Everyone knows it all starts in the trenches. Unless you’ve the type of players that transcend the team around them, you must have a good to great starting five up front to make sure your offense is as successful as possibel.
Today, we ranked the AFC West by the talent of their starting offensive line. As you might guess, the results correspond strongly with how impressive the offense was a season ago.
Let’s go ahead and dive right in.
- LT Donovan Smith
- LG Joe Thuney
- C Creed Humphrey
- RG Trey Smith
- RT Jawaan Taylor
Somehow, some way, the Chiefs are able to pair the best quarterback and tight end in the NFL with one of the best offensive lines in all of football. The interior alone of Thuney, Creed, and Smith could also be argued for the best inside three in the league, as well. Add in a solid veteran at left tackle and a young, rising player at right tackle and there’s not much at all to dislike about this group. With Patrick Mahomes as your quarterback, the offensive line only needs to be borderline average for this team to be successful, so it’s even more amazing that they’ve got a top-three center and two of the best guards in football.
It’s crazy to think the Chiefs could be even better after winning the Super Bowl, but if they can get the most out of their middling receiver room, they’ll be front-runners for a repeat from the jump.
- LT Rashawn Slater
- LG Zion Johnson
- C Corey Linsley
- RG Jamaree Salyer
- RT Trey Pipkins
For one of the first times in over a decade, the offensive line might be one of the best position groups on offense for the Chargers. After quarterback and receiver, this starting five has to be one of the sneakier groups in the AFC. With Slater returning from injury, the floor of this group seems as high as its ever been in recent memory. If second-year players Johnson and Salyer can continue taking steps forward, running back Austin Ekeler might finally have his first 1,000-yard rushing season.
One of the team’s best moves this offseason was being able to re-sign Pipkins at an ideal price following a year where he finally showed that he can hang in the NFL. After spending the 2022 offseason with offensive line guru Duke Manyweather (who also has trained Slater since his before the 2021 draft), Pipkins looked like a completely different player when he wasn’t hampered by a nagging MCL injury.
With both tackles back to 100 percent, the sky could very well be the limit for this group in year one under new offensive coordinator Kellen Moore.
This is a perfect example of how valuable Corey Linsley is. #Chargers miss a pass pro pickup on Rashaan Evans (No. 54) up the middle. Linsley sees it, slides and gets enough of a piece of Evans to save Justin Herbert a hit. Linsley's awareness is just next level. pic.twitter.com/APoZSaPx49— Daniel Popper (@danielrpopper) November 10, 2022
- LT Kolton Miller
- LG Dylan Parham
- C Andre James
- RG Alex Bars
- RT Jermaine Eluemunor
Things are looking rough for the Raiders, and I’m not just talking about this offensive line group. Recent physical results for quarterback Jimmy G were not as expected which forced the team to drastically restructure his contract with the team. Should the quarterback situation fail to round into shape, this group will have a lot more on it’s back this upcoming season.
Miller returns for another season as the true-and-tried blindside protector. He’ll line up next to second-year starter Parham who was solid as a rookie. James has gone from undrafted player to starting center in his few short seasons as a pro and he’ll continue holding down the pivot for Las Vegas.
Prior to the 2022 season, Bars had only started 11 games during his first three years in the NFL. Now, after starting 14 games in 2022, he’s back to in the lineup to help pave the way for another big season from Josh Jacobs. Eluemunor rounds out the group as another returning starter who played in every game a season ago for the Raiders.
Overall, the consistency is there for the Raiders as they return their entire starting five, but only Miller has more than two years of starting experience. The foundation is here for the future, but this group will have to show out another season to earn some more respect in the division.
- LT Garrett Bolles
- LG Ben Powers
- C Lloyd Cushenberry III
- RG Quinn Meinerz
- RT Mike McGlinchey
The Broncos signed former 49ers starter McGlinchey to reinforce the right side of the line with promising youngster Meinerz. Powers and Cushenberry make up a young interior that will need to step up this year in year one under Sean Payton as the Broncos hope to quickly make their fans forget about the dismal 2022 campaign.
Bolles has been up-and-down in recent years and his play could be pivotal for Denver this year as they once again have to learn new offense for the second consecutive season.