Justin Herbert Needs to Thank the Chargers for a Budding Secret Weapon

The Los Angeles Chargers are rising after deciding to draft Justin Herbert sixth overall in the 2020 NFL Draft. Philip rivers dashed for the Indianapolis Colts, and the Chargers wasted no time snagging their next franchise quarterback — and what a decision it has been.

But, his rookie season was a struggle after injuries galore and Anthony Lynn running the team into the ground. Alas, Lynn is gone, and rookie head coach Brandon Staley has been a home run of a hire. However, the Chargers star quarterback needs to send a massive thank you note to Tom Telesco for a draft pick that will help solidify his career for a long time.

The Chargers selected Rashawn Slater 13th overall in the 2021 NFL Draft

The Chargers lucked out by being able to select Rashawn Slater 13th overall in the 2021 NFL Draft. He was easily the second-best OL in the class behind Penei Sewell, who went to the Detroit Lions.

It was a time to rejoice for Chargers fans everywhere, especially with the utter incompetency of the offensive line for the past decade. Enter Slater, and the Chargers have a young star to protect Herbert for the time being.

Mock drafts everywhere had Slater off the board before the Chargers picked, but a surprising fall with Justin Fields and others shook things up quite a bit.

The selection of Slater has paid off early on. Moreover, there is an eye-popping stat that bodes well for the Chargers going forward.

The rookie is off and running in the NFL and putting up impressive performances in the process

Slater’s rookie season is impressive in all accounts. As Cris Collinsworth mentions, Slater is allowing just one pressure every 29 snaps.

He has risen to the challenge against some of the best in the league. Through the first half of the year, the Chargers have faced talented edge rushers such as Chase Young, Myles Garrett, Maxx Crosby, Matthew Judon, and Micah Parsons, to name a few.

Yet, Slater has done his part.

Usually, a first-round choice on an offensive lineman doesn’t bring a celebration from a fan base. But the Chargers needed a talented offensive line prospect, and they found a gem in Slater.

With a star in the baking in Justin Herbert, getting him some viable protection upfront was priority 1A and 1B, and the Chargers did more than enough to solidify the future of the young, rising quarterback.

The Chargers overhauled the offensive line in order to protect Justin Herbert and it has paid off

Chargers QB Justin Herbert in 2021.
Justin Herbert of the Los Angeles Chargers | Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images

The Chargers went aggressive during the offseason by adding offensive lineman. In all honesty, this was a first. Time and time again, the front office in LA (or San Diego) focused elsewhere and put together a patchwork offensive line.

Philip Rivers got beat up time and time again, as did Drew Brees. Herbert got hit extensively last season and dealt with pressure all over.

The Chargers wanted to address that, and they did. They kicked things off by signing Pro Bowl center Corey Linsley to a monster deal, then bringing Matt Feiler and Oday Aboushi. Unfortunately, Aboushi’s season ended with an untimely injury.

Still, the offensive line has played well for LA.

With all the talent on the roster in LA, things look bright with Brandon Staley running the show. They got off to a 4-1 start before dropping three of the next four to go to 5-4.

Still, the Chargers are trending in the right direction and have a promising future. Austin Ekeler, Keenan Allen, Joey Bosa, Derwin James, Herbert, and Slater is a terrific core to build around. Oh, and don’t forget about Asante Samuel Jr., another 2021 draft choice.

The defense has its issues, that’s obvious, but the Chargers finally have an offensive line capable of protecting the quarterback, and Slater is a huge part of that.

Stats Courtesy of Pro Football Reference

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