Suppose the Chargers pick a tackle at No. 17 in this year’s draft, there would be a greater chance they circle back and select a receiver on Day 2. The current receiver corps they have is a solid bunch, but to me, they could use another threat to really boost that offense.
Following the first day of the draft, receivers like Garrett Wilson, Chris Olave, and Jameson Williams will likely be gone. But luckily for the Chargers’ sake, there’s plenty of depth from this year’s class, having many other options to consider.
Neither Treylon Burks nor George Pickens are considered to stay put in the first round, and while the Chargers traded their second-round pick to acquire Khalil Mack, these are options they can look at trading up for.
With this in mind, if these receivers make it far enough into the second round to a point at which the Chargers then become in striking distance to pull off a trade, should they ultimately pull the trigger? Let’s start off with Burks before we get into Pickens.
Coming off a First Team All-SEC year, Burks received attention not just for his receiving, but for his usage in the backfield. In the aftermath of Deebo Samuel’s one-of-a-kind 2021 season, the media is quick to find the next wide back, a label Burks has received.
Though Burks himself has noted he’s inspired by Samuel’s play, I’d argue that’s not his most accurate comparison. To me, that happens to be former Bears and Eagles receiver Alshon Jeffery, and as we’ll see that’s not a bad thing.
In his prime, Jeffery was known as a lethal highpoint receiver with an incredible wingspan and dangerous ball skills. Burks has the best catch radius of any receiver I’ve seen in a bit, as he is extremely consistent at the catch point.
Burks’ large arm length allows him to extend and reel in passes away from his body before expertly tucking them into his chest. Especially in the slot, he can be found giving his quarterback a huge margin for error.
Because. of his size and speed from him, Burks has also gotten comps to AJ Brown. More or less, I think these are better than the Deebo Samuel comps. A concern might be that he ran a 4.55-second 40-time at the combine, but on tape, his speed and quickness looked more apparent. In addition to being shifty after the catch point, he’s also physical in this area, as he’ll sometimes use a Derrick Henry-esque stiff arm for further punishment.
My issue with Burks is that his route running could use some work. There are flashes of brilliance for sure, but I think guys like a healthy Jameson Williams, Chris Olave, and Garrett Wilson present more consistency against press coverage than he does. None, as a possession receiver, I see the potential. Burks has terrific hands at the catch point, has some backfield usage, and is tough after the catch.
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Now let’s get to George Pickens, a player many are calling the most underrated receiver in the class, perhaps. Personally, I’m not sure I see that, but there are parts to his game I really enjoy.
Many have praised Pickens’ ability to track the ball on deep passes, and no argument against that will be made. Though not the most physical player at the catch point, Pickens does an excellent job at finding the football on the long bombs.
Here, Pickens has an excellent quick release at the top of his route, using a bit of a push-off to create an incredible cushion on the go. With the jerky head fake to start the route, he guarantees himself outside leverage, finishing it off with a phenomenal diving grab on the college level’s biggest stage.
When I started off watching Pickens, I was left a bit unimpressed, but the further I got into his resume, the more my enthusiasm for him grew. I don’t think he’s as versatile as other receivers in this class (although he gets some underneath shots he tends to linger as a vertical threat), but he does that job very well.
The separation he gets on this simple go includes a hesitant stutter that freezes the corner, allowing him to cut outside and have this pass thrown into his breadbasket for the score.
Interestingly, I’ve seen Pickens get compared to Mike Williams, showing that we’ve come full circle. Like Burks, I think his route running from him could use some polish, though there are flashes where I feel go higher than Burks’.
In conclusion, I would not oppose either receiver going to the Chargers, as they both present impressive peaks even with the flaws I mentioned. The trouble is the team already has a 50/50 kind of receiver in Williams, which is a trait these two have been pigeonholed into.
I think Burks’ superior yards after catch ability makes him the better receiver, though I can see Pickens being the better fit for Herbert’s skill set with what he offers as a vertical ball tracker. If he continues to heal from that torn ACL suffered last spring, I could even see him having the better career.
I wouldn’t call either player a can’t miss prospect or the best receiver of this class, but in a field loaded with depth, they do more than enough to stand out. And that’s something the Chargers could use late into the draft as they look at options for a potential trade up.
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