2022 NFL draft: Gavino Borquez’ final 7-round projections for Chargers

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Here it is! My final seven-round mock draft for the Chargers, with my prediction of who they’ll take with each of their picks.

Let’s dive in!

Round 1, No. 17, WR Chris Olave, Ohio State

The Chargers have set themselves up to go a variety of ways with their first pick. While protecting Justin Herbert may be a higher priority, it’s hard for the team to surpass the one element they have been missing: speed. Olave’s 4.39-long speed would perfectly complement Mike Williams and Keenan Allen as general manager Tom Telesco and head coach Brandon Staley look to get the most out of Herbert’s rookie contract.

Round 3, No. 79, OL Cole Strange, Chattanooga

The Chargers need to reshape the right side of the offensive line. While they could take a right tackle here, Matt Feiler is a candidate to be moved to that spot, considering he played there during his time with the Steelers. Strange does a solid job setting short anchors, is sound with his body control and lower-half footwork to mirror, shows the awareness to pick up blitzes/stunts, and has the temperament to finish in the run game. He would plugin at one of the guard spots, with the ability to take over as the starting center when Corey Linsley’s time with Los Angeles comes to an end.

Round 4, No. 123, CB Alontae Taylor, Tennessee

The Chargers added the top-tier talent of J.C. Jackson to start alongside Michael Davis and Asante Samuel Jr. Still, with an ever-revolving secondary, the team needs playmakers behind them. Taylor has the speed, physicality, and cover skills to make an impact at the next level and the overall skill set to be a contributor on special teams. Further, there is also some familiarity as Taylor played under defensive backs coach Derrick Ansley in 2019 & 2020, which is when he was the Volunteer’s defensive coordinator.

Round 5, No. 160, DT Eric Johnson, Missouri State

The Chargers upgraded the interior part of the defensive line with the additions of Sebastian Joseph-Day and Austin Johnson, which should benefit the run defense that finished near the bottom of the league last season. Still, the team needs to add one or two more pieces to the group.

Johnson participated in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, where his dominant performance raised the eyebrows of evaluators to the point where he was invited to the Reese’s Senior Bowl.

There, the 6-foot-4 and 299-pounder with 34 1/4-inch arms stood out, winning with his length, power in his punch, agility and explosiveness off the snap, showing the ability to eat up blocks and make plays in the backfield.

It’s worth noting that Johnson had one of his few top-30 visits with the Bolts.

Round 6, No. 195, RB Keaontay Ingram, USC

Finding Austin Ekeler’s running mate is atop the Chargers’ priority, so they may address this position earlier on. Nonetheless, the team will more than likely draft one after passing up on the available options via free agency.

Ingram is a transfer from Texas who rushed for 911 yards for the Trojans last season. Boasting a frame at 221 pounds, Ingram has the size which he uses to break arm tackles, coupled with outstanding change of direction ability, footwork, vision and juice at the second level.

Round 6, No. 214, EDGE Luiji Vilain, Wake Forest

The Chargers have one of the best edge defender tandems with Joey Bosa and the newest member, Khalil Mack. However, the team needs pass-rushing depth behind them.

After spending four years at Michigan, Vilain transferred to Wake Forest, where he had a breakout season. At his Pro Day, Vilain tested off the charts with a 1.57 10-yard split, 7.01 three-cone, and 35-inch vertical jump.

At 6-foot-4 and 255 pounds with a 79-inch wingspan, Vilain has the explosiveness, power, length, and high motor to win around the edge at the next level.

Round 7, No. 236, OT Zachary Thomas, San Diego State

The right tackle position is one of the most pressing needs, but as I said earlier, there’s the scenario where the Chargers move Matt Feiler over to the spot. Regardless of the direction they go about the position, depth is still needed.

Thomas ran a 4.96-second 40-yard dash (90th percentile) with a 7.40-second three-cone (92nd). He earned an 87.2 overall PFF grade in 2021 and let up three sacks, two quarterback hits, and eight hurries.

Thomas shows functional athleticism, quality strength/leverage, excellent balance, and a high level of intelligence as far as picking up stunts/blitzes goes, projecting as a reliable swing option.

Round 7, No. 254, S Joey Blount, Virginia

With defensive backs being integral pieces in Staley’s defense, the Chargers add to a safety room that needs some retooling, especially as Alohi Gilman and Mark Webb spent a good chunk of last season on the sidelines with their perspective injuries.

Blount primarily lined up as a free safety in the Cavalier’s defense, but he saw some time in the slot and the box, providing some position versatility. With his speed, toughness, and physicality, he can make a significant impact on special teams in Year 1.

Round 7, No. 255, TE Derrick Deese Jr., San Jose State

The Chargers have a solid tight end group with Donald Parham, Tre’ McKitty and the newest addition, Gerald Everett. However, last season proved how integral of a position it is in Joe Lombardi’s offense.

While he didn’t test well, Deese has the body control hands and length to high point the football that should translate well at the next level, but in addition, he’s a competitive run blocker. He also has enough speed and toughness to contribute on special teams.

Round 7, No. 260, LB Nephi Sewell, Utah

The Chargers complete their draft with a player who will compete for one of the linebacker spots on the depth chart and has special teams upside, selecting Sewell, the brother of Penei, with their final pick.

While Sewell lacks the physical traits, the former safety has the coverage skills and the play speed and toughness to contribute in the NFL.