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Ladd McConkey

Herbert likes the look of his rookie receiver

Ladd McConkey is a candidate to lead the Chargers in receiving as a rookie and Justin Herbert is talking as if it will happen. McConkey, Herbert says, has been checking all the boxes so far.

“He’s just picked up the offense so easily. It’s like he’s been a four- or five-year vet,” Herbert says, via Kris Rhim of ESPN. “He understands the game.”

The Chargers don’t have much else at the position. Joshua Palmer is their top returning option. In his first three seasons, he’s been on the field for over 75 percent of their plays 17 teams, and he’s caught 87 passes for 1,107 yards and 5 TDs in those games.

They’ve got Quentin Johnston coming back for a second season after struggling as a rookie. While a turnaround is possible, he’s looking more likely to be a missed first-round pick. They’ve also got DJ Chark, who had a 1,000-yard season a few years back.

But McConkey, if he’s as good as the Chargers are hoping, should be their top guy.

On the downside, the team will be relying on the run a lot more than it has in previous seasons. Jim Harbaugh and Greg Roman believe in pounding opponents into submission.

McConkey also lasted until the second round of the draft, and while plenty of good receivers have come out of that round (Deebo Samuel, Michael Pittman, DK Metcalf and many others) there’s been a lot more misses than hits.

Below see the 22 receivers selected in the first half of the second round in the last 10 years. Only three finished with top-30 numbers (PPR scoring) in their first season.

I’m expecting McConkey to lead the Chargers in receiving (Andy & I picked him in an experts draft a few weeks ago) but I wouldn’t make him one of the top 30 chosen at the position.

2014• Jordan Matthews, Phil.1610678728202.225
2014Marqise Lee, Jac.13837422186.188
2014Paul Richardson, Sea.15629271162.198
2015Dorial Green-Beckham, Ten.165325494112.959
2015Devin Funchess, Car.165314735108.365
2015Devin Smith, NYJ1039115126.5142
2016• Michael Thomas, N.O.15129211379259.77
2016Sterling Shepard, NYG1616656838184.436
2017Zay Jones, Buff.151027316270.687
2017Curtis Samuel, Car.9415115032.9126
2018Courtland Sutton, Den.169427044136.350
2018Christian Kirk, Ari.127435903123.558
2018Dante Pettis, S.F.127274675103.571
2019Deebo Samuel, S.F.1511578026191.131
2020• Tee Higgins, Cin.1614679086196.628
2020Laviska Shenault, Jac.1412586005157.146
2020Michael Pittman, Ind.13840503198.980
2020KJ Hamler, Den.13430381390.188
2021Elijah Moore, NYJ116435386138.250
2022Christian Watson, G.B.1411416119164.142
2022Wan'Dale Robinson, NYG6323227151.6116
2023Jonathan Mingo, Car.151443418084.881
2024Keon Coleman, Buf.???????
2024Ladd McConkey, LAC???????
2024Ja'Lynn Polk, N.E.???????

—Ian Allan

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