At No. 43, the Chargers select Leonard Taylor, defensive tackle Miami. The Chargers were looking at Newton, the Illinois DT, in the first round; they got the next-best option in round two. Addressing needs at a value is a good puck for the Chargers.
Taylor is an all-around competent player with a suitable frame and is hard to block when his pad level is low. He can play a 3-technique in even fronts and be a 4i-tech in an odd-front team if necessary. He rapidly reacts to the snap and is good at getting penetration off the snap.
Taylor also has a strong physical presence at the point of attack against the run and can get an extension against offensive linemen. He has adequate quickness to elude offensive linemen and can win with pass-rush moves such as an arm over, stick, club-by, and hand swipe.
Given his pedigree and production, Taylor is in a good position for the 2024 NFL Draft. His five-star rating as part of the 2021 recruiting class and 23 tackles for loss in his last year of high school certainly stand out. While his performance in 2023 wasn't as strong, his impressive physical tools are still prominent.
Taylor is as explosive as Newton, if not more so, and his 305-pound frame is surprisingly agile. He combines an explosive one-step burst with strength and power to penetrate gaps and beat blockers. His active and precise hands make it even easier for him to swim past opponents.
The Chargers need a big-body run-stopping plug in the middle of Joey Bosa and Khali Mack. Taylor is perfect and can threaten the quarterback effectively as well. The Chargers now have a formidable defensive line.