Los Angeles Chargers’ draft not flashy, however needed after splashy offseason begin
COSTA MESA, Calif. — The Los Angeles Chargers commanded consideration on the outset of the offseason.
They acquired All-Professional exterior linebacker Khalil Mack from the Chicago Bears in alternate for a second-round decide this 12 months and a 2023 sixth-round decide. Then the Bolts signed Professional Bowl cornerback J.C. Jackson to a whopping five-year, $82.5 million contract in free company.
However a star-studded streak of exercise got here to a halt on the opening night time of the NFL draft when the Chargers used their first-round decide, No. 17 total, to pick a guard.
“Guards are individuals too, proper?” Tom Telesco requested, grinning, in a rhetorical query following the opening spherical of his tenth NFL draft as Chargers normal supervisor.
After making the high-profile preliminary offseason strikes to enhance a protection that ranked No. 29 within the NFL final season and allowed a median of 27 factors per sport, the Chargers chosen Boston Faculty guard Zion Johnson with their first decide within the draft, prioritizing safety for third-year quarterback Justin Herbert and a have to hold their offense transferring.
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“I do know it is not the sexiest decide on the earth, however he is robust, he is sturdy, he is sensible,” Telesco stated about Johnson, who’s anticipated to step in instantly at proper guard. “We have now some glorious ability gamers, each at receiver, tight finish, additionally at working again and with Justin Herbert.
“Clearly, these guys can’t do their jobs with out a rock-solid offensive line. As a lot as this decide is to guard our quarterback, which is a giant a part of it, that is additionally to facilitate all people else. It is move safety, it is run sport.”
It’s not simply that the Chargers’ first decide wasn’t that thrilling, their complete draft didn’t warrant headlines. And it additionally did not yield the precise outcomes for which the overall supervisor hoped.
“It by no means goes excellent, as a result of you possibly can’t management every part,” Telesco stated. “However it was an excellent weekend of labor.”
Nonetheless, in a season with playoff expectations after a near-miss in 2021 prolonged a three-year postseason drought, the Bolts have been capable of quietly tackle a number of areas of want, together with the offensive and defensive strains, working again and the secondary.
“From the final sport that we performed ’til now, we’re definitely a a lot different-looking soccer workforce,” stated Brandon Staley, whose first season as coach resulted in a 9-8 document and third-place AFC West end. “There’s a variety of time between now and once we play, so we’re all the time going to be looking for that profitable edge, however I actually just like the workforce we’ve in entrance of us now.”
The Bolts chosen eight gamers after coming into the three-day occasion with 10 complete picks. Two of their picks, each seventh-round picks, ended up with the Bears, because the Chargers traded them to re-acquire the 2023 sixth-round pick they despatched to Chicago as a part of the Mack commerce.
The Chargers chosen guard Jamaree Salyer within the sixth spherical to hitch Johnson on the offensive line. The Georgia product has expertise enjoying all 5 positions on the road, and though he stated some groups projected him without any consideration sort out, the Chargers have penciled him in as an inside participant.
“He has an important make-up, nice angle to return in and try to win a job,” Telesco stated in regards to the NCAA nationwide champion.
The Bolts used a fourth-round decide on Texas A&M working again Isaiah Spiller, whose dashing and pass-catching talents are anticipated to enhance Austin Ekeler. Staley stated security Derwin James Jr. vouched for Spiller “in a giant method” as one other former participant of coach Jimbo Fisher, who coached James at Florida State and Spiller at A&M.
“[James] was saying, ‘You realize that should you can play all three downs for Jimbo that you are a legit man,'” Staley defined. “He has actually good instincts.”
Spiller led the SEC in dashing yards since 2019, which features a conference-best 1,844 dashing yards after contact in that span.
The Chargers additionally added Purdue fullback Zander Horvath within the seventh spherical.
Defensively, the Bolts constructed depth of their secondary by deciding on Baylor security JT Woods within the third spherical.
“He is a security with a variety of cowl capacity, along with his size and his pace,” Telesco stated. “He reveals slightly little bit of nook motion, so we form of see him as a defensive again.”
The Chargers additionally drafted UCLA defensive sort out Otito Ogbonnia within the fifth spherical to hitch a defensive entrance that already has undergone a major makeover with the addition of defensive tackles Sebastian Joseph-Day and Austin Johnson in free company. Like Ogbonnia, Joseph-Day does not need to journey far, as he was with the Tremendous Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams final season.
“We take a look at lot nearer to what I anticipate to seem like,” Staley stated in regards to the inside of the line of defense. “We’re not there but, however we’re loads nearer.”
Some questions stay because the Chargers proceed the offseason program and sit up for coaching camp.
“To form of fill out the depth of that place, we’ll need to look elsewhere,” Staley stated. “Whether or not it is the undrafted free company proper now or veteran free company or earlier than the primary sport — someday throughout coaching camp — that’ll in all probability occur at a kind of three junctures.”
As Staley ready to exit his post-draft information convention, he offered a reminder the work is ongoing.
“At this time is an ending, tomorrow is a starting,” he stated.
Generally it is flashy. Generally, as seen throughout a three-day draft stretch, it is lower than glamorous.
But when all goes as deliberate, every part will play its half in making the Chargers related once more come late January.