For the San Diego Chargers, the left tackle question mark was supposed to be answered by now.
With salary cap restrictions, San Diego decided not to pursue any of the big name free agent tackles. Instead, the NFL Draft was supposed to provide them a left tackle before a historic run on the position ended that dream, while Bryant McKinnie was supposed to be the team’s backup plan before he re-signed with the Baltimore Ravens. Though I had questions about him, McKinnie still would have been an upgrade, and now the Chargers are still searching for answers.
The Bolts are clearly running out of options at left tackle. With few free agents worth targeting, the Chargers might need to rely on ex-Philadelphia Eagles tackle King Dunlap to protect Philip Rivers’ blind slide. But is he fit for the task?
Eagles’ fans will be quick to tell you that Dunlap shouldn’t be starting at left tackle in this league. Though he has unreal athleticism for a 6-foot-9, 335 pound man, he’s made some bone-headed penalties and has stretches of poor play throughout his career. However, is he really as bad as Philly fans say he is?
Dunlap is remembered mainly for his foul-ups rather than the decent performances he had as an Eagle. That means he struggles with consistency more than anything else. Though he isn’t great at run blocking, Dunlap is actually serviceable as a pass blocker and ranked 15th among tackles in pass protection last season, according to Pro Football Focus. In comparison, the Chargers’ left tackle last season, undrafted rookie Mike Harris, ranked dead last in that category, meaning Dunlap would be an automatic upgrade.
San Diego could get by with Dunlap as their starter and can adjust their system knowing left tackle isn’t a strength for them. They may need to incorporate more three- and five-step drops to keep Rivers from being exposed to the pressure and may run more to the right behind D.J. Fluker instead of to the left behind Dunlap.
Dunlap, 27, is still young and can continue to improve with more experience. A fresh start in San Diego might be exactly what he needed, and the jury’s still out on whether he’s a starting left tackle in this league.
And with few other options, the Chargers better start hoping he is.