6 questions that the Chargers must answer during 2022 NFL draft

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Rosters across the league have started to take shape via free agency, giving us a more accurate picture of each team’s needs and which questions remain as we head into the 2022 NFL draft.

It’s no different for head coach Brandon Staley’s Chargers, who are currently in good shape after the additions of Khalil Mack, J.C. Jackson, Sebastian Joseph-Day, and Austin Johnson, among others.

However, some questions from the start of the off-season are left to be answered. Here’s a look at what should become more clear when Los Angeles is on the clock next week.

How will the right side of the offensive line shape up?

AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall

The Chargers are set with their starting left tackle and center in Rashawn Slater and Corey Linsley. While slated to start at left guard, Matt Feiler is a candidate to move over to fill the right tackle position, which is a current void after Bryan Bulaga was released and Storm Norton showed inconsistency in the starting role last season. If Feiler makes the switch, Jaimes could play left guard. In the five games as the starting right guard, Oday Aboushi was solid. But unfortunately, his one-year stint was cut short after suffering a torn ACL. Aboushi, a free agent, is still a candidate to be brought back. But if the Chargers don’t see him as a part of their plans moving forward, they will need someone to fill that spot.

If the Bolts want to move Feiler to right tackle, they could address the interior part of the offensive in Round 1 with either Boston College’s Zion Johnson or Texas A&M’s Kenyon Green. If they want to keep Feiler where he is, Northern Iowa’s Trevor Penning is a strong possibility or Mississippi State’s Charles Cross should he fall. Tackles beyond the first round who would fit include Washington State’s Abraham Lucas, Louisiana’s Max Mitchell, Ohio State’s Nicholas Petit-Frere, UTSA’s Spencer Burford, Florida’s Jean Delance, and San Diego State’s Zachary Thomas. As for Day 2 and 3 interior offensive linemen, Memphis’ Dylan Parham, Georgia’s Jamaree Salyer, Oklahoma’s Marquis Hayes, Wake Forest’s Zach Tom, UCLA’s Sean Rhyan, and Chattanooga’s Cole Strange would make sense.

Who will be RB2?

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Austin Ekeler thrived this past season, reaching 20 total touchdowns, which tied for the most in 2021. However, he will need a running mate moving forward to ensure longevity, and it remains to be seen if that guy is on the roster. Justin Jackson is no longer a part of the team. Joshua Kelley and Larry Rountree had their opportunities but left a lot to be desired on the field.

Instead of bringing in a veteran via free agency, Staley said the team will resort to the draft in hopes of finding their backup running back. Arizona State’s Rachaad White, Baylor’s Abram Smith, Alabama’s Brian Robinson, Florida’s Dameon Pierce, South Dakota State’s Pierre Strong, Michigan’s Hasaan Haskins are a few players who could be in play.

Is there a need for speed?

The Chargers have a strong receiving core heading into the season with the dynamic duo of Keenan Allen and Mike Williams coupled with the ascending talent of Josh Palmer. However, one thing is certain: Los Angeles still needs a speed/yards-after-the-catch weapon to really maximize their offense.

They are in a position to get one of Alabama’s Jameson Williams or Ohio State’s Garrett Wilson or Chris Olave. But if the team decides to go in another direction at No. 17, Kentucky’s Wan’Dale Robinson, SMU’s Danny Gray, Memphis’ Calvin Austin and Rutger’s Bo Melton are some who could be in play.

Who else will be added to the defensive line?

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After finishing with one of the worst run defenses in the league last season, the Chargers made an effort to improve in that department with the additions of Joseph-Day and Johnson and bringing back Christian Covington. However, even after the free agency additions, the Chargers could benefit from one or two more players to complete the retooling. Georgia’s Jordan Davis or Devonte Wyatt could be targeted in the first round. Beyond that, Tennessee’s Matthew Butler, Alabama’s Phidarian Mathis, Iowa State’s Eyioma Uwazurike, Stanford’s Thomas Booker, UCLA’s Otito Ogbonnia, Arkansas’ John Ridgeway, and LSU’s Neil Farrell Jr. are some notables that fit Staley’s scheme and preferred playstyle.

Who will round out the EDGE group?

AP Photo/John Amis

The Chargers now possess one of the league’s most dynamic pass-rush duos with Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack, but their depth behind them leaves a lot to be desired. Chris Rumph is a candidate to take a big leap in 2022, but another play is needed to round out the group.

Rather than signing a veteran, Los Angeles is relying on the draft to find that depth piece. Had Michigan’s David Ojabo not torn his Achilles during a pre-draft workout, he could’ve been in consideration for the Bolts’ first-round pick. Penn State’s Arnold Ebiketie is a dark horse.

Instead, I believe the team could target someone like Kentucky’s Josh Paschal, Virginia’s Amare Barno, Western Kentucky’s DeAngelo Malone, Alabama’s Christopher Allen, UAB’s Alex Wright, or Miami’s (Ohio) Dominique Robinson.

How will the secondary be solidified?

Even after the addition of Jackson, cornerback should still not be counted out as a possibility with the Chargers’ first-round pick when considering how much Staley values them in his system. If one of the top prospects like LSU’s Derek Stingley Jr. slides, lookout for a potential trade-up. Clemson’s Andrew Booth and Washington’s Trent McDuffie could also be possible options in Round 1. Beyond that, Tennessee’s Alontae Taylor, Pittsburgh’s Damarri Mathis, Houston’s Damarion Williams, Arizona State’s Chase Lucas, and Cincinnati’s Coby Bryant are a few corners that would make sense. As for safety, Los Angeles could benefit from additional depth, especially since Alohi Gilman and Mark Webb spent a good chunk of the season sidelined with injuries. Versatility will appeal, making Michigan’s Dax Hill a sneaky possibility in Round 1. Other options include Cincinnati’s Bryan Cook, Iowa’s Dane Belton, Kentucky’s Yusuf Corker and Oregon’s Verone McKinley.

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