The Los Angeles Chargers selected quarterback Justin Herbert No. 6 overall in 2020.
The Los Angeles Chargers selected quarterback Justin Herbert No. 6 overall in 2020.

The Los Angeles Chargers are an American football franchise who play in the National Football League (NFL). They began play in Los Angeles in 1960 as charter members of the American Football League (AFL),[1] switched cities to San Diego the following season,[2] and returned to Los Angeles in 2017.[3] The AFL was formed as rivals to the established NFL, though the leagues would later merge, with all AFL teams including the Chargers officially joining the NFL in 1970.[4]

Every year during April, each NFL franchise seeks to add new players to its roster through a collegiate draft known as the NFL Player Selection Meeting, which is more commonly known as the NFL Draft.[5][6] The Chargers took part in the rival AFL draft for the first seven years of their existence, meaning that they had to compete for new players' signatures with whichever club had picked them in the NFL draft.[7] Their first draft selection was Monty Stickles, an end from the University of Notre Dame.[8] Unlike all future picks, he was not chosen by the Chargers themselves, but rather assigned in a territorial draft at a meeting of the AFL's original owners.[9] Stickles never played for the Chargers as he chose to sign for the San Francisco 49ers instead; overall, the Chargers were unable to sign their first-round selection four times during their first seven years. After that, the two leagues conducted a common draft, ending the inter-league bidding war.[4] Over a decade later, the original United States Football League (USFL) challenged the NFL by conducting its own collegiate drafts from 1983 to 1986.[10][11] The Chargers temporarily lost two of their first-round picks (Gary Anderson and Mossy Cade) to USFL clubs, though both joined the NFL in 1985 as the USFL struggled financially.[12]

In the NFL draft, teams are ranked in inverse order based on the previous season's record, with the worst record picking first, and the second worst picking second and so on.[5] Teams have the option of trading away their picks to other teams for different picks, players, or a combination thereof.[5] Thus, it is not uncommon for a team's actual draft pick to differ from their assigned draft pick, or for a team to have extra or no draft picks in any round due to these trades.[5] The Chargers have been without a first-round pick eight times in their history, including six times in seven years from 1994 to 2000. They have possessed two first-round picks on seven different occasions; once, in 1983, they had three such picks.

The Chargers have twice been in possession of the No. 1 overall pick, though in neither case has the player selected played for them. In 2001, they traded the No. 1 pick to the Atlanta Falcons before the draft for three draft picks and one player; the Falcons selected Michael Vick, while the Chargers chose LaDainian Tomlinson with the No. 5 overall pick. In 2004, the projected No. 1 pick, Eli Manning, stated that he would not play in San Diego. The Chargers still selected him, but quickly traded the player to the New York Giants for Philip Rivers (who the Giants had just drafted at No. 4 overall) and three draft picks, one of which was used to select Shawne Merriman in the first round the following season.

Twenty-four of the Chargers's first round selections have been nominated for at least one Pro Bowl or AFL All-Star game; Junior Seau has the most such nominations, with twelve. Three have been elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame: Kellen Winslow, Seau and LaDainian Tomlinson.

The team's most recent first-round pick was Zion Johnson, a guard from Boston College selected No. 17 overall in 2022. They have chosen 33 defensive players in the first round, and 30 offensive players; defensive linemen have been the most common position, with 13 selected. Ohio State, Tennessee and Texas are tied for the most players chosen by the Chargers from one university, with three selections each.

