The Los Angeles Chargers enter the 2018 NFL draft after a 9-7 season in which they missed the playoffs. Although Los Angeles won six of their last seven games, they started the season 0-4 and could never fully recover. In free agency, the Chargers signed TE Virgil Green and center Mike Pouncey, as well as quarterback Geno Smith, to shore up their offense. Los Angeles will likely look to the draft to improve its defense.
How will they use their picks in the NFL draft? We’re listing every selection below.
Here's the full list of picks the Chargers hold in the 2018 draft, which will be updated as each selection is made.
Round 1, Pick 17 (No. 17 overall)
Derwin James, S, Florida State
Andy Benoit's grade: B
Defensive coordinator Gus Bradley learned in Seattle how valuable safeties can be in his Cover-3 scheme. The Chargers have an underrated one in box thumper Jahleel Addae, but that didn’t discourage them from drafting the former Seminole who has drawn comparisons to Sean Taylor. Would they consider playing James in centerfield early on so that Addae can stay in the lineup?
Scouting Report: He was a relative disappointment after bursting onto the scene as a true freshman in 2015, but that might have had something to do with some tentativeness in his first year back from a torn meniscus that cost him most of the 2016 season. The Seminoles asked James to play near the line of scrimmage more often last season, and he’s not a guy you’d line up in centerfield with regularity. But his versatility—he’s essentially another linebacker in the box, or can lock down tight ends and running backs in man coverage—make him the kind of defensive chess piece to counter what most NFL offenses are currently doing with hybrid pieces.
Round 2, Pick 16 (No. 48 overall):
Uchenna Nwosu, LB, USC
Andy Benoit's Grade: B-
Down the stretch last year, edge-rushing dynamos Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram had to become more conservative pass rushers so that they could give their defensive tackles and linebackers some much-needed extra help against the run. Los Angeles’s pass rush suffered, and the run defense didn’t improve much. Nwosu potentially stabilizes that linebacker situation. It is, however, a little surprising the Chargers would take somewhat of a developmental project here considering that the team is the leading contenders in the AFC West right now.
Round 3, Pick 20 (No. 84 overall):
Justin Jones, DE, North Carolina State
Andy Benoit's Grade: B+
Chargers’ Brandon Mebane is in a contract year and could see his stellar career come to a close after this season. Is Jones viewed as the 2.0 version? Even if he’s not, he’ll provide important depth, as backups Damion Square and the underrated Darius Philon have expiring contracts.
Round 4, Pick 19 (No. 119 overall): Kyzir White, S, West Virginia
Round 5, Pick 18 (No. 155 overall): Scott Quessenberry, C, UCLA
Round 6, Pick 17 (No. 191 overall): Dylan Cantrell, WR, Texas Tech
Round 7, Pick 33 (No. 251 overall): Justin Jackson, RB, Northwestern