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The first draft pick of the Los Angeles Chargers' Jim Harbaugh era is in, with Notre Dame offensive tackle Joe Alt going No. 5 overall on Thursday night. And the selection couldn't be more telling about what lies ahead for the Harbaugh-led Chargers.

Many identified wide receiver as perhaps the most pressing need for L.A. entering the 2024 NFL Draft, with not one but two of the team's top pass catchers exiting as salary-cap casualties in Keenan Allen and Mike Williams. And the Chargers had clean access to two of the consensus top wideouts of this year's class at No. 5, in LSU's Malik Nabers and Washington's Rome Odunze.

By opting instead for Alt, who was widely considered the top prospect at a deep offensive tackle spot, Harbaugh is signaling a return to foundational roster-building -- more specifically, sturdiness in the trenches.

"I know the question is gonna come up about weapons," Harbaugh told reporters later. "We look at offensive linemen as weapons."

Rashawn Slater is a Pro Bowl left tackle already in place, but he's also two years removed from missing all but three games due to injury. Alt, meanwhile, could conceivably slot in as an immediate upgrade on Trey Pipkins at right tackle, giving the club two long-term lynchpins at bookend.

This isn't to say the Chargers won't further address quarterback Justin Herbert's weaponry. But fresh off a regime that prioritized a pass-heavy attack under ex-coordinator Kellen Moore, only to struggle in big-time spots when protection and/or play-calling and/or defensive support collapsed, it's clear Harbaugh wants to restore L.A.'s fortitude where things get physical: at the line of scrimmage. It's precisely how he fueled the run-heavy San Francisco 49ers -- all the way to a Super Bowl bid -- years ago, and it's likely how he'll continue to craft the Chargers' lineup and strategy moving forward.