Chargers 7-round NFL mock draft: Predicting what Jim Harbaugh, Joe Hortiz will do

Draft week is finally here. It’s time to jot down some predictions.

Welcome to Mock 4.0.

As always, this final seven-round mock draft of the offseason is my best guess at what the Los Angeles Chargers will do later this week.

Not what they should TO DO. What I think they will TO DO. Important distinction.

Coach Jim Harbaugh and general manager Joe Hortiz enter their first draft together. As such, there is quite a bit of unknown surrounding the Chargers’ approach. This made this exercise more difficult than in previous years, when we had plenty of data to work with from former General Manager Tom Telesco.

The Chargers enter the draft with nine selections.

Round Take Generally Remarks






























We will have firm answers in a few days. In the meantime, here are my choices.

The scenario: Four quarterbacks are in the first four picks. USC’s Caleb Williams to the Chicago Bears, North Carolina’s Drake Maye to the Washington Commanders and LSU’s Jayden Daniels to the New England Patriots. The Minnesota Vikings trade with the Arizona Cardinals from No. 11 to No. 4 to take JJ McCarthy from Michigan. The Chargers are next on the clock at No. 5 with their pick of every position player in the draft. They reached a deal with the New York Jets to move from No. 5 to No. 10. The Jets receive No. 5. The Chargers receive the No. 72 pick — a third-round pick — in this year’s draft and a 2025 second-round pick.


Chargers GM Joe Hortiz on No. 5 pick: ‘They have to make him attractive to us’

This would be a huge draft value addition for the Chargers as they remain in the top 10. Jets coach Robert Saleh and general manager Joe Douglas have limited runway in New York. They need to improve offensively and they might be motivated to pair 40-year-old Aaron Rodgers with another elite playmaker in the passing game. In this scenario, it would be Ohio State wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. The Jets signed Mike Williams in free agency, but he is coming off a torn ACL. They don’t have much else at receiver behind young star Garrett Wilson. Also worth mentioning: Douglas and Hortiz worked together for over a decade in the Baltimore Ravens personnel department.

The Chargers move back and take an offensive lineman, which I believe is their ideal scenario. Harbaugh watched Fautanu closely during the national championship game in January. Fautanu has the potential to play all five positions on the offensive line. Size, length, strength, athleticism. He would immediately compete for a starting spot at right guard or right tackle.

Round 2, pick 37: Mike Sainristil, CB, Michigan

Harbaugh and defensive coordinator Jesse Minter both know Sainristil intimately. The Chargers need a starter at nickel. Sainristil has experience playing this role in Minter’s project.

Even with the signing of JK Dobbins, Michigan’s Blake Corum makes sense as a third-round target. (Junfu Han / USA Today)

Round 3, pick 69: Blake Corum, RB, Michigan

The Chargers signed JK Dobbins last week, but I don’t think that will change their approach at running back in the draft – largely because Dobbins is coming off a significant injury. Corum rushed for nearly 4,000 yards and 58 touchdowns while playing for Harbaugh in Ann Arbor. It’s a very simulated choice, but I’m not going to think about it too much.

Round 3, pick 72: Devontez Walker, WR, North Carolina

Finally a receiver. I view this as a very pressing need and would target the receiver much earlier than the third round. But the Chargers have made it clear that they will prioritize the running game on offense, and I think that will be reflected in how they use their early picks. This pick comes from the Jets trade. Walker has excellent long speed and his effectiveness in the deep part of the field would complement the receivers the Chargers have on the roster, Joshua Palmer and Quentin Johnston.

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Chargers NFL Draft Big Board: 70 Prospects to Watch in First 3 Rounds

Round 4, pick 105: Hunter Nourzad, C, Penn State

Hortiz said last week that he’s comfortable with the depth the Chargers have at center, even with Corey Linsley set to retire. They signed Bradley Bozeman in free agency, and he’s about to start. Hortiz and Harbaugh both said they thought second-year offensive lineman Jordan McFadden had center flexibility. Brendan Jaimes is also on the list. He started the final three games at center in 2023 after Will Clapp suffered a knee injury. I don’t fully agree with the current depth. At a minimum, I think the Chargers need to establish a long-term plan at center. They could also use competition for this season. According to our draft expert Dane Brugler, Nourzad doesn’t have “overwhelming strength or elite athleticism,” but he makes up for that with “intelligence, physicality and well-studied technique.” He has experience at center, guard and even tackle.

Round 4, pick 110: DeWayne Carter, DL, Duke

I would be shocked if the Chargers don’t come away from this draft with an interior defensive lineman. Carter had an offer to Michigan before deciding on Duke. Although his production declined during his final season, Carter is “smart, strong and very active,” according to Brugler. He has good length and was a finalist for the 2023 William V. Campbell Trophy – the Academic Heisman.

The Chargers need depth at safety behind Derwin James and Alohi Gilman. Ohio State’s Josh Proctor could compete with JT Woods for that role. (Joseph Maiorana / USA Today)

Round 5, pick 140: Josh Proctor, S, Ohio State

The Chargers need safety depth behind Derwin James Jr. and Alohi Gilman. Third-year safety JT Woods is unproven, and the only other safety on the roster is AJ Finley. Proctor also received an offer from Michigan out of high school. He started against the Wolverines when Ohio State faced Michigan in November. I like his vision.

Round 6, pick 181: Mariste Liufau, LB, Notre Dame

As Hortiz said last week, the Chargers “need numbers” at inside linebacker. They only have four on the roster: Denzel Perryman, Daiyan Henley, Nick Niemann and Troy Dye. Liufau is a “bloodthirsty tackler,” according to Brugler. He would be a valuable special teams coverage piece for coordinator Ryan Ficken. Liufau is originally from Oahu and trained with Gilman’s father when she was a child.

Round 7, pick 225: Elijah Klein, OG, UTEP

The Chargers already have pieces in their offensive line room, but I still expect Harbaugh and Hortiz to invest heavily in this position group in their first draft. The more competition there is on the offensive line, the better. Duke Manyweather, an offensive line specialist who coaches Rashawn Slater and Trey Pipkins III in the offseason, has Klein as one of his draft sleepers.

Round 7, pick 253: Chigozie Anusiem, CB, Colorado State

Anusiem is my favorite late-round cornerback prospect in this year’s class. He’s over 6-foot-1, weighs 200 pounds and ran a 4.39 40 at his pro day. Anusiem has “the size/weight/speed mix coveted by NFL teams,” according to Brugler. After beating Sainristil in the second round, I think the Chargers would look for competition and depth on the outside.

(Top photo by Troy Fautanu: Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

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