2023 NFL draft: Analyzing the Chargers’ UDFA class

The rookie class doesn’t end with the final selection. In fact, the announcement of Mr. Irrelevant only kicks off a more frenzied event: the undrafted free agent (UDFA) scramble.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the Chargers’ rookie free-agent signings.

Northern Colorado RB Elijah Dotson

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The 5’9”, 202 lb Dotson ran a 4.53 40 yard dash at his pro day in early April. After 4 seasons at Sacramento State, he transferred to Northern Colorado, where he had 208 carries for 933 yards and 6 TDs in 2022. He’s a bit more of a grinder at running back whose power (21 bench press reps at his pro day) will likely be a calling card.

North Dakota RB Tyler Hoosman

An overall above average athlete, Hoosman ran a 4.56 40 yard dash with similarly decent numbers across the board. After spending 2017-21 at Northern Iowa, the Illinois native transferred to North Dakota, where he had 176 carries for 1,023 yards and 12 TDs in 2022. He also added 22 receptions for 125 yards. A boom or bust ballcarrier, Hoosman had six games of over 100 yards but four games under 60.

USC WR Terrell Bynum

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After spending five seasons at Washington, Bynum was among the many that defected to USC to play for Lincoln Riley in his first season as Trojans head coach. It ended up being an inauspicious decision, as Bynum had only 16 receptions for 159 yards and 1 TD in his final season of eligibility. At 6’0” and 188 lbs with a 4.58 40 yard dash, Bynum fits the profile of a typical Chargers receiver and will likely operate out of the slot in the pros.

Florida State WR Ontaria "Pokey" Wilson

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Another sixth-year senior, Wilson’s production slowly built up to a career high of 30 receptions for 495 yards in 2022. At 6’0” and 181 lbs with a 4.6 40 yard dash, he’s of a similar athletic build to Bynum and will likely have a similar role. Shiftier than fast, he’ll compete for reps at slot receiver in training camp.

UCLA TE Michael Ezeike

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A former four star prospect, Ezeike has just 35 career receptions to his name in 48 career games. He converted to tight end from wide receiver and has gained 30 pounds since arriving at UCLA. While he has the necessary effort as a blocker, he’s still working on keeping his pad level low enough to generate leverage. He’s a build-up speed route runner who’s a bit slow in and out of breaks but could be useful in vertical passing concepts.

Delta State OT Nicolas Melsop

A 6’6” player who started at right tackle at Division II Delta State, Melsop will likely move inside in the NFL. An instinctive player with good eyes and sufficient power to move bodies in the run game, Melsop is also a plus athlete for a 320 pounder. His pad level is also an issue, and technique will be the main sticking point in his professional future.

Maryland C Johari Branch

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Branch has played left guard, right guard, and center across six seasons at Eastern Illinois, Maryland, and in junior college. His experience primarily comes at guard, but he started eight games at center in 2022 for the Terrapins. A fine enough athlete with strong hands, he’s best used as a short area blocker where his lack of range can be masked.

Coastal Carolina DL Jerrod Clark

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I was rather surprised that Clark wasn’t drafted, but not every team needs a pure nose tackle. While Clark is 334 pounds, not all of that is good weight, which may have pushed him down the board as well. Regardless, he’s still rather quick for his size and has room to add more strength if he cleans up his build. As a dart throw for defensive line depth, I think Clark is one of the better signings of the group.

Campbell EDGE Brevin Allen

Allen was at the Shrine Bowl, where the Chargers sent a large presence before selecting Jordan McFadden and Scott Matlock, who both attended the game as well. 2021 was the former Camel’s best season, logging 11 sacks and 26 hurries. A member of Bruce Feldman’s Freaks List thanks to a combination of speed and strength, Allen is more athlete than player right now. His pass rush plan needs developing, but he’s essentially an untouched ball of clay who the Chargers coaches can mold in their image.

