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NFL mock draft: Los Angeles Chargers select Trevor Penning

After an offensive struggle in 2021, the Los Angeles Chargers add some protection for Justin Herbert in our 2022 Community Mock Draft.

Northern Iowa v Iowa State Photo by David Purdy/Getty Images

2021 was undoubtedly a disappointing season for the Los Angeles Chargers. After a promising 4-1 start under new head coach Brandon Staley, it looked like the Chargers were headed for the postseason and possibly more. But it all came crashing down when the Chargers lost three of their final four games, including a win-and-you’re-in overtime game against the Oakland Raiders in the season finale.

But the Chargers’ roster remains quite strong, and they had an aggressive free agency period to try and keep up in the AFC arms race this offseason. Los Angeles is without a second-round pick, so if they want to grab a player from this year’s draft that will provide an immediate impact, this pick—Pick 17—may be their only shot.

In our Pride of Detroit Community Mock, commenter nchantala is the acting general manager for the Chargers. Here’s the board they’re looking at.

POD Community Mock Draft picks so far:

  1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan
  2. Detroit Lions: Travon Walker, EDGE, Georgia
  3. Houston Texans: Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon
  4. New York Jets: Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame
  5. New York Giants: Evan Neal, OT, Alabama
  6. Carolina Panthers: Ikem Ekwonu, OT, NC State
  7. New York Giants: Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati
  8. Atlanta Falcons: Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh
  9. Seattle Seahawks: Malik Willis, QB, Liberty
  10. New York Jets: Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State
  11. Washington Commanders: Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU
  12. Minnesota Vikings: Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington
  13. Houston Texans: Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State
  14. Baltimore Ravens: Jermaine Johnson, EDGE, Florida State
  15. Philadelphia Eagles: Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia
  16. Philadelphia Eagles: Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah

So with the 17th pick in the POD Community Mock, the Los Angeles Chargers have selected Trevor Penning, offensive tackle out of Northern Iowa.

Here’s nchantala with the explanation:

With my top choice of Jordan Davis going two spots ahead of me, I had to take a step back and reassess the needs of the Chargers.

After the offseason the Chargers have had with trading for EDGE Khalil Mack, signing CB JC Jackson, re-signing WR Mike Williams, signing TE Gerald Everett, and signing DTs Sebastian Joseph-Day and Austin Johnson, the primary needs have mostly been filled. The one spot that sticks out like a sore thumb though is at offensive line, specifically at RT. The Chargers did their best to fill this need in the 2020 offseason when they signed ex-Packer Bryan Bulaga to a three-year/$30 million contract. Two seasons later and 11 total games played, the Chargers have moved on and gained $10.75 million in cap space by doing so. Due to Bulaga’s injuries, the Chargers have been forced to start Storm Norton, yes, the former Detroit Lion, Storm Norton. The same one that gave up 11 pressures in Week 18 against the Raiders and was treated like a turnstile by Maxx Crosby.

With the top three OTs off the board (Neal, Ekwonu, Cross), I consulted a couple of well-known big boards, and the one name that kept standing out was Trevor Penning from Northern Iowa. It’s always nerve-wracking taking a small school prospect but he was a standout at the Senior Bowl and dominated the NFL Combine with an overall 9.96 RAS at 6-foot-7 and 325 lbs. When he is ranked as a top-25 prospect by Daniel Jeremiah, Pro Football Network, PFF, ESPN Scouts Inc, Lance Zierlein/NFL.com, Mel Kiper Jr, and The Draft Network, I am more than comfortable with this selection. As the Chargers’ acting GM, I’m doing everything I can to protect Justin Herbert, especially in a division with Chandler Jones, Maxx Crosby, Bradley Chubb, Randy Gregory, and Chris Jones. With Rashawn Slater and Trevor Penning, Justin Herbert has his bookend tackles for 10+ seasons.

Erik’s thoughts:

The Chargers have two studs on their offensive line, left tackle Rashawn Slater and center Corey Linsley, and now nchantala gives them a third. Not only is Penning a solid technical tackle but he plays with a mean streak and has a Taylor Lewan-like ceiling. A plug-and-play starter at either left or right tackle, Penning would be the perfect counter to fend off Maxx Crosby twice a year.

I also think Central Michigan’s Bernhard Raimann could get a look at this spot too, as he has Lane Johnson-like skills. If they can add starter-level depth on the interior offensive line with their third-round pick, it could go a long way to protecting Justin Herbert.

You can follow along with every pick + grades in our Community Mock Draft tracker.

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