Player selections

Key
^ Indicates the player was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame
Indicates the player was selected for the Pro Bowl or AFL All-Star game at any time in their career
* Selected number one overall
Current Charger: statistics correct through 2021 season
The Chargers did not draft a player in the first round that year.
Year Each year links to an article about that particular NFL Draft.
Pick Indicates the number of the pick within the first round
Position Indicates the position of the player in the NFL
College The player's college football team
Seasons The number of seasons in which the player had at least one appearance for the Chargers
Pro Bowls The number of seasons in which the player was voted to the Pro Bowl or AFL All-Star game as a Charger
Games Regular season games in which the player appeared for the Chargers
Starts Regular season games in which the player started for the Chargers
Position abbreviations
C Center
CB Cornerback
DE Defensive end
DT Defensive tackle
E End
FB Fullback
G Guard
LB Linebacker
QB Quarterback
RB Running back
S Safety
T Tackle
TE Tight end
WR Wide receiver
Los Angeles Chargers first-round draft picks
Year Pick Player name Position College Stats with Chargers Notes Ref
Seasons Pro Bowls Games Starts
1960 N/A Monty Stickles E Notre Dame 0 0 0 0 Territorial selection, assigned by the AFL's original owners. Signed for the NFL's San Francisco 49ers instead. [13][14][15]
1961 7 Earl Faison DE Indiana 6 5 67 64 [16][17]
1962 8 Bob Ferguson FB Ohio State 0 0 0 0 Signed for the NFL's Pittsburgh Steelers [18][19]
1963 2 Walt Sweeney G Syracuse 11 9 154 140 [20][21]
1964 8 Ted Davis LB Georgia Tech 0 0 0 0 Signed for the NFL's Baltimore Colts [22][23]
1965 6 Steve DeLong DE Tennessee 7 1 89 75 [24][25]
1966 7 Don Davis DT Los Angeles State 0 0 0 0 Signed for the NFL's New York Giants [26][27]
1967 14 Ron Billingsley DT Wyoming 4 0 44 25 [28][29]
1968 4 Russ Washington T Missouri 15 5 200 196 Pick received in trade with Denver Broncos[a] [30][31][32]
18 Jim Hill CB Texas A&M–Kingsville 3 0 42 38 [33][34]
1969 9 Marty Domres QB Columbia 3 0 22 6 Pick received in trade with Denver Broncos[a] [35][31][36]
18 Bob Babich LB Miami (OH) 3 0 42 36 [37][38]
1970 15 Walker Gillette WR Richmond 2 0 25 1 [39][40]
1971 13 Leon Burns RB Long Beach State 1 0 14 4 [41][42]
1972 No pick Pick traded to Green Bay Packers[b] [43]
1973 25 Johnny Rodgers WR Nebraska 2 0 17 7 Original pick traded to Philadelphia Eagles.[c] Acquired another first-round pick from the Colts in a separate trade.[d] [44][45]
[46][47]
1974 2 Bo Matthews RB Colorado 6 0 78 31 [48][49]
15 Don Goode LB Kansas 6 0 81 62 Pick received in trade with Cleveland Browns[e] [50][51][52]
1975 8 Gary Johnson DT Grambling State 10 4 134 123 [53][54]
22 Mike Williams CB LSU 8 0 107 101 Pick received in trade with Washington Redskins[f] [55][56][54]
1976 4 Joe Washington RB Oklahoma 1 0 13 0 [57][58]
1977 24 Bob Rush C Memphis 5 0 70 12 Moved down the draft order in trade with Dallas Cowboys[g] [59][60][61]
1978 14 John Jefferson WR Arizona State 3 3 45 45 [62][63]
1979 13 Kellen Winslow ^ TE Missouri 9 5 109 94 Moved up the draft order in trade with Cleveland Browns[h] [64][65]
1980 No pick Pick traded to Green Bay Packers[i] [66]
1981 24 James Brooks RB Auburn 3 0 38 8 [67][68]
1982 No pick Initially moved up the draft order in trade with Green Bay Packers.[j] Traded new first-round pick to the Saints 12 days later.[k] [69][70]
1983 5 Billy Ray Smith, Jr. LB Arkansas 10 0 126 111 Moved up the draft order in trade with San Francisco 49ers[l] [71][72][73]
20 Gary Anderson RB Arkansas 4 1 54 38 Pick received in trade with Green Bay Packers.[j] Initially signed for USFL's Tampa Bay Bandits. Joined the Chargers in 1985. [74][69]
[75][76]
22 Gill Byrd CB San Jose State 10 2 149 146 Pick initially traded to San Francisco 49ers.[l] Regained in subsequent trade.[m] [77][78][73]
