Chargers all but guarantee 2024 first-round pick with latest free agency move

Carolina Panthers v Chicago Bears
Carolina Panthers v Chicago Bears / Michael Reaves/GettyImages

Even though the team entered the 2024 offseason way above the salary cap, the LA Chargers have made several moves to bolster next year's roster already. Before even becoming cap-compliant on Wednesday, the Chargers had already agreed to deals with Gus Edwards, Will Dissly and Alohi Gilman.

The Chargers are on the cusp of adding to those signings (after releasing Mike Williams and restructuring Khalil Mack on Wednesday) with another veteran tight end, Hayden Hurst.

Hurst has ties to the Chargers via his time with the Baltimore Ravens. A deal is not official at the time of writing, he is visiting with the Bolts with the intention of signing with the team. It may not be official yet, but it is pretty much a done deal.

Whether or not Hurst can stay healthy and become a consistent, impactful player for the Chargers remains to be seen. One thing is for certain, though: with this selection, the Chargers have all but guaranteed who they will select with the fifth overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.

Chargers signing Hayden Hurst may guarantee Malik Nabers will be taken fifth overall

Prior to the Chargers making any free-agent signings the two prospects that were debated the most with the fifth overall pick were LSU wide receiver Malik Nabers and Georgia tight end Brock Bowers. Both are elite prospects at their positions, and both have massive upside.

Nabers is probably the more talented prospect but Bowers filled a huge need for the Chargers in a draft class that is not very deep at the tight end position. It was a classic debate of best-available vs. need, and Chargers fans couldn't come to a conclusion on who the team will draft.

General manager Joe Hortiz did hint at the Chargers going with the best available player, which suggests that the team will take Nabers. These free-agent moves only back that hypothesis, as the Chargers have brought in two external tight ends to bolster the room.

There is no chance the Chargers are going to draft a tight end with the fifth pick after signing two in free agency. There is also still a very, very slim chance that the Chargers will take a tackle like Joe Alt. That has become a fear for Chargers fans but Harbaugh has never drafted a tackle early in the draft, so those concerns can rest easy.

Thus, the only real path for the Chargers is taking Nabers or trading down in the draft. But with Bowers not out of the question, there isn't a real reason to trade down in the draft as the Bolts would be sacrificing a chance at drafting a truly special wide receiver prospect.

And who knows, in a perfect world maybe the Arizona Cardinals trade the fourth pick to a quarterback-hungry team and that allows Marvin Harrison Jr. to fall to the fifth pick. That is still unlikely, but either way, the Chargers are likely going to end up with an impact receiver in the first round.