Flying Under the Radar: Marcus McNeill

The currently dormant, but ready to explode at any moment, San Diego Chargers offense returns six Pro Bowlers from a season ago. The team that finished 2006, 14-2, has the league MVP in LaDainian Tomlinson, a Pro Bowl quarterback in Phillip Rivers, and the game's best tight end in Antonio Gates. Those are the names that everyone knows.

One of the name's that you may not be so aware of is Marcus McNeill. Marcus McNeill is playing in just his second season in the NFL at left tackle. McNeill college career was prestigious, as he was a consensus All-American as a senior at Auburn, and played in an amazing 43 consecutive games without giving up a sack. McNeill's fine play at Auburn convinced Chargers general manager A.J. Smith to select him in the second round of the 2006 draft (#50 overall), and the choice has immediately paid dividends.

Left tackle is obviously the most important position on the offensive line, as they protect the quarterback's blind side (assuming a right-handed quarterback). McNeill made an immediate impact on the team by playing nearly flawless at his position-not only for a rookie, but for anyone. McNeill played so well that he was a first-alternate to the Pro Bowl during his rookie season, and got to play in the game when Cincinnati's Willie Anderson pulled out. McNeill is one of the game's young stars at left tackle, and although many overlook him because of the Chargers vast array of stars on offense and defense, I can assure you that he will not be overlooked when his contract is up. Solid left tackles are hard enough to find in this league, and when you find a Pro Bowl type that is still not entered his prime, you have to pay him.

The Jaguars will likely have a difficult time getting any kind of pass rush from the left side of the line that Marcus McNeill occupies, as most teams do.

Charlie Bernstein is the Editor-in-Chief of, and a regular syndicated contributor to, Sirius NFL Radio, MySpace Sports and Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers Association, and is a columnist for the New Smyrna Observer. Feel free to contact him -HERE- with questions or comments.

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