The draft will be held in Las Vegas on the strip in the area adjacent to Caesars Forum two years after it was initially scheduled. The 2020 NFL draft was turned into a virtual event because of COVID-19.
Here's a pick-by-pick look at how each player Los Angeles has selected will fit.
Round 1, No. 17 overall: Zion Johnson, OG, Boston College
My take: Chargers general manager Tom Telesco isn't taking any chances when it comes to protecting third-year franchise quarterback Justin Herbert, who has demonstrated the talent to take the Bolts deep into the playoffs. Last year, Telesco used a first-round pick to select left tackle Rashawn Slater. Now, the 10th-year general manager remains in the trenches -- turning down the opportunity to select Washington cornerback Trent McDuffie -- and picks up Johnson, who can start immediately at guard. With Johnson's selection, it remains unclear who will start at right tackle, but there are options between Storm Norton, who started 15 games at the spot last season, and Matt Feiler, a 16-game starter last season at left guard who also gained pro experience at right tackle in Pittsburgh. Offensive linemen don't typically grab headlines in April, but two consecutive years of linemen picks could have the Chargers making news in late January.
Passing on a cornerback: The Chargers had the option at No. 17 to select McDuffie, who could have rounded out a cornerback trio with J.C. Jackson and Asante Samuel Jr., and would have assisted in slowing down what's expected to be several high-octane offenses in the AFC West with Super Bowl-winning quarterback Russell Wilson joining the Denver Broncos and All-Pro receiver Davante Adams signing with the Las Vegas Raiders. Instead, the Kansas City Chiefs added McDuffie with the No. 21 pick, so Herbert must instead face him twice a season. Sixth-year pro Michael Davis remains an option to fill the role at cornerback, but the Bolts likely will want to look to find another challenger at the position in later rounds.
More help for Herbert and offense?: Ahead of the draft, Telesco was asked if the offense would benefit from more speed on the field. Telesco didn’t hesitate. “We could use a little more,” he said. “You can never turn speed down.” Watch for the Chargers to try to find a receiver who can stretch the field, even if it’s not a playmaker who can step in immediately. Also keep an eye on running back, where depth must be built behind Austin Ekeler.
Round 3, No. 79 overall: JT Woods, S, Baylor
My take: The Chargers have spent most of the offseason bolstering a defense that ranked No. 29 in the NFL last year, allowing an average of 27 points per game. With Woods' selection, they continue to reinforce a unit that will face a grueling AFC West schedule that includes Super Bowl winning quarterbacks Patrick Mahomes and Russell Wilson and an ever-improving Raiders offense that now includes All-Pro receiver Davante Adams. At Baylor last season, Woods lined up at safety on 92% of his defensive snaps and also played slot cornerback and lined up in the box as an outside and inside linebacker. Coach Brandon Staley has proven to favor well-rounded defensive backs in his schemes and Woods, also 110-meter hurdler at Baylor, has proven versatility.
Round 4, No. 123 overall: Isaiah Spiller, RB, Texas A&M
My take: Finding a running back to provide depth behind Austin Ekeler was among the Chargers’ needs entering the draft, and they fill it with Spiller, a two-time All-SEC selection. Spiller is known for his ability to find the hole and as an efficient pass-catcher. Since 2019, he led the SEC with 2,993 rushing yards, including 1,844 rushing yards after contact, which also led the conference. In a position group that also includes Joshua Kelley and Larry Rountree III, Spiller could be thrown into the mix early in his rookie season.
Round 5, No. 160 overall: Otito Ogbonnia, DL, UCLA
My take: Some mock drafts had the Chargers in the hunt for a defensive lineman in the first round, instead they waited until the fifth. And they didn’t need to look far for the pick, selecting the 6-foot-4, 324-pound tackle from UCLA. Ogbonnia joins a defensive front that’s undergone a makeover this offseason with the additions of outside linebacker Khalil Mack, defensive linemen Sebastian Joseph-Day and Austin Johnson. At UCLA, Ogbonnia lined up primarily over the center.
Round 6, No. 195 overall: Jamaree Salyer, OG, Georgia
My take: The Chargers used their first-round pick, No. 17 overall, to select offensive guard Zion Johnson, now they visit the line once again with the selection of Salyer, who played mostly left tackle but also spent time at right guard last season. After Johnson’s selection, general manager Tom Telesco and coach Brandon Staley said they planned for the Boston College standout to step in at right guard, while keeping the left side of the line intact between left tackle Rashawn Slater and left guard Matt Feiler. Salyer’s versatility could provide depth at multiple positions. And fun fact: At the NFL combine, Salyer produced 31 reps on the bench press, second only to his new teammate, Johnson, who had 32.
Round 6, No. 214 overall: Ja'Sir Taylor, CB, Wake Forest
My take: Taylor could provide depth in the secondary, but it’s more likely that the Wake Forest cornerback will contribute on special teams, a unit that greatly benefits from defensive backs, coach Brandon Staley noted after Day 2. Last season, Taylor intercepted two passes and deflected five more. He is the second defensive back the Chargers have selected in the draft after taking Baylor safety JT Woods in the third round.
Round 7, No. 236 overall: Deane Leonard, CB, Ole Miss
My take: Chargers coach Brandon Staley likes to load his defense and special teams with athletic defensive backs and the Bolts grab their third DB of the draft with the 6-foot, 195-pound Ole Miss product. Leonard deflected six passes last season. A Calgary, Canada, native, Leonard also was drafted 18th overall in the 2021 Canadian Football League draft, but opted to return to Ole Miss for a final season.
Round 7, No. 260 overall: Zander Horvath, FB, Purdue
My take: The Chargers conclude their 2022 draft by selecting a ... fullback? This selection has special teams written all over it. The 6-foot-3, 230-pound Horvath managed to return to play eight games his senior season at Purdue despite suffering a broken fibula in the second game of the season. Horvath carried the ball 91 times for 335 yards and three touchdowns.