Inside Scouting Report: Max Starks

OT Max Starks (USA TODAY Sports)

The Chargers signed LT Max Starks to a one-year deal Tuesday. Was it a late offseason steal or an act of desperation? To find out, we chat with SteelCityInsider.net publisher Jim Wexell. He analyzes Starks' game in detail and calls him perhaps "the most under-appreciated player in Steelers history."

Michael Lombardo: What should we know about Max Starks?

Jim Wexell: Max Starks might be the most under-appreciated player in Steelers history. They've been trying to get rid of him for years. At first because they wanted more of a glass-eater and now they want more athleticism at left tackle to run outside zone and therefore open up their inside zone bread and butter.

But because of his pass-blocking ability at a key position, because he's a great guy, because the quarterback loves him, and because he's always completely prepared, Starks has repeatedly returned, once as late as Week 5 (in 2011).

Surprisingly, teams around the league have passed on him as well. A couple of years ago it was understandable because of a neck issue. He didn't pass a physical in Kansas City, for one example, and Todd Haley said he really wanted him.

ML: What are his strengths and weaknesses?

JW: Pass blocking, particularly versus Terrell Suggs, is one strength. He looks ugly doing it but he gets the job done. Because he's left-handed he's been better at left tackle than right tackle, where he played as a rookie reserve and then first-year starter, and his successful transition was a surprise to all of us.

He's highly intelligent and you will love him as an interview subject. His weakness is run blocking, although he has more power and pop than given credit for.

The way Philip Rivers gets rid of the ball, Starks' skills will only be amplified.

ML: Did the Steelers have any interest in bringing him back?

JW: In a perfect world they would've wanted him as a minimum wage reserve. They wanted to move their second-round picks from the last two years into the offensive tackle spots and fully implement their zone schemes.

Coming back as a reserve behind a guy you may be better than initially is not the ideal team dynamic. But the Steelers gave Starks a call to feel him out anyway because he likes the city and is intelligent enough to understand their situation. To Max's credit -- and because someone else finally offered him -- he's not quite ready to become a quiet reserve. (And he's smart enough to realize San Diego can turn it around and shock the world.)

ML: Should Chargers fans just view him as a stop-gap until next season?

JW: Well, Max is used to that. All he'll say is good luck finding that next great left tackle while he just gets the job done.

ML: What's he like off of the field?

JW: He'll throw words at you that you'll have to go look up. He's dynamite. He should've won the Chief Award (media helpfulness) in a rout last year but inexplicably was forgotten. Story of his life in Pittsburgh. But enjoy him while he's there. Class act all the way around.



What are Bolts fans saying about the Starks signing? See in the message boards.



Michael Lombardo is a long-time contributor to the Scout.com network. His analysis has been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports and MySpace Sports. He has followed the Chargers for more than 16 years and covered the team since 2003. You can see more of his updates by following him on twitter.

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