PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 16: Max Starks #78 of the Pittsburgh Steelers blocks against the New York Jets during the game on September 16, 2012 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Before writing about the Chargers addition of 6-foot-8. 345-pound left tackle Max Starks, I wanted to do some research.
The 9-year veteran owns a pair of Super Bowl rings and is known as a tremendous team player with a great work ethic. Basically, the anti-Jared Gaither.
He played every snap of the 2012 season at left tackle for the Steelers (the team he spent all nine years with), an amazing accomplishment when you consider he tore his ACL in Pittsburgh's playoff loss to the Broncos in 2011. Yes, that was the Tim Tebow game.
He is without a doubt a big upgrade from Mike Harris for the Chargers. However, all the folks who say he's already vaulted to the top of the San Diego depth chart may be thinking too much about his name and past success.
Starks has been a good player for a long time. However, last year he was not nearly as effective as he has been.
Starks only allowed five sacks, a good number. But in this case, that good number is misleading. Starks was blocking for Ben Roethlisberger, one of the most difficult quarterbacks in the NFL to get on the ground.
The alarming number is 40. That's how many quarterback hurries Starks allowed in 2012. I saw enough tape to know a whole lot of those hurries would have been sacks if a less elusive QB (say, someone like Philip Rivers) were in the pocket.
According to the website ProFootballFocus.com, which measures NFL players using advanced statistics, Starks was worse than King Dunlap, the other player the Chargers signed to play left tackle and the man who's worked with the first team offense during organized team activities.
In 2012 the Chargers gave Gaither a ton of money, but didn't have a backup plan. This year they may not have a clear-cut Plan A, but at least they know they'll have a viable option if they have to go to Plan B.