [Kelee] Ringo is intriguing from Georgia, Tyrique Stevenson from Miami, Riley Moss, I really like him ... a lot of teams like him from Iowa. Julius Brents Kansas State, there's a long list. There are some teams that are Cam Smith teams, others aren't quite as high."
For teams with needs at both positions, Jeremiah feels as though the receiver group would be the one teams should attack early given who would be available later on.
"I think there's a lot of depth at this corner position, whereas the wide receiver position, I feel like it's that kind of clump up there at the top, there's a handful of guys, and ideally you'd want to leave with one of those guys already in the fold," Jeremiah said.
3. Jeremiah's top TE and WR prospects
Jeremiah touched on two of his top offensive prospects that have been projected by many as the possible Chargers pick — tight end Dalton Kincaid from Utah and wide receiver Jordan Addison from USC.
This year's tight end group is deep, and Kincaid sits at the top for Jeremiah, as he remains high on the Utah product. The First-Team All-Pac 12 selection posted a career-high 890 receiving yards on 70 receptions in 12 games.
"I don't know if I'm the captain of his fan club, but I know I'm in the running," Jeremiah said. "He ended the process as my ninth overall player, and I had him as my top tight end. I think he's a special, special talent.
"He had the back [injury] so he couldn't work out in the spring, but I think if he had been able to work out then he would have cemented himself as a top-15 pick," Jeremiah added.
Kincaid is one of the more dynamic offensive weapons in this draft, as his skillset sets him apart from others at his position.
As Jeremiah mentioned, a back injury kept him from the workouts in the lead up to the draft process. However, Jeremiah says he doesn't see him falling because of it, as teams are comfortable with how he came out.
"He's a stud. He's awesome off the line, awesome at the top of his routes," Jeremiah said. "He can separate, got great hands, competitive after the catch, can make you miss. One of the best players in the draft. And from what I've been told by teams, he came out of that fine and teams are comfortable with him medically.
"I don't envision him dropping for that reason at all," Jeremiah added. "I think he's an elite player, one of the best in the draft."
Jeremiah also talked about his top wide receiver prospect in Addison, as he remained at the top spot throughout the entire process.
Addison is an intriguing prospect, as he was one of the best receivers in college football in his time at Pittsburgh and USC. The only knock on him among analysts remains his frame, as he officially weighed in at 173 pounds.
"Ended the process as he started it for me and that's as my top receiver," Jeremiah said. "I wish he was heavier and I don't love the 173-pound aspect, but this guy made more big plays down the field in 2021 than anyone in the country."
Still, Jeremiah is sticking with Addison as his top receiver in this year's draft, as he believes the proof is in his talent and production throughout his collegiate career.
"I know he can make big plays and get over the top," Jeremiah said. "He's a talented guy.
"After the catch, he's not going to be able to break many tackles and is not real physical, but he can make you miss and run away from you," Jeremiah added. "He plays fast. Overall, he ended the process as my 15th player."
Possible Day 2 WRs
In terms of Day 2 wide receivers, North Carolina's Josh Downs has been trending upwards throughout the draft process, according to Jeremiah.
"Josh Downs is a good player, and talking to teams around the league, I think he has been a coaching favorite," Jeremiah said. "You go through the different cycles of the process where you have personnel department kind of takes the ball and runs with it early throughout the fall, and then the coaches jump into the process in the spring.
"Just talking to teams, it feels like this has been a coaching favorite who has kind of climbed a little bit as we've gone through the process here as the coaches have got involved," Jeremiah added.
The receiver produced at North Carolina, finishing with the fourth-highest receiving yards (2,483) and second-most receiving touchdowns (22) in school history.
While some concern over his height, Jeremiah likes what Downs could provide for a team from the slot position. He compared him to former wide receiver Antwaan Randle El, as Downs' traits and abilities make him a good second-round prospect.
"He is not big. He is a little under 5-foot-9," Jeremiah said. "He is quicker than fast. Not super, super explosive, but when I watched him, you see him get in and out of breaks. These little whip routes, he is so quick.
"He kind of reminded me of, going back into the old school a little bit, Randle El, somebody who is a really good athlete who I think will be a nice slot receiver," Jeremiah added. "I think he is going to go in the second round, I really do, at some point in time in that mix."
Another Day 2 and possible Day 3 receiver that Jeremiah talked about was Princeton's Andrei Iosivas, who has been gaining some traction as well.
"I think Iosivas probably goes in the fourth-round range," Jeremiah said. "He has some size at 6-3. He is 205 pounds. He ran well, in the low 4.4s. Obviously, he has a tremendous track background, so he can really run. He is a strider. He gains a lot of ground as he goes.
"He has a second gear when the ball goes up in the air. I didn't think he was a tremendous run-after-catch guy with make-miss and elusiveness, but a true over the top receiver.
While Jeremiah projects Iosivas as a fourth round pick, he has something that could sneak him into the third round.
"In a draft with so many small guys, he is one of the rare guys that's 6-3 and 200 plus," Jeremiah said. "That will help him.
"I think he is probably in that fourth-round range," Jeremiah added. "Maybe he surprises us and sneaks into the third round, but I think that's where he comes off the board."
5. The case of Bijan Robinson
Jeremiah opened his call offering some general thoughts as the draft inches closer. The biggest storyline so far has come from the quarterback position and how that plays out, as uncertainty remains at the top.
One of the most interesting storylines for Jeremiah, however, is the case of Texas running back Bijan Robinson.
Jeremiah has Robinson as No. 3 overall prospect in his Top 50, but has him selected until No. 14 in the first round. He's one of the most talented players in this draft but given his positional value, there is a ton of intrigue on just how high Robinson goes.
"The other intriguing storyline that I think has carried through this process would be Bijan Robinson," Jeremiah said. "We have this debate on the value of the running back every year but this is a pretty special player and this is a unique draft that he's in."
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