2024 NFL Draft Picks & Predictions: How to Bet the Chargers’ First Position Market

2024 NFL Draft Picks & Predictions: How to Bet the Chargers’ First Position Market article feature image

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images. Pictured: Chargers head coach Jim Harbaugh.

The Chargers are a fascinating team to analyze in this year’s NFL Draft. A new era is beginning in Los Angeles with former Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh heading west on the heels of a national title.

In his first offseason, the Chargers hold the fifth overall pick. Whether they trade the pick or stick at No. 5, there are plenty of top talents to consider.

Will Chargers Trade Down?

With significant interest in the top four quarterbacks in this year’s draft class — Caleb Williams, Drake Maye, Jayden Daniels and J.J. McCarthy — the fifth overall pick has often been seen as a natural spot for a team to trade up.

The Chargers would love to kick off the Harbaugh era with extra draft capital to build up a roster experiencing significant atrophy.

The Vikings could be a trade-down partner for the Chargers, as they currently hold two first-round picks — No. 11 and No. 23 —and should be in the quarterback market following Kirk Cousins' free agency departure.

Should the Chargers trade down, the players available with their first draft selection could change drastically.

Additionally, a trade down would significantly alter the market for the No. 5 pick. The new pick would presumably become a quarterback rather than a player the Chargers would be interested in given they have Justin Herbert on the roster.

Current Chargers Draft Odds

Below are the DraftKings odds for the position of the Chargers’ first drafted player as of April 22:

Offensive Lineman-175
Wide Receiver200
Defensive Line950
Tight End1400

Chargers' Options at No. 5

The Chargers are currently priced at -175 at DraftKings to take an offensive lineman with their first pick. Harbaugh has continued to stress the importance of playing a physical brand of football, and building out the trenches would undoubtedly follow suit.

Harbaugh also hired Greg Roman as the offensive coordinator, and he heavily prioritizes the run game — almost to his own detriment at times. Roman is not billed as a particularly creative passing game coordinator, although it’s fair to expect his offense to look different with Herbert instead of Jackson.

If the Chargers stay at No. 5, Joe Alt will be the top offensive tackle available.

An anonymous NFL executive told the Washington Post’s Jason La Canfora that Alt is “Harbaugh’s guy,” and the two-time first-team All-American tackle would likely provide a significant upgrade over Trey Pipkins at right tackle.

However, Alt never played right tackle at Notre Dame.

Left tackle Rashawn Slater could kick back over to the right side, where he played for his first two seasons at Northwestern in 2017 and 2018. However, displacing one of the Chargers’ most productive players might be seen as a counterproductive way for this new regime to begin its time in Los Angeles.

The Chargers could also be intrigued by a wide receiver if they stay at No. 5, with Malik Nabers priced as the favorite in that draft slot. The best price on Nabers is currently +230 at either DraftKings or FanDuel, but Marvin Harrison Jr. is priced just behind him at most books.

Harrison has been most commonly linked to the Cardinals at No. 4, but if Arizona is the team that trades down, MHJ could fall into the Chargers’ lap as the best receiver in this class.

After trading Keenan Allen, releasing Mike Williams and letting Austin Ekeler and Gerald Everett walk in free agency, the Chargers have over 2,300 receiving yards from last season to replace.

Only four wide receivers are currently on the roster, and none of them should inspire a high degree of confidence entering next season.

While landing Harrison would be ideal for the Chargers, nabbing Nabers is an exceptional consolation prize. Nabers provides dynamic production after the catch in addition to an explosive release package that helps him generate space.

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What If Chargers Trade Down?

If the Chargers do end up moving out of the No. 5 pick, as is commonly forecasted, their offensive line priorities would likely only be intensified. They’d be moving out of the range of the top three wide receivers in this draft, and there’s a significant drop-off after that group.

If the trade is with the Vikings and the Chargers jump down to the No. 11 pick, they’d be in range to take one of Taliese Fuaga, Olu Fashanu, Troy Fautanu or J.C. Latham, giving them a great selection of plug-and-play linemen.

Fuaga would be especially intriguing given his tremendous power and physical nature.

I also find the +600 value on the Chargers taking a cornerback with their first pick enticing. That wouldn’t happen at the No. 5 pick, but if they move out of the top 10, they could find themselves in range to take Toledo’s Quinyon Mitchell or Alabama’s Terrion Arnold.

The Chargers are in dire need of cornerback help, and both Mitchell and Arnold would provide a significant upgrade.

Final Verdict

If you aren’t already invested in the Chargers’ draft markets, there’s still value to be found.

I like the current number on Joe Alt to be the No. 5 pick at +450 odds. The Chargers have made it clear that they’re prioritizing physical play and building through the trenches.

While I still lean toward Nabers being the selection, I don’t believe there should be such a significant gap between him and Alt.

I’d also be intrigued by a flier on the Chargers to take a cornerback with their first draft selection at +600 or better. Offensive lineman will be the overwhelming expectation if they trade down, but Mitchell and Arnold would be strong additions at a premium position of need.

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