Storm Norton and Cole Toner
XFL standout Storm Norton and Cole Toner are the other two linemen worth mentioning from 2020. Both saw a decent amount of snaps and played relatively well. After six slides of disappointment, we finally get some pretty decent offensive line play to talk about.
I’m not going to give Norton or Toner grades as they didn’t really play enough snaps, but they played way better than I thought they would.
On about 300 snaps, Toner allowed zero sacks and 10 pressures. His games against Denver and Las Vegas were fantastic when he had to start in place of an injured Turner. On 166 snaps in those two games, he allowed just one pressure. He did give up three pressures in the final Kansas City game, but also recorded his highest run blocking grade in that game as well.
Final 2020 grades for the LA Chargers: I, incomplete
Norton’s performance was also impressive. Due to injuries/absences from Tevi and Bulaga, he played 135 snaps at left tackle and 179 snaps at right. The thought coming into the season was that he would be the backup swing tackle and he was able to do that fairly well.
Again, it’s a small sample size, but Norton had the highest overall pass blocking grade on the team. He allowed one sack and 15 pressures on 309 snaps.
At the same time, he was also thrown into the fire. It may only be four or five full games, but he didn’t know he would have to play in some of them until he did. When Tevi missed the Patriots game for the birth of his child, Norton pretty much didn’t know that he was going to have to play until the day of.
I don’t think Norton has much potential to develop into a future starter, but he’s eclipsed Pipkins in terms of being a backup tackle in my view. Putting Pipkins into games next year over Norton if an offensive lineman goes down just seems like it would be doubling down on the draft selection instead of playing the better player.
Well, I hope that wasn’t as disappointing for you to read as much as it was for me to write. There were a few bright spot games for some linemen, but they were few and far between. Tevi did improve quite a bit as a pass blocker while Norton and Toner were intriguing.
Other than that though, it’s disappointment stacked on top of another disappointment. Bulaga was injured. Turner was terrible. Feeney and Lamp still aren’t producing like they should be. Pipkins is still a project.
Hopefully, Herbert has accelerated the clock on Chargers’ contention so the front office feels the need to get him much better blocking this offseason.