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Chargers Prioritize Herbert's Protection, Select Joe Alt 5th


Joe Alt
© Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

 

The long and exhausting time period of NFL fans speculating on who teams would select in the first round has finally come to a conclusion. Some picks were shocking, and some were not. The Chargers draft choice, however, should not be shocking to anyone. Jim Harbaugh's identity has always been the run game and building up the trenches. General Manager Joe Hortiz told reporters repeatedly that he is drafting with the mindset of taking the best player available (BPA), and he followed through with his word on Thursday by selecting Joe Alt.




Alt, son of former NFL lineman John Alt, was allegedly the top player on the board. Coach Harbaugh told media that his brother John, who coaches the Baltimore Ravens texted him and said " that's who I would've taken" regarding the 6-foot-8 left tackle. Alt played left tackle at Notre Dame but started off as a right tackle. This ensures Justin Herbert will have elite protection on both ends of the line, something Harbaugh hinted during his introductory press conference on February 1st. Harbaugh noted, "First of all, the quarterback we have, protect his environment on the field. Protect him. Also, beef up the run game." Harbaugh and Hortiz followed suit by doing just that.


 


Who Is Joe Alt


Joe Alt is a generational offensive tackle prospect who is drawing comparison to Hall of Famer, Joe Thomas. That is quite the company to be associated with as a rookie. One thing we do know is that Notre Dame seems to be an offensive line factory, developing players like: Zach Martin, Ronnie Stanley, Mike McGlinchey Aaron Banks, Quenton Nelson and many more. In the last two seasons with the Irish, Alt only allowed 1 total sack and 13 quarterback pressures. Alt exhibits incredible athleticism with his giant frame of 6-foot-8 and 321-pounds. Despite being so tall, Alt shows the ability on tape pull across the formation and execute his blocks on the perimeter.


Joe Alt vs Duke
© Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

According to Dane Bruglers, "The Beast" guide, he isn't known as a power blocker. Alt's "anchor tends to be gradual and power rushers can walk him back before he settles." Hortiz elaborated on the topic by adding "He doesn't get knocked back very often. When it does happen, he's got that freakish athleticism to recover and get his knees bent and flex those ankles and get back down. So I think he does an outstanding job." Alt is the son of John Alt, who played 13 years for the Kansas City Chiefs. John is clearly where Joe got his size from.



 

What Does This Mean for the Chargers?


This means we should take Joe Hortiz seriously, along with Harbaugh, when they tell us things. Harbaugh and Hortiz took to the podium following the pick and noted to the media that he was the top player on their board. This aligns with the BPA mentality that Hortiz told us he uses to draft players. Going forward, we should be prepared for that in following rounds. Many fans were eager to see the Chargers address the wide receiver room by selecting Malik Nabers or Rome Odunze, but they did not. This shows us what position group the new Chargers regime prioritizes: offensive line. The Chargers offensive line just added some much-needed depth.



Los Angeles already has an elite left tackle in Rashawn Slater, who made the Pro-Bowl as a rookie in 2021. Alt, who played left tackle for the Irish, was asked about a potential slide to right tackle and he responded with "I don't think it'll be a huge adjustment for me." Neither Harbaugh nor Hortiz gave us full confirmation of who they will have slide over to right tackle. However, all signs point towards Alt making the transition. Along with this, the Chargers still have Trey Pipkens on the roster. Pipkens is a serviceable right tackle for Los Angeles who will now provide depth for the team. "I think he is one of our best five right now and that's not going to change," Harbaugh said regarding Pipkens. He noted that the best five players will start and Pipkens is in line to be one of them. He would be competing with Zion Johnson, Jamaree Salyer and Bradley Bozeman. The Chargers have a rugged history of costly injuries, and that includes Rashawn Slater tearing his pectoral in 2022. Pipkens also has some injury history, but he has battled through the last two seasons by starting 31 games. On the contrary, Alt has no history of concern regarding his durability since he played all 38 of his games at Notre Dame.



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