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2024 NFL draft: Grading Chargers’ Day 2 picks

The Chargers arrived at Day 2 with questions about how they would fill some of their more immediate needs on the roster after using the first-round pick on Joe Alt. Wide receiver, linebacker, cornerback, defensive tackle and running back stood out as a few of the key positions that could be addressed at some point.

First, Los Angeles decided to trade up with the Patriots for Ladd McConkey out of Georgia. The Chargers stuck pretty closely to the value on the consensus board here, and the best player available outside of Adonai Mitchell fell due to some medicals. Cooper DeJean notably was the highest-graded player available, but that also could be a situation where the Chargers view him as a safety instead of a cornerback.

The trade-up was pretty good value for LA. They essentially swapped fourth and fifth-rounders to move up three spots without giving up capital. Moving up while keeping all nine of his selections (and future picks) is a pretty good move for Joe Hortiz in and of itself.

McConkey is a natural pick for an offense that just lost its’ best route-running technician. On his reception perception profile, you’ll see a lot of routes in green:

McConkey also tested really well at the combine with a 4.39 40 time. That shows up on his film as well with plenty of plays generating yards after the catch. He also had a lower drop rate than even Marvin Harrison Jr. last year as an incredibly efficient player himself.

There will be questions about McConkey’s size, but they’re probably a little overstated. He obviously is not going to be a great contested catch threat at any point in his career, but with the way the board was breaking on day two, which other receiver would’ve been?

After the Keenan Allen trade, the Chargers’ receiver room was dying for some route-running finesse and McConkey addressed it big time.

In round three, the Chargers got one of “Jim Harbaugh’s boys” as it was said on the broadcast with Junior Colson. Colson was the best coverage linebacker of this draft and maybe one of two linebackers who could be an impact starter immediately. Some analysts had him a sneaky candidate for a round one or early round two selection. LA snagging him at pick 69 value-wise was pretty solid relative to the consensus boards.

I’ve written about it before whenever I took Colson in mock drafts this year, but it just made too much sense. The Chargers are getting a cerebral player very familiar with Jesse Minter’s defensive scheme. While Derwin James has been mentioned as a green dot signal caller candidate, Colson also profiles as a guy who could potentially take that responsibility.

In addition to coverage skills, Colson also graded out as PFF’s best pass-rushing linebacker of the class. He’s a very solid tackler, too, with a career miss rate in college of around six percent. In 2023, he was below five percent missed tackle %.

Ultimately, the Chargers stuck pretty close to consensus value and got two athletic immediate impact players at key positions. Hard to hate on it, especially after not losing much value in trading up for McConkey.

Day 2 grade: A-

Story originally appeared on Chargers Wire