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Offensive Line Rankings

Extensive write up of each NFL team's offensive line, prior to the 2016 preseason. 

We all have big hopes for this season. For example, I hope that the league starts passing more to offensive linemen. It's always better with a big man carrying the rock. 

Welcome to the 2016 NFL preseason offensive line rankings.

Let's kick off the year discussing the numerous changes in personnel, training camp battles, and other big-ugly related news.  Keep in mind that the differences were from week 17 in 2015, back when injuries had decimated several teams.

2016 INITIAL RANKINGS

  Rank Team Old Diff Score Grade Run Pass
TOP TIER 1 DAL 1 0 35.9 A+ A+ A+
2 GB 3 1 31.73 A A A
3 AZ 5 2 31.58 A A A-
4 PHI 4 0 31.48 A A A-
5 CAR 12 7 31.35 A A A-
6 CLE 9 3 31.35 A A- A
7 WAS 15 8 31.28 A- A B+
8 ATL 22 14 31.05 A- A- A-
9 BAL 10 1 30.9 B+ A- B+
10 MIN 25 15 30.85 B+ A- B
11t CIN 8 -3 30.53 B+ A- B
MID TIER 11t OAK 6 -6 30.53 B+ A- B
13 PIT 29 16 30.4 B B B
14 NO 11 -3 30.4 B B B
15 BUF 19 4 30.35 B B B-
16 MIA 30 14 30.05 B B- B
17 NYJ 2 -15 29.35 B- B- B-
18 CHI 17 -1 29.28 B- B- C+
19 HOU 7 -12 29.1 B- B- C+
20 SF 23 3 28.98 B- B- C
21 SD 20 -1 28.9 C+ B+ C
LOW TIER 22 TEN 16 -6 28.88 C+ C C+
23t NYG 28 5 28.6 C C- C
23t IND 21 -3 28.6 C C- C
25 DET 26 1 28.48 C C C-
26 KC 18 -8 28.4 C C C
27 JAX 13 -14 28.28 C C C
28 LA 32 4 27.73 C- C- C-
29 TB 14 -15 27.53 C- C- D+
30 DEN 31 1 27.48 C- C- D
31 NE 27 -4 26.73 D+ D C+
32 SEA 24 -8 25.28 D- D- D-

Team By Team Descriptions

TOP TIER LINES

These lines occupy the top third of the rankings, and can be considered the better units in the league.  

Dallas

  • Preseason rank: 1st. Difference from the end of last season: 0. 
  • Run Blocking: A+. Pass Blocking: A+. Total: A+.
  • Projected Starters: LT Tyron Smith, LG La’el Collins, C Travis Frederick, RG Zack Martin, RT Doug Free.
  • Key Backups: Ronald Leary, Charles Brown, Joe Looney.

Dallas' offensive line is head-and-shoulders, no question, the best offensive line in football. They boast three current All-Pro’s (Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick and Zack Martin), a feat unmatched by any other team this season. In fact, in the brief history of these offensive line rankings, it has only happened one other time. The fact that the team also returns all five starters from last season, in all of the same spots, give them a huge advantage in cohesion. Even the two players that aren’t All-Pro’s, are at least above average. Left guard La’el Collins especially takes this unit to the next level. He is a top 10 talent who the team acquired as an undrafted free agent. Entering his second season, Collins still has serious physical upside and was responsible for several memorable pancakes last season. He and Martin could be a scary guard duo. Right tackle Doug Free is above average and will be backed up by Charles Brown, whom the team re-signed this offseason. Brown had 22 starts when he was with the Saints and an earlier alum of the same USC program as Tyron Smith. Veteran guard Ronald Leary used to start, but has grown disgruntled in the wake of Collins' emergence and has asked for a trade. But Leary is a valuable interior backup and the team has no great incentive to send him packing. The team drafted Chaz Green to be the right tackle of the future but his rookie year was derailed by hip injuries. Bottom line, this is a hugely talented group, and with the addition of a top 4 pick at running back, the Cowboys’ running attack could be extremely memorable this season. 

Green Bay

  • Preseason rank: 2nd. Difference from the end of last season: +1.
  • Run Blocking: A. Pass Blocking: A-. Total: A.
  • Projected Starters: LT David Bakhtiari, LG Josh Sitton, C Corey Linsley, RG T.J. Lang, RT Bryan Bulaga.
  • Key Backups: Jason Spriggs, J.C. Tretter, Don Barclay, Lane Taylor.

