Los Angeles Chargers 2024 NFL draft picks: Selection analysis

See for yourself why Joe Alt is an elite offensive lineman prospect (1:38)

Check out the top plays from Notre Dame offensive tackle Joe Alt ahead of the 2024 NFL draft. (1:38)

LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Chargers made nine selections during the 2024 NFL draft -- beginning with the No. 5 overall pick OL Joe Alt. They then went on to draft three wide receivers over seven rounds.

Here's a look at each of Los Angeles' selections:

Analysis of every pick | Updated depth chart

Round 1, No. 5: Joe Alt, OL, Notre Dame

My take: Chargers general manager Joe Hortiz said they would stick to the process of picking the best player available, a strategy he learned from 26 years in the Baltimore Ravens personnel department that won him two Super Bowls. Selecting Alt on Thursday night supports this theory. The Chargers currently employ only four receivers -- none of whom has a season over 800 yards in the NFL -- and passed on taking the second-best receiver in the class. The Chargers are returning four of their five offensive line starters from last season and signed center Bradley Bozeman in free agency, but stuck to their strategy despite much bigger needs on the roster.

Will he start as a rookie? Yes. The Chargers wouldn't have invested a pick this high in Alt if they hadn't expected him to start. Harbaugh said that the best five players would start on the offensive line, noting that players could fit at any spot. Harbaugh said Rashawn Slater is the lone confirmed spot at left tackle. Harbaugh and Hortiz were noncommittal on a position for Alt but did say that he would be a tackle, likely pointing to Alt starting at right tackle, where he briefly played during his freshman fall camp at Notre Dame.

Key stat: Justin Herbert has been pressured 828 times since being drafted in 2020, second most in the NFL during that time. Herbert was constantly under pressure last season; that pressure resulted in a season-ending right index finger fracture on a sack against the Denver Broncos in Week 14. The Chargers invested in Alt to protect the franchise's most important player and build a running offense to help elevate Herbert's game. Last season, Herbert led the NFL in touchdown-to-interception ratio when he wasn't pressured -- his 17-1 ratio is the fourth-best mark since ESPN began tracking QB pressures in 2006.

Ladd McConkey's NFL draft profile

Check out some of the top highlights from Georgia WR Ladd McConkey.

Round 2, No. 34 (via New England): Ladd McConkey, WR, Georgia

My take: After trading Keenan Allen and releasing Mike Williams, the Chargers came into the draft with just four receivers on the roster. None among that receiving group of Joshua Palmer, Quentin Johnston, Derius Davis and Simi Fehoko had ever topped 800 yards in an NFL season. Since Herbert entered the league in 2020, he has always had a coterie of reliable pass-catchers, including players like running back Austin Ekeler and tight end Gerald Everett, who both left in free agency. McConkey, the Chargers hope, gives Herbert another player he can count on in the passing offense after many key departures.

When will he be expected to get regular playing time? Immediately. McConkey should be -- at worst -- the Chargers' third receiver behind Johnston and Palmer because of their experience. There could be a scenario, however, where McConkey becomes a regular starter early next season. Johnston, the Chargers' first-round pick in last year's draft, struggled in his first season with drops, and Palmer battled knee and head injuries throughout the year, which forced him to miss seven games. Even if McConkey doesn't leapfrog Johnston and Palmer, he should have an immediate role on offense.

Chargers LB Junior Colson's prospect profile

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Round 3, No. 69: Junior Colson, LB, Michigan

My take: This was a position of need for the Chargers and Colson, who was a second-team Big Ten selection and led the team with 95 tackles last season, will bring necessary competition to a mostly unproven group. Both of the Chargers' starting outside linebackers in 2023 won't be back next season, as Kenneth Murray Jr. signed with the Tennessee Titans in free agency and Eric Kendricks was released in March. Linebackers Daiyan Henley (51 defensive snaps in 2023) and Nick Niemann (238 defensive snaps in 2023) are the Chargers' lone returning linebackers from last season, but they also signed Denzel Perryman and Troy Dye.