1984 6 Mossy Cade S Texas 0 0 0 0 Initially signed for USFL's Memphis Showboats. NFL signing rights later traded to Green Bay Packers.[n] [79][80][81]
1985 12 Jim Lachey T Ohio State 3 1 44 43 [82][83]
1986 8 Leslie O'Neal DE Oklahoma State 9 6 133 125 Acquired extra first-round pick in trade with Green Bay Packers.[n] Subsequently moved up the draft order in trade with Minnesota Vikings.[o] [84][81]
[85][86]
13 James FitzPatrick T USC 4 0 38 14 [87][86]
1987 24 Rod Bernstine RB Texas A&M 6 0 63 25 Moved down the draft order in trade with Cleveland Browns[p] [88][89]
1988 15 Anthony Miller WR Tennessee 6 4 93 91 [90][91]
1989 8 Burt Grossman DE Pittsburgh 5 0 72 71 [92][93]
1990 5 Junior Seau ^ LB USC 13 12 200 199 [94][95]
1991 9 Stanley Richard S Texas 4 0 61 60 [96][97]
1992 23 Chris Mims DE Tennessee 7 0 93 57 Original pick traded to Washington Redskins.[q] Acquired another first-round pick from the Oilers in a separate trade.[r] [98][99]
[100][101]
1993 22 Darrien Gordon CB Stanford 3 0 48 29 [102][103]
1994 No pick Pick traded to San Francisco 49ers[s] [103]
1995 No pick Pick traded to Carolina Panthers[t] [104]
1996 No pick Pick traded to Detroit Lions[u] [104]
1997 No pick Pick traded to Tampa Bay Buccaneers[v] [105]
1998 2 Ryan Leaf QB Washington State 2 0 21 18 Moved up the draft order in trade with Arizona Cardinals[w] [106][107][108]
1999 No pick Pick traded to Arizona Cardinals[w] [107]
2000 No pick Pick traded to Tampa Bay Buccaneers[x] [109]
2001 5 LaDainian Tomlinson ^ RB TCU 9 5 141 141 Moved down the draft order in trade with Atlanta Falcons[y] [110][111]
2002 5 Quentin Jammer CB Texas 11 0 172 161 [112][113]
2003 30 Sammy Davis CB Texas A&M 3 0 44 30 Moved down the draft order in trade with Philadelphia Eagles[z] [114][115]
2004 1 Eli Manning*† QB Mississippi 0 0 0 0 Manning was traded to the New York Giants an hour after being drafted.[aa] [116][117]
2005 12 Shawne Merriman LB Maryland 6 3 60 53 Pick received in trade with New York Giants[aa] [118][117][119]
28 Luis Castillo DE Northwestern 7 0 82 79 [120][119]
2006 19 Antonio Cromartie CB Florida State 4 1 64 39 [121][122]
2007 30 Craig Davis WR LSU 4 0 25 2 [123][124]
2008 27 Antoine Cason CB Arizona 5 0 80 49 [125][126]
2009 16 Larry English LB Northern Illinois 5 0 52 9 [127][128]
2010 12 Ryan Mathews RB Fresno State 5 1 60 52 Moved up the draft order in trade with Miami Dolphins[ab] [129][130]
2011 18 Corey Liuget DT Illinois 8 0 108 103 [131][132]
2012 18 Melvin Ingram DE South Carolina 9 3 113 96 [133][134]
2013 11 D. J. Fluker T Alabama 4 0 59 59 [135][136]
2014 25 Jason Verrett CB TCU 4 1 25 22 [137][138]
2015 15 Melvin Gordon RB Wisconsin 5 2 67 62 Moved up the draft order in trade with San Francisco 49ers[ac] [139][140]
2016 3 Joey Bosa † ‡ DE Ohio State 6 4 79 75 [141][142]
2017 7 Mike Williams WR Clemson 5 0 72 46 [143][144]
2018 17 Derwin James † ‡ S Florida State 3 2 36 36 [145][146]
2019 28 Jerry Tillery DT Notre Dame 3 0 47 29 [147][148]
2020 6 Justin Herbert † ‡ QB Oregon 2 1 32 32 [149][150]
23 Kenneth Murray LB Oklahoma 2 0 27 22 Pick received in trade with New England Patriots[ad] [151][150]
2021 13 Rashawn Slater † ‡ T Northwestern 1 1 16 16 [152][153]
2022 17 Zion Johnson G Boston College 0 0 0 0 [154][155]
The Chargers traded up to draft future Hall of Fame tight end Kellen Winslow in 1979.
The Chargers traded up to draft future Hall of Fame tight end Kellen Winslow in 1979.
Hall of Fame linebacker Junior Seau was drafted No. 5 overall in 1990. He made 12 Pro Bowls in 13 seasons in San Diego.
Hall of Fame linebacker Junior Seau was drafted No. 5 overall in 1990. He made 12 Pro Bowls in 13 seasons in San Diego.
Hall of Fame running back LaDainian Tomlinson was selected No. 5 overall by the Chargers in 2001.
Hall of Fame running back LaDainian Tomlinson was selected No. 5 overall by the Chargers in 2001.