The Packers’ offensive line is led by All-Pro and Pro Bowl left guard Josh Sitton. Sitton is regarded as one of the most fearsome and effective blockers in the entire league. He usually is a lock-down pass protector, and the offense happens behind #71. Center Corey Linsley and right guard T.J. Lang are good. Along with Sitton, these interior players comprise the strength of this line. The tackles can be described as good but not great. Right tackle Bryan Bulaga is an effective run blocker (when healthy) but both tackles are limited in pass protection The team is aware of the issue and drafted super combine freak Jason Spriggs in the second round to compete at both tackle spots. Left tackle David Bakhtiari started his career hot but he's drawing top pass rushers and opposing defenses often attack him as the weak spot of the unit. Still, they return all five starters at all the same spots and the Packers have the rare luxury of other bench options. Don Barclay, J.C. Tretter and Lane Taylor have legitimate gameday experience and often sub in without issue. Overall, the Packers’ offensive line is driven up the rankings by the elite talent in Sitton coupled with the cohesion that has been built between these same five starters from last season. 

Arizona

  • Preseason rank: 3rd. Difference from the end of last season: +2.
  • Run Blocking: A. Pass Blocking:  A-. Total: A.
  • Projected Starters: LT Jared Veldheer, LG Mike Iupati, C Lyle Sendlein, RG Evan Mathis, RT D.J. Humphries.
  • Key Backups: Earl Watford, A.Q. Shipley, Cole Toner.

It was a rough ride but the Cardinals ended last season as one of the best lines in the league. According to the model, they could be even better this year. Jared Veldheer and Mike Iupati are both entering their seventh seasons, and together they comprise one of the most dynamic left sides in pro football. Iupati is an impact blocker who was honored with both Pro Bowl and second-team All-Pro honors last season. At one point Iupati was taken off the field in an ambulance and miraculously only missed two games. Veldheer is huge, even by NFL standards and athletic. He is an asset who will lock down the edge most of the time. Former All-Pro Evan Mathis was signed in free agency, following his Super Bowl victory with the Broncos, and despite being a career left guard, Mathis will assume the right guard spot. The adjustment shouldn't be much of an issue for a pro like Mathis. Mathis did have offseason surgery to remove bone fragments, however, and he should be out of action until training camp. At right tackle second-year player D.J. Humphries is first on the depth chart.The team lost Bobbie Massie to free agency and Humphries has never been a starter. But still, the team is giving him the chance to prove his high draft status. Center Lyle Sendlein is a crafty veteran and has been an institution in Glendale. Earl Watford and A.Q. Shipley are legitimate players, and will be lurking on the bench, should the veterans ahead of them fall injured. Rookie Cole Toner is an interesting late round Ivy-league prospect, and also could be in the guard or right tackle mix in case of injury. Overall, this is an outstanding veteran group, built to win now. They are very good in run blocking and can usually stop the other team's pass rush. 

Philadelphia 

  • Preseason rank: 4th. Difference from the end of last season: 0.
  • Run Blocking: A. Pass Blocking: A-. Total:  A.
  • Projected Starters: LT Jason Peters, LG Allen Barbre, C Jason Kelce, RG Brandon Brooks, RT Lane Johnson.
  • Key Backups: Isaac Seumalo, Dennis Kelly, Matt Tobin, Andrew Gardner, Stefen Wisniewski.

The Eagles’ offensive line improved when they signed guard Brandon Brooks in free agency. Brooks, formerly of the Texans, is a natural fit at a right guard spot which had been troublesome for the Eagles last season. Brooks should form an effective tandem with center Jason Kelce, as both are natural run blockers. The tackles are rock solid, as left tackle Jason Peters continues to play at a high level, despite his relatively advanced age of 34.  When Peters retires, top-notch right tackle Lane Johnson should be able to swap over to the left side. Left guard is probably the weakest spot with Allen Barbre starting, but he should face serious training camp competition from third round rookie Isaac Seumalo and free agent acquisition Stefen Wisniewski. Seumalo especially has been talked up by the coaches and could win a job early in his career, this is a training camp battle to watch. Overall this line has good talent at almost every position and should be among the league’s best units, once the guard settles into the lineup.

Carolina

  • Preseason rank: 5th. Difference from the end of last season: +7.
  • Run Blocking: A. Pass Blocking: A-. Total: A.
  • Projected Starters: LT Michael Oher, LG Andrew Norwell, C Ryan Kalil, RG Trai Turner, RT Daryl Williams.
  • Key Backups: Mike Remmers, David Yankey, Gino Gradkowski, David Foucault.

