Not even a week has passed since the 2020 NFL Draft's final selection, but already draft analysts have put together their way-too-early mocks for next year. While the prospects and draft order will certainly look different come next April, these projections highlight the current areas of concern for teams as well as a rough order of where they stack up on paper at this point in the offseason.
Despite a draft class filled with potential, the Los Angeles Chargers end up with an early draft pick in a new 2021 mock by The Athletic's Dane Brugler. The projection also sees them addressing a position that received plenty of attention last week.
12. Los Angeles Chargers -- *Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
With Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs now in the NFL, Waddle should see added targets and snaps as a junior with a chance to be an All-American candidate. He is one of the fastest and most elusive players in the nation with the ball in his hands.
The Chargers spent two Day 3 draft pick on wide receivers. They added Joe Reed, a speedster with impressive size and versatility from Virginia, in the fifth round and grabbed Ohio State tactician K.J. Hill in the seventh. Both could realistically have roles in the offense and special teams at some point early in their careers.
However, the Chargers could see several of their top pass catchers depart next offseason. Pro Bowl wideout Keenan Allen has just one year left on his contract and could have plenty of suitors should he reach free agency. Meanwhile, tight end Hunter Henry will play under the franchise tag this season and could become too expensive to retain if he performs well. The absence of one or both receivers would have a deleterious effect on Los Angeles' offense.
Assuming he declares early, Alabama's Jaylen Waddle likely wouldn't step in and have a comparable impact as a rookie. However, his speed and ability to create separation should translate to the next level if he continues developing. Those types of receivers will always garner significant demand in the NFL.
-- Jason B. Hirschhorn is an award-winning sports journalist and Pro Football Writers of America member. Follow him on Twitter: @by_JBH