The eighth receiver taken, Ladd McConkey could outproduce them all as a rookie in LA

The LA Chargers traded up to No. 34 to select Ladd McConkey out of Georgia in the second round of the 2024 NFL Draft. With plenty of opportunity and an elite quarterback in Justin Herbert, McConkey could dominate right away.
Capital One Orange Bowl - Georgia v Florida State
Capital One Orange Bowl - Georgia v Florida State / Brandon Sloter/GettyImages

Seven wide receivers went in the first round and an eighth, Florida State’s Keon Coleman, went ahead of Georgia’s Ladd McConkey before the Los Angeles Chargers traded up to the 34th overall pick to select the former Bulldogs receiver. 

There was a chance that McConkey could have jumped into the first round and he could have a chip on his shoulder after being drafted behind players like Coleman as well as Florida’s Ricky Pearsall and South Carolina’s Xavier Leggette who were selected 31st and 32nd consecutively. Players with a chip on their shoulder is exactly what Jim Harbaugh, LA’s new head coach, loves. 

This offseason, the Chargers began their rebuild by trading away veteran receiver Keenan Allen to the Chicago Bears and releasing Mike Williams. The latter signed with the New York Jets to give Aaron Rodgers another weapon at wide receiver, and after taking Notre Dame offensive tackle Joe Alt at No. 5 yesterday, Harbaugh got ahead of the questions about who his young star quarterback will throw the ball to. 

While he may look to weaponize his athletic offensive line, Harbaugh recognized the need at wide receiver with Joshua Palmer, Quentin Johnston, and Derius Davis as the top pass-catching options on his roster. Instead of relying on those two TCU receivers, LA secured the guy who caught five passes for 88 yards and two touchdowns against the Horned Frogs in the 2023 College Football Playoff National Championship game at SoFi Stadium. 

A year ago, Johnston was a first-round selection of the Chargers, but he only caught 38 of his 67 targets as a rookie for 431 yards and two touchdowns. That leaves the opportunity for McConkey to immediately jump to the top of the depth chart, and if he can stay healthy, he’ll be LA’s No. 1 receiver in his first season. 

In McConkey’s final year at Georgia, the 6-foot junior caught 29 passes for 456 yards and two touchowns across just eight games. Even with limited snaps, McConkey was viewed as a hot commodity by the NFL after running a 4.39 40-yard dash at the NFL combine. 

Eight wide receivers went before him, but Ladd McConkey will have enough of a target-share from an elite quarterback to outproduce them all next season.

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