The Panthers’ offensive line has several strong points. The cohesion is top notch, as they are returning all of last year’s starters. A big strength is the center position, which is manned by arguably the best center in the game, in All-Pro and Pro Bowl center Ryan Kalil. Kalil didn’t get to go to Hawaii (and neither did right guard Trai Turner, his first honor) as both were preparing to play the Super Bowl two weeks later. Those two players are the strength of the unit. Left tackle Michael Oher had a quietly solid year, and the team believes in left guard Andrew Norwell to continue to improve. Right tackle Mike Remmers will face a battle from last year’s draft pick Daryl Williams, and most observers expect the more physically gifted Williams to take that job sooner rather than later. Everyone remembers how they ended the season against Denver's historic defense, but this is still a well above average unit. The Panthers’ offensive line is better going forward (run blocking) than in pass protection, and the team will look to play to these strengths this season. 

Cleveland 

  • Preseason rank: 6th. Difference from the end of last season: +3.
  • Run Blocking: A. Pass Blocking: A-. Total: A.
  • Projected Starters: LT Joe Thomas, LG Joel Bitonio, C Cam Erving, RG John Greco, RT Austin Pasztor.
  • Key Backups: Shon Coleman, Alvin Bailey, Michael Bowie.

Despite the skill positions not putting up many fantasy points in recent years, the Browns offensive line is still very good and led by the left side. Left tackle Joe Thomas is a perennial All-Pro and Pro Bowl selection, the team held on to this key player after not getting any trade offers it found worthy. Just to prove I'm not exaggerating about Thomas' level of play, here is a gif of Joe Thomas pancaking all-everything defensive end J.J. Watt. Left guard Joel Bitonio is also a stud and was playing at a borderline Pro Bowl level before his season ended in week 10 due to injury. The team will be pleased to have him back in action. Center Cameron Erving was drafted to replace Alex Mack and this season he will get his opportunity to be the undisputed center. John Greco is solid at right guard but the right tackle spot could be of some concern. The team drafted Shon Coleman out of Auburn to compete with Austin Pasztor. Both players look to replace Mitchell Schwartz, who departed via free agency.  Michael Bowie is an interesting swing tackle option and could also factor into that position battle. Still, aside from right tackle, this is still among the league’s better lines, primarily because of the future Hall of Famer manning the left tackle spot. 

WASHINGTON

  • Preseason rank: 7th. Difference from the end of last season: +8.
  • Run Blocking: A. Pass Blocking: B+. Total: A.-
  • Projected Starters: LT Trent Williams, LG Shawn Lauvao, C Kory Lichtensteiger, RG Brandon Scherff, RT Morgan Moses.
  • Key Backups: Ty Nsekhe, Spencer Long, Austin Reiter, Josh LeRibeus.

Washington’s offensive line is led by left tackle Trent Williams, who continues to earn All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors. Williams isn’t perfect but he is among the league’s most effect pass protectors, at any position. Right tackle Morgan Moses took a step forward last season and solidified himself as a starter in the league. Left guard should be a competition between veteran Shawn Lauvao and Spencer Long. Lauvao was the starter before he was hurt last season, and he will have a shot to regain his job in the preseason. Center Kory Lichtensteiger is well regarded by the coaches but he could have trouble fending off a bulked up Austin Reiter, who is single-minded in his pursuit of a starting gig. Josh LeRibeus is also in the mix at the position. Right guard Brandon Scherff had a trial by fire last season but held up well against top competition and he can be considered a key building block for the franchise. Overall this line has a good mix of veteran and young talent, and they have the potential to be among the league’s better units. 

ATLANTA

  • Preseason rank: 8th. Difference from the end of last season: +14.
  • Run Blocking: A-. Pass Blocking: A-. Total: A-.
  • Projected Starters: LT Jake Matthews, LG Andy Levitre, C Alex Mack, RG Chris Chester, RT Ryan Schraeder.
  • Key Backups: Mike Person, James Stone, Tom Compton.

The Falcons were a below average group last season, but look to be widely improved, primarily due to the arrival of Pro Bowl center Alex Mack from Cleveland. Mack is an elite player at a position of importance. Left tackle Jake Matthews has been a professional from day one and Left guard Andy Levitre is a solid veteran. Right tackle Ryan Schraeder was honored with All Pro team accolades, primarily for his effectiveness in pass protection. Right guard Chris Chester does a decent job, and the team rewarded his consistency with a new contract this offseason. Tom Compton and Mike Person should battle to be the swing tackle, both are decent players with game action. James Stone was asked to start last year but should provide a depth option behind all three interior sports. Overall the Falcons’ line looks good on paper. As the players learn how to play with their new center, the sky is the limit.

