The Los Angeles Chargers got off to a blazing start during the 2020-2021 NFL season. Getting off to a fantastic 4-1 start through the first 5 games of the regular season. While the Chargers were looking like one of the team’s to beat in the AFC they would get haunted by mistakes towards the end of the season. Which would ultimately cause them to miss out on a playoff berth for the 3rd consecutive season.
With new Head Coach Brandon Staley the Los Angeles Chargers would finish the season with a 9-8 record. With a promising future ahead for the organization led by General Manager Tom Telesco and Head Coach Brandon Staley. The Chargers entered this offseason with a lot of big decisions to make and a few needs that desperately needed to be addressed. Arguably the biggest decision that the front office had to make, was what to do with star WR Mike Williams. Williams went on to have a career year for the Chargers last season having a career high in targets, receptions & receiving yards. Along with re-signing Mike Williams the Chargers also had a plethora of needs including; RT, CB, EDGE, IDL amongst others.
Big Time Stars
The Chargers to start off free agency made a huge acquisition for Khalil Mack. The Chargers traded a 2022 2nd Round Pick and a 2023 6th Round Pick for the superstar EDGE rusher. Along with the trade for Mack, the front office would go on and sign superstar cornerback J.C. Jackson from the Patriots to a 5 year $82.5 Million contract including $40M guaranteed. With these two signings the Chargers addressed two of, if not the biggest needs of their teams.
The Chargers in 2021 had one of the worst run defenses in the NFL, and a large part of that is due to their lackluster interior defensive line play. To address that the Chargers would also sign Austin Johnson and Sebastian Joseph Day to bulk up their interior defensive line. Unfortuantely the Chargers would be forced to let breakout star Kyzir White walk in free agency. However the Chargers bulked up defensive line and were now heading into the 2022 NFL Draft with a bunch of draft picks and a ton of optimism.
Nailing The Draft
Tom Telesco had been under fire entering the 2020 NFL Draft. He had struggled to put together quality draft classes and the team was coming off a season where they finished 5-11. In the 2019 Draft the Chargers selected Jerry Tillery and Trey Pipkins with 2 of their top 100 selections. Both of those players have been massive disappointments for the Chargers. Speaking of Tillery the Chargers, most recently just declined to pickup his 5th year option. Then Tom Telesco made a job-saving draft pick at #6 in the 2020 NFL Draft by taking Quarterback Justin Herbert. Follow that with a spectacular 2021 NFL Draft class and Tom Telesco had saved his job.
Protecting Justin Herbert
The Chargers entered the 2022 NFL Draft with the 17th overall selection in the first round. With their 1st round pick they would select Zion Johnson OG from Boston College who graded out as a top 10 player for some analysts. Zion Johnson should be able to plug in and start immediately for the Chargers. With G/T Matt Feiler the Chargers now have more versatility on their offensive line. The Chargers would also select mauler G Jamaree Salyer from Georgia. The Chargers now have selected 3 Offensive Line prospects in the last 2 draft classes all with high end potential. With 2020 NFL Draft selection Rashawn Slater already proved last season that he can be one of the elite Tackles in the NFL.
Brandon Staley’s “Guys”
Perhaps my favorite selection in the entire draft for the Chargers was their choice to select J.T. Woods a safety from Baylor in the 3rd Round. In Brandon Staley’s defense he loves to play Derwin James closer to the box so that he can guard opposing teams tight ends and potentially blitz off the edge. So by adding J.T. Woods to the defense you add another long rangy safety who has legit trackstar speed and has great ballskills. Who you can have play as that rangy high safety in Nickel and Dime packages which will allow Derwin James to play more in the box. This pick along with signing CB Bryce Callahan solidified what was an average defense last season, and catapulted it to being amongst the best in the NFL.