The LA Chargers don't have the best track record in the NFL Draft in recent years. While there certainly have been great selections, the overall resume for Tom Telesco is not great and that is why the team has struggled with depth issues.
As frustrating as it can be for fans, it is important for fans to remember that it could always be worse. The Chargers have dodged some serious draft busts in the past, with no example being more prominent than tackle Trevor Penning.
Penning was a legitimate candidate to be selected with the 17th overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft as the Chargers needed offensive line help. Instead of taking the tackle, though, the Chargers took a guard in Zion Johnson, entrusting a still-unproven Trey Pipkins to start at right tackle.
Johnson has been far from great in his NFL career but he has not been nearly as bad as Penning, who has had a disastrous NFL career thus far. Those Chargers fans who may have forgotten about Penning were reminded of just how big of a disaster the team evaded in Week 7's Thursday Night Football matchup. Not only was Penning benched by the New Orleans Saints, he didn't even start in place of two injured starters.
Chargers evaded serious disaster with Trevor Penning
The Saints were not even comfortable starting Penning as the OT3 or OT4 in the offense. That is extremely telling that he isn't just struggling in his young NFL career, but is borderline unplayable.
Chargers fans can dissect the Johnston selection all they want. The pick was seemingly between Johnson, Penning and cornerback Trent McDuffie, who has been exceptional for the Kansas City Chiefs. While McDuffie would have been nice, the Chargers at least avoided the worst-possible option in Penning.
Hopefully, the gap will continue to widen between Johnson and Penning and not because of Penning's own self-destruction. Johnson needs to take that next step from being a raw, young guard to being someone who the Chargers can legitimately count on.
Johnson has shown flashes of being really promising, but he also has a tendency to fall apart in big spots, whether it be because of pressures allowed on the quarterback or because of penalties. If Johnson can clean that up then it will truly be a massive improvement over a hypothetical Penning selection, if it isn't already.