It’s shaping up to be a pivotal offseason for the Los Angeles Chargers. Not only are they looking to replace their head coach and general manager — searches that could be wrapping up — they also have the No. 5 overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft with plenty of options.
ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. projected Los Angeles to take former Georgia star Brock Bowers in his Mock Draft 1.0, giving Justin Herbert a huge weapon at tight end. However, fellow analysts Field Yates and Matt Miller disagreed with that idea, suggesting the Chargers could look into an offensive lineman such as Notre Dame’s Joe Alt or a wide receiver in LSU’s Malik Nabers.
But Bowers’ unique skillset could be a fun fit for the Chargers. Not only did he total 2,538 receiving yards and 26 over three years at Georgia, but he added 193 rushing yards and five touchdowns on 19 carries. That would certainly add a jolt to the Chargers’ offense.
“Let’s help Justin Herbert out, make him happy and get a weapon in that pass offense — a tight end is a receiving entity, and he is a great one,” Kiper said of Bowers. “Two years with those national championship teams, he was remarkable. Think about it — 119 catches, 15.5 average and 20 touchdowns. This year, had the tightrope surgery, Vanderbilt game, came back from that. Production down just a bit. But here’s a kid who can run, catch, he’ll block. He will be a dynamic player in that offense, a team that has some options at that spot.
“They can pick an offensive tackle, could take a wide receiver like Nabers from LSU or maybe even a guy like [Rome] Odunze from Washington, who I love. But I think Brock Bowers, the versatility he will provide, the fact that he was so dynamic and so consistent [and] reliable at Georgia, he is going to translate to a big-time player right away in the NFL. And the Chargers will benefit tremendously and certainly, it’ll make Justin Herbert a lot better.”
Why Joe Alt could follow a similar career path to Penei Sewell
In 2021, the Detroit Lions had a need at right tackle with the No. 7 overall pick. They decided to use that selection on former Oregon star Penei Sewell, who played left tackle with the Ducks. It’s safe to say that worked out well as Sewell was a first-team All-Pro selection this year.
The Chargers could do something similar with Joe Alt, though. Field Yates argued he could not only start at either tackle position at the next level, but also be a Pro Bowl-caliber player at both spots.
“I love Brock Bowers — and this hurts to say this right now, Kevin — but I would be taking an offensive tackle or a wide receiver,” Yates told Kevin Negandhi. “I would lean towards an offensive tackle, specifically. Joe Alt from Notre Dame is sitting there, waiting in the wings to be taken to be your franchise right tackle because they already have their franchise left tackle in Rashawn Slater. And I’d say to myself, three of the hardest positions to find in all football are now taken care of for the Los Angeles Chargers: the two tackles and the quarterback spot, if these players reach their absolute upside. As we know, that’s what you’re always striving for with a top-10 pick — in this case, a top-five pick.
“A top-flight right tackle is going to make 25 to $30 million a year in today’s NFL. A top-flight tight end is now making between $15 and $17 million. The league has told us what positions it values the most. And Joe Alt, despite being a left tackle at Notre Dame, can be a Pro Bowl right tackle for the Los Angeles Chargers. They could have those bookends for a long time going forward.”
Could Malik Nabers be a better fit for the Chargers?
Matt Miller brought up the comparisons to Sewell, but pointed out there were still some big-name receivers on the board when Kiper projected the Chargers take Brock Bowers. Most notably, he pointed out Malik Nabers, who is coming off back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons with LSU. The 2023 campaign was a banner year, though, as Nabers hauled in 89 receptions for 1,569 yards and 14 touchdowns.
With Herbert cemented at quarterback, Miller argued, adding someone of Nabers’ caliber would be a bigger need considering where Keenan Allen and Mike Williams are in their careers.
“I liked your idea there, Field. Man, I’m looking at these wide receivers though, and saying Malik Nabers is sitting right there waiting for you,” Miller said. “Keenan Allen, getting older. Mike Williams has not been the same since injury. One or both of those guys can be salary cap casualties as this team tries to get healthy. I love Brock Bowers. I think he could be a George Kittle, a Sam LaPorta. But Malik Nabers is your new No. 1 wide receiver in this offense with the stop-start ability, with what he does. Yards after catch is the best in the draft.
“Last year’s first-round pick, Quentin Johnston, huge opportunity to get it done this year, couldn’t do it. And as you move to a new front office, a new head coach, they have to evaluate this room and say, how can we help Justin Herbert? I don’t mind the right tackle idea. That’s a good one. But I think wide receiver, a go-to young wide receiver and Malik Nabers sitting there, that’s the direction I go. Love Brock Bowers, but it’s a little rich for a tight end when you’ve got elite wide receivers still on the board.”