The Los Angeles Chargers enjoyed a tremendous 2022 offseason which included the additions of J.C. Jackson and Khalil Mack to the team. Despite just one pick in the first two rounds, their offseason success continued at the NFL Draft. The Chargers were able to add a few key pieces, as they should have a large role on the team this upcoming season.
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After just missing the playoffs in a disappointing end to the 2021 season, GM Tom Telesco came into the offseason with a clear plan. In addition to the acquisitions of Mack and Jackson, the Chargers were able to bring back No. 2 WR Mike Williams. It sets them up for a run at the playoffs in 2022 and perhaps the AFC West division as well.
Now, here are our grades for the Chargers’ 2022 NFL Draft class.
Los Angeles Chargers 2022 NFL Draft Grades
Round 1 Pick 16 Overall – Zion Johnson: A
The Chargers made efforts to protect their franchise quarterback once again. For the second consecutive season, they selected an offensive lineman in the first round of the NFL Draft. Rashawn Slater provided immediate upgrades for the line in 2021, and Zion Johnson should do just the same in 2022. Johnson should be penciled in as a starter right away for the upcoming season. Additionally, he showed positional versatility in his time in college at Boston College. Alongside Slater and Corey Linsley, Johnson will help the Chargers offensive line continue their strides made from last season.
Round 3 Pick 79 Overall – JT Woods: B-
Selecting a safety with their second pick in the draft brings this grade down. Beyond that though, Woods is a good football player that will have an impact in the NFL. He became a ballhawk in college at Baylor, picking off eight passes in the past two seasons. In the run game, he struggled a bit though and that’s a little concerning, particularly for a third-rounder. Still, a corner like Marcus Jones or an offensive tackle like Daniel Faalele perhaps would have been more useful.
Round 4 Pick 123 Overall – Isaiah Spiller: B
This is perhaps the most intriguing pick of the Chargers’ draft here in Texas A&M running back Isaiah Spiller. The team has been looking for a power running back for years now and things haven’t gone as planned. 2018 seventh-round pick Justin Jackson showed some flashes, but never ended up being consistent enough. Joshua Kelley, who remains on the team, was selected in the fourth round, similar to Spiller, in the 2020 NFL Draft. Kelley struggled in 2021 after a promising rookie season.
Spiller has the potential to come in and be the primary backup for the Chargers. At one time, he was considered a top back in this 2022 class. While he will just be a backup for the time-being, finding a complement to Ekeler is crucial. Not only is Ekeler not a four-down back, but he’s also gets injured often. In college, Spiller racked up 2,993 rushing yards with 25 touchdowns in three seasons. He also showed some promise in the passing game, as he caught 74 balls for 585 yards and a touchdown. While Spiller is talented, the Chargers had more pressing needs, thus why the grade is not an ‘A’.
Round 5 Pick 160 Overall – Otito Ogbonnia: B
Ogbonnia immediately provides DT Jerry Tillery and the Chargers with much-needed depth on the interior of the defensive line. This selection was purely for continuing to try and improve the team’s run defense. At UCLA, Ogbonnia provided just that for the Bruins. With just 4.5 sacks in his four-year career, he doesn’t offer much as far as pass-rushing goes.
Round 6 Pick 195 Overall – Jamaree Salyer: B+
The Chargers added to their offensive line depth with this selection of Salyer. Although a sixth-round pick, the Georgia product certainly has the potential to make the team and maybe even start. He was versatile for the national champions Georgia and provides a mean-streak in the run game. This pick of Salyer was one of their better late-round selections.
Round 6 Pick 214 Overall – Ja’Sir Taylor: C
Perhaps the main complaint of the Chargers’ draft was their lack of emphasis on cornerback. The team has 2021 first-rounder Asante Samuel Jr. and free-agent acquisition J.C. Jackson. Those two alone should form one of the best CB duos in football. Beyond them though, the Chargers lack a legitimate third cornerback. While Ja’Sir Taylor could surprise many and become that, he may not even make the team out of training camp. Additionally, he stands under six-feet tall. On the positive side, Taylor had six interceptions in his last three seasons at Wake Forest. He also ran a 4.39 in the 40-yard dash at Wake’s Pro Day. He seems best suited as a special teams guy in 2022 if he makes the team.
Round 7 Pick 236 Overall – Deane Leonard: C
What was said above, applies to this pick as well. Double-dosing on corner late may work though, as they really just need one of them to hit for this to be successful. At this point in the draft, teams pick the guys that they want to avoid competing for in the UDFA pool. Although two picks were already made on linemen, Penn State OT Rasheed Walker would’ve been tremendous value here. Leonard also ran an impressive 4.39 40-time at Ole Miss’ Pro Day. Leonard and Taylor will be vying for a spot on the team in camp and whoever is the better special teamer, will likely make it over the other.
Round 7 Pick 260 Overall – Zander Horvath: B-
The Chargers indeed selected a fullback in the year 2022. With that being said, Horvath was very productive in four seasons at Purdue. He rushed for 1,181 yards and eight touchdowns, with an additional 592 receiving yards. It’s hard to be critical on the third-to-last pick of the draft. This pick was likely made for special teams-purpose, as is typically the case with picks this late in the draft. The question remains if he was selected as a replacement for current starting FB Gabe Nabers. The Chargers got a guy that can provide value in the power-running game and on special teams in 2022 if he makes the team.