Los Angeles Chargers Rookie Forecast

Joe Alt joins Chargers

Solid Starter

Joe Alt, OT, Notre Dame – Round 1

The Chargers did not have a screaming need for an offensive tackle, but Jim Harbaugh wants to build up the talent on the offensive line. Alt was the top offensive lineman in the 2024 NFL Draft and that made him the man for Los Angeles with the fifth overall-pick.

In the ground game Alt is a contributor that uses his size to tie up defenders. Alt is not a physical force that will overpower and overwhelm defenders knocking them backwards or rolling them around the field. He is more of a blocker that ties up defenders, stalls them, turns them, and manipulates them out of the play. With his mass and length, defenders can struggle to get free of Alt to get in on a tackle.

As a pass blocker, Alt has a natural advantage in that he is so huge it is hard for defenders to get around him. With his mass and length, it takes extra steps to get past him and that gives his quarterback a split second that can be valuable. Alt has good awareness, is smart, and has developed technique. The technique can be seen in him using his hands well with good placement. Alt’s hand placement, technique, and length make him very good at sustaining blocks. With his length and mass, he ties up defenders and keeps them from shedding blocks easily.

Alt has adequate feet and quickness, but he is not an all-world athlete with excellent speed on the edge. With his size, he is not a smooth mover that can slide with his feet and glide easily to cut off speed rushers like say Ronnie Stanley. Alt gets into trouble when he stands up too high and lets defenders get into his chest. Team sources at other teams said that Alt has some stiffness and is not a great bender. That leads to some problems with his anchor and that could be seen in the game against Ohio State when Tyleik Williams gave Alt some problems.

With Rashawn Slater at left tackle, Alt can become the starter on the right side with Trey Pipkins moving inside to compete at guard. Alt is a safe pick to quickly become a solid pro starter for Los Angeles.

2023: Tuli Tuipulotu, defensive end
2022: Zion Johnson, guard
2021: Rashawn Slater, offensive tackle
2020: Justin Herbert, quarterback
2019: Nasir Adderley, safety
2018: Justin Jones, defensive tackle
2017: Forrest Lamp, guard
2016: Hunter Henry, tight end
2015: Denzel Perryman, linebacker
2014: Jason Verrett, cornerback
2013: Manti Te’o, linebacker

Most Likely To Bust

Junior Colson, LB, Michigan – Round 3

I think the Chargers had an excellent first draft for general manager Joe Hortiz and head coach Jim Harbaugh. The only early-round pick that looks like he has some bust potential is Colson, and even that could be wrong as Harbaugh obviously knows Colson well from being his college coach. Still, I thought that Colson showed some ability in pass coverage, but he had some weaknesses for the NFL.

In the ground game Colson has room for improvement for the NFL. Colson is not physical and he will need to work on taking on and shedding blocks. As a run defender Colson was better in pursuit tracking down backs to make tackles. Colson does not have great instincts and that can cause him to react a step late often.

NFL defenses play the majority of their games with two linebackers on the field. I could see Colson having a hard time beating out veteran Denzel Perryman and 2023 third-round pick Daiyan Henley. It would not surprise me if Colson is one of the only selections from the Chargers’ 2024 draft class that ends up being a disappointment.

2023: Derius Davis, wide receiver
2022: None
2021: Asante Samuel Jr, cornerback
2020: Joe Reed, wide receiver
2019: Trey Pipkins, offensive tackle
2018: Uchenna Nwosu, linebacker
2017: Dan Feeney, guard
2016: Max Tuerk, center
2015: Craig Mager, cornerback
2014: Chris Watt, guard
2013: D.J. Fluker, offensive tackle

Potential Boom Pick

Ladd McConkey, WR, Georgia – Round 2

The Chargers opened up a big hole at the wide receiver position after cutting Mike Williams and trading Keenan Allen. That leaves Los Angeles in desperate need for some young playmakers to emerge for franchise quarterback Justin Herbert. While signing veteran D.J. Chark could be a nice sleeper acquisition, the big move to help Herbet was drafting McConkey with the second selection of the second round.

With Quentin Johnston on the outside, McConkey could be a dynamite slot receiver to replace Allen. The 5-foot-11, 187-pound McConkey is a polished receiver that does everything well. He is a smooth route-runner that doesn’t take extra steps in and out of his breaks. He has enough quickness through the route with shiftiness to generate separation from press coverage. For Georgia, McConkey used his route-running and quickness to consistently generate separation.

McConkey has natural hands and is astute to put his hands up late to not tip off defensive backs that the ball is coming. He tracks the ball well and has advanced body control to adjust to the ball while making acrobatic catches along the sideline. What really sets McConkey apart is tremendous yards after the catch skills. He is electric with the ball in his hands to dodge defenders and weave through the secondary. After the catch McConkey finds a second gear and has superb vision and instincts to continue to rip off yards when he looks like he is going to get tackled. When the ball is in his hands, McConkey is a playmaker that can really hurt defenses.

Assuming he can learn the playbook quickly, McConkey could be an instant starter for Los Angeles and could end up putting up significant production as soon as his rookie season. McConkey could be a boom pick for the Chargers and a dynamite weapon for Herbert.

2023: Quentin Johnston, wide receiver
2022: None
2021: Tre’ McKitty, tight end
2020: Kenneth Murray, linebacker
2019: Jerry Tillery, defensive tackle
2018: Derwin James, safety
2017: Mike Williams, wide receiver
2016: Joey Bosa, defensive end
2015: Melvin Gordon, running back
2014: Jeremiah Attaochu, outside linebacker
2013: Keenan Allen, wide receiver

Future Depth Player

Justin Eboigbe, DT, Alabama – Round 4

The Chargers did a phenomenal job of drafting on the third day of the draft. They started it off with Alabama defensive tackle Justin Eboigbe who is a big, physical defender with an outstanding motor. He could be a sleeper steal that turns into a solid starter. They made a number of other excellent picks including Notre Dame cornerback Cam Hart. He could be a press man corner with exceptional size. Hart really played well against Marvin Harrison Jr and showed he has NFL ability. I think both Eboigbe and Hart might end up becoming starters, but Eboigbe at the very least should be a solid backup and rotational tackle for Los Angeles.

2023: Max Duggan, quarterback
2022: Isaiah Spiller, running back
2021: Josh Palmer, wide receiver
2020: Joshua Kelley, running back
2019: Drue Tranquill, linebacker
2018: Kyzir White, safety
2017: Desmond King, safety
2016: Joshua Perry, linebacker
2015: Darius Philon, defensive tackle
2014: Marion Grice, running back
2013: Steve Williams, cornerback