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Los Angeles Chargers NFL draft picks 2021: Analysis for every selection

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Rashawn Slater's NFL draft profile (1:08)

Check out the best highlights from Northwestern OT Rashawn Slater's college career. (1:08)

The 2021 NFL draft was held April 29 through May 1 and every Los Angeles Chargers' draft pick will be analyzed here.

After last season's virtual draft, Cleveland played host to festivities this year with a handful of potential draft picks present and socially distanced because of COVID-19.

Here's a pick-by-pick look at how each player Los Angeles has selected will fit.

Analysis of every NFL pick | Updated NFL depth charts


Round 1, No. 13 overall: Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern

My take: The 6-foot-4, 304-pound Slater is considered the best OT in the draft by many scouts, even over Penei Sewell, who went No. 7 to the Detroit Lions. He has NFL-ready technique and good movement at the point of attack. He's a steal for an offensive line that needs a left tackle badly to protect second-year quarterback Justin Herbert. Herbert is coming off an NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year season in 2020 which saw him set an NFL rookie record with 31 touchdown passes. Herbert did this despite being pressured 217 times last season, the most for a rookie quarterback since 2009 according to ESPN Stats & Information. Slater can play right tackle, too, and the Chargers love his versatility and think he's the real deal. Slater opted out of the 2020 season at Northwestern, so it remains to be seen if there's a little rust.

Rare first-rounder for Northwestern: Slater is the first Northwestern player to be selected in the first round since defensive tackle Luis Castillo with the No. 28 pick in 2005 -- also by the Chargers. Slater's selection ends a drought that was the third-longest among Power 5 schools. At No. 13, Slater is the highest Northwestern player selected since offensive tackle Chris Hinton was picked by the Denver Broncos with the No. 5 pick in 1983. Slater proved his worth with the Wildcats with an impressive showing against Chase Young -- the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2020 for the Washington Football Team -- during a 2019 game. Slater held Young, then with Ohio State, without a pressure in nine pass rushes.

Professional bloodlines: Slater is the son of former NBA power forward Reggie Slater, who played eight seasons with the Denver Nuggets, Dallas Mavericks, Toronto Raptors, Minnesota Timberwolves, New Jersey Nets and Atlanta Hawks. The Chargers hope his father's athleticism carries down to his son to help a Chargers line that ranked dead last in Run Block Win Rate (67.1%) and second to last in Pass Block Win Rate (46.8 percent). Slater is the first offensive lineman taken by the Chargers in the first round since 2013 (D.J. Fluker), and the Chargers had only picked one OL in the first round of the previous 20 drafts.


Round 2, No. 47 overall: Asante Samuel Jr., CB, Florida State

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Asante Samuel Jr.'s NFL draft profile

Check out the best highlights from Florida State CB Asante Samuel's college career.

My take: This is a pick sorely needed by the Chargers, who are light on cornerbacks. His father is Asante Samuel, a four-time Pro Bowler who played 11 seasons with the New England Patriots, Philadelphia Eagles and Atlanta Falcons after starring at Central Florida. Asante Samuel Jr. figures to follow in his dad's footsteps. He learned a lot from his dad, especially how to stay with receivers in man coverage. He has quick feet and loose hips and was third-team All-ACC in 2019 with 14 pass breakups while adding an interception. Samuel Jr. led the Seminoles with three interceptions in 2020 in eight games before opting out of the rest of the season. He can be an immediate help to the Chargers' secondary.


Round 3, No. 77 overall: Josh Palmer, WR, Tennessee

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Josh Palmer's NFL draft profile

Check out highlights from Tennessee's wideout Josh Palmer.

My take: The Chargers got a playmaker in Palmer, which is just what Justin Herbert needs. He is a big target who was a bit inconsistent (99 receptions for 1,514 yards and seven touchdowns in four seasons) at Tennessee due to erratic QB play. He was raised in Canada and played basketball and soccer primarily before high school. Palmer's best season came in 2020, when he caught 33 passes for 475 yards and four touchdowns, including a two-touchdown performance against Georgia. His body control is considered the best part of Palmer's game.


Round 3, No. 97 overall: Tre' McKitty, TE, Georgia

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Tre' McKitty's NFL draft profile

Check out the best highlight from Georgia TE Tre' McKitty's college career.

My take: McKitty is huge -- 6-foot-5 and 245 pounds, and gives Herbert another big target. He played in seven games this past season at Georgia and had six receptions for 108 yards and one TD. He missed the first two games of the season with injury but finished strong, catching two passes for 47 yards vs. South Carolina. He started his career at Florida State and caught 50 passes for 520 yards and two touchdowns in three seasons with the Seminoles. Getting a big tight end was a great gift for Herbert, especially with free-agent signee Jared Cook being 34 years old.


Round 4, No. 118 overall: Chris Rumph II, OLB, Duke

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Chris Rumph II's NFL draft profile

Check out the highlights from Duke OLB Chris Rumph II's college career.

My take: Defense it is. The Chargers decided on a pass-rusher who was All-ACC with the Blue Devils and, at 6-foot-3, 244 pounds, played in 36 games and had 125 tackles, 34 tackles for loss and had 17.5 sacks in three seasons. He joins Pro Bowler Joey Bosa in the pass rush. He is the son of Chris Rumph, who is currently the defensive line coach for the Bears after more than 15 years of coaching at the collegiate level at schools such as Alabama, Texas and Florida. Rumph II says his dad let him do his own thing with the draft, but provided lots of advice.


Round 5, No. 159 overall: Brenden Jaimes, OT, Nebraska

My take: Jaimes made 40 straight starts, setting a school record for an offensive lineman. He was honorable mention All-Big Ten for three straight seasons and his blocking helped Nebraska to the Big Ten's second-best rushing attack in 2020. The Chargers got a left tackle earlier in the draft in Rashawn Slater but it can't hurt to have a reliable backup, considering the injury issues.


Round 6, No. 185 overall: Nick Niemann, LB, Iowa

My take: Always good to beef up the defense with a midwestern linebacker. He's the brother of Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl winner Ben Niemann and son of of Iowa Hawkeyes assistant defense coach Jay Niemann. Think football is in his blood?


Round 6, No. 198 overall: Larry Rountree III, RB, Missouri

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Larry Rountree III's NFL draft profile

Check out the best highlights from Missouri RB Larry Rountree III's college career.

My take: Rountree had 3,720 rushing yards in four seasons for the Tigers and 40 career touchdowns. At 5-10 1/2 and 211 pounds, he's patient and excels by keeping his feet moving, using blocks and vision to get free. Rountree can be a solid third running back and situational starter.


Round 7, No. 241 overall: Mark Webb, DB, Georgia

My take: Considering the Chargers injury difficulties, you can't have too many DBs. Webb is 6-2, 207 pounds and fast. And he can play special teams.