Joe Hortiz addresses needs at wide receiver and cornerback in his first draft as the Chargers' GM (2024)

Updated Apr. 27, 2024 10:56 p.m. ET

Associated Press

COSTA MESA, Calif. (AP) — Joe Hortiz was disciplined and methodical in his first NFL draft as the Los Angeles Chargers' general manager.

Hortiz didn't reach in addressing the Chargers' needs, but also made sure to make it a collaborative approach in bringing together scouts, new coach Jim Harbaugh and his staff.

“Joe is one of the best evaluators in the National Football League. He has been doing it for decades. He does it every day year-round. That’s who I listen to,” Harbaugh said. “Then, myself, the other scouts, the personnel, the (ownership), every one of the coaches on our staff, we’re just, ‘How can we help?’ We’re just trying to support and try to help in any way that we can.”

The Chargers immediately addressed their offensive line by taking Joe Alt with the fifth overall pick. The Notre Dame product is the third first-round lineman Los Angeles has selected since 2021.


Three of the remaining eight picks were wide receivers. The Chargers moved up three spots in the second round Friday to take Georgia's Ladd McConkey, considered one of the draft's best route runners.

They added Southern California's Brenden Rice and Michigan's Cornelius Johnson in the seventh round.

The Chargers addressed depth on the defensive line and secondary with their first three picks Saturday. Alabama defensive tackle Justin Eboigbe went in the fourth round while Los Angeles used both of its fifth-round picks on cornerbacks — Maryland’s Tarheeb Still and Notre Dame's Cam Hart.

Five of the Bolts' picks were on offense and four on defense.

“It was a great, cohesive and collaborative effort from everyone,” Hortiz said. “Right at the end of today, I was like, ‘Wow, we did it.’ There's an excitement to it but it was what I was hired to do. I really believe we made our team better and can't wait to see them with the rest of the group."


Rice got the call from the Chargers while in Dallas at the funeral of his best friend, Keith Miller III. Rice was a pallbearer and spoke at the service.

Miller, who was attending Texas A&M University-Commerce, was found dead in his apartment on April 11.

“It was a tough one, knowing what he and his family and friends were going through. I certainly felt the emotion through the phone,” Hortiz said of the call to Rice. “I know he was excited on top of having to deal with the emotions he was facing.”


Fourth-round pick Eboigbe missed most of 2022 with a herniated disk, but was a first-team All-Southeastern Conference selection last season with 11 1/2 tackles for loss and seven sacks.

Hortiz said the Chargers had mostly third-round grades on Eboigbe but a couple of second-round marks too.

“When you watch his film he does everything right. He's instinctive and has a high motor. He's a sneaky pass rusher,” Hortiz said.


Alt played left tackle at Notre Dame, but he said he has been training at both left and right tackle during the pre-draft process. Harbaugh said Thursday night that Rashaun Slater will be the Chargers' left tackle, which would indicate the Alt is expected to supplant Trey Pipkins at right tackle.

“Being at a position that the coaches and people feel matters, it just makes you want to do it that much more and want to do it for them because they care so much about it,” Alt said. “Now, it’s my job to go get back to work and go put my best foot forward and do the best I can for whatever this team asks of me.”


Harbaugh got two of his former Michigan players — linebacker Junior Colson in the third round and Johnson.

Colson started 36 games at Michigan, including all 15 last season when the Wolverines won the national championship. He played middle linebacker in defensive coordinator Jesse Minter’s scheme, but Harbaugh said Colson has the versatility to play outside linebacker as well.

“I would say so, yeah,” Colson said when asked if he feels like he is going to Michigan West. “We just swapped out the cold for the warm. Other than that, nothing really changes — still go out there and win, play hard-nosed football.”


Running back Kimani Vidal, who was taken in the sixth round, is the great-nephew of the late baseball Hall of Famer Hank Aaron.

“He’s given me all kinds of advice, going up through high school and into college, too. It was more so about battling adversity, more than anything. He would give me context on that,” Vidal said of Aaron, who died in 2021 at age 86.

At Troy, Vidal was second in the nation and set a school record with 1,661 yards rushing last season.





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Joe Hortiz addresses needs at wide receiver and cornerback in his first draft as the Chargers' GM (2024)
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