Ties to the team to know: Colson will join many familiar faces on the Chargers coaching staff, including coach Jim Harbaugh and defensive coordinator Jesse Minter. Colson will also reunite with defensive tackle Christopher Hinton, who played his final season at Michigan during Colson's freshman year. Former Carolina Panthers coach Matt Rhule was the last head coach to draft a player he coached in college (DT Bravvion Roy, 6th round in 2020). It's the second time this has happened in the last ten years.

Round 4, No. 105: Justin Eboigbe, DT, Alabama

My take: The Chargers begin Day 3 by filling another of the team's most significant needs. L.A. is set at outside linebacker on their defensive line with Khalil Mack, Joey Bosa and Tuli Tuipulotu, but they are largely unproven in the interior. Some of the Chargers' best interior defenders from last season, defensive tackle Sebastian Joseph-Day and defensive tackle Austin Johnson, won't be back in 2024. Eboigbe, 6-foot-4, 275 pounds, was a first-team All-SEC selection last season, finishing with a caterer-high seven sacks.

Key stat: Alabama's defense with Eboigbe on the field allowed 3.4 yards per rush; with him off the field, they allowed 4.5 yards per rush. He is also one of the most versatile defensive linemen in this draft: He was the only Power 5 player in 2023 with at least 150 pass rushes as a defensive tackle and 150 pass rushes as an edge rusher.

Round 5, No. 137 (via New England): Tarheeb Still, CB, Maryland

My take: The Chargers' pass defense was abysmal last season, allowing 249.6 yards per game, which ranked 30th in the NFL. So they had to address their secondary in the draft. Still, who is 6-foot and 189 pounds, ran a 4.52 in the 40-yard dash at the combine and finished with five interceptions last season, which tied for sixth in the FBS. He has lined up primarily outside (77% of his snaps came from out wide), but he can also play in the slot.

Key stat: Still allowed two touchdowns as the targeted defender; opposing quarterbacks had a QB rating of 35 when targeting him. He struggled before emerging as an NFL prospect last season. He allowed six touchdowns in coverage, which was the third-most in the FBS in 2021, and allowed a 91 QB rating when targeted in 2022. But he emerged as one of Maryland's best players in 2023, earning a second team All-Big Ten selection.

Round 5, No. 140: Cam Hart, CB, Notre Dame

My take: Cornerback is the first position where the Chargers have drafted multiple players so far, proving that the group was one Hortiz knew needed improvement and competition. Cornerback may also be Hortiz's favorite position. He told reporters that he "never feels full at corner. That is a position that you never stop chasing," he said. The Chargers now have six cornerbacks on the active roster, including the 6-3, 202-pound Hart.

Round 6, No. 181: Kimani Vidal, RB, Troy University

My take: Since the Jim Harbaugh era began in February, the theme for the Chargers has been on running the football. Vidal gives them depth at a position that will be one of the most important on the team. Considering the talent in the Chargers' running back room, which includes J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards, Vidal likely projects to be mainly a special teams contributor in his first year. Vidal set the Troy career (4,010), single-season (1,661), and single-game (248) rushing records, and his great-uncle is Baseball Hall of Famer Hank Aaron.

Round 7 No. 225: Brenden Rice, WR, USC

My take: Only four receivers were on the Chargers roster before the draft, so drafting a second receiver seemed inevitable. Rice, 6-3, 208 pounds, is the son of Pro Football Hall of Fame receiver Jerry Rice. He played his final two seasons for the Trojans, where he was the primary deep target for No. 1 pick Caleb Williams. Rice led the team with a 14.6 air yards per target average in 2023, and 7 of his 12 TD receptions were on vertical routes -- tied for the sixth-most in the FBS.

Round 7, No. 253: Cornelius Johnson, WR, Michigan

My take: The more, the merrier in the Chargers receiving room. Johnson is their third pick at receiver, and for good reason. Johnson is also a familiar face, playing under Jim Harbaugh at the University of Michigan and the many other Michigan coaches on the Chargers staff. Johnson, 6-foot-3, 212 pounds, was a four-year starter at receiver and had 119 receptions since the start of 2021, the sixth most in the Big Ten. Johnson mainly played out wide in his career, with 84% of his snaps over the last three seasons coming lined up on the outside.