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Chargers 90-in-90: OG Zion Johnson

Johnson was as steady as they come in 2022 for a rookie offensive guard.

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Arizona Cardinals Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Zion Johnson hails from Bowie, Maryland and played his prep football at Riverdale Baptist. Along with football, Johnson was an avid golfer which was actually his main sport before he found his calling on the gridiron.

Johnson did not go straight to the Power 5 level out of high school like many who end up being drafted into the NFL. For the first two seasons of his college career, Johnson attended FCS Davidson which played their games in the Pioneer Football League. In 2018, he was named a First-Team All-PFL selection after starting all 11 games and helping the Wildcats average a FCS-best 428.5 rushing yards per game.

In his first season at BC after transferring, Johnson earned All-ACC Second Team honors after starting seven games at left guard while playing a role in all 13 contests. During the 2020 season, Johnson kicked outside to left tackle where he started all 11 games for the Golden Eagles. In his final season, granted to him by the extra year given following the pandemic, Johnson moved back to left guard where he’d go on to become one of the best players in the country. By the end of the year, Johnson would be named not only a First-Team All-ACC selection, but a First-Team All-American, as well.

Johnson would go on to be selected by the Chargers in the first round of the 2022 NFL draft with the 17th-overall pick. He immediately earned the starting job at right guard where started all 17 games. After the season, Johnson was named to Pro Football Focus’ All-Rookie Team of 2022.

Basic Info

Height: 6’3
Weight: 315
College: Boston College
Experience: 1
Years with team: 1

Contract Status

“Zion Johnson signed a 4 year, $14,746,678 contract with the Los Angeles Chargers, including a $7,904,856 signing bonus, $14,746,678 guaranteed, and an average annual salary of $3,686,670. In 2023, Johnson will earn a base salary of $1,375,304, while carrying a cap hit of $3,351,518 and a dead cap value of $12,065,464.” -

The Good

They always say the best ability is availability and that’s exactly what Johnson brought most to the Chargers offensive line. He was much more proficient as a run blocker in 2022 than in the pass game, posting a 69.5 run block grade against a 52.6 in pass protection. Johnson is thickly built with massive arms that he uses to latch on to opposing defenders before taking them where he wants to go.

The Bad

Despite being a fine athlete in terms of agility, Johnson struggled at times in pass protection as a rookie with five sacks allowed and 40 total pressures let up. However, those sacks came against some elite competition, including Chris Jones of the Chiefs, the Titans’ Jeffery Simmons, and the vaunted 49ers defensive line.

Odds of making the roster/What to expect in 2023?

After starting at right guard in every game as a rookie, Johnson will be making the switch over to the left side — the side he played on at Boston College — for the 2023 season. After a strong start to his career, Johnson will be relied upon to repeat his 17 starts up front while creating a young and talented duo on the left with Rashawn Slater.