LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – DECEMBER 17: Quarterback Justin Herbert #10 of the Los Angeles Chargers drops back to pass during the NFL game against the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium on December 17, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Chargers defeated the Raiders in overtime 30-27. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Justin Herbert gives the Chargers a legitimate star to build around, but they need to nail their first round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft to help him develop.
Chargers fans have every right to feel good about their team’s future after Justin Herbert’s exceptional rookie campaign. The first-year signal-caller wasn’t good enough to prolong Anthony Lynn’s tenure as Los Angeles’ head coach, but he was plenty good enough to excite Brandon Staley about the prospects of taking over.
This offseason will be all about improving the infrastructure around Herbert. He deserves a lot of credit for his playmaking under pressure last year, but that’s not a feat the Chargers should ask him to repeat in 2021. Upgrading the offensive line charged with protecting Herbert is a top priority for Staley in his first season.
The odds favor the Chargers using their first round pick on an offensive lineman, but an upgrade along the defensive line could also be a consideration. Staley’s defensive leanings as a head coach might tempt the franchise to give him a potentially dominant defensive lineman if one remains on the board at No. 13.
The list actually begins with a weapon that can help Herbert in the passing game.
5. Kyle Pitts
Hunter Henry is a major flight risk for the Chargers in free agency. If he leaves, the team needs to give Herbert a tight end he can rely on as a safety blanket.
Drafting Pitts would fill that need emphatically. He’s got slot receiver skills at the tight end position. Chances are he won’t be around when Los Angeles goes on the clock at No. 13, but if he slips he might be too tempting for the team’s front office to pass on.