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Bolts Buzz: Chargers Draft Grades


Since the conclusion of the 2021 NFL Draft, experts and analysts have been poring over all the selections and handing out their draft grades. Here are the compiled grades of the Bolts' draft from across the internet.

Chad Reuter, A

"Slater only lasted to No. 13 overall because of his average length for the tackle position. But he'll more than overcome that, and find success in the NFL, because of his athleticism and toughness. Samuel's slight frame (5-10, 180) also cost him draft position, but again GM Tom Telesco found value by selecting the future starter midway through Round 2. Palmer and McKitty give Justin Herbert needed depth at pass catcher and will help negate some of the production lost by Hunter Henry's exit in free agency.

"Adding Rumph's Gumby-like bend off the edge should bolster the Chargers' pass rush, while James' positional versatility should give the team's O-line more flexibility. Rountree looked like a third-round pick at times at Missouri; he could be a Justin Jackson-type value pick for the Bolts."

Mel Kiper Jr., (subscription required): A

"The Chargers' top two needs headed into this draft were clearly defined: a left tackle to protect Justin Herbert and a starting-caliber corner. General manager Tom Telesco hit both of those early, and he didn't have to reach.

"Rashawn Slater (13) was a popular fit for mock drafts, and there were some teams that had a higher grade on him than Penei Sewell. He has the potential to be an All-Pro left tackle. Now, with the additions in free agency of Corey Linsley and Matt Feiler, this offensive line is suddenly one of the league's 10 best. Herbert was pressured a whopping 217 times last season. I said it on Thursday -- this pick is a dream come true for the Chargers. I thought cornerback Asante Samuel Jr. (47) would go earlier than he did, but he could play in the slot or outside as a rookie. L.A. upgraded with both of these picks.

"Wideout Josh Palmer (77) averaged 21 yards per catch in 2018, and his numbers would have been better if he had consistent quarterbacks throwing to him. Tight end Tre' McKitty (97) wasn't used much as a receiver in his lone season at Georgia, but he can block a little bit. Versatile linebacker Chris Rumph II (118) was one of my top available prospects for Day 3, and I'm curious where he'll fit in Brandon Staley's defense. Larry Rountree III (198), my eighth-ranked running back, put up 3,720 career rushing yards at Missouri.

"Again, Telesco didn't reach to fill two big voids, and so this class is one of the best of the year. This team absolutely got better."

Danny Kelly, The Ringer: A-

"I love what the Chargers did this weekend, especially in the early rounds. Los Angeles nabbed its long-term solution at left tackle, offering reliable protection for second-year quarterback Justin Herbert, and added depth and playmaking talent to an already strong defensive backs group. Plus, I really like Palmer, who offers big-play potential and has the skill set to be the eventual replacement for Mike Williams, who will play this season on his fifth-year option"

Pete Prisco, CBS Sports: B+

"The skinny: I love their first three picks. In addition to Palmer, they took tackle Rashawn Slater in the first and corner Asante Samuel Jr. in the second. Both should start as rookies. Third-round tight end Tre McKitty will help down the road when Jared Cook is done."

Conor Orr, Sports Illustrated: A-

"There are times when you're better off lucky than good, and the mad dash to collect wide receiver talent, which subsequently kicked Rashawn Slater down to L.A.'s spot at No. 13, is a stroke of tremendous luck. There were few situations where an obvious, glaring need and a day one starter crossed over as seamlessly.

"Deeper into the draft, beyond the Asante Samuel Jr. pick (which seems to be a home run on the surface) the Chargers got themselves some chess pieces to help them stay afloat in the radically diverse AFC West. Chris Rumph II, the outside linebacker from Duke, can find the field on passing downs during his rookie season and, while the rest of the defense is obsessed with Joey Bosa, fly under the radar and make life for Patrick Mahomes a little more complicated."

Brad Gagnon, Bleacher Report: A

"The Los Angeles Chargers' draft was simple, smart, efficient and encouraging.

"First-round offensive tackle Rashawn Slater presented great value at 14 and is the perfect cherry on top to complete an offensive line rebuild for young quarterback Justin Herbert's sake. Second-round cornerback Asante Samuel Jr. was considered a potential first-rounder and addressed another major need for a secondary in transition. And then they gave Herbert two more weapons with third-round pass-catchers Josh Palmer and Tre' McKitty.

"And with the Melvin Ingram III era seemingly over, they found a nice situational pass-rusher to replace him with fourth-rounder Chris Rumph II.

"With a solid nine picks in total, it was a strong haul in terms of both quality and quantity."

Check out some of the best photos of the Chargers 2021 Draft Class!

Dan Parr, A-

"GM Tom Telesco had an ideal start to the draft, setting the tone for an outstanding weekend of work. I ranked OT and CB as the team's top two needs and they expeditiously took care of business on both fronts, finding players who'll be starting at those spots for a long time.

"Slater is the left tackle the Bolts have been craving for quite a while, a technician who has already proven he can more than hold his own against elite talents. Like Slater, Samuel doesn't have the ideal size for his position, but he'll more than make up for that with his instincts and ball skills. He should thrive in Brandon Staley's defense.

"...Two of the Chargers' Day 3 picks -- Rumph and Niemann -- made analyst Lance Zierlein's list of his three favorite selections by round. Who am I to argue with a guy who studied and wrote profiles for 450-plus prospects this year? This is an attractive draft haul from top to bottom."

Dane Brugler, The Athletic (subscription required): 5th-Highest Ranked Draft Class

"Favorite pick: Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern

"Call it luck or call it smart process, the Chargers could have been pressured to trade up for the quarterback last year or the left tackle this year. But they stayed put both years and landed Justin Herbert and Slater. Regardless, job well done by Tom Telesco and his staff.

"Day 3 pick who could surprise: Brenden Jaimes, OT, Nebraska

"I loved what the Chargers did on Day 3, especially with Rumph and Niemann. But the value of Jaimes (pronounced HYME-iss) outside the top-150 picks was outstanding. Nebraska has a vast history of producing offensive lineman, but none started more consecutive games than Jaimes, who should at-worst be a rock-solid swing tackle. With Slater and Jaimes, the Chargers remade the tackle depth chart in one draft."

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