Los Angeles Chargers Reportedly May Take Surprise Player With Top Pick In 2024 NFL Draft

Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Chargers rumors have tied the team to the top prospects at wide receiver and offensive tackle with the fifth overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. However, there appears to be a surprise player generating buzz days before Jim Harbaugh is put on the clock.

Leading the Chargers draft needs in 2024 are wide receiver and offensive tackle. Pass-catcher is the most glaring hole on the Chargers roster following the offseason departures of Mike Williams and Keenan Allen. However, Harbaugh has prioritized the importance of the offensive line and routinely prioritized the positions when building teams in college.

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Holding the fifth overall pick, Los Angeles will essentially have its choice of the best players in the 2024 NFL Draft. Even if All-American wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr is chosen by the Arizona Cardinals with the fifth overall pick, that still leave LSU’s Malik Nabers and Washington’s Rome Odunze.

Any of the pass-catching trio would instantly give Los Angeles a No. 1 receiver with All-Pro potential. However, the Chargers could also stand to upgrade at right tackle, pairing someone with Rashawn Slater to give them one of the best tackle tandems in the NFL.

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In a majority of NFL mock drafts, Nabers and Notre Dame offensive tackle Joe Alt are the projected pick for Los Angeles when not trading down. Interestingly, though, there appears to be another player high on the Chargers draft board who could be picked either at No. 5 or slightly later in a trade-down.

According to Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated, there’s been a little buzz in the days leading up to the 2024 NFL Draft tying offensive lineman JC Latham to the Chargers. While it’s possible that would be in a trade-down scenario, he also seems to be under some consideration as the fifth overall pick.

“Pretty consistently I’ve been told to keep an eye on an offensive lineman in this spot. The chalk pick would be Notre Dame LT Joe Alt, who’s continually improved and has off-the-charts potential (one exec said his pro day was the best he’s ever seen from an offensive lineman). But I’ve heard a little buzz, and maybe this would be in a trade-down scenario, that Alabama’s JC Latham could be a Chargers’ consideration as well, as a road-grading right tackle to bookend with incumbent left tackle Rashawn Slater”

Albert Breer on who the Los Angeles Chargers will draft in Round 1

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Los Angeles Chargers draft targets profile: Examining JC Latham

Los Angeles Chargers draft rumors, JC Latham
Credit: Gary Cosby Jr. / USA TODAY NETWORK

As we’ve written previously when examining who the Chargers will pick at 5, Alt isn’t necessarily the best fit for Los Angeles. He spent his entire career at Notre Dame playing left tackle, meaning either he or Slater would face a challenging transition to right tackle in 2024.

Related: Los Angeles Chargers trying to ‘sell high’ on No. 5, examining trade options

From that perspective, Latham might be even more appealing. He opened his career with the Alabama Crimson Tide as a right guard before kicking outside in 2022. Over the last two seasons, per Pro Football Focus, Latham played 1,748 snaps at right tackle.

Drafting him would mean Los Angeles has two natural starters at both sides of its offensive line. Better yet, if the Chargers coaching staff wants to keep Trey Pipkins at right tackle, Latham is comfortable moving back inside to guard for the 2024 season.

  • JC Latham height and weight: 6-foot-5, 342 pounds

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The stylistic fit arguably makes him an even more compelling player for the Chargers than Alt. Latham is regarded as one of the best run blockers in the class, which ties in nicely with offensive coordinator Greg Roman’s run-heavy game plans.

“Bulldozer in human form with the upper- and lower-body power to forcibly evacuate run lanes and instantly upgrade a team’s ground attack. Latham’s body type is girthy, and he has elite drive-blocking talent. He has operated in a variety of run schemes but will be an average move blocker both laterally and when climbing to the second level. His pass sets are well-balanced with good initial quickness and active hands. He unleashes lefts and rights and mirrors effectively after contact but gets beaten by inside moves when he over-sets. He has the length and hand strength to shut rushers down but needs to become more comfortable setting diagonally rather than vertically to avoid sinking too deeply into his own pocket. Latham’s size, strength and talent give him a chance to become a heralded right tackle or Pro Bowl-caliber guard.”

JC Latham scouting report from NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein

Trading down would obviously be the preference for the Chargers and the Minnesota Vikings’ interest in moving up for a quarterback makes the two teams ideal trade partners. While Latham would be an excellent selection at the 11th overall pick, his specific fit with the Chargers’ philosophy could give him an advantage over Alt at No. 5 overall on Thursday night.

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