The Los Angeles Chargers may have spent a ton of money on improving the defense in the last few seasons, but their offensive line remains just as much of a priority. Justin Herbert can beat anyone in the league with his arm, but he needs to be protected and on his feet to use his arm.
While the Chargers certainly can't be accused of eschewing young talent on the line by using consecutive first-round picks on Rashawn Slater and Zion Johnson, this unit still has some questions at left guard and right tackle. The Trey Pipkins/Storm Norton competition will be worth watching.
A preseason matchup against the Dallas Cowboys might be a good measuring stick for this team, as LA can see how far along they are in their quest to give Herbert one of the league's best lines. Unfortunately, this matchup was more of a sobering experience than any sort of step in the right direction.
Herbert was reportedly sacked eight times against the Cowboys' first-string defense. However, most of those sacks were attributed to the pocket collapsing rather than Herbert being indecisive with the ball. Both Pipkins and Norton were charged with a sack at right tackle against a somewhat inconsistent defensive line.
The Los Angeles Chargers may have more holes on the offensive line than expected.
Norton and Pipkins are going to get the most heat this preseason, as their performance over the last few years didn't exactly inspire confidence in Joe Lombardi. Having one spot on the line that is leaking coolant is bad enough, but that's not the only issue Staley will potentially need to smooth out in the preseason.
Matt Feiler, the projected starter at left guard, is far from Quenton Nelson as a blocker. Feiler needs to get off to a strong start if he wants to continue establishing himself as someone who can be a long-term starter. Now being 30, regression could come for Feiler.
Johnson has all the talent in the world, but there is always a learning curve that rookies will need to go through. While he looked solid in training camp, Johnson very well could take time to become a polished blocker against NFL pass-rushers.
Slater at left tackle and Corey Linsley at center are robust starters, but that doesn't negate the other potential issue. While Herbert has a big frame and more than enough mobility needed to avoid oncoming rushers, that should not be an excuse for neglecting a potentially massive hole on the line.
The Chargers have one of the league's biggest cash cows in Herbert on his rookie deal, meaning that they need to make a run at winning the division as frequently as possible before the extension kicks in. Neglecting right tackle and potentially letting underperforming players start is a good way to ruin those chances.