Fourth LA Chargers’ offensive line variable: Whether or not Trai Turner returns to form
The Trai Turner-Russell Okung swap from early in the offseason seemed like an absolute steal for the LA Chargers. The Chargers were bringing in a four-time Pro Bowler who was just coming off of a Pro Bowl season in exchange for a left tackle that hardly played last season.
The team was also swapping one year of Okung for two years of Turner, making this a smart investment even if the talent-level was similar. With the team signing Bryan Bulaga to replace Okung, this trade seems even better.
And while I absolutely still like the trade, upon doing a deeper dive, Turner is not as good as his Pro Bowls indicate. The Pro Bowls are a really misleading thing to go off of and quite frankly, Turner probably did not deserve to be a Pro Bowler at all last season.
Turner had a 63.9 PFF grade last season and allowed six sacks, the third-most in the NFL. He has not posted a grade above 70 since the 2017 season.
At his best, Turner has always been an asset in run-blocking, which is great for a team like the Chargers who will run the ball more in 2020. However, he has never been a fantastic pass-blocker, ever. He certainly has been good enough to hold his own, but Turner did not make Pro Bowls for his pass-blocking.
Thus, Turner is not this guaranteed upgrade that Charger fans are expecting. There absolutely is a scenario in which Turner allows far too much pressure on the quarterback. The team needs his great run-blocking AND a big improvement in his pass-blocking.
As you can see, the only constant on the offensive line is Bryan Bulaga. And while I do not think Bulaga is going to be this elite tackle, he certainly is one of the 20-best tackles in the league and will continue to be one as long as he stays healthy, which cannot really be determined a variable as that injury variable exists for every single NFL player.