Excitement is high but expectations are being temepered.
For years, the Chargers’ offensive line group has teetered on the fence of “serviceable” and downright bad. When the franchise decided to make Brandon Staley the latest head coach to lead the franchise, one of the first things he committed to was turning one of the team’s long-standing problems into a relative strength.
During free agency, Staley and Tom Telesco pounced on center Corey Linsley before also adding guards Matt Feiler and Oday Aboushi. They then landed Rashawn Slater in the draft to finish their revitalization of the front five.
Now, this group that has been a running joke among the fan base for so long is now something fans can legitimately be excited about.
Expectations can still be tempered a tad seeing as they have yet to play a game together, but compared to the lines they’ve sent out onto the field over the last decade, this group just seems bound success.
In a recent ranking of the league’s offensive lines by Pro Football Focus, analyst Steve Palazzolo ranked the Bolts at 18th out of all 32 units. That out them one spot ahead of the Seahawks and one place behind the Eagles.
Here’s everything Palazzolo had to say about the Chargers’ front five:
“It’s been an offseason of overhauling up front for the Chargers, and it appears they’re on the right track after years of trotting out subpar offensive lines. Four-fifths of the line features new starters, starting with rookie left tackle Rashawn Slater. He allowed just five pressures on 355 attempts in 2019 and moves like a tight end when getting to the second level in the run game. At right tackle, Bryan Bulaga returns after being limited to just 444 snaps last year in his first season with the Chargers. When healthy, Bulaga has graded out at 75.0 or better in his past three full seasons. But the major question is that health, as those seasons were 2016, 2018 and 2019.”
The Chargers snagged another former Packer in Corey Linsley, the top center on the PFF free agent board. Linsley is coming off a career-high 86.4 overall grade, which he earned after surrendering only seven pressures on 530 pass-blocking snaps. He’s produced grades of 75.0 or better in all but one of his seven NFL seasons.
Both of Los Angeles’ starting guards, Matt Feiler and Oday Aboushi, also came over in free agency. Feiler has yet to grade below 65.0 overall in his four-year career, and that’s while lining up at both guard and tackle. Aboushi is coming off his best grade since 2014, as he finished with a 66.6 mark in 2020, tied for 27th among guards. That’s the kind of solid, yet unspectacular, play the Chargers need if they’re going to rise out of the bottom five of offensive lines around the league.
Palazzolo goes on to give a shoutout to fifth-round rookie Brenden Jaimes, the former Nebraska left tackle that is slated to compete for a starting guard spot this year and next. PFF liked Jaimes in this past draft class as one of the better pass protectors among all offensive lineman but also notes that he’s got some work to do as a run blocker, which may be what keeps him from the starting lineup as a rookie.
All in all, this group is going to be one of the most-improved units in the entire league, and the timing of it all couldn’t be much better.