Things are not as they may seem for LA Chargers right guard Trai Turner.
The LA Chargers kickstarted the 2020 offseason by making a big trade that was applauded at the time and still should be. The Bolts flipped one year of left tackle Russell Okung for two years of right guard Trai Turner.
On paper, this seemed to be an absolute steal for the Chargers. Turner is a five-time Pro Bowler that was a Pro Bowler last season. Meanwhile, Okung hardly played last season.
Because of the trade seeming like such a big steal for the Bolts, it appears as if plenty of fans have built up these illusions of grandeur regarding Trai Turner and are not looking at the complete reality of the Chargers’ starting right guard.
In reality, Turner might not be as good of a right guard as many fans think he is and his Pro Bowl selection last season definitely was misleading. So what is the true reality of Trai Turner?
Trai Turner needs to be better than he has been for the LA Chargers
That might seem absurd to say, but as mentioned, that Pro Bowl nod is really misleading for Trai Turner. If we look at his Pro Football Focus numbers (which are not a perfect fail-proof metric) then it is quite clear that Turner was not very good last season, let alone Pro Bowl worthy.
Turner had an overall grade of 63.9 with a pass-blocking grade of 65.1 and a run-blocking grade of 58.4. More concerningly, Turner allowed the second-most sacks in the league (six) in the 38th-most offensive snaps played (888).
AND he only played 13 games. Yet he was a Pro Bowler.
Granted, some of that has to do with the quarterback play but this is not just a one-year slump for Turner. He had a 67.9 grade in 2019 (with a 79.6 pass-blocking grade) and allowed three sacks — not bad, but not elite.
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The highest PFF grade he has posted in the last four seasons is 72.6. He has never had a grade of 80 or above. Again, not a perfect metric, but it is valuable in getting a baseline understanding.
Could Turner rebound? Absolutely. James Campen is a fantastic offensive line coach and Tyrod Taylor is the kind of mobile quarterback that Turner was thriving blocking for in Carolina with Cam Newton.
However, the reality is that Turner is trending in the wrong direction and the Chargers should never get the benefit of the doubt with the offensive line. That does not mean that Turner will be bad, but we should know better than to expect him to do a complete 180.
Could it happen? Absolutely. Should we be banking on it? Probably not.
That is why Turner, too, is one of the wild cards on the offensive line. Every position on the line outside of Bryan Bulaga is up in the air. All four could be terrible, all four could be great or it could be a mixture. We simply don’t know.
So pay attention to Turner in these snippets from camp we are getting as well as the team’s scrimmage on Thursday. That might give us a better indication of what Turner we will get in 2020.