Mid-April in the NFL means Mock Drafts, player evaluations and draft debates are well underway in preparation for the NFL Draft at the end of the month.
For the next two weeks leading up to the 2022 NFL Draft, Chargers team reporter Chris Hayre will host four episodes of "Crossfire" that will feature debates between NFL analyst for The Athletic Dane Brugler and other NFL analysts regarding the most pressing draft day questions.
The fist installment of "Crossfire", which airs Friday (4/15) on YouTube, features debates about this year's wide receiver class. In this preview of episode one, take a look at which receiver Brugler and Pro Football Focus analyst Mike Renner have the Chargers landing.
Most likely receiver to fall to 17?
Dane Brugler: Jameson Williams
"I think if the ACL wasn't a factor for Jameson Williams, we'd be talking about him as maybe the odds on favorite to be that first receiver drafted…when you have a group of receivers that are pretty close and these receivers are all different, but a lot of these teams have similar grades on a Drake London, a Garrett Wilson, a Chris Olave, a Jameson Williams, a Treylon Burks. So if a player has an ACL injury maybe that'll push them down just a little bit and maybe right in the laps of the Chargers at No. 17. If you look at Williams, I mean I professed my love for him earlier and I'm happy to do it again here, of Alabama's 11 longest plays last year on offense, Jameson Williams was responsible for 10 of them. I think this would be a great fit for both sides, for Williams he's going to an offense where he won't necessarily be hurried back from his rehab because he's going to a really talented offensive roster. Then for the Chargers, the idea of adding that type of speed at Justin Herbert's disposal, what defense has enough defensive backs to cover all this receiver talent? If a receiver with Williams' talent is there at 17, I don't think you pass plain and simple."
Mike Renner: Chris Olave
"I think it's Chris Olave, I just look at the draft board and look at the needs of other teams and where they'll probably end up leaning. If you think early guys and what teams need, with someone like the Falcons I think would lean to Jameson Williams or Drake London, the Jets need a guy they are probably leaning for like a possession type with Drake London. The teams before them that need wide receivers, I don't think would go that route of what Chris Olave brings to the table and like I said, this is a perfect fit for the Chargers' needs. So I think that's a guy most likely of probably the top four or five receivers that I'd say is still going to be on the board at pick 17."
Take your Pick: Garrett Wilson or Chris Olave?
Dane Brugler: Garrett Wilson
"What an embarrassment of riches it was in that Ohio State wide receiver room, especially when you consider Jameson Williams was there for a few years, Jackson Smith-Njigba, a guy we will be talking about next year. Just a fun group, but Garrett Wilson, one of my favorite players in the entire draft, so much fun to watch. Not the biggest guy, just under six-foot, 183 pounds but he plays much bigger than that and he can win through contact, outstanding ball skills and I try not to overuse the word elite when talking about these prospects, but Wilson has elite body control and that's why my comparison for him is [Cowboys wide receiver] CeeDee Lamb. The body types are a little different, Wilson I think is a slightly better athlete with the body control, their length to go make athletic plays on the football very, very similar. Really, the main reason why I slightly prefer Wilson over Olave, and Olave the more refined player no doubt about it…but with Wilson, I think you have a little bit more after the catch dynamic. Wilson, he's going to force missed tackles, he's instinctive with the ball in his hands and I think that comes from his experience playing basketball. He had division one basketball scholarships out of high school, so two really good players here but I will lean Wilson."
Mike Rennner: Chris Olave
"I lean Olave though because we are on a Chargers podcast and we are talking about the Chargers draft board in particular for the Chargers football team I want a guy that's ready now because you have a roster that's ready to win right now with Justin Herbert on his rookie deal and I want a guy that can attack the deep parts of the football field because you have two slower-ish wide receivers in Mike Williams and Keenan Allen and that's not to say Garrett Wilson isn't fast, but he has been the productive underneath, intermediate guy over the course of his career where as Olave has been that deep-threat wide receiver in that Ohio State offense. So, he fills that need that the Chargers don't have on their roster whereas Garrett Wilson, a lot of what he brings to the table is redundant to what Keenan Allen brings to the table. So, you can't have two guys filling the same role, Chris Olave could fill a different role and be productive from it from day one."
Favorite Wide Receiver in this Draft?
Dane Brugler: Jameson Williams
"Truly special speed and we're not talking about a track guy who's just trying to play football. This is a guy that has great feel for spacing within his routes, he's able to shift his gears so he can force his defender to settle his feet before taking off on a double move or breaking off on a 90-dgree cut on a dig [route]. He's not the most natural hands catcher per say, but he tracks the ball well and makes easy adjustments on the football. The torn ACL in January creates a little bit of hesitation no doubt, but hopefully he comes back healthy, because whenever Williams is on the field you know an explosive play is possible on any given snap, that's why he was one of my favorites this year."
Mike Renner: Drake London
"I think it's Drake London, the USC wide receiver, just because I know what I'm getting. You see the basketball background, he literally played on the basketball team as a freshman there. The ball skills, the contested catch ability, his ability to get off the line of scrimmage, which is rare for a big wide receiver to be able to do that and he's done it all so young. I think that's the thing that's gotten lost is this guy is 20 years old, he hasn't even turned 21 yet so the sort of ascension he's made over the past year from a pandemic shortened year, from not having focused on football, from having played on the basketball team. What could he end up being if he's just focused on football for his 22-year-old season? I think we haven't even seen the best of him and what we saw last year was the best wide receiver in college football or at least the most productive wide receiver in college football. So, to me I know what I'm getting and that's going to be a productive, possession-type wide receiver at the next level."
Tune in on Friday to see the analysts debate these topics and more on the Chargers YouTube channel.
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