Like I promised, the entire offensive line groups gets their own overview post. And of course it’s almost 1,000 words because I can ramble on about offensive lineman with the best of them.
The Chargers made major improvements by signing Corey Linsley, Matt Fieler, and Oday Aboushi, two of which are penciled in starters while the latter is definitely in the running for his own starting job.
The glaring hole is at left tackle. That’s incredibly apparent. Hopefully, that won’t be the case anymore following the first night of the NFL draft.
Alright, let’s go!
Offensive Line (10): Corey Linsley, Matt Feiler, Oday Aboushi, Bryan Bulaga, Trey Pipkins, Storm Norton, Scott Quessenberry, Tyree St. Louis, Ryan Hunter, Nate Gilliam
The Chargers went out and did the damn thing by inking Linsley and making him the NFL’s highest-paid center. After uncovering their franchise quarterback in Justin Herbert, what better way to make sure you’re surrounding him with talent than to get him an All-Pro to snap him ball. Linsley earned his big contract by helping the Packers reach the NFC title game in back-to-back season while paving the way for one of the NFL’s highest-scoring offenses. This move showed fans that the team isn’t afraid to put their money where their mouth is.
After landing the league’s top pivot, the Bolts then snagged Feiler on a very team-friendly deal. After grinding his way from a Division II school to a underrated starter in the NFL, he’s not a savvy signing for the Bolts who needed a new starting left guard while also being able to use him at right tackle should Bulaga miss any time. Brandon Staley also told the media in his latest press conference that he wanted to get bigger along the offensive line. The 6’6 and 330 pounds, Feiler certainly raises the team’s average height and weight.
Many who paid close attention to Aboushi down the final stretch of the 2020 season know he was playing his best football as a professional for the Lions. His play speed increased and he was able to show off some tenacity as a run blocker. After speaking with him following his signing with the team, you could tell right away the Chargers got a real team-player in this guy. He’s not guaranteed a starting spot at right guard, but I don’t see any current players on the roster who will challenge him for it.
Bulaga was a big-time add in last year’s free agency period after the Bolts got him to reunite with James Campen, his offensive line coach with the Packers. The former first-round pick has dealt with more than his fair share of injuries through his career and those came to bite him a bit as he played in just 10 games his first season in Los Angeles. He’s never played 16 games in back-to-back season, so after staying healthy for all of 2019, the regression to the mean was bound to hit. But now that his injuries hit a valley in 2020, the chances say he’ll be even healthier in 2021.
Oh Pipkins. What a case he’s been for the Chargers since being selected out of Division II Sioux Falls back in 2019. The pick was questionable then and it’s still as questionable now. He’s currently slated to be the team’s starting left tackle in 2021 but I don’t think anyone, even Tom Telesco, is comfortable with that idea. Pipkins has added mass and his body looks more matured through his first two seasons, but the progression hasn’t been close to what the team has needed. He’ll likely compete with Storm Norton to be the team’s swing tackle.
Norton got his shot with a trio of starts near the end of the 2020 campaign. He played “fine” and was actually rated as Pro Football Focus’ highest-rated lineman on the Chargers. He was, after all, the highest-rated offensive in all of the XFL’s short-lived season last year, so it wasn’t all that surprising to see him flash a little. Still, he’s also not up to par with what the Bolts need at left tackle.
Quessenberry, or “Q-Berry for short, was a former fifth-round pick out of UCLA in 2018. IN hi sophomore season, he replaced the injured Mike Pouncey and played admirably in his stead. However, he never got a shot at more playing time despite the plethora of injuries the Chargers had to deal with last season. Guys like Tyree St. Louis and Cole Toner kept getting shots ahead of him at guard and I guess that should tell us a lot about where his development has gone. It could have just been an Anthony Lynn thing, but I think Q-Berry is too talented not to be one of the first lineman in off the bench.
Speaking of St. Louis, he’s back with the Chargers on a one-year deal after starting the season’s first game at right guard. He did earn another start later in the year, but neither went too well. He lacks above-average athleticism and strength which really hurt him in a division with plenty of good interior players. He’ll continue to be on the fringe of the 53.
Last up we’ve got Hunter and Gilliam. First, Hunter signed with the Chargers in October of last year after spending the first two seasons of his career with the Chiefs. he was active for the Chiefs’ Super Bowl victory but didn’t ever see any game time. He’s a practice squad body.
Same thing goes with Gilliam. He’s a practice squad body with worthwhile potential to develop as a guard for the Chargers. Most notably, he was the first friend Herbert made after being with the Chargers. He, Herbert, and Gabe Nabers all live together and smoke briskets after each victory during the season.