For the time being, Sam Tevi will once again get the nod as the starting right tackle of the Los Angeles Chargers.
Tevi started at that spot in 15 out of 16 games for the team last season, but it was to very mixed results. When the lights were on brightest and the game mattered the most, he struggled mightily.
The draft wasn’t deep at the right tackle position but in the third round, the Chargers decided to take a shot on Trey Pipkins, a guy who played his college ball at Sioux Falls. Pipkins will come in as the main (and possibly only) competition for Tevi.
If you were to poll fans of the team in regards to what is the Chargers’ biggest weakness, the vast majority would likely say right tackle. The Chargers have a solid running game and weapons all over the field for Philip Rivers to get the ball to. But he must stay protected and pass protection is Tevi’s main issue.
Pipkins is considered a project by most but that is almost entirely due to the level of competition he faced at Sioux Falls. He gave up just one sack in his entire college career but that statistic will always be met with a “yeah, but” response. At least, until he can prove it at the professional level.
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Tevi was never drafted to be a starter. As a sixth-round selection out of Utah, the team saw him as a rotational lineman at most. But when Joe Barksdale went down with an injury early in the season last year, the team was forced to turn to Tevi. When Barksdale returned, the team decided to stick with Tevi before eventually releasing Barksdale.
But Tevi’s performance as the team’s new starter wasn’t enough to convince the team not to add another option and though that option may not be able to take the job immediately, Pipkins will eventually get his chance.
Tevi was identified as one of the players with the most to prove on the team this season.
That said if Pipkins, who is 6-foot-6 and 309 pounds, can be ready to go faster than most think he will, that chance will come even sooner than expected. If nothing else, his presence on the team should motivate Tevi to step up and be sharper in order to keep his starting job.
But regardless of which school Pipkins came from, where his stiffest competition would still be a school you’ve likely never heard of, he has the chance to be the starting right tackle for the Chargers.