What the Chargers' draft needs are at each position

Speaking to Tom Brady, the Chargers were speculatively tied to Teddy Bridgewater and are now a rumored destination for Cam Newton.

After 14 seasons of nothing but Philip Rivers, this was the ‘Quarterback Off Season’ for the Chargers, who have not yet added a quarterback.

That will almost certainly change in the NFL draw next month and change early, with many predictions that would select Justin Herbert or perhaps Jordan Love at number 6.

As of now, the chances of the Chargers Newton signing are unlikely. Unless that changes, the quarterback discussion will not intensify until April 23 and the first round is approaching.

So far out of season, the Chargers have strengthened their offensive line through a trade (right wing guard Trai Turner) and a free service (right tackle Bryan Bulaga).

They’ve strengthened two need positions by adding a nose kit (Linval Joseph) and a linebacker (Nick Vigil). They also upgraded at cornerback by agreeing to one of the best to work in the slot (Chris Harris Jr.).

Their staff losses were plentiful, including Rivers, left tackle Russell Okung, linebacker Thomas Davis, declining Melvin Gordon, defensive tackle Brandon Mebane, safety Adrian Phillips and fullback Derek Watt.

With just under four weeks to go before the chargers are officially ‘on the clock’, here’s a positional breakdown of their needs:


Veteran Tyrod Taylor is the starter for now, with the 2019 fifth round pick Easton Stick also on the roster.

Herbert, who played in Oregon, makes the most sense at number 6, especially after a Rose Bowl show that emphasized his athletics and his ability to run.

Love comes from a season in which he threw 17 interceptions for the state of Utah, exactly the kind of shaky performance that ended Rivers’s historic tenure.

As with any team looking for a potential franchise quarterback, the Chargers are undoubtedly also intrigued by Tua Tagovailoa, who is coming back from a season-related hip injury.
But to secure the former Alabama star, you should probably move up in the draft, at least for Miami, which wins fifth place.

The problem for Chargers general manager Tom Telesco is that the dolphins have an abundance of design capital – five out of the first 56 picks – to go up if needed, giving them significantly better leverage.

Running back

Austin Ekeler runs the ball during a game against the Jaguars on December 8.

(Sam Greenwood / Getty Images)

The Chargers re-signed Austin Ekeler three weeks ago and have Justin Jackson as a backup.

And that’s it now on the roster, meaning they will add a few runningbacks before the start of training camp.

In addition to using a free agency, the Chargers will likely set up a running back, a position that shows history in the later rounds or even after the event has ended.

Ekeler went off the air in 2017, and Jackson was included in the seventh round a year later.

While the plan requires Ekeler and its versatility to be listed, the Chargers would like to have multiple running backs that are reliable, productive … and stay healthy.

Offensive line

Turner and Bulaga represent a clear improvement along an offensive front that struggled with consistency in 2019.

Center Mike Pouncey is trying to get back from a seasonal neck surgery, with left protector Dan Feeney and backup Scott Quessenberry being the other options there.

The Chargers can still use a more proven left tackle and 38-year-old Jason Peters and his 15-season NFL experience remain available on a free shift.

Getting younger would be an attractive alternative, and the 2020 design class is packed with material.

After choosing sixth, the next selection of the Chargers is number 37 overall, a place they could add a tackle.

Given the issues they had last season, the Chargers will open 2020 with at least three different attacking linemen than those who finished 2019, barring injury.


Chargers tight end Hunter Henry catches a passdown for a touchdown during the second quarter of a game against the Jacksonville Jaguars last season.

Tight end Hunter Henry, who protected the Chargers with a franchise tag, takes a pass for a touchdown during the second quarter of a game against the Jacksonville Jaguars last season.

(James Gilbert / Getty Images)

As with quarterback, the wide receiver is a position that the chargers should address, but not so far.

There is currently a significant void after Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, who both reached 1,000 yards last season.

This draft is also deep at the receiver, the chargers especially need someone who can bring speed to the perimeter.

Hunter Henry and Virgil Green are the best tight ends, although both have only been tied to the Chargers for one season. Henry is franchise tagged, and the Chargers plan to eventually sign him for an extension.

In the absence of long-term protection at the position, drawing up a tight end is quite possible.

Defense line

The chargers are on the edges with Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram. But that situation is on the way to a major change.

Bosa and Ingram are entering the final seasons of their contracts and it seems impossible to re-sign both – given the cost of edge rushers. So that the Chargers could strengthen the position with a draft pick.

Just a year ago, they wrote Jerry Tillery in the first round thinking he could strengthen their defense line on the inside. That didn’t work in Tillery’s rookie season, his further development being a key to the future success of this defense.


Even with the addition of Vigil, the Chargers remain on the linebacker depth market. They cut weak side-starter Thomas Davis in a salary ceiling move and lost Jatavis Brown in free service.

As a rookie, Drue Tranquill emerged as a true steal from the fourth round. He proved that he was able to start both on the weak side and in the middle.

Defensive coordinator Gus Bradley loves versatility and speed, and the Chargers are always looking to improve their selection with both.

Defensive back

Now a member of the Chargers, Chris Harris (25) breaks a pass intended for LA receiver Mike Williams when the cornerback was a member of the Denver Broncos.

Now a member of the Chargers, Chris Harris (25) breaks a pass intended for LA receiver Mike Williams when the cornerback was a member of the Denver Broncos.

(K.C.Alfred / The San Diego Union Tribune)

This is an area where the chargers appear to be set. And deep. And talented. The addition of Harris caused a stir among a group that already included Derwin James and Casey Hayward.

Desmond King, an experienced slot corner, has the versatility to move, and Nasir Adderley, a second-round pick a year ago, should have enough motivation to prove himself after an injury shortened his rookie season.

Special teams

The Chargers’ need for speed extends to the kick-returning game. Right now, King is the only option on the roster with notable experience in accomplishing that task. (Jackson returned five times in 2019. And no, Allen doesn’t go back to handling punts like he did in his early career.)

In the coming weeks, this team will definitely be shopping for players with the ability to kick off and roll back punts.

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