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Los Angeles Chargers select Georgia WR Ladd McConkey with the 34th overall pick. Grade: A

To get a receiver of McConkey’s stature in the top of the second round is an absolute gift for the Chargers, who traded up to make this move. McConkey will make Jim Harbaugh’s receiver-thin group much better right off the bat. And he’s not just a default slot guy — Greg Roman will be able to move him all over the place. 

Let’s be frank about it: If you’re a smaller white receiver, people are going to want to compare you to every smaller white receiver, put you in a box labeled “Gritty Slot Guy,” and move on to the next. Those who wish to typecast Georgia receiver Ladd McConkey thusly are really missing out.

Over three seasons with the Bulldogs, McConkey caught 119 passes on 158 targets for 1,692 yards and 14 touchdowns. Injuries limited his 2023 productivity to a degree, but he still caught 30 passes on 37 targets for 483 yards and two touchdowns. 70% of his targets came outside, while 23% came from the slot, and 6% from the backfield, so this isn’t just another guy limited to two-way goes from the inside.

McConkey is faster than you might think, tougher than you might think, and his route awareness is NFL-plus right now. Don’t penalize him because he isn’t the typical X-iso outside receiver; focus on all the things he can do for your passing game. And in that realm, he does contain multitudes.

PLUSES

— Route mastery is clear from his tape; McConkey has the full route tree at his disposal, and he can take that right to the NFL.

— McConkey uses an impressive burst off the line of scrimmage to set cornerbacks up in press or off coverage, and then, those cornerbacks are going to have issues with his sudden cuts into and out of his breaks.

— Has a great sense of how to force the defender into a spot, and then will break away quickly to get open.

— Especially for his size (6-foot-0, 186), McConkey has no issue getting grimy catches in traffic, or breaking tackles on an end-around.

— Not at all limited to the slot; he had 485 wide snaps and 204 slot snaps through his Georgia career.

MINUSES

— McConkey doesn’t project as an X-iso receiver per se; he can get boxed out of contested catch situations, especially at the boundary.

— He’s at his best when he has space to create, and while he has the foot movement and short-area quickness to beat press off the line, that could be an adjustment in the NFL.

— Bigger, more aggressive NFL cornerbacks could give him fits for a while; he might need a couple more techniques to get free from those guys.

Every passing game is better with one of those “death by a thousand paper cuts” receivers who can get you that 6-8 yards on third-and-whatever. McConkey is absolutely that guy. And if he’s in an offense where designed openings are the order of the day, he’ll use his understanding of the nuances of the position to become a great asset. He’s more than just a little slot guy at the next level.

Story originally appeared on Touchdown Wire