The San Diego Chargers absolutely had to improve their dreadful offensive line this offseason. Rather than spend a fortune on guys like Jake Long and Andy Levitre, the Chargers instead signed little-known offensive tackle King Dunlap and offensive guard Chad Rinehart.
The Chargers however need more than solid depth at the position; they need starters. Jared Gaither cannot be counted on due to his injury history and laziness, while Jeromey Clary has been average at best throughout his career. Furthermore, the Chargers lost Louis Vasquez in free agency, while Tyronne Green is also a free agent and isn’t expected back.
With so much turnover along the offensive line, Dunlap and Rinehart may be forced into the starting lineup by default. But can they be counted on as starters, and would they even be an upgrade over last year’s pitiful effort?
An occasional starter in 2010 and 2011, Dunlap was thrust into the lineup and started 13 games last season at left and right tackle with the Philadelphia Eagles. He graded out as the 15th best pass blocker among tackles, according to Pro Football Focus. However, he struggled as a run blocker and is infamous in Philadelphia for his untimely penalties. A rare athlete for his 6-foot-9 frame, Dunlap has plenty of potential, but hasn’t been able to put it together consistently.
Meanwhile, Rinehart started 12 games with the Buffalo Bills in 2011 due to player injuries and was phenomenal, ranking fourth among guards in pass blocking, according to Pro Football Focus. He returned to a backup role in 2012, making two starts before landing on injured reserve. Rinehart is considered a top reserve, high-upside player with experience. However, he’s played for three teams in his five-year career and couldn’t maintain a starting job last season.
Both Dunlap and Rinehart are borderline starters with tons of potential and some starting experience under their belts. San Diego will likely need to start the two with all the other holes they need to fill on their roster, but should still bring in more competition. The Chargers could certainly do worse than starting Dunlap and Rinehart, and only time will tell if they are an improvement over last year’s line.