The New and Improved Los Angeles Chargers Offensive Line

Chargers Offensive Line

The biggest issue the Los Angeles Chargers had to fix this off-season was the offensive line. After Mike Pouncey retired and Trai Turner was cut, that left only one reliable starter on the entire line. The Chargers got off to a good start in free agency, but there was one glaring hole left: left tackle. The Chargers finally solved that in the draft when they took Rashawn Slater at No. 13 overall. And while right guard is still mildly iffy, this still now leaves us with four solid starters out of five offensive line positions – enough to the point where we can safely say the Chargers have fixed their offensive line. Let’s take a look at the new (presumed) lineup.

Looking at the Los Angeles Chargers Offensive Line Post-Draft

Left Tackle: Rashawn Slater

While it was a mild disappointment that the Chargers weren’t able to trade up and get Justin Herbert’s former Oregon teammate Penei Sewell, Rashawn Slater is the second-best option they could’ve hoped for – and they were lucky he was available. It’s quite likely the New York Giants would have taken him at 11th overall if they hadn’t traded down.

Despite having more of a body fit for offensive guard, scouts were impressed with him. He gave up zero sacks in 2019, which included a matchup against Chase Young – proving he can go up against tough opponents. If he can keep up the good work in the NFL, Herbert won’t have much to worry about on his blindside. In fact, after Slater got drafted, he had this to say to Herbert: “I got your back.”

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Left Guard: Matt Feiler

While the Chargers didn’t tell Feiler whether he would be playing left or right guard (he can do both), it’s fair to presume that he’ll be left guard – he seems to do a little better over there, and there aren’t really any other options. While Feiler isn’t as big a name, he was a solid run blocker with the Pittsburgh Steelers last year, and there’s not much reason to think he’d be a liability at pass blocking. Even if run blocking remains his primary strength, that’s still something that needed fixing too – the running backs did not have much room to run last year.

Center: Corey Linsley

This was the big splash signing for the Chargers in free agency. Corey Linsley was coming off an All-Pro season with the Green Bay Packers and had long been a reliable starter for them. Despite this, the Packers did not retain him, and the Chargers ended up making him the highest-paid center in the league instead (though that already got broken by Frank Ragnow of the Detroit Lions).

Given how big of a deal center is – both in communication and in blocking – it’s fitting that the biggest Chargers move was getting a long-term center for Herbert, especially after Pouncey’s retirement. At the time it seemed perplexing that they didn’t invest big in left tackle as well in free agency, but that ultimately paid off in the Draft.

Right Guard: Oday Aboushi or Brenden Jaimes

This is the one position that still has some minor question marks. The Chargers added veteran Oday Aboushi in free agency. While this wasn’t a bad signing, Aboushi had always been more of a depth guy and not a long-term starter (he is a heavy hitter at least). However, the Chargers also added Brenden Jaimes in the fifth round of the Draft – who is a little bit of a wild card, given that he can play tackle or guard. There’s a chance that he could compete with Aboushi for the starting right guard job.

Either way, even though they may not be liabilities (jury’s out on Jaimes), this is still the weakest spot on the line. One can’t help but think that in a normal year where the cap hadn’t been reduced, they might have kept Trai Turner – who struggled heavily with injuries last year and got cut due to his large contract this off-season. Nevertheless, only one question mark on the line is better than what they’ve had for a bit.

Right Tackle: Bryan Bulaga

Bryan Bulaga is the lone carryover from last season. While he had some injury issues of his own (six missed games), he was dependable enough when he was available – and while he’s nothing special, he’s good enough that right tackle was the one position on the line going into the off-season that *wasn’t* a concern. Hopefully, he can stay more healthy this year and help keep the right side of the line in working condition.

The Depth

Most of the depth isn’t anything to cheer about – that’s why they’re the backups. But despite Trey Pipkins somehow losing the left tackle spot to Sam Tevi last year, he’s a solid enough backup to have. And XFL pickup Storm Norton remains an intriguing piece to watch, even if he’s not starter material at this time. And whoever between Aboushi and Jaimes isn’t starting should be a good backup. Most of the remainder of the depth even Chargers fans probably haven’t heard of, but one could do worse than Scott Quessenberry – he at least can play both guard and center.

That is one other notable thing about this group of offensive linemen, though – how many of them are versatile. Feiler can play either guard position. Jaimes can (allegedly) play guard or tackle. Slater could also supposedly switch all around the line if necessary. That versatility is a good thing to have if players start going down.

Before and After

This is basically the scenario that Chargers fans wanted, but it’s still rather remarkable what was accomplished in one off-season. The Chargers offensive line went from a lineup consisting of Sam Tevi, Dan Feeney, Forrest Lamp, whoever Trai Turner’s backup was, and Bulaga to the lineup shown above with the one carryover (and it’s a good carryover too). The offensive line has gone from a mess of injury-prone veterans and a couple of draft busts to a much more optimistic outlook. The Chargers look to have succeeded in their number one mission of the off-season: protect their young franchise quarterback. Now let us just hope none of these new additions start struggling with injuries too.

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