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Ranking the Chargers’ draft class by how soon they’ll see the field

While the first-rounder is obvious, who else figures to see the field in 2022?

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 20 Florida State at Boston College Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Chargers turned 10 draft picks into eight players this year with the group having its’ fair share of studs and potential duds. It’s obviously headlined by the selection of Zion Johnson in the first, while the lowlights included a pair of late-round defensive backs whom many hadn’t heard of prior to Saturday.

At the end of the day, the Chargers took swings on players with notable athletic traits. All three defensive backs selected own forties that float below and slight above 4.40 while their lineman all posted some of the top marks on the bench press.

Today, I took to ranking the team’s eight draft picks from first to worst in terms of how soon I believe they’ll end up starting/contributing meaningful snaps to the Chargers in 2022 and beyond.

Sound good? Let’s go ahead and dive in.

1.) OG Zion Johnson

This one is a no-brainer. Johnson immediately slides into the starting right guard spot where he should be for the foreseeable future. Tough, strong as hell, and incredibly intelligent. I absolutely cannot wait for the first time he and Linsley work on a combo block together. This pick continues to look better and better as time goes on.

2.) RB Isaiah Spiller

Spiller is an instant upgrade over any other ball-carrier on the roster not named Austin Ekeler. He’s a complete back with excellent size that should figure in as the team’s prominent backup going forward. With soft hands and a knack for making defenders miss, he should thrive behind an offensive line that continued to improve this offseason.

3.) SAF JT Woods

Opinions on whether the Woods pick was a reach will vary, but the Chargers were willing to bet on his elite athleticism and ball skills. It shouldn’t take long for Woods to slot in as the team’s third safety and as their sixth defensive back in Dime packages. Brandon Staley lauded his versatility in that his presence will allow Derwin James to roam about the defense a lot more often than in 2021.

4.) DT Otito Ogbonnia

Ogbonnia is the true nose the Chargers needed to grab after they decided against re-signing Linval Joseph. With excellent size and strength, he is the double-team eater the team needed to find this offseason. He’s not going to add much as a pass-rusher, but his ability to hold his ground in the middle will help him find the field sooner rather than later. As of now, his only competition is the former UDFA duo of Breiden Fehoko and Forrest Merrill.

5.) OG Jamaree Salyer

There’s a chance Salyer ends up beating expectations and proving to me he should have been higher on this list, but the selection of Johnson in the first is obviously the biggest reasons he’s not expected to see the field anytime soon in a starting role. However, due to his versatility and experience at all five position up and down the line, Salyer could push for the team’s swing role as an additional blocker in jumbo sets.

6.) FB Zander Horvath

There’s going to be a real battle at fullback/H-back for the Chargers after adding Horvath to the mix. His and Gabe Nabers’ builds are almost identical and I believe this battle will simply come down to which player can provide the most value on special teams, as well as their limited contributions to the offense.

7.) CB Ja’Sir Taylor

At his size, Taylor is likely being relegated to the slot where he’ll face plenty of competition to see the field anytime soon. The combination of Asante Samuel Jr. and J.C. Jackson will both see time there in Nickel packages while veteran Tevaughn Campbell also figures to be the third guy in the slot should that situation arise. Off the bat, Taylor should figure to be a prominent special teams player.

8.) CB Deane Leonard

Another athletic defensive back with good size, Leonard will battle with Taylor, alongside veteran Kemon Hall, to see who makes up the bottom of the cornerback depth chart. There are currently eight on the team, including 2022 undrafted free agent Brandon Sebastian. The Chargers may end up keeping seven at points during the season, but I’d bet six is the magic number coming out of training camp. Leonard could end up being on the practice squad to begin the regular season.