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I believe the Chargers’ preferred result is trading down from No. 5 in the first round and selecting an offensive lineman. But it takes two teams to make a trade, and the Chargers must receive what general manager Joe Hortiz called an “attractive” return to accept any offer.

So much depends on what happens in the four picks before the Chargers are on the clock. Do four quarterbacks go in the top four picks, with a team trading up with the Arizona Cardinals to No. 4? Or is Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy still on the board at No. 5, giving the Chargers leverage in discussions with a quarterback-needy team? How the first four picks unfold will dictate which teams the Chargers can negotiate with and what type of return they can garner.

My big question is this: What will the Chargers do if they do not find an acceptable trade partner and must make the pick at No. 5?

Hortiz said last week that his approach is “best player available.” That statement will truly be put to the test if the Chargers do not trade down — and especially if four quarterbacks go in the top four picks. In that scenario, Ohio State receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. would be available. Harrison is the No. 2 ranked player according to our draft expert Dane Brugler. He is ranked behind only quarterback Caleb Williams, the presumptive No. 1 pick. It would be one thing for the Chargers to pass on Harrison by trading out. It would be another thing entirely if they pass on Harrison by selecting a different player at No. 5, like Notre Dame tackle Joe Alt, who is Brugler’s top offensive lineman in the draft and No. 5 prospect.

If Harrison goes at No. 4, a similar discussion remains. LSU receiver Malik Nabers is Brugler’s No. 3 ranked prospect. The Chargers have an obvious need at receiver. Their need along the offensive line is less pressing. When Hortiz was asked last week if he still feels like he needs a starting offensive lineman, he said, “We could go out and play football today.” Would they take Alt, or another offensive lineman, for that matter, ahead of Nabers or even Washington receiver Rome Odunze, who is Brugler’s No. 6 prospect?

There is just so much unknown about how Hortiz and Jim Harbaugh actually want to build this roster. We have public comments, sure. They have said they want to run the ball. They have said they want to protect Justin Herbert. They have said they want to be a physical, violent, tough, smash-mouth team. Their free-agent signings aligned with that approach, but none of those additions amounted to big-swing tangible evidence. What Harbaugh and Hortiz do in the first round will reveal the organizational compass in 4K resolution.


Final Chargers NFL Draft thoughts: Why the first-round pick will be a telling moment

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