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Ranking the AFC West: Offensive tackles

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We move into the trenches to see where the offensive tackles stack up for each AFC West team.

1. Raiders - Donald Penn, Austin Howard/Menelik Watson

Even in a season in which the now 33-year-old Penn struggled late, he is still considered the best left tackle in the division. And he is as reliable as they come. On the other side, the Raiders may have two solid options in either Howard or Watson. Last year, the former second round pick Watson had the starting job in hand until he was lost to injury. Howard held his own as the starter in Watson’s absence and now they will battle it out again. And unlike many position battles, this isn’t a ‘lesser of the evils’ situation. Either of them could be a good option. The Raiders are just hoping the winner is decided by earning it, rather than injury this time.

2. Chiefs - Eric Fisher, Mitchell Schwartz

Fisher is the former number one overall pick in the draft, who hasn’t lived up to his billing. He bounced around the line last season, playing both tackle spots as well as guard. Schwartz adds some much needed talent to the Chiefs line and is arguably the top right tackle in the division.

3. Broncos - Russell Okung, Donald Stephenson

There was a left tackle carousel that occurred this offseason. Much of that revolved around where Okung would end up. He is one of the better tackles in the league, but was considered unreliable due to his penchant for nagging injuries. The Broncos were desperate after losing Ryan Clady for the season for the second time in three years. That injury concern is much higher than Okung ever had, which makes him an upgrade in that regard. Stephenson has been a replacement level right tackle in this league. But after last year’s starter, Michael Schofield, got destroyed by Khalil Mack to the tune of 5 sacks in one game, the Broncos will take their chances with the devil they don’t know.

4. Chargers - King Dunlap, Joe Barksdale

Dunlap appeared in just seven games last season for the Chargers. A backup his first three seasons with the Eagles, the Chargers took a flyer on him. In his three seasons in San Diego, he has missed 14 games; many of which due to concussion issues, which are extremely concerning. Across the line is Raiders former third round pick, Joe Barksdale who was a bit of a lifesaver for the Chargers allowing them to move failed first round tackle DJ Fluker inside to guard. Barksdale came over from the Rams on a one-year ‘prove it’ deal and was named Chargers ‘Lineman of the Year’. He was rewarded for that season with a 4-year deal. He’s come a long way since being cut after his rookie season in Oakland. Now he must prove his 2015 season wasn’t a fluke.

Also see AFC West rankings for:

Quarterback
Running back
Wide receivers
Tight end