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By Bill Seals
Sports Reporter 

Chargers 2022 NFL mock draft


April 21, 2022

Because of the disappointing and frustrating end to the 2021 season, the Los Angeles Chargers have been very aggressive in NFL free agency and with their off-season acquisitions, they have put themselves in a good position heading into the 2022 NFL draft, which begins on April 28th in Las Vegas. The Chargers have revamped their defense and will have at least four new starters on defense in 2022.

The Chargers traded with the Chicago Bears for Pro Bowl linebacker Khalil Mack and signed free agent Pro Bowl cornerback J.C. Jackson from the New England Patriots. The Chargers followed that up with the addition of free agent defensive tackle Sebastian Joseph-Day from the Los Angeles Rams and free agent defensive tackle Austin Johnson from the New York Giants.

The Chargers entered free agency being about $57 million under the salary cap, so they were able to add key free agents and absorb the salary of Mack, who was acquired for a second-round draft pick in the 2022 NFL draft and a 2023 sixth-round pick. In this draft, the Chargers should focus on adding depth and speed to the roster. A starting right tackle should also be a priority.

The NFL awarded four compensatory draft picks to the Chargers because of the loss of free agents in 2021. The Chargers added one pick in the sixth round, and three picks in the seventh round of the draft, giving them a total of ten draft picks in the 2022 draft. This is our prediction for each round of the 2022 NFL draft for the Chargers:

Round 1 – Chris Olave, Wide Receiver, Ohio State, 6-foot-1, 187 pounds – With the 17th pick in the first round, the Chargers select wide receiver Chris Olave from Ohio State. Olave can best be described as Keenan Allen with speed. He ran an impressive 4.39 forty at the NFL combine in Indianapolis. Olave is an excellent route runner and very fluid as a runner.

Olave holds the Ohio State receiving record with 35 touchdown passes, which is fourth in Big Ten football history. Olave was a first team All-Big-Ten conference selection in 2020 and 2021. He was also a team captain in 2021. Olave graduated from Ohio State with a degree in consumer services and family financial services.

Olave played his high school football in the San Diego area, at Mission Hills high school in San Marcos. In his senior season at Mission Hills, Olave caught 93 passes for a San Diego Section-record 1,764 yards and 26 touchdowns. The Chargers need to add speed at wide receiver, and Olave has the speed and the ability to get separation, which should make him a terrific match with Charger quarterback Justin Herbert.

Round 2 – Pick was traded to the Bears for linebacker Khalil Mack.

Round 3 - Abraham Lucas, Offensive Tackle, Washington State, 6-foot-7, 319 pounds – Lucas was a four-year starter at right tackle for the Washington State Cougars, with a total of 42 career starts. He made the All-Pac-12 team in each season, making the second team the first three season and making the All-Pac-12 first team in 2021.

Lucas has long arms, plays with a nastiness and is competitive. He will need to get stronger and does not have the flexibility to move inside at guard, but he does possess the experience and the upside to start right away for the Chargers. The Chargers struggled at right tackle last season and need an upgrade at that position.

Round 4– Pierre Strong Jr., Running Back, South Dakota State, 5-foot-11, 207 pounds – The Chargers need to add speed to the running back position and Strong will help in that area. Strong was the fastest running back at the NFL combine in Indianapolis, running a 4.37 with a 36” vertical leap. In 2021 at South Dakota State, Strong rushed for 1,673 yards and had 18 rushing touchdowns, with a long run of 85 yards.

Strong also caught 22 passes for 150 yards, showing good hands out of the backfield. Strong was a three-time All-State running back at McClellan Magnet high school in Little Rock, Arkansas. He was the 5A Offensive player of the year in his senior season of high school. Watching Strong on tape, he is a strong runner inside and has the speed to break long runs. He could help the Chargers immediately.

Round 5 – John Ridgeway, Defensive Tackle, Arkansas, 6-foot-5, 321 pounds – Ridgeway is a huge man, and he is your classic nose guard. At Arkansas, Ridgeway did a good job of occupying two blockers and helping to shut-down the run, an area the Chargers really struggled with last season. Ridgeway started his career at Illinois State, where he was a First-team All-Conference defensive tackle in the Missouri Valley Conference.

Ridgeway transferred to Arkansas for one season from Illinois State. In 2021, he had 39 tackles, four tackles for losses, and two sacks. But he is considered, “more of a 2-gapper,” said his head coach at Arkansas, Tom Pittman. “He’s going to take guys off the linebackers.” Usually, players like Ridgeway do not put-up great numbers, but their value is in occupying blockers. Considering the issues the Chargers had with stopping the run last season, Ridgeway would be a good fit in Los Angeles.

Round 6A– Montaric Brown, Cornerback, Arkansas, 6 foot, 196 pounds – The Chargers, like all NFL teams, are always looking for corners and the addition of Brown would help. Brown has excellent ball skills. He led Arkansas in interceptions with five and pass breakups with six. Brown’s five interceptions tied for the best in the regular season in the Southeastern Conference (SEC). Brown has played well in both zone and man-to-man, plus he has shown that he can be tough in run support.

Round 6b– Otito Ogbonnia, Defensive Tackle, UCLA, 6-foot-4, 324 pounds – As noted earlier, the Chargers struggled to stop the run in 2021 and they could always use help in the interior of the defensive line. Ogbonnia is a true nose guard and in the Chargers 3-4 base defense, would bring reinforcements to the position.

Ogbonnia has an extremely strong lower body and can squat 685 pounds. He is difficult to move inside. In 2021, Ogbonnia had 27 tackles, five tackles for loss, two sacks, and one forced fumble. He made it difficult for opponents to run on UCLA in 2021. Ogbonnia earned a degree in Geography/Environmental Studies and is planning on attending law school when his football career is over.

Round 7A – Lecitus Smith, Offensive Guard, Virginia Tech, 6-foot-3, 314 pounds – The Chargers need offensive line depth, and may need a starter at right guard. Smith was recruited to Virginia Tech as a tight end but switched to the offensive line. He is an athletic guard and should fit the Chargers zone blocking scheme. He is an aggressive and competitive blocker.

Round 7B – Elijah Hicks, Safety, Cal, 5-foot-11, 198 pounds – Hicks was a first team All-Pac-12 in 2021 and was selected as a third team All-American by Pro Football Focus. In 2021, Hicks had 72 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, one sack, four forced fumbles and three interceptions. Hicks was injured during a practice for the East West Shrine Game and was unable to participate in the Cal Pro Day drills.

Round 7C – Chase Lucas, Cornerback, Arizona State, 5-foot-11, 180 pounds – Lucas is somewhat undersized at corner, but his forty time of 4.48 and his vertical leap of 39” should help in the NFL. He has some good ball skills, with 28 passes defensed in his career at ASU, as well as six interceptions. Lucas has the speed to run with faster receivers, which should help his prospects for making the Chargers roster.

Round 7D – Teagen Quitoriano, Tight End, Oregon State. 6-foot-6, 260 pounds – The Chargers could use another solid run blocker and Quitoriano could be the best blocking tight end in this draft. The Chargers went tackle-eligible in many games when they needed to gain a yard or near the goal-line. Quitoriano could be the third tight end in short yardage situations and bring some receiving skills. At Oregon State, Quitoriano caught 40 passes for 512 yards and six touchdowns.


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