BALTIMORE 

  • Preseason rank: 9th. Difference from the end of last season: +1.
  • Run Blocking: B+. Pass Blocking: A-. Total: B+.
  • Projected Starters: LT Eugene Monroe, LG Ronnie Stanley, C J. Zuttah, RG Marshal Yanda, RT Rick Wagner.
  • Key Backups: John Urschel, Ryan Lewis, Ryan Jensen, Vlad Ducasse, James Hurst.

Right guard Marshal Yanda was a unanimous first team All-Pro from all five media sources, a rare feat. Yanda has the ability to flat out dominate a game, and he continues to be not just one of the best guards, but one of the best linemen in the game. The Ravens lost left guard Kelechi Osemele to free agency, but they restocked by drafting Notre Dame left tackle Ronnie Stanley at 6 overall in the first round. Stanley is an elite prospect and will eventually play left tackle for the Ravens, when the team decides that Eugene Monroe’s salary is too high. While some believe that situation could manifest this season and that Monroe could be traded sooner rather than later. But for now the depth chart has both players as starters on the left side. If/when Monroe is traded, Stanley would assume left tackle and left guard becomes a competition. Center Jeremy Zuttah ended last year on injured reserve but should be fully recovered to start at the pivot. Right tackle Rick Wagner does an average job but will be challenged by fourth round selection Alex Lewis. The Ravens have several other interesting backups with game experience, including John Urschel, James Hurst, Ryan Jensen, and the recently signed Vlad Ducasse. Urschel and Ducasse could compete for the left guard job if Monroe is traded. If healthy, the Ravens’ offensive line could be a strength this season. 

Minnesota

  • Preseason rank: 10th. Difference from the end of last season: +15.
  • Run Blocking: A-. Pass Blocking: B. Total: B+.
  • Projected Starters: LT Matt Kalil, LG Alex Boone, C John Sullivan, RG Brandon Fusco, RT Andre Smith.
  • Key Backups: Phil Loadholt, T.J. Clemmings, Mike Harris, Willie Beavers, Joe Berger.

The Vikings have invested a great amount of resources on improving their offensive line this season. At left guard, the team snagged former All-Pro Alex Boone from the 49ers. He can be an impact blocker in the run game and in fact, all of the Vikings’ starters are proficient run blockers. Left tackle Matt Kalil experienced a bounce back season last year and could be living up to his lofty draft expectations. Center John Sullivan is among the better in the league, when healthy. Getting him back is a huge boost to this unit. If he goes down again, Joe Berger is the next man up, and that’s a sizable drop off in talent. On the right side, Brandon Fusco is a good starter and the right tackle position is a competition between free agent addition Andre Smith, last year’s starter Phil Loadholt and last year’s draft pick in T.J. Clemmings. Loadholt’s injury was rather serious (Achilles) and he could lose this battle to Smith, who is a man mountain in his own right. The Vikings look to be a smash mouth running team in 2016 and the offensive line, if healthy, should be a big part of executing that plan. 

Cincinnati

  • Preseason rank: 11th (tie). Difference from the end of last season: -3.
  • Run Blocking: A-. Pass Blocking: B. Total: B+.
  • Projected Starters: LT Andrew Whitworth, LG Clint Boling, C Russell Bodine, RG Kevin Zeitler, RT Eric Winston.
  • Key Backups: Jake Fisher, Cedric Ogbuehi, Christian Westerman.

The Bengals are returning all their starters from the end of the last season, which gives them strong cohesion. They are led by All-Pro and Pro Bowl left tackle Andrew Whitworth. The team drafted Jake Fisher in the 2015 draft but Fisher has only been able to get on the field in jumbo situations (where the team utilizes the former college tight end as a receiver). Whitworth has been dominant. Similarly the team drafted Cedric Ogbuehi to take over at right tackle but he will likely be stuck behind new NFLPA President Eric Winston. Although not today, the youth will eventually be served, and it’s good news that the team has these depth options.  The guards, Clint Boling and Kevin Zeitler are above average, but the team has to resign Zeitler after this season and might want to work rookie Christian Westerman into the mix. Overall the Bengals are one of the better units in the league but their right tackle position could be cause for concern. They have a rare amount of depth, compared to other units and will be better as their young tackles can find the field.

OAKLAND

  • Preseason rank: 11th (tie). Difference from the end of last season: -5.
  • Run Blocking: A-. Pass Blocking: B. Total: B+.
  • Projected Starters: LT Donald Penn, LG Gabe Jackson, C Rodney Hudson, RG Kelechi Osemele, RT Austin Howard.
  • Key Backups: Menelik Watson, Vadal Alexander, Matt McCants, Jon Feliciano.