Breakdowns

Breakdown by college (min. 2)
College Count Most recent
Ohio State 3 Joey Bosa (2016)
Tennessee 3 Chris Mims (1992)
Texas 3 Quentin Jammer (2002)
Arkansas 2 Gary Anderson (1983)
Florida State 2 Derwin James (2018)
LSU 2 Mike Williams (2017)
Missouri 2 Kellen Winslow (1979)
Northwestern 2 Rashawn Slater (2021)
Notre Dame 2 Jerry Tillery (2019)
Oklahoma 2 Kenneth Murray (2020)
TCU 2 Jason Verrett (2014)
Texas A&M 2 Sammy Davis (2003)
USC 2 Junior Seau (1990)
Breakdown by position
Position Count Most recent
Defensive line (DE, DL) 13 Jerry Tillery (2019)
Defensive back (CB, S) 12 Derwin James (2018)
Running back (FB, RB) 10 Melvin Gordon (2015)
Linebacker (LB) 8 Kenneth Murray (2020)
Offensive line (C, G, T) 8 Zion Johnson (2022)
Wide receiver (WR) 6 Mike Williams (2017)
Quarterback (QB) 4 Justin Herbert (2020)
Tight end (E, TE) 2 Kellen Winslow (1979)

Footnotes

  1. ^ a b On August 15, 1967, the Chargers traded quarterback Steve Tensi to the Denver Broncos for first-round picks in the 1968 and 1969 drafts.
  2. ^ On June 23, 1971 the Chargers traded their first-round pick in the 1972 NFL draft (No. 11 overall) to the Green Bay Packers for defensive tackle Kevin Hardy.
  3. ^ On July 31, 1972 the Chargers traded their first-round pick in the 1973 NFL draft (No. 6) to the Philadelphia Eagles for linebacker Tim Rossovich.
  4. ^ On August 7, 1972 the Chargers traded quarterback Marty Domres to the Baltimore Colts for a first-round pick in the 1973 NFL draft and tight end John Andrews.
  5. ^ On September 5, 1973, the Chargers traded a fourth-round pick in the 1975 draft and linebacker Bob Babich to the Cleveland Browns for a first-round pick in the 1974 draft and a second-round pick in the 1975 draft.
  6. ^ On July 19, 1973, the Chargers traded running back Duane Thomas to Washington Redskins for a first-round pick in the 1975 draft and a second-round pick in the 1976 draft.
  7. ^ On August 30, 1976, the Chargers traded their first-round (No. 14) and second-round picks in the 1977 draft for the Dallas Cowboys' first-round pick in the 1977 draft (No. 24) and quarterback Clint Longley
  8. ^ On May 3, 1979, the Chargers traded their first-round (No. 20) and second-round picks in the 1979 draft to the Cleveland Browns for their first-round pick in the 1979 draft (No. 13).
  9. ^ On April 26, 1979 the Chargers traded their first-round pick in the 1980 NFL draft (No. 26 overall) and a seventh-round pick in 1979 to the Green Bay Packers for cornerback Willie Buchanon.
  10. ^ a b On September 17, 1981, the Chargers traded wide receiver John Jefferson to the Green Bay Packers for the right to swap picks in the first round of the 1982 draft (this option was exercised, as San Diego had pick No. 22 and Green Bay had pick No. 13), a 1983 first-round pick, a 1982 second-round pick, a 1984 second-round pick and wide receiver Aundra Thompson
  11. ^ On September 29, 1981, the Chargers a 1982 first-round pick, a 1982 third-round pick and wide receiver Aundra Thompson to the New Orleans Saints for wide receiver Wes Chandler.
  12. ^ a b On October 2, 1981, the Chargers traded defensive end Fred Dean to the San Francisco 49ers for the right to swap picks in the first round of the 1983 draft (this option was exercised, as San Diego had pick No. 22 and San Francisco had pick No. 5), and a second-round pick in the 1983 draft.
  13. ^ On April 22, 1983 the Chargers traded a pair of second-round picks in the 1983 NFL draft to the San Francisco 49ers for a first-round pick in the 1983 draft.
