Los Angeles Chargers NFL Draft Grades 2022: Zion Johnson joins the offensive line

What are the Los Angeles Chargers' grades for their selections in the 2022 NFL Draft as they look to address their main needs this offseason?

The 2022 NFL Draft has officially kicked off, and the Los Angeles Chargers have made their first selection. As the seven rounds progress and the team makes all of their picks, we will provide a live draft grade and analysis for each of the Chargers’ selections. How do these new prospects fit with the roster, what kind of impact will they have on the team, and what do the team’s needs look like now that the draft is complete?

Make sure to continue to check back as the 2022 NFL Draft continues for live Los Angeles Chargers draft grades and analysis.

Los Angeles Chargers grades for 2022 NFL Draft

What are the Chargers‘ grades for their selections in the 2022 NFL Draft as they look to address their main needs this offseason?

Round 1, Pick 17: Zion Johnson, G, Boston College

Zion Johnson wasn’t the first offensive guard off the board like many expected. But he didn’t go far after Kenyon Green, uniting with the Los Angeles Chargers at 17th overall. Green may have gone first, but Johnson is the top guard on plenty of boards – including my own.

Green is a solid interior blocker, but Johnson is arguably more consistent. And he has high-end tools for the position. He’s athletic in space, he has an excellent combination of leverage and proportional length, and he can finish with physicality. Johnson can bring new steadiness to Los Angeles’ line, while also allowing Matt Feiler to slide out to right tackle.

Grade: A

Round 3, Pick 79: JT Woods, S, Baylor

Speed is the current name of the game for JT Woods, who showcased that at the Combine. Yet, Woods has more to his game, including terrific instincts and coverage ability. Woods is a closer in space and always seemed to be in the right position at the right time in coverage for Baylor. His 6 interceptions in 2021 were a microcosm of his positioning and knowledge of the game.

He may struggle early on with his tackling ability and his poor angles at times, but that is coachable. Where he fits in the Chargers’ defense is more concerning. With Derwin James and Nasir Adderley firmly entrenched in each of their roles, Woods’ most likely action seems to be in sub-packages or in coverage to start.

Grade: C+

Round 4, Pick 123: Isaiah Spiller, RB, Texas A&M

The 2021 season only emphasized the Chargers’ need for a competent running back outside of Austin Ekeler. They passed on the position over the first two days of the 2022 NFL Draft. However, the Chargers had a top-100 talent fall into their lap at pick No. 123. At 123, the Chargers selected Texas A&M running back Isaiah Spiller.

At one point, Spiller was a common pick as the RB1 in the 2022 NFL Draft, and he still has some fans in that regard. The hype is rightly placed, even if Spiller didn’t test incredibly well at the Combine. Spiller shows a little more functional burst on tape. However, his agility is even more inspiring. Spiller is fleet-footed and light for a 6’0”, 217-pound back. He also brings the expected physicality and contact balance downhill. This is a terrific value pick for LA at a position they needed to reinforce.

Grade: A+

Round 5, Pick 160: Otito Ogbonnia, DT, UCLA

The Los Angeles Chargers were a team routinely linked to mammoth Georgia defensive tackle Jordan Davis. The reasons were clear. Having added Khalil Mack to Joey Bosa in the offseason, they were one interior defensive line piece away from being one of the most dominant defenses in the NFL.

While Otito Ogbonnia isn’t as highly rated as Davis, he has many of the requisite talents to hold down a similar role for the Chargers. At 6’3” and 324 pounds, he’s a stout DT with an impressive anchor to hold firm at the point of attack. Like Davis, there are questions about his ability to offer much pass-rush upside, but he’s a solid player at this pick.

Grade: B

Round 6, Pick 195: Jamaree Salyer, OL, Georgia

The Chargers’ addition of Zion Johnson alone gives them some flexibility on the line. But it never hurts to have more depth in the trenches. Jamaree Salyer had some Day 2 love in the pre-draft process as a potential guard convert. He ended up sliding down the board, but Salyer is an excellent grab for the Chargers.

He’s 6’3”, 321 pounds, with near-34” arms. Salyer played tackle at Georgia and could use his length to anchor and drive defenders. But particularly on the interior, in a phone booth, his power capacity gives him great potential. Salyer could legitimately be a starting guard down the road. But for now, he’s a valuable depth piece with his versatility.

Grade: A

Round 6, Pick 214: Ja’Sir Taylor, CB, Wake Forest

After adding J.C. Jackson in free agency, using substantial capital on a cornerback in the 2022 NFL Draft on a cornerback was never going to be a point of emphasis for the Los Angeles Chargers. Adding some depth in the later rounds, however, does make a lot of sense.

Ja’Sir Taylor gives the Chargers a physical and aggressive CB who has showcased fluidity, ball tracking, and good football instincts to pose a real coverage threat. The Wake Forest prospect also adds special-teams experience. A solid pick-up late in the day for the Chargers.

Grade: B+

Round 7, Pick 236: Deane Leonard, CB, Ole Miss

Another cornerback for the Los Angeles Chargers late in the 2022 NFL Draft. While he hasn’t been productive at the college level, Deane Leonard possesses some top-level technical traits you look for when evaluating CB talent. He can backpedal impressively and transition out of his backpedal with excellent fluidity. He’s able to go toe-to-toe with receivers in man coverage, playing with aggression on the ball and when facing the run. If he can improve his ability to read and react, Leonard might make the roster come September.

Grade: C+

Round 7, Pick 260: Zander Horvath, FB, Purdue

Zander Horvath plays the game with a physicality that you’d expect from a 6’3″, 230-pound running back. Yet, he combines that physicality with an athleticism associated with a smaller-framed athlete. The Purdue RB has the hands of a wide receiver while possessing the blocking ability that most playmakers can only dream of. If he hadn’t been injured this season, he might have been selected even higher than this 260th overall selection by the Chargers. With Isaiah Spiller and Horvath in this class, the Chargers got physical in the backfield.

Grade: A-

What were the Chargers’ biggest needs entering the draft?

  • G, OT, WR, EDGE, LB 

The Chargers roster is looking really good, but the offense has some areas in need of an upgrade. The guard position is far from certain, and the unfortunate tenure of Bryan Bulaga coming to an end has left a hole at right tackle. The Chargers also re-signed Mike Williams and Jalen Guyton, but there are still troubles over their depth at wide receiver.

On defense, the Chargers have a fantastic pairing of Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack, but the depth behind them is a concern. They could also do with adding some more talent to compete for starting roles at linebacker.

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