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Los Angeles Chargers Positional Review: Offensive Line

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NFL: DEC 24 Chargers at Jets Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Last week we went over quarterbacks. Today we’ll go over the much-maligned offensive line of the Chargers. I’ll use the Bleacher Report write-ups as opposed to PFF. PFF only grades on plays where a player is involved. So the grades are pretty skewed. That’s not to say these grades are definitively better, just an outsiders perspective. Let’s get into it.

Russell Okung

Duke Manyweather, a former strength coach, OL/DL coach, & consultant for the NFL is in charge of the tackles. We’ll start with them. Here’s what he said about the Chargers prize free agent from 2017.

Okung had a very good season. He had a couple poor games towards the end of the year, but overall, he was better than most expected. For at least another year, the Chargers are set at left tackle. Okung brought a level of nastiness and toughness to the line that they just didn’t have previously. Here are a couple of my favorite blocks of his from this past season:

Joe Barksdale

I feel like you have to nitpick when talking about Okung and his negatives last year. That’s not the case for the right tackle. Here’s what Duke had to say about Joe Barksdale:

One thing that would drive me crazy about Barksdale was his effort level. He just didn’t seem to try. Too often you’d see him looking back after his man beat him. I highly doubt Barksdale is a Charger next year. If he is, he’ll be a swing tackle. There are a couple right tackles in free agency the team should look at. We’ll go over those options later on this month.

Interior Lineman

Guards

Ethan Young was in charge of watching guards. He’s a next-gen stats researcher for the NFL. Here’s what he had to say about Matt Slauson:

Trying Slauson at guard seemed like a good idea. Then you saw him move. He just couldn’t get to spots that the team asked him to get to. That agility grade is too high in my opinion. I do imagine Slauson is a great locker room guy for the Chargers young guards. Slauson is a free agent. He’s likely not coming back given the teams investments on the interior. He was the ideal stopgap, though.

Next up, the rookie 3rd round pick, Dan Feeney:

I do agree that Feeney wasn’t as good this past year as fans made him out to be. He had some bad whiffs in pass protection. That was always Anthony Lynn’s issue with him. That said, he is the type of guard that can make plays in space and on the move. I’m interested to see if he stays put or not next year. Feeney has a bright future.

Last and certainly least, Kenny Wiggins:

Wiggins was ranked 78th out of 83rd. That’s not ideal. He actually started off strong then his play just went downhill. Above sums up Wiggins fairly well. He’s just not as skilled as other offensive linemen. When you figure he’s going against a superior talented defensive lineman, you get the results you do. With Lamp in the fold, it’s a safe bet that Wiggins won’t start next year.

Center

Spencer Pulley

Pulley graded out as the worst center in the NFL. Some people in-house say that Pulley is their guy and don’t expect the team to give up on Pulley after one year. This is the most interesting dilemma up front they have. Do they expect Pulley to take a massive jump in year 2 as a starter? Or do they kick Feeney to center, and make changes elsewhere. He’s simply not strong enough to hold up in the middle.

In the run game they would ask Pulley to execute some difficult blocks and he just didn’t have the athleticism to make said blocks. Which is why Feeney might be a better option.

The Chargers fielded an offensive line that did not have a lot of talent this year. They have some upgrading to do so Philip Rivers isn’t constantly under pressure and Melvin Gordon has consistent running lanes.