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Chargers Rookie Report: Opening Week

How is the 2022 rookie class looking as we head into the regular season opener?

Los Angeles Chargers Training Camp Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

A new regular season is upon us, Bolt family.

With a new season brings renewed hopes and expectations for the Chargers. That’s also the case with a new class of rookies entering their first season with the franchise.

In this weekly series, I’ll be keeping track of the 2022 rookie class in regards to how they’re progressing, or regressing, throughout the season. For our first installment of the rookie report, I discuss my thoughts on all eight players, including how they performed during the preseason on top of my current expectations for each player heading into week one.

I hope you all enjoy!

OG Zion Johnson

Despite being a plug-and-play starter as a rookie, Johnson saw action during all three of the team’s preseason exhibitions. He played as well as you would want your first-round rookie to play and came out of the August with zero concerns about his viability to contribute to this offense in year one.

Stock direction entering week one: Up

S JT Woods

The selection of Woods in the third round back in April was questioned by plenty. Brandon Staley later explained they fell in love with his intangibles, like his sub 4.40 speed and excellent ball skills. However, his biggest shortcoming coming out of Baylor was reported to be his inconsistent tackling. Through three games of preseason action, that big negative to his game unfortunately reared its’ ugly head on more than one occasion.

As of now, Woods likely can’t be trusted to see the field in three-safety packages which means Alohi Gilman will likely still be the first safety off the bench.

Stock direction entering week one: Down

RB Isaiah Spiller

Many expected Spiller to run away with the RB2 job before the Chargers even got to the preseason. Bad luck struck, however, as Spiller got knocked out of their second exhibition against the Cowboys with an ankle injury. Since that game, Spiller missed the preseason finale and the Chargers just recently signed veteran Sony Michel to provide a veteran presence in the room outside of Austin Ekeler.

Michel’s presence likely means Spiller will continue fighting for any snaps he can get alongside Joshua Kelley which is far from what his expectations were just a few short weeks ago.

Stock direction entering week one: Down

DL Otito Ogbonnia

Ogbonnia was the quiestest rookie for the Chargers this preseason and that’s not always a bad thing. The fifth-round pick did his job, avoided any major blunders, and will continue to be a nice rotational piece in the middle of the defensive line.

Stock direction entering week one: Up

OL Jamaree Salyer

This pick continues to look like more and more of a steal as the days go on. Salyer worked in at left guard opposite Johnson for the most of the preseason and overall, he was as solid as they come. He allowed just a single pressure through 79 total pass blocking snaps and also showed some movement in the run game. I’d say it’s only a matter of time before Salyer becomes a starter on this offensive line. When that is remains to be seen, but it’s so far looking like a matter of “when”, not “if.”

Stock direction entering week one: Up

CB Ja’Sir Taylor

Taylor has shown to be a fiery competitor throughout his time in training camp/preseason on top of the kind of versatility to perform on both defense and special teams. To start he’ll likely see time mainly in the slot but he’s still the third guy at that spot as Samuel Jr. also will kick inside from time to time. But as of now, the staff loves Taylor which means you can expect to start hearing his name more and more as the year goes on.

Stock direction entering week one: Up

CB Deane Leonard

Leonard saw plenty of action during the month of August and unfortunately the majority of it was of the negative variety. He was picked on fairly often and didn’t show much in the way of playmaking ability, but the coaching staff loves his athleticism and they believed in him enough to move on from Tevaughn Campbell and Kemon Hall to keep him on the active roster.

Stock direction entering week one: Down

FB Zander Horvath

Horvath was one of the Chargers’ most-interesting picks in this year’s class mainly due to the fact that you don’t often see fullbacks get drafted these days. Fortunately for the Chargers, Horvath isn’t your traditional “neck roll” fullback. While at Purdue, he toted the rock quite a bit and also caught his fair share of passes. That versatile skillset helped him win the starting job over the incumbent, Gabe Nabers. it remains to be seen just how much Horvath will be used within the offense, but he’s nonetheless an intriguing new addition to this offense.

Stock direction entering week one: Up