As the countdown to the 2023 NFL Draft continues, the future of the league prepares to hear their names called and find out where they will end up.
The Chargers hold the 21st overall pick in this year's draft, a selection the franchise has never had.
But before the draft, Sports Illustrated's Matt Verderame decided to look at the history of each team. Not only who was their best draft pick, but also their best draft class of all time.
Looking at the history of the Chargers when it comes to the draft, the team has selected some legendary players that went on to have Hall of Fame careers. Without taking into account the value of the selection, Verderame examined each team's best draft pick of all time.
While there could be plenty of names that could take the title for the Bolts, there is one player in particular that Verderame believes is the best Chargers draft pick of all time — Chargers legend and Pro Football Hall of Famer, Junior Seau.
While Dan Fouts, LaDainian Tomlinson and Kellen Winslow Sr. all have arguments, nobody compares to the singular, lasting brilliance of Seau for the Chargers.
Seau played 13 years in San Diego, making 12 consecutive Pro Bowls (1991–2002) and six All-Pro first teams. The USC product was also named the 1994 Walter Payton Man of the Year while leading the Chargers to their first and only Super Bowl appearance. Not surprisingly, Seau was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2015 as a first-ballot choice.
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Selected by the Chargers fifth-overall in the 1990 NFL Draft out of USC, Seau spent 13 seasons with the Bolts and helped lead them to Super Bowl XXIX. As Verderame mentioned, Seau racked up a lot of accolades throughout his Hall of Fame career and was also one of the 12 linebackers selected to the NFL 100 All-Time Team.
Seau is one of only four Chargers players in the history of the franchise to have their number retired. He was inducted into the Chargers Hall of Fame in 2011 and is known as one of the most iconic Chargers of all time.
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As for the Chargers' greatest draft class of all time, Verderame goes back further to 1975. While the Bolts took flight on offense in the late 70s and early 80s under Chargers Head Coach Don Coryell, who will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in August, it was a defensive draft class that Verderame believes is the best Chargers draft class in its history.
Nobody remembers the Air Coryell Chargers for their defensive prowess, but they landed a trio of stars on that side in 1975.
Loaded up with multiple first- and second-round picks, San Diego found defensive tackles Gary "Big Hands" Johnson and Louie Kelcher, and defensive end Fred Dean. Dean is in the Hall of Fame with 92 unofficial sacks, while they combined to account for five first-team All-Pro appearances and 10 Pro Bowl trips.
In a draft where the Bolts had four of the first 33 picks, they were able to build the nucleus of their defensive line of that era through the draft. The trio was a handful for opposing offensive lines including in 1980, where they contributed to the Chargers leading the NFL in sacks.
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