Three Favorite Picks From Chargers Draft Class
It was an exciting few days during the NFL draft this past week. We were able to get a really clear look at the direction this team is wanting to go and what they are wanting to do. The Chargers were not overly aggressive in their approach but I really liked the majority of what they did. The only trade that took place was sending two of the 7th round compensatory picks to the Chicago Bears to reclaim the 6th rounder in the 2023 draft that they originally gave them in the Khalil Mack trade. Nothing crazy or exceptional with that, but I was a fan of that decision.
The Chargers ended up having 8 selections in this draft, it was difficult to find which 3 were my favorite when you take into account where the selection was, the value they had at that spot, and how soon the player is going to contribute. As a whole, there aren’t any selections that I am overly negative about so the decision was difficult. Below we will get into who my 3 favorite selections of the draft were.
1. Jamaree Salyer
I assume Jamaree Salyer will be in the top 3 for almost anyone. I loved this pick, and the more time I have been able to sit on it, I love it even more. Salyer played for the National Champion Bulldogs last year and started every game at the left tackle position over the last two year. He also gained experience playing all across the line earlier in his career. Last year we saw the Kansas City Chiefs come away with Trey Smith in the 6th round who was extremely valuable to their team. Anytime you can get someone in the 6th round that has a chance at starting at contributing right away, it is an exceptional selection. If Salyer is ready, it puts the team in position to where they can move Matt Feiler over to right tackle and Salyer could probably start next to him at the right guard spot – which might be his natural position anyway.
When it comes down to it, even if Salyer isn’t starting, he will be extremely valuable to the depth of the offensive line rotation as a versatile player that can play multiple positions on the line. We saw far too often last year and in previous years that as soon as one lineman goes down and misses a game it cripples the entire unit. Having quality depth is something that always goes unnoticed until it’s needed. My preference for the team has been to move Feiler over to right tackle and now they have Salyer who I believe could be ready to start from the jump.
2. Zion Johnson
I have seen quite a bit of different opinions on this selection. The majority of what I have seen is positive but not as positive as I believe it should be. I wrote an article prior to the draft of what I wanted the Chargers to do. My preference was one of the explosive playmakers or a highly rated corner, but my alternative if they were not available was to trade back and draft Zion Johnson. Obviously, the Chargers did not trade back, but they got their guy at pick 17, and that is what is important. I’m happy the Chargers didn’t trade back, just two picks prior, guard Kenyon Green was drafted. Whom many considered up there with Zion as the top two interior lineman in the draft. Since one was selected, the Chargers couldn’t afford to trade back and hope that he falls to them.
I have seen a lot of people bring up the fact that offensive guard is not a premium position that should be addressed in the first round. I don’t fully understand that logic. Zion was one of the most NFL ready prospects in the draft and has potential to be a multi-selected pro bowler across his career. If you are going to get someone that is one of the best in the league at their position, is it really reaching? Zion is someone that is going to start right away and be a huge impact on this team, I am ecstatic at this selection. It is just proving the type of team that Brandon Staley is wanting to build. When he said that he wanted to be a trenches team, he meant it.
3. J.T. Woods
Before I proceed, I wanted to mention that it was a very difficult choice between JT Woods and Otito Ogbonnia. I actually am probably in the minority on this choice, and I can understand why. I am much higher on this selection than most. Coming into the offseason, I obviously would’ve loved blue-chip talent anywhere I could get, but I really wanted the team to spread the funds out to create a more balanced team with a lot of depth everywhere. The secondary had a lot of issues last year, especially with depth. Whether it was a corner or a safety, I wanted the team to get one of those in the first few rounds. Just purely from a depth and talent standpoint, I am happy with this decision.
I know the defense now has 4 players that are arguably top 5 at their position, most of us would agree that the most valuable is Derwin James, at least in my opinion he is. We all know that Derwin is at his best when he can roam and play all over the defense and create havoc. Unfortunately, the position group was so inconsistent last season that Derwin wasn’t able to do this as much. JT is projected mostly as a free safety that saw a little bit of time in the slot at his time at Baylor. Woods is a very athletic, ball hawk type of safety. He had 6 interceptions for Baylor last year and can fly to the ball. This will give the team more freedom for Nasir Adderley to move around and show his versatility, albeit to a lesser extend as Derwin. Also, I love Woods and the opportunistic style that he plays with the turnovers that he forces. Brandon Staley has emphasized over and over they want to create turnovers to get the ball to their superstar quarterback as often as possible. The more players like Woods that you add, the more opportunities the offense will get.
I loved this draft, it was not flashy at all, but it addressed some major issues on the team. The team definitely got better from the players that they selected. I am a little upset that edge rusher and a new speed option at receiver were not drafted, thankfully there is still time in the offseason to address those areas. We were really able to see which direction this team is wanting to go and what they want to do. They don’t want to have to rely on the arm of Justin Herbert every single game. They are wanting to be more balanced and to be able to win games in other ways.