With only a couple of weeks left until the 2022 NFL Draft, the height of free agency has gone long past and while some teams – including the Los Angeles Chargers – have still made a couple of signings here and there, it’s time to start looking towards the Draft. The Chargers still have a question mark or two to answer, specifically with regards to right tackle. Most of the rest of the Draft additions for the Chargers this year will likely be for depth, but that depth is still important. Let’s look through the list of top Los Angeles Chargers draft priorities by position.
Top 2022 Los Angeles Chargers Draft Priorities
Right Tackle (or Left Guard?)
The Chargers biggest remaining hole in the roster is at right tackle, which was not addressed in free agency. Bryan Bulaga was cut, leaving only Storm Norton now – and another year of him as the starter would be disastrous. There would be more cause for concern if this same scenario had not happened last year with left tackle – they did not fill the position in free agency, and instead selected Rashawn Slater in the first round, who went All-Pro in his rookie year.
It’s virtually a foregone conclusion that the Chargers will select an offensive lineman again in the first round. However, there may be some competition in the middle of the first round. The Chargers have the 17th overall pick, but the New Orleans Saints leapfrogged ahead of them with a big trade for the 16th overall pick – possibly due to losing Terron Armstead in free agency, and thus needing an offensive tackle of their own.
The best-case scenario for the Chargers would be if Charles Cross managed to slip to 17th, but that is not considered likely. More likely is Trevor Penning being available. And if there ends up being on a run on offensive tackles, the remaining options in the first round could include Kenyon Green (who can play tackle or guard), Bernhard Raimann, or Daniel Faalele. It is worth noting that Matt Feiler, who played left guard for the Chargers in 2021, has played right tackle before. So there is also a scenario where the Chargers grab a guard instead (possibly in the third round, even) and move Feiler out to his old spot.
The Chargers did quite well in free agency by picking up Austin Johnson and Sebastian Joseph-Day to improve the defensive line/run defense. However, they allowed Justin Jones to walk, leaving the third spot on the line to be filled by either Jerry Tillery or Christian Covington. While Covington was a quite solid rotational piece last year, the lack of a clear-cut starter there makes it seem reasonable – and likely – that the Chargers add to their depth at that position in the Draft, if not drafting a starter outright.
If the Chargers were to make a selection in the first round here, Jordan Davis or Devonte Wyatt would be their best options. Davis in particular has been noted for his run-stopping ability, which is exactly what the Chargers are looking for. It still seems best to draft a right tackle if a good one is available at 17th, but it would be very difficult to get upset if a player like Davis got taken instead. Otherwise, they would have to wait until at least the third round.
This would likely be a Day Three move, but unless the Chargers end up bringing back Justin Jackson, the depth after Austin Ekeler at running back is looking quite poor right now. Joshua Kelley didn’t improve in 2021, and Larry Rountree III only had 87 yards and 2.4 yards per carry in his rookie year. Considering how improved the offensive line was (at least on the left side) and that both Ekeler and Jackson were able to produce without much issue, that bodes rather badly for them.
The Chargers seem to have whiffed on both of their last two running back selections in the Draft, but there’s not much else to do besides keep trying (or maybe sign a cheaper free-agent running back that isn’t past his prime yet, but those are not exactly in high supply). If the Chargers do not elect to bring back Jackson or bring in someone else more reliable, they cannot go into the season with Kelley or Rountree as their RB2.
Beyond the aforementioned, there is not much that needs addressing at this point beyond adding depth, which may allow the Chargers to go with a “best player available” approach after their first couple of picks. However, it would not hurt to add depth at spots like cornerback; after their trio of starters headed by new acquisition J.C. Jackson, the quality goes down pretty dramatically after that.
Some have also suggested the Chargers could take a wide receiver, even as early as the first round. And while it does not hurt to have more weapons, I do not see this as a priority. The Chargers already have two 1,000-yard receivers. Josh Palmer is entering his second year and looks quite promising. Jalen Guyton is a solid deep threat. While it certainly cannot hurt to add somebody in the later rounds to round out the depth and see if they strike gold, this is simply not a position of true need for them right now and there are more critical positions to address. With only two picks in the first three rounds, the Chargers should use them wisely.
The Chargers fortunately do not have a lot of critical spots to fill in this Draft, but that makes it all the more important that they take care of those spots early, especially with very few early draft picks. They do have a bunch of sixth and seventh-round picks due to having a grand total of four compensatory picks, which leaves them in a decent place to throw some darts and see if they find any unexpected gems. But the highest priorities here are getting a right tackle and rounding out the defensive line; basically anything after that is gravy.
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