April 19, 2024

New mock draft suggests Chargers trade down, but is that the right choice?

Should the Los Angeles Chargers keep the fifth overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft or trade down to address multiple needs?

In his latest two-round mock draft, ESPN’s Field Yates has the Chargers trading the fifth pick to the Minnesota Vikings to select Alabama offensive tackle JC Latham (No. 11) and Texas WR Adonai Mitchell (No. 23).

“There is a plausible scenario in which the Chargers stand pat at No. 5 and take the best wide receiver available,” wrote Yates. “But here, Los Angeles can stockpile picks and still take advantage of a deep receiver class, landing a buttery smooth route runner in Mitchell. He has excellent size, great speed and reliable hands, with just one drop in his lone season at Texas (he transferred from Georgia).”

The Chargers’ biggest need is a wide receiver. LA traded six-time Pro Bowler Keenan Allen to the Chicago Bears this offseason and released former first-round pick Mike Williams. Mitchell seems like a solid replacement. In 14 games in 2023, he had 55 receptions for 845 yards and 11 TDs.

Meanwhile, ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. rates Latham as the second-best offensive tackle in this draft class behind Notre Dame’s Joe Alt.

However, if the Chargers move back, they may pass on an opportunity to take Ohio State WR Marvin Harrison Jr. or LSU’s Malik Nabers. Both first-team All-Americans possibly have a higher ceiling than Mitchell.

Nabers had 89 receptions for 1,569 yards and 14 TDs in 13 games last season. Harrison Jr. logged 67 receptions for 1,211 yards and 14 TDs in 12 games. He also won the 2023 Biletnikoff Award, given to the best WR in college football. Clearly, either could flourish with Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert.

Pro Football Focus rated the Chargers O-line the 16th-best in the league last season. While it’s not elite, it’s not their biggest problem, and they could address it later in the draft. 

Los Angeles has much to consider before the April 25-27 draft and must make smart choices after they went 5-12 in 2023.