After this past season, it was hard to find a silver-lining amongst the play of the Los Angeles Charger's offensive line. Outside of center Matt Slauson and the blue-collar consistency he displayed week after week, there wasn't much for the Bolts to hang their hat on.
With the Chargers also sporting a lackluster cap situation, I decided to look for solutions in-house.
What I came away with was a love and intrigue for last year's third round pick out of the University of Southern California, center Max Tuerk.
After every pre-draft write-up I read and each tape of game film I watched, my excitement grew and grew.
The first word to describe Tuerk has got to be "versatile." While at USC, Tuerk had a stint at four of the five positions along the offensive line. This included 14 starts at left guard, five starts at left tackle, and one start at right tackle. However, his best work came from the center position where he started 18 games during his junior and senior year. After watching the injury bug harass our offensive line during the 2015 campaign, this kind of versatility is exactly what the Chargers covet.
The second word I would use to describe Tuerk is "try-hard" (IT’S NOT CHEATING). Tuerk is deceptively strong on tape for someone who was supposedly playing around 280 pounds during his senior year. Despite the lack of sand in his pants, Tuerk displayed the ability to consistently win up front and at the second level. Through all the film, the guy never took a play off and he was always looking for work. It was a surprise if he wasn’t flying in from off-screen, looking to get one last lick on a defensive player.
One of the other defining factors of Tuerk’s game is his elite ability to pull and run in space. He strafes effortlessly, looking for a victim to snag with his bear paw-sized mitts. He resembles an overfed feline the way he glides across the turf.
NFL Network’s Mike Mayock must have been watching the same thing. After scouting Tuerk, Mayock had high praise:
"He’s as good a pulling center as anybody I’ve seen. He’s an athletic kid."
Mayock hits it right on the head. Max Tuerk is a phenomenal pulling center, to say the least. With new head coach Anthony Lynn bringing in a plethora of knowledge and new schemes to the Charger’s run game, he has to be excited about using a player such as Tuerk.
Let us take look at some game film so you can start building your own opinions about this guy.
Tuerk v. Nebraska pic.twitter.com/S6FAETXtiq— Michael Peterson (@ChargersLAtely) February 26, 2017
The 2014 Holiday Bowl against Nebraska was arguably one of Max Tuerk's best games in college. Here, Tuerk's nimble feet are on display as he is able to cut off the play-side linebacker with ease and spring their running back for a huge gain.
In this next video, the Trojans run the same play out of a Bunch Right formation on the two-yard line. Tuerk is able to beat the LB stacked on top of him to the edge which allows their running back to barrel in for a touchdown.
Earlier I touched on Tuerk's propensity to always finish his blocks. In this play, Tuerk does just that. This is a great example of his "controlled" aggression. He has a knack for hastily arriving at the second level but he is never out of control when he gets there.
Now, just for fun, let's look at a quick clip of Tuerk going up against potential 2017 1st round draft pick Soloman Thomas:
Max Tuerk vs. Soloman Thomas 2015 pic.twitter.com/3BROBxUHvr— Michael Peterson (@ChargersLAtely) February 26, 2017
Tuerk is able to win the battle by getting his pad level lower than Thomas' and tops it all off by serving Thomas a fat stack of flapjacks.
Not bad, Max. Not bad at all.
At the end of the day, I want a colossal, bulldozer-esque offensive line just as much as the rest of the fan base. However, it would save the Chargers a lot of money if they could fill some holes with players that are already in the building.
Barring the knee injury, some scouts even thought Tuerk had a chance to take home the Rimington Trophy (best center in college football). I'm telling you, this guy was THAT good before his knee decided it was "too scared" for the impending success.
To say I am beyond ecstatic for Max Tuerk's potential is a huge understatement. Hopefully, after reading this, some of you are ready to "Tuerk It Out" with me.