Offenses rely heavily on the pass protectors in order to be able to execute their plays. If the edge rushers get into the backfield, it doesn’t matter how open the receivers get, the quarterback isn’t getting the ball to them.
The common theme in the AFC West seems to be quality left tackles, with less talent at the right tackle spot. You’re only as strong as your weakest link, after all.
1. Denver Broncos
Starters: LT Garrett Bolles, RT Billy Turner
After some troubles early in his career, Bolles has become one of the best tackles in football. He was second-team All-Pro a season ago and was still among the highest-rated tackles this season. Meanwhile, Billy Turner has quietly played pretty well at right tackle, giving up just three sacks last season.
2. Kansas City Chiefs
Starters: LT Orlando Brown Jr, RT Lucas Niang
Brown headed to his third straight Pro Bowl last season, his first with the Chiefs since they acquired him in a trade with the Baltimore Ravens. He gave up just four sacks last season. On the other side, Niang has taken ahold of the right tackle job and performed pretty well over nine starts last season. The 2020 third-round pick gave up just two sacks from the right side.
3. Los Angeles Chargers
Starters: LT Rashawn Slater, RT Trey Pipkins
As a rookie first-round pick, Slater headed to the Pro Bowl. That says all you need to know about his talent level. There is some uncertainty on the other side, but Pipkins looked fairly good in two late-season starts — giving up no sacks — that if they decide to go with him, they could feel confident in doing so.
4. Las Vegas Raiders
Starters: LT Kolton Miller, RT Alex Leatherwood
Miller can hang with the best in the division at left tackle. There’s no question about that. But there are serious questions about the other side. Leatherwood has been lining up there throughout the offseason after playing himself out of a job four games into last season. It’s no certainty he continues to be the first-team right tackle, but the fact that he’s been lining up there so far says there aren’t any great options there.