Protection. It can mean a lot in today’s game where quarterbacks are increasingly asked to stand in the pocket and scan the field while the receivers routes develop.
Some quarterbacks can get away with less than ideal protection if they are elusive. But even the best are at their best when they don’t have to improvise or deliver the ball before their preferred target breaks open.
And, remember, tackles must be able to run block as well. That means leading their man outside on an inside run, sealing the edge for and outside run, or getting to the second level on pitches and screens.
Let’s take a look at who is best set up for success at the tackle spots.
Garett Bolles, Mike McGlinchey
The former first round pick has been a steady presence at left tackle for several years now. None more so than the 2020 season when he didn’t give up a single sack all season and was named second team All Pro. He is joined this season by former 9th overall pick Mike McGlinchey. The two figure to be the top duo in the division. Whether Russell Wilson can take advantage of it is another question entirely.
Kolton Miller, Jermaine Eluemunor
Miller may be the best single tackle in this division. Pro Football Focus recently rated him as such — naming him the ninth overall tackle in the NFL. He and Eluemunor were pretty solid bookends over the latter part of last season, combing to give up seven sacks all season.
Rashawn Slater, Trey Pipkins
Justin Herbert enjoys some of the best protection the league with Slater on his left. The 2021 13th overall pick made the Pro Bowl as a rookie. He was injured in his third game last season, so he’ll be a welcome sight this season. Pipkins took over the full time starting right tackle job last time and played well, giving up just two sacks in 14 starts.
Donovan Smith, Jawaan Taylor
The Chiefs will have an entirely new pair of tackles this season. Smith is a downgrade from Orlando Brown Jr while Taylor is an upgrade from Andrew Wylie and Co. at right tackle. Both Smith and Taylor have their issues which is probably why they were available. Smith had 12 penalties last season which is more than any other tackle in the AFC West. While Taylor is a solid pass protector, his run blocking leaves much to be desired.