2024 NFL draft: 6 offensive players for Chargers to watch at Senior Bowl

The predominant all-star game in college football, the Reese’s Senior Bowl has long showcased top draft talent in a common setting, allowing evaluators to compare peers as they finalize their draft boards directly. Practices kick off on Tuesday, with the game to follow on Saturday.

Last season, the Chargers added Derius Davis and Max Duggan from the offensive roster in Mobile, AL.

Here are six players to watch as potential draft picks this April.

RB Dylan Laube, New Hampshire

RB Kimani Vidal, Troy

Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports
Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

If Laube is the Ekeler replacement, Vidal is the natural analogy to Kelley as a more bruising back who specialized in pass protection as a collegian. At just over 5’7” and 215 lbs, Vidal is a violent runner who balances his contact balance with high-end agility and vision. He led draft-eligible running backs in missed tackles forced and runs of ten or more yards in 2023.

While his size will be a red flag for some organizations, Vidal has the opportunity to prove that he’s worthy of an NFL role regardless while in Mobile. Currently rated as a fifth or sixth-rounder, the Troy alum could jump up boards with a strong performance, especially if he brings energy like this:

WR Devontez Walker, North Carolina

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Forced to play in only eight games after an NCAA decision regarding his eligibility dragged into the early parts of the season, Walker still had almost 700 yards and 7 touchdowns in his lone season in Chapel Hill. A 2022 All-MAC first team selection at Kent State, the receiver has made his hay as a vertical field stretcher and big play threat.

In Mobile, he’ll be looking to shake the one-trick pony label. Events like the Senior Bowl are always good opportunities for players to show traits that maybe don’t appear on their film, and Walker could benefit greatly from displaying more nuance as a route runner and winning in the short and intermediate areas of the field. But even if he doesn’t, those in attendance will surely recognize that he’s excellent as a downfield threat, and that alone should put him on Los Angeles’ radar.

TE AJ Barner, Michigan

OT Roger Rosengarten, Washington

Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports
Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

A redshirt junior who did not win a starting job at Washington until 2022, it was a bit surprising to outsiders when Rosengarten declared for the draft in the days following the national championship game. It was especially confusing given his apparent path towards starting at left tackle with Troy Fautanu leaving for the NFL as well. (Fautanu pulled out of the Senior Bowl on Monday.) But a closer look reveals a lynchpin of the Joe Moore Award winning offensive line on Montlake who has Day 2 feedback from NFL scouts.

Perhaps the most enticing thing about Rosengarten from a Chargers perspective is that he’s a right tackle by trade, not a college left tackle who will need to be flipped to the other side. A rawer player who still needs to add strength and fine-tune his balance, Rosengarten also has age on his side as an underclassman declaration. It seems a foregone conclusion that Harbaugh will want to rebuild the Chargers through the trenches, and adding Rosengarten as a potential backup to be groomed as the starter if Trey Pipkins can’t regain his 2022 form would be a great start.

C Tanor Bortolini, Wisconsin

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

This probably isn’t the center you were expecting. Oregon’s Jackson Powers-Johnson is a favorite in the Chargers community, and there’s little doubt that he’ll excel in Mobile. But he’s also a prime candidate for the fabled one-and-done at the event, where top prospects dominate for one day of practice and then sit the rest of the week out. West Virginia’s Zach Frazier is participating in non-contact drills only as he recovers from a broken leg. Sedrick Van Pran from Georgia pulled out of the Senior Bowl on Monday to focus on combine prep.

So, if you want a center to watch for the whole week, consider Bortolini. A redshirt junior whose declaration for the draft went under the radar, the Wisconsin product’s draft projections in the media have not nearly caught up to the grades inside NFL war rooms. The league generally sees Bortolini as a Day 2 pick, with a fair number of them rating him above players like Van Pran. A standout week in Mobile while his competition defers their chance to shine until later in the process could at least set things in motion for Bortolini to rise up boards.

Story originally appeared on Chargers Wire