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Los Angeles Chargers 2022 Draft Profile and Three-Round Mock

Los Angeles Chargers 2022 draft profile

With a litany of free agency moves, the Los Angeles Chargers have relatively few pressing needs to address in the Draft. However, it’s not as if the Chargers are, by any means, a complete team. There are four pressing needs that the Chargers still could address: Linebacker, defensive tackle, right tackle, and right guard.

While the Chargers added Sebastian Joseph-Day and Austin Johnson in free agency, their depth on the defensive interior is shallow at best. Meanwhile, the Chargers saw three linebackers leave in free agency: Uchenna Nwosu, Kyzir White, and Kyler Fackrell. And with the departures of Bryan Bulaga and Oday Aboushi, the right side of the offensive line needs to be reloaded. Can the Chargers look to the draft? After the trade with the Chicago Bears for Khalil Mack, the Bolts lost their second-round pick. That means that the first and third round are where the team will need to focus their energy.

First Round, Pick 17: Nakobe Dean, ILB, Georgia

Nakobe Dean at the line of scrimmage


Nakobe Dean (#17) could be a great run stuffer for the Chargers at middle linebacker. (via Tony Walsh/UGA)

The Los Angeles Chargers could go in several different directions with this pick. As mentioned before, they could go for a linebacker, a defensive tackle, or an offensive guard/tackle. But which is the highest priority?

After losing three linebackers to free agency, the Chargers’ starting inside linebackers are Amen Ogbongbemiga and Kenneth Murray. While Murray is not the worst option for a starting linebacker, the Chargers could certainly do better. Therefore, the Chargers should heavily consider going for a linebacker.

With that said, in this mock draft, the Chargers replace Kyzir White with the inside linebacker from the University of Georgia, Nakobe Dean. Dean is, depending on which scouting report one reads, either the number 1 or 2 linebacker in the 2022 draft class. This means that there is a possibility that Dean is off the board before the Chargers’ pick, but there is also the possibility that this pick may be a reach.

Standing at 6’0 (or 5’11, depending on scouting report), 225 pounds, Dean is on the smaller side when compared to NFL linebackers. However, he more than makes up for that lack of height with his aggressiveness. Here are his strengths and weaknesses.

Strengths

  • Explosive speed. Explosiveness helps in blitzing either on the edge or through the inside gaps.
  • Great gap stuffer. Uses his high energy and explosiveness to stuff the gap. Great skill to have with inside runs.
  • Great lateral speed and agility. Has the explosiveness and balance to stay in tight man coverage with receiving backs, as well as track outside runs.
  • High Football IQ. Allows him to accurately identify the play as it progresses, which combines well with his explosiveness to adjust quickly to the play call.
  • Ridiculous resume. Played in the SEC for Georgia, so he regularly faced off against NFL-level talent. Won the Butkus Award for the nation’s best college linebacker. 2021 First-team All-SEC, and was the 2021 SEC Defensive Player of the Year. Semifinalist for the 2021 Chuck Bednarik Award, which is awarded to the nation’s best defensive player. Also a 2021 All-American.

Weaknesses

  • Lacking in size. This is a noticeable issue. Dean’s lack of weight and height means that even if he plays with tenacity, his hitting power will be lower than other linebackers with equal tenacity and larger size. Loses strength battles with most offensive linemen. Struggles against power backs (think: Derrick Henry, Nick Chubb).
  • Slow readjustment time. While Dean may be quick to make an initial adjustment to a play’s development, his ability to readjust if that initial adjustment is wrong could be improved.
  • Lacking in length. Dean’s arm length is a small 31 7/8 inches, which is on the smaller end for NFL linebackers. This can cause issues in determining the point of contact between a linebacker and offensive lineman. Short length for a linebacker means that they will be forced into more battles of strength, which as mentioned earlier, is unfavorable for Dean.

Round 3, Pick 79: Daniel Faalele, RT, Minnesota

Daniel Faalele dropping back to pass block
Daniel Faalele (#78) towers over the other players on the field. (via Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire; Getty Images)

Assuming the Chargers do go Dean at 17, the Chargers should next look to bolster that offensive line. Since the Chargers traded away their 2022 second-round pick for Khalil Mack, their options become limited. However, the offensive tackle class for 2022 has some serious depth to it. There are a number of tackles that could make sense to help improve that right side of the ball. The question becomes: do they lean more into Herbert passing 40-45 times per game and draft a pass blocker, or do they draft a stonewall right tackle that can open up their run game with Austin Ekeler?

In the end, it would be more beneficial not just to Herbert, but to the Chargers’ offense’s versatility to improve their run blocking. So for this pick, a stalwart run blocker would make sense here. That is why the Chargers go for Daniel Faalele from the University of Minnesota.

Strengths

  • Behemoth size. At 6’8, 384 pounds, Faalele towers over basically everyone else on the field. To put into perspective just how massive he is, think back to when the New York Jets drafted Mekhi Becton for his sheer size. Becton is a behemoth himself, yet he is an inch shorter and more than 10 pounds lighter than Faalele.
  • Wide reach. Faalele’s size also translates to his arm reach, which is greatly helpful in run blocking. With wide reach and his brute strength, Faalele is able to grab ahold of a defender and completely shut them out of a run play.
  • Effective against bull-rushers. Faalele’s sheer mass is a natural counter to edges who love bull rushes. An example of an elite bull-rusher in the NFL is new Los Angeles Charger Khalil Mack.
  • Experience at Right Tackle. Many of the offensive tackles in the 2022 Draft are natural left tackles, which means they are used to protecting their quarterback’s blind side. Right tackles, though, are typically used more in run schemes, so Faalele’s experience as a right tackle would mean a shorter adjustment period for him.

Weaknesses

  • Too robotic and mechanical in technique. This is the primary reason why Faalele isnt a top-tier OT prospect. Faalele’s technique, while solid, is not instinctual enough, as if he goes through some sort of internal checklist to make sure he follows all the technique aspects. If he were to become more comfortable with his technique, though, he could be a very solid right tackle.
  • Behemoth size (again). While being a large offensive tackle comes with many benefits, as listed earlier, it functions as a double-edged sword. That size may help him in slowing down bull-rushers and bullying defenders on runs, but the size also gives him an immediate disadvantage in leverage against edge rushers. Edges could simply opt to attack him at a low angle to force him off-balance, which many elite edges are more than capable of doing.

Summary

The Chargers do have several key positions that they must address, but the 2022 Draft class is loaded at (almost) every position. General Manager Tom Telesco could take this Draft in any number of directions. Going for a defensive interior prospect like Georgia’s Jordan Davis, or a right tackle like Northern Iowa’s Trevor Penning, would both be very solid options as well.

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