  14. ^ a b On August 30, 1985 the Chargers traded Mossy Cade to the Green Bay Packers for a first-round pick in the 1986 draft and a conditional pick in the 1987 draft (this became a fifth-round pick).
  15. ^ On April 26, 1986, the Chargers traded their first-round (No. 14) and second-round picks in the 1986 draft to the Minnesota Vikings for their first-round (No. 8) and third-round picks in the 1986 draft.
  16. ^ On April 28, 1987, the Chargers traded their first-round (No. 5) and second-round picks in the 1987 draft for the Cleveland Browns' first-round (No. 24) and second-round picks in the 1987 draft and linebacker Chip Banks.
  17. ^ On April 21, 1991 the Chargers traded their first-round pick in the 1992 NFL draft (No. 6) to Washington Redskins for a second-round pick in the 1991 draft and a fifth-round pick in the 1992 draft.
  18. ^ On August 7, 1972 the Chargers traded defensive end Lee Williams to the Houston Oilers for a first-round pick in the 1992 NFL draft and wide receiver Shawn Jefferson.
  19. ^ On April 25, 1993 the Chargers traded their first-round pick in the 1994 NFL draft (No. 15 overall) to the San Francisco 49ers for a second-round pick in the 1994 draft.
  20. ^ On April 22, 1995 the Chargers traded their first-round pick in the 1995 NFL draft (No. 29 overall) to the Carolina Panthers for their second, third and fourth-round picks in the 1995 draft.
  21. ^ On April 22, 1995 the Chargers traded their first-round pick in the 1996 NFL draft (No. 21 overall) to the Detroit Lions for a second-round pick in the 1995 draft.
  22. ^ On April 20, 1996 the Chargers traded their first-round pick in the 1997 NFL draft (No. 16 overall) to the Buccaneers for a second-round pick in the 1996 draft.
  23. ^ a b On March 12, 1998, the Chargers traded their first-round (No. 3) and second-round picks in the 1998 draft, their first-round pick (No. 8) in the 1999 draft, wide receiver Eric Metcalf and linebacker Patrick Sapp to the Arizona Cardinals for their first-round pick in the 1998 draft (No. 2).
  24. ^ On April 18, 1998 the Chargers traded their first-round pick in the 2000 NFL draft (No. 13 overall) to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for a second-round pick in the 1998 draft.
  25. ^ On April 20, 2001, the Chargers traded their first-round pick (No. 1) in the 2001 draft to the Atlanta Falcons for their first-round (No. 5) and third-round picks in the 2001 draft, their second-round pick in the 2002 draft, and wide receiver Tim Dwight.
  26. ^ On April 26, 2003 the Chargers traded their first-round (No. 15) pick in the 2003 draft for the Philadelphia Eagles' first (No. 30) and second-round picks in the 2003 draft.
  27. ^ a b On April 24, 2004 the Chargers traded the signing rights for No. 1 overall pick Eli Manning to the New York Giants for the signing rights to No. 4 overall pick Philip Rivers, a third-round pick in the 2004 draft, a first-round pick (No. 12) in the 2005 draft and a fifth-round pick in the 2005 draft.
  28. ^ On April 22, 2010, the Chargers traded their first (No. 28), second and fourth-round picks in the 2010 draft and linebacker Tim Dobbins to the Miami Dolphins for their first (No. 12), fourth and sixth-round picks in the 2010 draft.
  29. ^ On April 30, 2015 the Chargers traded their first (No. 17) and fourth-round picks in the 2015 draft and their fifth-round pick in the 2016 draft to the San Francisco 49ers for their first-round pick (No. 15) in the 2015 draft.
  30. ^ On April 23, 2020 the Chargers traded their second and third-round picks in the 2020 draft to the New England Patriots for their first-round pick in the 2020 draft.

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