ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- San Diego's offensive line was in disrepair last year thanks to the worst tackle play in the league, which was on full display when Broncos edge rushers
Louis Vasquez had nothing to do with that.
Vasquez played all 16 games for the Chargers for the first time in his four seasons there, and had his steadiest overall season -- particularly in pass protection, where he allowed just two sacks and one other quarterback hit, according to ProFootballFocus.com. The rest of the offensive line permitted 47 sacks in 2012.
The two sacks allowed is also four fewer than the Broncos' right guards (
Vasquez's arrival doesn't just strengthen the Broncos' offensive line, but it cripples the Chargers' unit. San Diego already had howling needs at both tackle slots, and appears to be a good bet to take one of the elite rookie tackle prospects -- Texas A&M's Luke Joeckel, Central Michigan's Eric Fisher or Oklahoma's Lane Johnson -- with its first-round pick, assuming one drops that far. (NOTE: San Diego reportedly agreed to terms with ex-Eagles offensive lineman King Dunlap less than an hour after the Vasquez deal was announced; Dunlap has started at left tackle, right tackle and left guard in his career.)
Now, Vasquez will be protecting
What this means for the rest of the offensive line is unclear, but the impact could be wide-reaching.
For right tackle
For left guard
The impact is likely most profound for Chris Kuper, whose 2012 season was wrecked by a fractured fibula and torn ankle ligaments suffered in the 2011 regular-season finale. Kuper suffered a fractured forearm just when he was working his way back into game fitness during training camp, then suffered a high ankle sprain three games after he finally returned to the starting lineup. Further surgery in January places his future in question; he's already slated to miss the entire offseason of work as he recovers from his injuries.