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Where Does the Bolts O-Line Stand After the 2024 Draft?


The Chargers used just one of their nine draft picks on an offensive lineman, but they made sure it was a high-priority selection by taking Joe Alt at No. 5 overall.

The former Notre Dame standout, who was viewed as the consensus top offensive tackle in the draft, immediately adds some beef up front as he stands at 6-foot-8 and 321 pounds.

Gordon McGuinness of Pro Football Focus recently opined that the Bolts immediately have one of the league's most improved units up front.

McGuinness wrote:

Joe Alt was the Chargers' only offensive line selection in this draft, but it was a move that could leave the team with the NFL's best tackle pairing by the end of this upcoming season, with 2021 first-round draft pick Rashawn Slater on the other side. One of the most complete prospects in this draft class, Alt earned a PFF grade above 90.0 in each of the past two seasons and allowed just 13 total pressures on 774 pass-blocking snaps in that span.

A unanimous All-American in 2023, many draft pundits viewed the 21-year-old Alt as a Top-5 prospect in the draft.

"Obviously, it's exciting to get a player with his athleticism, his size and, really, still young and maturing," Chargers offensive line coach Mike Devlin said Monday. "From that perspective, yeah, you love to have guys like that.

"It's a big-man's business, football," Devlin added. "And he's a big man that can move."

So, where does that leave the Bolts offensive line now that the calendar has flipped to May?

Chargers Head Coach Jim Harbaugh said last week that Slater is entrenched as the Bolts left tackle.

Devlin had plenty of praise for Slater on Monday.

"He's really smart. He is very unselfish," Devlin said. "I say that because I've had some big-time players that maybe won't hold a bag, but, boy, he's right over there holding the bag for the guys. I'm like, 'Man, this guy. He's got the whole package.'

"I'm really excited with what he's done. He asks great questions, which I love," Devlin added. "There's good banter back-and-forth, which, that's what you want from a coach and player relationship."

Harbaugh and Chargers General Manager Joe Hortiz also noted that Alt will play tackle, so expect him to compete with Trey Pipkins III for a starting spot on the right side.

There's also a chance, if Alt becomes the starter at right tackle, that Pipkins could battle for another starting spot along the line.

"I think he's big. He's athletic. He's a people-mover from what I've seen on tape. He's smart. Just like the rest of the fellas," Devlin said. "Everything is a transition. Joe is going to be a transition, he's going right, right? Everything we are doing right now is a transition.

"Different techniques, different names of plays. Different philosophies. I think, every day we just have to come in here," Devlin added. "They know this, this is what I love about them all, every one of them, they've attacked every day to get better and better. They haven't blinked once. It's a joy going in there to get in front of those guys every day."

Check out some photos of the Chargers first Phase 2 workout from the 2024 off-season program

Jamaree Salyer spent the 2023 season at right guard after playing left tackle in 2022 because Slater torn his left bicep muscle.

The Bolts also added center Bradley Bozeman in free agency, and the veteran should likely get the first crack at the starting job.

Harbaugh said in late March that second-year lineman Jordan McFadden also has center flexibility, while Brenden Jaimes started three games at that spot in 2023.

"He's been in it before, so he kind of knows the general sense of it," Devlin said of Bozeman. "It's a different quarterback, right? There's going to be some differences, for sure.

"The mentality, what the vision is, what we want to get accomplished, he's been there and he's seen it just like I have," Devlin added.

Devlin also noted he has high hopes for left guard Zion Johnson, who is entering Year 2 after being a 2023 first-round pick. Johnson spent his rookie season at right guard before switching to the left side last year.

"Zion has a lot of length. I think we're trying right now to get him to use that length," Devlin said. "He can pull and all of those things. I think, not only him, but just everybody in the room, the system will fit to what their skillset is."

With the NFL regular season still four-plus months away, the Chargers have plenty of time to figure out who will start along the line.

That group will be key though, as Harbaugh has emphasized the offense needs to be much improved in terms of both protecting Justin Herbert and establishing a punishing rushing attack.

"It's a great room. Every one of those guys has a lot of ability," Devlin said. "It's going to be fun to piece it together and find those five best [linemen]."

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