It’s good to be back. Training camp is so close, you can smell it, with most teams hitting the field by the middle of next week. So, let’s get back to ranking the division.
Moving into the trenches, we take a look at the protectors. Overall, it’s not a particularly strong group, which is great news for the elite pass rushers in the division, of which there are many. Here’s how the tackle units stack up.
1. Chargers – Russell Okung, Joe Barksdale
Believe it or not, the Chargers gave up the fewest sacks (18) in the league last season. With Russel Okung in place, they literally cut their 2016 sacks allowed (36) in half. Barksdale holds his own at right tackle and didn’t give up a single sack in 2017. Though he did lead the offensive line with 6 penalties.
2. Chiefs – Eric Fisher, Mitchell Schwartz
That Khalil Mack stiff arm own that will follow Eric Fisher forever. Overall he gave up 7 sacks last season. Schwartz is probably the best right tackle in the division.
3. Raiders – Donald Penn, Breno Giacomini
Penn is coming off lower leg injuries that ended consecutive seasons at the age of 35. Giacomini gave up more pressures last season (81) than anyone in football by a wide margin. If he isn’t ultimately the starter at right tackle, the options are David Sharpe who has started two career games, and 3rd round rookie Brandon Parker.
4. Broncos – Garett Bolles, Jared Veldheer
Bolles gave up 8 sacks as a rookie last season. Across from him, newly signed former Raiders round two pick Menelik Watson also gave up 8 sacks. Both are tied for the third most sacks allowed last season. They replaced Watson with Raiders former round three pick, Jared Veldheer, who missed half of the 2016 season and then was moved from left to right tackle last season, starting 13 games there. Veldheer contemplated his future in the NFL after injuries landed him on IR each of the past two seasons. He is certainly a talent upgrade from Watson, but can he get and stay healthy unlike Watson?