Charles Leno Jr. Isn't an Elite Left Tackle, But He Doesn't Have to Be

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Charles Leno Jr. Isn’t an Elite Left Tackle, But He Doesn’t Have to Be

Chicago Bears

Talking about the Chicago Bears offensive line often brings feelings of consternation. But maybe it doesn’t have to be that way.

For instance, here are the left tackle rankings entering the 2020 season from NFL analyst Brandon Thorn:

Here, you’ll find Bears left tackle Charles Leno Jr. in Tier 4 of Thorn’s rankings, placing him among the league’s “solid/average” left tackles, alongside legitimately good company like Dion Dawkins, Russell Okung, D.J. Humphries, and Isaiah Wynn (among others). This is a solid tier of players and I’m happy to acknowledge that. But good enough isn’t always good enough when better is expected – and especially when things are technically headed in the wrong direction – before 2019, Leno ranked in the “good/above average” tier, meaning that last year’s step back on the field pushed him down a peg in the rankings.

But it’s really all a matter of perspective.

Re-imagining the line as a strength begins with Leno, who is responsible for protecting the quarterback’s blindside. Leno’s play from 2015-17 was notably average by PFF’s grading standards. However, he was better than that as he posted a career best 78.7 grade in 2018. In other words, Leno has a track record of reliability and marginal success as a professional left tackle. Let’s not overlook the value in that.

Leno isn’t an elite left tackle, but he doesn’t have to be in order for the offensive line – and therefore, the offense – to improve. Returning to league average production will put him (and the offense) back on the right track. Positive regression isn’t unheard of, and Leno’s history suggests this is attainable based on his track record.

(Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

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Author: Luis Medina

Luis Medina is a Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at@lcm1986.