Los Angeles Chargers 2021 NFL Draft Offensive Tackle Target Alijah Vera-Tucker

Targeting Tackles for the Chargers in the 2021 NFL Draft

  • 2021 NFL Draft
  • 2021 NFL Draft Prospects
  • afc west
  • Alex Leatherwood
  • Alijah Vera-Tucker
  • Bolts
  • Chargers
  • Christian Darrisaw
  • Dillon Radunz
  • Draft
  • draft prospects
  • LA
  • LAC
  • los angeles
  • los angeles chargers
  • NFL
  • NFl Draft
  • Offensive Lineman
  • Offensive Linemen
  • Offensive Tackle
  • OT
  • Samuel Cosmi
By Zac Alfers February 21, 2021 0 Comment
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Who Will the Chargers Target in the 2021 NFL Draft to Help Rebuild the Offensive Line?

With an abundance of tackle prospects entering the 2021 NFL Draft, the Los Angeles Chargers will attempt to reconstruct their offensive line. Last year’s unit wasn’t just bad, it was the WORST in the league according to Pro Football Focus. The team was riddled with injuries in 2020, especially along the offensive line, but that’s no excuse. If the Bolts hope to compete next season, upgrades in the trenches must be made.

Forrest Lamp, Sam Tevi, and Tyree St. Louis are currently free agents. I don’t expect all three to be resigned. Bryan Bulaga was brought in last season to shore up the right side of the line but unfortunately has battled to stay on the field. Given his age (31) and years in the league (11), his injury history is very concerning. The Bolts will bring back their top-rated offensive lineman from a year ago in Storm Norton, while Trey Pipkins has two more years on his rookie deal including this season. Hopefully, Bulaga bounces back and plays like a solid RT. That still leaves a starting LT opening. Given the unit’s injury past, the team needs to add some quality depth.

The incoming quarterback and receiver draft class is full of talent. The majority of the teams selecting ahead of the Chargers have needs in those areas. If an early run for QBs and WRs ensues, L.A. instantly benefits. Draft analysts differ in their opinions in ranking the best tackles in this draft. Depending on how other teams value these prospects, a top-ranked tackle should fall into the Bolts’ lap. With the Chargers holding the No. 13 overall pick, whoever it is will yield tremendous value. Here are the top tackle prospects for the Chargers to keep an eye on in the 2021 NFL Draft.

#1 Alijah Vera-Tucker

Entering the 2021 NFL Draft, the priority for the Chargers and GM Tom Telesco MUST be to help protect quarterback Justin Herbert. What better way to do that than to bring in a young, athletic offensive lineman like USC’s Alijah Vera-Tucker?

His footwork is outstanding for a man his size (6-foot-4, 315 pounds) and projects to be elite in pass protection at the next level. In the run game, Vera- Tucker uses his football IQ to beat defenders to the point of attack. This will allow him to mesh perfectly with the Chargers’ zone-blocking scheme.

His biggest asset is his versatility and spent time at RG, LG, and LT over the course of his Trojan career. The Chargers are in a rebuilding phase upfront and need help at multiple positions. A plug-n-play guy like Vera-Tucker will instantly expedite the rebuild process. If other teams sleep on him, the Bolts could have a chance to snag him in the first round.

#2 Christian Darrisaw

One player who has been linked to the Chargers in the 2021 NFL Draft is Virginia Tech standout Christian Darrisaw. Darrisaw was a proven commodity at left tackle for the Hokies making 34 starts during his collegiate career. If that doesn’t impress you, the young man allowed just six total pressures on 267 snaps in pass-pro last season as a senior. For those of you without a calculator handy, 2.2% of his dropbacks result in a QB pressure.

Standing 6-foot-5 and weighing 315 pounds, Darrisaw is an absolute bull in the ground game. He has the quickness to explode out of his stance as well as the athleticism to reach the second level. If he can consistently do this for the Chargers next year, this will leave semi truck-sized holes for Austin Ekeler and the other RBs to run through.

Darrisaw is one of those prospects that teams have varying opinions about. Some peg him as a legitimate first-rounder while others think he could slide to the second because of his lack of physicality. Personally, I don’t think that’s enough to push him to the second and it will be surprising if he’s still around when the Chargers select at No. 47 overall. He’s currently ranked as the 14th best prospect in the draft which means the Bolts will have to use a first-round selection to land Darrisaw.

#3 Samuel Cosmi

With the ability to play on both sides of the line, Texas OT Samuel Cosmi is one of the most well-rounded linemen in the 2021 NFL Draft. He’s a tall, athletic prospect with length, at 6-foot-7 and 310 pounds. Cosmi is an extremely gifted blocker who displays excellent mobility in the passing game. This, coupled with his lanky frame, will make him very difficult to beat on the edge. Hebert’s strength as a passer lies in his ability to throw the deep ball. Cosmi will help give the young QB the pocket he needs to deliver the big shots downfield.

Depending on which mock drafts you look at, the former Longhorn projects to be selected in the last first or early second round. If the other top tackles are already off the board when the Chargers select at No. 13, I’d still be comfortable taking Cosmi with that pick. If a player like Patrick Surtain II (CB, Alabama) is available, Telesco might be too drawn to pass and could elect to wait on his premier tackle. If by some draft day miracle Cosmi drops to the second round, he has the potential to be the steal of the draft at No. 47 overall.

#4 Dillon Radunz

One sleeper prospect who is quietly sneaking up people’s draft boards is North Dakota State product Dillon Radunz. With a 6-foot-6 frame, Radunz has the prototypical size of an NFL offensive lineman. However, weighing in at just 300 pounds, he will have to bulk up to be successful at the next level

Radunz is a strong, imposing prospect who can dominate as a run blocker. He has that old-school nastiness that you love to see in a lineman and prefers to deliver the hit instead of receiving it. The former Bison is no slouch in the passing game either, his technique just needs to be refined. NDSU only played one game in 2020 but that shouldn’t hurt Radunz’s draft stock too much. He had a stellar performance at the Senior Bowl which resulted in Radunz being named Overall Practice Player of the Week.

With his size, athleticism, and length, Radunz has an early second-round grade with the potential to move into the first if he can put together a solid offseason. If the Chargers select him at No. 13, it will be a decent pick. If they can wait until the second, the pick becomes a great one.

#5 Alex Leatherwood

Telesco’s typical draft day strategy is to select the best player available, rather than drafting for need. This is definitely something that the Chargers could explore in the 2021 NFL Draft.

If the Chargers do pass on a tackle in the first, Alabama’s Alex Leatherwood makes a lot of sense in the second. With a rare combination of athleticism and power, Leatherwood can play multiple positions along the line just like he did during his career with the Crimson Tide. He excels in the ground game, using his size (6-foot-5, 312 pounds) to overpower his assignment and erase defenders off the field.

Currently, Leatherwood lacks the mobility to react to shifty edge rushers who don’t just attack vertically. A shift inside to guard might be a long-term option to help overcome his shortcomings in the passing game. Still, his talent and athleticism make him a prospect with tremendous upside. The Chargers will be ecstatic for the chance to swoop him up in the second.

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I cover the Chargers for Chargers Brawl. I'm a huge SD sports fan (Bolts, Padres, Aztecs) I also follow the Golden State Warriors and San Jose Sharks.

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