We’re over a quarter of the way through the 2023 NFL season, and teams around the league are starting to settle into their spot in the pecking order.

And with that, franchise’s needs are becoming more clear.

And even though there’s still many months until the 2024 NFL draft next April, it’s never too early to have a look at players your Los Angeles Chargers may be targeting.

Nick Baumgardner and Diante Lee of The Athletic did just that, and they see a talented EDGE prospect going to Los Angeles in the first round — and he’s a local product.

Nick Baumgardner projects the Bolts to select UCLA EDGE Laiatu Latu with the No. 23 overall pick, and he’d be a solid addition to the Chargers.

Latu has built on his standout 2022 season — which led to him being named a Preseason All-Pac-12 First Team Selection — by proving again to be a gamewrecker in pass rush situations for UCLA.

He’s been credited with 5.5 sacks in his team’s first six games, showing himself to be one of the tougher matchups in college football despite not having superb speed off the edge.

Additionally, he’s an excellent run stopper, and Latu’s tallied nine tackles for loss in 2023.

Here’s what Baumgardner had to say about the prospect in The Athletic’s latest mock.

“Latu is PFF’s highest-rated defender in college football through six games (29 pressures and a 23.3-percent win rate). There are injury concerns from Latu’s past — he briefly retired because of a neck injury — but his production when healthy has been undeniable. He’s not the explosive athlete the edges at the top of the board are, but he’s a first-round pass rusher in this class if the medicals check out.”

via Nick Baumgardner of The Athletic

Even though Latu wouldn’t fill an obvious need for the Bolts, he’d add to a stacked defensive line that includes All-Pro Joey Bosa and a quality rookie in Tuli Tuipulotu.

Obviously the Chargers have more pressing matters right now as they’ve dipped below .500, but it’s intriguing to visualize Latu in the powder blue.

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