Pros and cons of the Chargers drafting Zion Johnson at 17

2022 NFL Draft - Round 1
2022 NFL Draft - Round 1 / David Becker/GettyImages
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After months of speculation around who the LA Chargers were going to draft with the 17th overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, the team went with someone who was not a likely target until recently for the fan base.

The Bolts selected Boston College guard Zion Johnson, marking two consecutive years that the team has taken offensive line help for Justin Herbert. Somewhere Philip Rivers has to be shaking his head after rarely receiving such help from the Bolts.

Fans mostly seemed to love the Johnson selection and it is hard not to. Just like every selection, though, there are pros and cons of the Chargers taking Johnson at 17. In this case the pros heavily outweigh the cons, but there are still some cons worth touching on.

Pros of the Chargers drafting Zion Johnson: 

1 The Chargers got the best guard in the draft

Zion Johnson may not have been the first guard taken in the 2022 NFL Draft but he was widely considered to be the best guard heading into the draft. Johnson is as pro-ready as a guard can be and he should instantly be above-average at the NFL level. 

It is always a good thing if a team can land the best player at a given position and it's even more exciting when said player is going to help protect the center of the franchise, Justin Herbert. 

2. Offensive line versatility

Tom Telesco said in a post-first-round press conference that the team views Zion Johnson as a right guard and Matt Feiler as a left guard. This was a bit surprising as it seemed that the team was priming Johnson to play left guard next to Rashawn Slater with Matt Feiler at right tackle and Oday Aboushi (who would have to be re-signed) at right guard. 

That might not be the exact vision that Tom Telesco outlined but that does not mean the team will refrain from bringing in Aboushi. Either way, the Chargers have legitimate options on the offensive line to produce the best all-around unit, whether that includes Johnson at left guard and Feiler at right tackle, or Trey Pipkins at right tackle. 

This versatility would not have been the same if… 

3. The Chargers took him over Trevor Penning

Trevor Penning is an intriguing right tackle prospect who has a high ceiling in the NFL. However, he is an unfinished product and is going to take time to develop. With the Chargers going all-in on contending, a developmental right tackle was not a great fit. 

Johnson is undoubtedly going to be better than Penning right away and as mentioned, gives the team versatility. Drafting Penning would have been the opposite as the Bolts would have pigeonholed themselves into playing Penning at right tackle and re-signing Aboushi.