Grading the Chargers 2020 Draft Picks One Year Later

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The Los Angeles Chargers have a top-15 pick in the draft once again after a rough year, and while the draft is a few months away, it’s time to grade the Chargers 2020 draft picks.

The Chargers had a disappointing year in 2020 as they finished with a 7-9 record. Anthony Lynn got fired, and Gus Bradley and Shane Steichen left and got jobs elsewhere.

Brandon Staley got hired as the new head coach and brought in almost an entirely new coaching staff. Just like that the future looks bright in Los Angeles.

The Chargers hold the 13th overall pick in the draft and a lot of cap space to work with in free agency. Derwin James and Joey Bosa will be back healthy, and Keenan Allen and Austin Ekeler are still under contract as the offensive staples.

This team has a lot of talent and General Manager, Tom Telesco, has been under the radar for his inability to hit in the draft.

The Chargers 2020 draft picks were interesting, to say the least. If it wasn’t for the immediate success of quarterback Justin Herbert, Telesco might have been let go with Lynn and the rest of the staff.

Let’s take a trip down memory lane and review the Chargers draft class from 2020.

Round 1, Pick 6: QB Justin Herbert

This was the best of the Chargers 2020 draft picks, plain and simple. Herbert received mixed reviews and grades from draft analysts and it looked like he would sit and learn. However, Tyrod Taylor was injured minutes before kickoff in week 2 and Herbert was thrown into action.

The rest is history, as he ended up winning Offensive Rookie of the Year. Herbert finished the year with 4,336 yards and 31 touchdowns with 10 picks. He was electric, led some big comebacks for them, and was handicapped by the questionable decision-making by Steichen and Lynn.

The Chargers battled injuries on the offensive line, and Ekeler and Allen missed their fair share of games. However, Herbert still kept this team fighting every week.

He’s got a ton of talent, can run the ball, and heave it deep. Joe Lombardi steps in as the OC, and everyone can’t wait to see what Herbert can do with a new playbook.

Fans were pioneering between Tua Tagovailoa and Herbert, and though most didn’t like the selection, he proved everybody wrong in his first year as the best of all the Chargers 2020 draft picks.


Round 1, Pick 23: LB Kenneth Murray

The Chargers traded up to take Kenneth Murray in the 2020 draft in a surprising move and it looks to have paid off. While he didn’t exactly live up to the hype, he has so much potential that allows Staley to do so many different things with him. This was likely why he was selected as one of the Chargers 2020 draft picks.

He started every game for Los Angeles this year and had a season-high 12 tackles against New England. The best part about Murray is that he’s reliable.

Murray played 100 percent of the snaps in a six-game time span. Being healthy is a huge thing, especially because this team is always so injury-riddled.

The Chargers traded their second and third-round pick in last year’s draft to the Patriots to move up to take him, and while some question the move, Murray has a bright future in this league and will be the second-best of all the Chargers 2020 draft picks.

They needed a linebacker, and he wouldn’t have dropped to the middle of the second round. However, losing two picks to get him is the only thing that gives this selection a little lower grade.

Grade: B

Rounds 4-7: RB Joshua Kelley, WR Joe Reed, S Alohi Gilman, and WR KJ Hill

Joshua Kelley seemed like a reach and a luxury pick, as they didn’t need a running back, at least not that early. He played well for a few weeks and then died out quickly, as he finished with 354 yards and two scores in 14 games. Justin Jackson and Ekeler were already on the roster, and the mid-season pickup of Kalen Ballage turned out better than many had thought. As it turned out, this was not a great selection as one of the Chargers 2020 draft picks.

Joe Reed wasn’t a terrible selection, but what made it bad was the misuse from Steichen. Reed was hyped up out of Virginia as a running back and wide receiver gadget player. However, he just couldn’t get on the field and never really got an opportunity. Lombardi should find some creative and innovative ways to use Reed in 2021.

Telesco once again took a Notre Dame player in Alohi Gilman, and it feels like every season he snags a former Irish player. Gilman was a 6th round pick, and usually, they don’t amount to much.

Unfortunately, he didn’t crack the rotation much besides being apart of special teams and probably the worst of all the Chargers 2020 draft picks.

He failed to top more than 70 percent of the snaps in a single game, and that’s from a special teams standpoint. He barely played on defense, and so far, this looks like a total miss on Telesco’s part.

Still, though, let’s put the trust in Staley after his impressive coaching career with a few different teams. Maybe he can find an effective way to implement Gilman into the game plan moving forward.

KJ Hill was heralded as one of the steals of the draft after somehow falling to the last round. He was electric at Ohio State, posting 636 yards and 10 scores in his final year in a Buckeyes uniform. At the time, this looked to be a promising selection as one of the Chargers 2020 draft picks.

Chargers 2020 Draft Picks
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – DECEMBER 17: Wide receiver K.J. Hill #84 of the Los Angeles Chargers carries the ball on a punt return as safety Dallin Leavitt #32 of the Las Vegas Raiders defends during the first half at Allegiant Stadium on December 17, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

However, he didn’t have much success at all last season and finished with seven catches for 73 yards. Once again, Lynn and Steichen deserve a good amount of the blame for how badly these games were called.

He looked like a steal in the seventh round, but as it turns out, so far he’s been one of the worst Chargers 2020 draft picks.

Hill has the talent and should get another chance to crack the wide receiver rotation for Los Angeles going forward, especially with the new staff coming into town.

Grade: D+

The last few rounds combined don’t receive a good grade, but the fact that Hill and Reed should find more success with a new staff makes this grade just a tad higher for the Chargers 2020 draft picks.

Kelley will be back next year, and it doesn’t look like Gilman will get much of a shot. In general, the Chargers 2020 draft picks were led by the top two, to the surprise of nobody.

Looking Ahead

The Chargers have the 13th pick in the draft in 2021, and an extra pick after trading Desmond King to the Tennessee Titans. Telesco gets one final crack to make this team competitive before being possibly shown the door, and it will be very interesting to see what direction this team goes in.

Thanks for reading my article about Grading the Chargers draft picks from 2020.

For more NFL and Chargers content, follow me on Twitter @wadleigh_matt24. Also, follow OT Heroics Football @OTH_Football.

Main Image Credit

Chargers 2020 Draft Picks
INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA – FEBRUARY 25: Justin Herbert #QB07 of Oregon interviews during the first day of the NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 25, 2020, in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images)

Chargers 2020 draft picks.

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