There has been a lot of discourse around what the LA Chargers are going to do with the 17th overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. Will the team move up or down in the draft? If not, will the team take a receiver? Jordan Davis? An offensive lineman? Guard or tackle?
All of these are legitimate questions for the Bolts as they could realistically go in a myriad of directions. There has not been a single route this entire draft process that has seemed like the most likely.
However, I would argue that the most likely route for the Chargers has been right under our noses the entire time and it is one of the least-talked-about directions the team could go. They are not going to take a receiver, a defensive lineman, or an offensive lineman (whether that be a guard or a tackle).
With the 17th overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, the LA Chargers will take a cornerback.
All signs are pointing to the LA Chargers drafting a cornerback in the 2022 NFL Draft. Heck, I would even argue that the Bolts might move up to take Derek Stingley if he falls to a certain selection. The Minnesota Vikings are a team that loves to move back and with the 12th overall pick, the Bolts could move up and get Stingley.
Brandon Staley has already planted the seeds of interest in Stingley, adding fuel to this fire. Even if it is not Stingley, based on how the draft projects to play out in the first 16 picks it seems like Trent McDuffie will inevitably be on the board. If Stingley does not fall, and the Bolts do not move up for him, then McDuffie is the pick at 17.
Just look at what the team has done this offseason compared to last offseason. Last offseason the focus was building an offensive line that could protect Justin Herbert. The team's two biggest moves were offensive linemen (Corey Linsley and Matt Feiler) and they continued that M-O in the draft. Not only did they draft Rashawn Slater, but they drafted Brenden Jaimes and arguably the best blocking tight end in the draft in Tre' McKitty.
This offseason has been about rebuilding the defensive side of the football and fittingly so. Brandon Staley is a defensive guy and the defense was horrible last season, in large part due to the team not having the resources to play Staley's brand of defense.
Every addition the team has made this offseason has either been on defensive or special teams. The only offensive moves were re-signing Mike Williams and replacing Jared Cook with Gerald Everett. Meanwhile, defensively, the Bolts have rebuilt the defensive line and added J.C. Jackson.
We know Staley's defense does not value linebackers, so that obviously is not a round one pick. That leaves the defensive line and the secondary. However, I do not think the Chargers would make the Khalil Mack trade with the intention of drafting a defensive lineman in the first round. While the team should still draft a defensive lineman this year, the secondary needs the help much more.
There are a lot of unknowns in the secondary, both for the 2022 season and in the future. Outside of J.C. Jackson, the cornerback position is a complete unknown. The team is reportedly no longer high on Michael Davis while Asante Samuel Jr. is not a guarantee to be great next year. He showed flashes in his rookie season but also suffered multiple concussions and struggled down the stretch.
The depth behind the top three corners is still horrible, which was the big problem last year. That depth gets better if you draft a first-round corner with the intent of kicking Davis out to be the CB4 (alongside another late-round selection and perhaps a cheap, veteran corner).
The future of the safety position is still up in the air as well. Derwin James is a free agent after this season (although the chances of the Chargers letting him go are slim). Nasir Adderley is also a free agent, which is not talked about much. There is a chance Adderley walks after the 2022 season and the Chargers need to prepare by bolstering the secondary with young talent.
Having a deep secondary is the most important cog in the defensive wheel for Brandon Staley. The team will not succeed if they do not have depth in the secondary and right now, you could make the case that the Bolts don't even have a true CB2.
Based on what we know about Staley and the moves the team has made thus far, it is quite clear that a cornerback will be taken in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft.