The 10 best offensive linemen in the history of the LA Chargers

Ron Mix - San Diego Chargers - File Photos
Ron Mix - San Diego Chargers - File Photos / Richard Stagg/GettyImages

An NFL team can only go as far as the offensive line can take it. Elite quarterbacks can certainly push a bad team farther than it deserves to go but there will eventually be a wall if the offensive line is bad. LA Chargers fans know this all too well.

The Chargers have really struggled to build a consistent offensive line in recent years, which is a direct reason for the team's overall lack of playoff success. It hasn't always been that way, though, as there are many talented offensive linemen who have suited up in the powder blue.

Criteria for selection:

Offensive linemen do not benefit from having the counting stats most other positions in the league have. Modern offensive linemen have the benefit of pressure numbers from various outlets but that did not exist during most of the league's history.

Instead, the biggest factors here are tenure and how these offensive linemen compared to their peers. All-Pro and Pro Bowls are a good measuring stick for that, even if they are not the perfect litmus test.

This won't be a blind ranking of the offensive linemen with the most accolades, but it will play a role in the ranking. Without further ado, let's dive into the top 10.

The top 10 offensive linemen in Chargers history:

10. Marcus McNeill

Marcus McNeill was selected in the second round of the 2006 NFL Draft and he instantly showed his toughness to Chargers fans. McNeill broke a bone in his left hand during the preseason and while it resulted in him missing a preseason game, he toughed it out and played through the pain for an elite rookie season.

McNeill was a Pro Bowler in each of his first two seasons with the Chargers and finished fourth in offensive rookie of the year voting. The start of his career was similar to that of Rashawn Slater as Chargers fans were convinced they had a franchise tackle for the next decade.

Ultimately, McNeill's tenure with the Chargers lasted only six seasons. He was released two years into his lucrative deal from the Chargers in 2012, ending his NFL career in the process.

9. Ernie Wright

Ernie Wright is one of the founding players on the LA Chargers as he was with the team for its inaugural season in 1960. Wright would remain a staple for the organization for much of the 1960s, playing through the 1967 season with the Bolts.

After a four-year stint with the Cincinnati Bengals at the tailend of the '60s, Wright returned home to the Chargers for one last season in 1972. He was not the same version of himself as he played more of a veteran depth role.

The Chargers' first-ever left tackle was named a three-time AFL all-star during his tenure with the team. Compared to today's standards he may not be as talented of an offensive lineman, but his accolades earn him a spot on this list.

8. Ed White

Ed White had a very long career that is among the best for early offensive linemen in the sport. The left guard played 17 professional seasons, making the Pro Bowl four times and winning an NFL Championship once.

However, most of that success came with the Minnesota Vikings, not the Chargers. White spent the first nine seasons of his career in Minnesota, making three consecutive Pro Bowls in the process. White was traded to the Chargers, where he went on to make one more Pro Bowl and play a pivotal role for the "Air Coryell" offense.

White ranked first among all offensive linemen in career games at the time of his retirement.

7. Nick Hardwick

Nick Hardwick is a massive fan favorite as he was the anchor of the Chargers' offensive line during arguably the most successful era in team history. The 2000s Chargers were extremely successful and Hardwick was a big reason why.

Hardwick was a consistent presence who did not have as high of a ceiling as some of the others on this list but still gave the Chargers everything they could have asked for out of the center position. The 2004 third-round pick was a one-time Pro Bowler during his 11 seasons with the team.

Hardwick had to retire at 33 due to injuries but he has since found his way back to the Chargers. Jim Harbaugh hired Hardwick along with several other former NFL players to his coaching staff in 2024.

6. Don Macek

Don Macek had a very similar career to Hardwick and choosing between the two really is like splitting hairs. Younger fans of the Chargers would likley petition for Hardwick over Macek simply because they got to actually see Hardwick in action. But when breaking down the two tenures, Macek has the minuscule edge over the more-recent Charger.

Hardwick played 11 seasons with the Chargers, Macek played 13. Hardwick started 136 games for the Chargers, Macek started 150. Macek does not have the singular Pro Bowl nod that Hardwick has, but his longer tenure at a near-identical production level gets him the higher spot.

If Hardwick's career was not cut short by injury then he would have surpassed Macek on this list. Instead, it is the center for the Air Coryell Chargers who edges out the center for the 2000s Chargers.

5. Kris Dielman

Kris Dielman was Hardwick's right-hand man during the 2000s run. The Chargers brought Dielman in as an undrafted free agent in 2003 but he did not get a chance to actually start for the Chargers until the 2005 season.

Dielman has fewer games started than both Hardwick and Macek but he was better compared to his peers and had a slightly bigger impact. The long-time right guard was a three-time Pro Bowler at his peak with the Chargers and was an undeniable key factor in LaDainian Tomlinson's Hall of Fame career with the Bolts.

The three-time Pro Bowler also has an incredible story as he was brought in as a defensive lineman and was converted to a guard by the Chargers. The fifth-best offensive lineman in team history almost was never an offensive lineman at all.

4. Doug Wilkerson

The Chargers pulled off one of the greatest trades in franchise history after the 1970 season. The Houston Oilers traded Doug Wilkerson to the Chargers despite selecting him with a first-round pick the year before. In return, the Chargers traded tight end Willie Frazier, who had a much smaller all-time impact than Wilkerson.

Wilkerson would go on to be the Chargers' starting left guard for 14 seasons after the trade. The 14th overall pick was a key member of the Air Coryell offensive line along with several other offensive linemen on this list.

Wilkerson's best seasons with the Chargers did not come until later in his career, though. It took 11 seasons for Wilkerson to earn his first Pro Bowl nod and once that happened, the floodgates opened. Despite being in his mid-30s, Wilkerson earned three consecutive Pro Bowl nods and an All-Pro nod to go with them in 1982.

3. Russ Washington

The Chargers drafted Russ Washington with the fourth overall pick in the 1968 NFL/AFL Draft. Washington went on to play more games than any other offensive lineman on this list as he is fourth in franchise history with 196 games started.

Not all of those games came as an offensive lineman, though. Washington spend the first two seasons in the AFL as a defensive tackle, even finishing fourth in Defensive Rookie of the Year voting.

Washington took off once the switch to right tackle was made official. He was instantly one of the best right tackles in the league and would continue to prove that for the next 13 seasons. Washington spent his entire career with the Bolts, earning five Pro Bowl nods with two second-team All-Pro seasons.

Washington ranks No. 1 among all offensive linemen in franchise history in Pro-Football Reference's Approximate Value statistic, although some of that came as a defensive lineman.

2. Walt Sweeney

The Chargers drafted Walt Sweeney with the second pick in the 1963 AFL Draft and he instantly made a mark on the team. Sweeney was a rotational offensive lineman in his first season with the Bolts and was part of the only team in franchise history to win a championship.

Sweeney became a full-time starter in his second season with the team and that is when his career really started to take off. He was an AFL all-star right away and overall throughout his career, he earned nine total Pro Bowl honors (six of which were AFL all-star nods, three were Pro Bowls). Sweeney was a two-time second-team All-Pro and a two-time first-team All-Pro during his tenure with the Bolts.

Sweeney undoubtedly left a legacy with the Chargers but his stint with the team did not end well. Sweeney was a key figure during the early 1970s drug scandal around the Chargers, where GM Harland Svare and eight players were fined.

As a result, the Chargers traded Sweeney to Washington, where he would play the final two seasons of his career. After retiring, Sweeney was very critical of the Chargers and the NFL, blaming the team for his addiction in his memoir (h/t Talk of Fame Network).

“My drug addiction is directly related to the game,” he wrote in his memoir. “It was the San Diego Chargers' trainers and doctors who gave pregame amphetamines to rev me up, postgame sedatives to bring me down, pain killers as ‘needed’ and steroids, said to be vitamins, for better health. I considered taking drugs as normal for game-day preparation as putting on my game face.”

1. Ron Mix

Ron Mix did not have the long tenure that others on this list had but he is by far the most dominant offensive lineman to ever put on the powder blue. The Pro Football Hall of Famer is one of the best offensive linemen of all time and he undoubtedly deserves the top spot on this list.

Mix's career started with the Chargers' existence in 1960 and he was instantly one of the best players in the AFL. Mix was a first-team All-Pro in 1960 at 22 and he would go on to be named a first-team All-Pro eight more seasons in a row.

There are only two players in league history who have more All-Pro nods than Mix does: the greatest wide receiver of all time Jerry Rice and the greatest center of all time Jim Otto.

Unfortunately, despite being the best offensive lineman in team history, Mix does not have his number retired by the Chargers. The Chargers initially retired his No. 74 after he retired but once he came out of retirement to play for the Raiders, then-owner Eugene V. Klein unretired his number. Talk about petty.

The 10 best offensive lineman in Chargers history by games started:



Years with Chargers

Games started


Russ Washington




Doug Wilkerson




Don Macek




Walt Sweeney




Nick Hardwick




Ron Mix




Courtney Hall




Ed White




Billy Shields




Terry Owens