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Chargers Draft Picks Zion Johnson, Jamaree Salyer Share a Bond Developed During Pre-Draft Process

Zion Johnson and Jamaree Salyer have a relationship that began prior to being drafted by the Chargers.

The Chargers 2022 rookie class has completed their first step on the offseason schedule, finishing their two-day rookie minicamp on Saturday, May 14. It was the first time since being drafted or signed as an undrafted free agent that each rookie hit the field as a member of the Chargers.

The rookie minicamp roster featured 26 players – all of which are attempting to grasp the playbook and scheme of the Chargers. 

Among the participants at rookie minicamp, Chargers first-round pick Zion Johnson and sixth-round pick Jamaree Salyer laced up their cleats for the first time along the same offensive line. While they've never been teammates on the field prior to being selected by the Chargers two weeks ago, they share a bond that was developed during the pre-draft process.

Johnson and Salyer spent time ahead of the NFL Draft working out at Exos, a training facility in Pensacola, Florida.

May 13, 2022; Costa Mesa CA, USA; Los Angeles Chargers offensive lineman Jamaree Salyer (68) at press conference during rookie minicamp at the Hoag Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

"We have a really good relationship," Salyer said of Johnson. "We were happy that we were both coming out here together and kind of using each other to learn the playbook and pick each other’s brain. It’s nice to have somebody that you know pretty well coming in.”

The two newcomers find each other in similar situations. Both are enduring some degree of a learning curve, as they embark on a position change. Johnson is moving from left guard where he played last year at Boston College, over to right guard, where he'll serve as the Chargers' starter for the foreseeable future.

Meanwhile, Salyer, is shifting into a swing guard role after holding down the left tackle spot for the Georgia Bulldogs National Championship squad. On Friday, the first day of rookie minicamp, Salyer consistently took reps at left guard.

“He’s a very competitive guy," Johnson said about Salyer. "It was good to have a guy like that to train with. We could push each other. I’m glad to be here with him.”

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The two prospects posted notable numbers at the NFL Combine – specifically on the bench press – with Johnson finishing first and Salyer taking second among offensive guards who completed the bench press portion of repping 225 pounds. 

Johnson recorded 32 reps, sitting in the 89th percentile. And Salyer completed 31 reps, putting him in the 86th percentile.

May 13, 2022; Costa Mesa CA, USA; Los Angeles Chargers guard Zion Johnson (77) at a press conference during rookie minicamp at the Hoag Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Johnson picked up an interesting technique while he and Salyer prepared for the next step in their football journey while training at Exos. Johnson benches barefoot, a method that he says allows him to feel more control with his feet directly into the ground.

“I really started it at Exos when I started training there," Johnson said. "I found that it really helped me and I felt like I had a lot more control with my feet. That’s just something that I’ve carried on since I’ve gotten back.”

Ultimately, Johnson and Salyer are thrilled to be a part of the same rookie class of the Chargers as they bounce knowledge off one another while learning the ins and outs of the pro game. While Johnson is a plug-and-play rookie from the start, Salyer may have to wait his turn until being called upon. Nonetheless, there's clear optimism for each rookie in what they can presumably offer the Chargers' offensive line in the season's ahead.

With rookie minicamp in the books, the next step in the Chargers' offseason schedule is OTAs which begin on May 23.


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Nick Cothrel is the publisher of Charger Report. Follow Nick on Twitter @NickCothrel for more Chargers coverage.