The Chargers’ 2022 season has come to a close with the team finishing the regular season with a 10-7 record, making the playoffs for the first time in four years. However, the Chargers were unable to close out a 27-point lead on the Jaguars, ultimately losing the game 31-30 after having held a commanding lead.
With the season in the books, here’s a look at the Chargers’ draft class report card based on how each rookie performed in the first year:
Round 1, Pick 17: RG Zion Johnson
Johnson, the team’s first pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, made all 17 starts at right guard and was involved in 1,184 offensive snaps. Johnson experienced his ups and downs like most rookies, but his potential is crystal clear. Johnson thrived on run blocking, posting a PFF rating of 69.5. As a pass blocker, he didn’t fare as well, posting a 52.6 PFF rating. At the end of the season, he allowed five sacks, seven quarterback hits and 40 pressures to cap out his rookie year. The Chargers have expressed satisfaction with Johnson’s ability in what they ultimately believe he can develop in the near future.
Round 3, 79 pick: S JT Woods
Woods was a project when the Chargers selected him with their first pick on Day 2 of the NFL Draft, and he’s still a development. Woods has breakneck speed, whose cover letter is operating in the deep part of the field. However, his tackling ability has caused him problems, limiting the time he saw on the field as a rookie. Woods played just 31 defensive snaps, serving primarily as a special teams contributor last season. Adding strength to his frame and working to address the fundamentals will be key factors as Woods takes the next step in his development.
Round 4, pick 123: RB Isaiah Spiller
Spiller’s assessment of his rookie season isn’t easy. When he was given the chance, he showed encouraging signs as a running back. He also seemed like he took positive steps as a pass blocker, something he struggled to do at Texas A&M. However, he struggled to catch snaps on a regular occasion, got buried on the depth chart and was often a healthy scratch on game days. Spiller appeared in six games, managing 16 carries for 41 yards and three receptions for 13 receiving yards.
Round 5, Pick 160: DL Otito Ogbonnia
Ogbonnia’s rookie season was cut short following a ruptured patella tendon in week 10. Prior to his devastating blow, Ogbonnia’s snap count per game had begun to rise and he really began to go from strength to strength. He finished the year playing seven games, recording 14 tackles and a quarterback hit, but Ogbonnia showed why the coaching staff was so optimistic about him, particularly in what he offers as a run blocker.
Round 6, pick 195: OL Jamaree Salyer
Salyer, given his draft position and how much he contributed as a rookie, was terrific this season. Initially drafted as a guard, Salyer switched to tackle, the position he played in college, following Rashawn Slater’s torn biceps injury. Salyer stepped into the starting role at left tackle in Week 4 and hasn’t looked back, surpassing any previous notion that led to his being a Day 3 selection in the 2022 NFL Draft. In all, he recorded 989 offensive snaps, allowing five sacks, 10 quarterback hits and 46 pressures. Salyer didn’t commit his first sack until the seventh start he made, keeping Herbert upright in the pocket for the first month and a half. General manager Tom Telesco said in his season-ending news conference that Salyer earned a chance to start in the NFL, but did not commit to the position he would line up for in 2023.
Round 6, pick 214: CB Ja’Sir Taylor
Taylor began the year exclusively as a special teams player, but as the season progressed, a role was carved for himself. His first defensive play didn’t come until Week 11, but he finished the year with 188 for the season. In the back half of the schedule, Taylor made three starts and split time with Asante Samuel Jr. when the Chargers wanted stronger counter-run support down the field. Taylor is a fundamentally solid tackler, but he had his flaws at times when he dropped back into coverage. Taylor also offers positional versatility, having the ability to play along the line and inside as a nickel cornerback.
Round 7, pick 236: CB Deane Leonard
Leonard’s rookie season is hard to rate since he played just four snaps on defense. His main contributions came on special teams in which he had five tackles and a forced fumble.
Round 7, 260 pick: FB Zander Horvath
Horvath, the Chargers’ final pick, initially seemed to have a role in the receiving game early on, before his production declined. Horvath caught a touchdown pass in each of his first two NFL games of his rookie season, but only caught two additional passes from Week 3 through the end of the season. Horvath is a versatile player who offers constant support as a blocker and main player for special teams, in addition to his ability to catch passes.
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Nick Cothrel is the publisher of Charger Report. Follow Nick on Twitter @NickCothrel for more charger coverage.