Two of the most important players on the Panthers this year will be left tackle Russell Okung and right tackle Taylor Moton. If Okung is able to stay healthy and Moton continues to pass-protect at a high level, Carolina’s offensive line might have more stability than it has in a long time.
It’s a far cry from the monstrous, elite duo the division-rival Saints have, but this is one of the better starting tackle tandems in the NFL. According to Pro Football Focus, they are two of the top 25 offensive tackles in the league heading into the 2020 season.
He has produced the 13th-best grade on true pass sets since 2018 and played 121.7 pass-block snaps per quarterback knockdown in that span, the fourth-best at the position. Okung just barely made the cut, landing at No. 25. PFF has questions about his injury history:
Soon to be 33 years old, there’s no guarantee that Okung bounces back in 2020 with his injury history, but he’s easily a top-25 tackle when healthy. In his two years prior to 2019 with the Chargers, Okung produced an above-average grade on true pass sets.”
This sounds about right. Moton and Okung are both good at what they do. Neither can be considered an elite lineman, though. One reason is they can both stand to improve in run blocking.
Moton earned a 67.4 run-blocking grade from PFF last year as opposed to a solid 79.0 in pass blocking. As for Okung, he got a 56.4 in run blocking for his six games in 2019.
This will matter less if the Panthers embrace a more aggressive, pass-heavy offense under Joe Brady than they did with Norv and Scott Turner. The contract extension the organization gave Christian McCaffrey indicates this could still be a run-first team philosophically.
Sometimes circumstances dictate the terms, though. More than likely, the Panthers will be trailing a lot, which will force Teddy Bridgewater to throw and put Okung and Moton’s respectable pass protection to the test.