Lane (TN) EDGE Andrew Farmer

As a senior in 2022, Farmer posted 25 tackles for loss, the best per game average in Division II or Division I. He did so while primarily playing at 3, 4, or 4i technique despite only weighing 250 pounds. The Chargers listed him as an outside linebacker, which tells me he’ll be playing a more traditional edge rusher role. As such, he’ll need to learn to win from a standup position, rather than the 3 point stance he’s used to lining up in.

Colorado EDGE Terrance Lang

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A three-year starter at Colorado, Lang was primarily tasked with plugging holes in the run game as a base end rather than getting after the passer. That shows in his 8 career sacks over six seasons. However, Lang is exceptionally strong for an exterior player, and I’d expect him to keep his hand in the dirt and move inside, whether at 3 or 5 technique, as a Charger.

Samford LB Nathan East

A six year player with 361 career tackles, East posted a 9.36 RAS with elite scores in every area except for size. He stands just 6’1”, 229 lbs, making him undersized for the position but not so much for the Chargers, who tend to prefer smaller linebackers. He doesn’t always play to his testing numbers, which usually suggests a deficiency in instincts. He’ll likely compete for special team reps, especially if Nick Niemann or Amen Ogbongbemiga are expected to play more snaps at linebacker this season.

Syracuse LB Mikel Jones

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Jones had draftable grades from credible media members as recently as March and has made three All-ACC first teams. He’s been tremendously productive (301 total tackles in 4 seasons) and performed well at the NFLPA Bowl in January. So what gives? Well, Jones clocked in with a disastrous 1.51 RAS, scoring poorly in every area he tested in. He’s likely a better college than pro player, but LA is taking this chance on him because he’s been productive despite all this in the past.

North Carolina State DB Tyler Baker-Williams

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I had Baker-Williams listed as a corner on my boards, but the Chargers reported him as a safety in the list they published on Saturday evening. That’s likely because of a 4.67 40 yard dash time that will simply not translate to playing corner in the NFL. Baker-Williams’ RAS is a paltry 1.89 at corner, but it rises slightly to a 2.25 if you test him as a strong safety. He’s a very good zone coverage player with good press technique.

Ohio State CB Cameron Brown

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A former four star recruit, Brown was touted as the next great DB by coach Jeff Hafley when he made the switch from wide receiver as a freshman. Fast forward a few years, including Hafley leaving for Boston College, and those plans never came to fruition. Brown struggled greatly with injuries throughout his career and was only an okay player when he did see the field, but his technique and willingness as a run defender likely endeared him to the Chargers staff. Despite his wide receiver background, he’s not a great reader of routes, but he has the tools to grow into a rosterable corner.

Indiana CB Tiawan Mullen

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The younger brother of Ravens CB Trayvon Mullen, Tiawan’s best season came as a sophomore in 2020, when two publications named him a first team All-American. An ankle injury slowed his momentum in 2021, leading him back to Indiana, where he had a quiet season to finish out his career in 2022. While he has the athleticism to run with vertical routes or mirror receivers, Mullen is a gullible player who relies on that athleticism to bail out his mistakes.

Ball State CB AJ Uzodinma

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A five year contributor for the Cardinals, Uzodinma entered the 2022 season as a higher-profile recruit than his teammate Nic Jones, who was selected in the seventh round on Saturday. A reactive and aware corner in zone coverage with good ball skills, Uzodinma’s tape is littered with pass breakups. There are some minor technical flaws to clean up and his NFL position is unclear because of his inconsistent ability in man coverage.

Mississippi S AJ Finley

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A true senior whose experience is primarily at free safety and on special teams, Finley finished his career with 245 tackles with 8 interceptions and 21 pass breakups. LA has likely been familiar with him for a while after seeing him on the field next to 2022 seventh rounder Deane Leonard and at January’s Shrine Bowl. During the last day of practice in Las Vegas, Finley stood out with three interceptions in the session. While thinner for safety, Finley has a quick trigger and is a willing tackler, but his tendency to throw his entire body into tackles may be cause for injury concern going forward.

Story originally appeared on Chargers Wire