The Chargers sign rookie first round offensive tackle Joe Alt

The Los Angeles Chargers reached agreement on a four-year contract with rookie offensive tackle Joe Alt, the fifth overall pick in the first round. The contract is a four-year deal for $33.1 million dollars, with a signing bonus of $20.9 million. Alt played three seasons at Notre Dame, where he started at left tackle. He will be moving to right tackle with the Chargers.

Head coach Jim Harbaugh has indicated at this point that the starting offensive line will consist of Alt at right tackle, Trey Pipkins at right guard, Bradley Bozeman at center, Zion Johnson at left guard, and Rashawn Slater at left tackle.

The Chargers have committed five consecutive first round picks to the offensive side of the ball and the hope is that it will pay dividends in 2024. Pipkins started at right tackle last season for the Chargers but will be moving inside with the addition of Alt. Bozeman was acquired as a free agent during the offseason. He has 77 NFL starts at left guard and center for the Baltimore Ravens and Carolina Panthers.

Three of the five picks were along the offensive line (Slater in 2021, Johnson in 2022, and Alt in 2024). The other two are quarterback Justin Herbert in 2020 and wide receiver Quentin Johnston in 2023. Johnston struggled last season as a rookie, but he has been working hard to improve in the offseason, according to wide receiver coach Sanjay Lai.

As for Herbert, the 2021 starting pro bowl quarterback has impressed Harbaugh. "He's been incredible," Harbaugh said. "From my standpoint, I knew he was really good, but you're right up next to him watching where you can feel the way the ball comes out of his hand. When it comes out, it's going a lot faster than you think, than it looks on tape. He's bigger, taller than you'd think watching TV. Every kind of sense -- smart. It's incredible the way he picks things up and masters things. Every detail, every small detail."

Harbaugh added, "The conditioning test was another eye-opener. Just when you think he can't go another rung on the ladder of my esteem, anyway, he finds another one. He smashed the conditioning test last Thursday. I mean, crushed it, like out in front with people trying to keep up with him. To the point, the athleticism and strength, really, he could play tight end here. He could play edge rusher here. And the arm talent is even better than advertised. It's an exciting thing. I found myself just sitting at my desk at times, going, 'He's on our team!' You know it's not just in shorts because I've seen him do this in 11-on-11, NFL, padded football games."

This is a young team on the offensive side of the ball. Every starter on the team is under 30 years of age. Herbert is just 26, Slater is 25, Johnson is 24, Johston is 22, and Alt is 21. Wide receiver Ladd McConkey, selected with the 34th overall pick in the second round of the 2024 draft, is just 22 years of age.

The 6-foot-8, 322-pound Alt was a two-time All-American at Notre Dame. His father played left tackle for 13 seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs and was a two-time Pro Bowl selection. Alt and Slater could give the Chargers the best pair of starting tackles in the NFL for the next decade.


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