An NFL Scout's Take: The Chargers will be Super Bowl-bound soon because of the 2021 draft.

Updated: 2 days ago



Photo by Gettys Images


Questioning a couple of '21 draft picks, I got it wrong. All wrong. But that draft year will be the one the Bolt faithful remember the most. Even after Justin and the greatest off-season player acquisition in Chargers history. My mistake may prove it all soon.


The Chargers draft room got me good in 2021.


There were two picks from the ’21 draft that I questioned. Josh Palmer and Chris Rumph II. Obviously, the Rashawn Slater pick was a Joey Bosa/Justin Herbert-like pick. I believe many saw his productivity coming. But the Jordan Palmer and Chris Rumph II pick, I questioned their draft number. And that is where I got it all wrong.

Of course, they cannot help where they are drafted, but I was concerned with the value option of the picks. I had the exact opposite prediction of what actually happened. Where they proved me wrong was their rookie productivity.


When evaluating college cutups, you had to evaluate two things. First, their results in college and their raw ability to translate fast in the league. Second, you had to consider who was drafting them.


Brandon Staley’s first draft as a head coach was a good one. It reeked of a Tom Telesco draft, though.

Not that Telesco cannot draft, but it was a six or seven on the talent draft scale.


Staley was bringing in a new brand of style, philosophy, and young energy. I gave his draft a B-grade, but I got Palmer all wrong in performance output. I thought the pick might be a little high, and I did not see him translate speed-wise into the existing receiver corps of the Chargers.


What translated well for me with Palmer was the conference that he played in college and his effort versus the talent in that conference. But his best strength, I believe, coming out of his draft was his ability to catch the football and run good, not great, routes.


But here is where my assessment turned into a dumpster fire with Palmer.

His ability to adapt to the speed level, run outstanding boundary routes, and catch a Justin Herbert ball in the boundary.


But the overall question is, did Chris Rumph give fourth-round productivity? That is a trap question. Here is where I got it wrong with Rumph. I believed he was going to be the next Melvin Ingram and I thought he would have a lot more game-time reps than what he got. I know, how many snaps do you expect a fourth-rounder to get? Well, if you believe he is the next Melvin Ingram, a lot.


But wrong again.


His motor in the Atlantic Coast Conference was outstanding and he was by far the best defensive player on the field for Duke.


Unfortunately, I did not see him as active in his rookie season, which would lead me to believe he is a potential starter. A little light maybe, but he needed some weight, and that was one thing that I believe the Chargers wanted to do with him from the start. So maybe I get a reprieve on my indecisive performance with Rumph.


What I like about his performance was his hybrid ability. Of course, he still can be that type of player, but with the recent addition of Khalil Mack, I am still going to give him another year to show why he believed he was a high second-round or third-round pick.


Here is where I am going to get my redemption with Rumph.

The Chargers are putting weight on him, and he is getting bigger. That makes sense with the Mack acquisition. Chris can give tremendous support and depth to Khalil Mack and that position room.


He will be behind two future Hall of Famers and an All-Pro-style veteran in Kyle Van Noy. The fourth end is a good thing for him. If he plays this right, he could extend his rookie season contract after it expires.


The roster has him listed at 244, but I believe by August we will see a roster of him on it at 260-plus.


So overall, here is why the 2021 draft is going to be one that is going to depict the future of the Chargers and the legacy of Brandon Staley.


There is one player from that draft that is a must and that is Rashawn Slater. A technique machine.

As an opponent, you must treat Slater like a skill position when it comes to preparing for him. They must scientifically break down the film on him. They must practice offending against him. And the end and backers’ room must prepare to play against him for any success.

Rashawn Slater’s talent is off the charts. His performance in his rookie season is a top-four-draft-pick-performance and the chargers got a steal. Rashawn Slater is realm close to being the best left tackle in the game. Easily a top-seven offensive lineman in the National Football League. Everything that we heard through all the draft pundits about Rashawn Slater was correct.


His foundation is outstanding. His balance and leverage from the hips make him equally a great run blocker and pass protector. He demonstrated that in week one against the Washington commanders. He handled one of the top fifteen pass rushers in Commanders number two draft pick. Chase Young overall was dominated by Slater in the first half. Washington head coach Ron Rivera had to make a move in the second half and switch Young to the much weaker left rush spot.


Slater is one of those generational tackles. His length is very good. He is incredibly good with his arms, and hands and getting separation. But his balance and leverage are the best in the NFL

The bottom line, Rashawn is very unassuming until you watch an abundance of film on him.

If you watch his feet, it is not exceptional, but his balance and his leverage are the best in the league, and that makes him a technique machine.


To me, the best thing about Slater is his balance. Slater is a technique monster and coupled with his cerebral capabilities, here in the next year or two he will be the best left tackle in the entire National Football League.


Staley’s 2022 draft is equally decent as the prior year. But as anyone who can breathe air out of their lungs knows their off-season business, moves made them an immediate Super Bowl contender.


But the 2021 draft will be the draft class that helps the Chargers the most to hold the Lombardi Trophy in the extremely near future or 2023.