The Raiders were one of the better units last season and improved by adding big money free agent Kelechi Osemele to the mix. Osemele ended last season filling it at left tackle for the Ravens, but he should find a home at one of the guard spots in Oakland. Gabe Jackson is an ascending player at left guard, which could put Osemele at right. Either way, the Raiders could have the best guard tandem in the league. The left tackle position is solid with Donald Penn delivering Pro Bowl level production. Center Rodney Hudson is an effective blocker in the middle. The only real weak spot could be at right tackle, where Austin Howard will battle with oft-injured Menelik Watson for the job. Watson has the physical upside but Howard is a crafty veteran at this point in his career. Draft pick Vadal Alexander could be in the mix at right tackle but is probably a better fit at backup guard.  Once this Raiders offensive line settles into a lineup, they should be among the better in the league again this year. 

MID TIER LINES

These teams occupy the middle third of the rankings, and can be considered decent (not amazing, not terrible). Teams from the mid tier often move up to top tier as they play together or simply stay healthy. Fans of particular teams should bear in mind that this only a starting rank.

PITTSBURGH

  • Preseason rank: 13th. Difference from the end of last season: +16.
  • Run Blocking: B. Pass Blocking: B. Total: B.
  • Projected Starters: LT Ryan Harris, LG Ramon Foster, C Maurkice Pouncey, RG David Decastro, RT Marcus Gilbert.
  • Key Backups: Alejandro Villaneuva, Cody Wallace, Jerald Hawkins.

The Steelers’ offensive line was led last season by right guard David Decastro, who has developed into an All-Pro and Pro Bowl starter in his second season. Decastro is the latest Steelers’ offensive lineman to be honored for his elite play. Center Maurkice Pouncey used to be a perennial Pro Bowler, but injuries have slowed his career. The team hopes he can restore to his earlier form and stay healthy this season as his backup Cody Wallace is a clear downgrade. Right tackle Marcus Gilbert is an above average right tackle who had an excellent year, and left guard Ramon Foster was rewarded with a new contract for his solid play. Left tackle will be a battle between last year’s starter Alejandro Villaneuva and free agent addition Ryan Harris. Villaneuva out of Army is an interesting story but at 6'9" he might be too lanky for the leverage battle that the left tackle plays every week. Harris is a veteran and coming off a starting gig in the Super Bowl, and as such, he should get the nod. Look for Jerald Hawkins out of LSU to lurk around the edges of this battle, he could also find reps at the spot. The Steelers are a mostly solid unit, with some elite potential, but their overall grade is held back by the uncertainty at the left tackle position. 

NEW ORLEANS

  • Preseason rank: 14th. Difference from the end of last season: -3.
  • Run Blocking: B. Pass Blocking: B. Total: B.
  • Projected Starters: LT Terron Armstead, LG Tim Lelito, C Max Unger, RG Andrus Peat, RT Zach Strief.
  • Key Backups: Senio Kelemete, Tyrus Thompson.

The best players on the Saints’ offensive line are left tackle Terron Armstead and center Max Unger. Both are very good players and tend to lock down their assignments in pass protection. Unger was a Pro Bowler in 2013 and Armstead was named as an alternate last season. The position between them, left guard, is projected to be filled by Tim Lelito, while last year’s first-round pick, Andrus Peat out of Stanford looks to start at right guard. Peat was drafted to replace right tackle Zach Strief but Strief is experiencing a late career renaissance. He looks as capable as ever, and his continued strong play has forced Peat into a guard competition with Tim Lelito and Senio Kelemete. The best two of those three players will start, and Kelemete is likely the odd man out. The Saints’ offensive line is on the cusp between good and excellent. Most of their starters are well above average. However the Saints’ score is held back by uncertainty at the guard positions, which is key to their system, and an overall lack of depth. 

BUFFALO

  • Preseason rank: 15th. Difference from the end of last season: +4.
  • Run Blocking: B. Pass Blocking: B-. Total: B.
  • Projected Starters: LT Cordy Glenn, LG Richie Incognito, C Eric Wood, RG John Miller, RT Jordan Mills.
  • Key Backups: Cyrus Kouandijo, Cyril Richardson, Seantrel Henderson.

The Bills invested heavily in their left side, this offseason. First, they worked out a big money deal with franchise-tagged left tackle Cordy Glenn. Glenn (shown here shutting down Greg Hardy) has been a huge asset for the Bills. Only 26, the team expects Glenn to be a cornerstone for years to come. Left guard Richie Incognito enjoyed Pro Bowl and All-Pro honors in 2015 and the team rewarded him with an extension that should keep him on the roster for a couple more seasons at least. Center Eric Wood is in his prime, and was actually named to the Pro Bowl last season. However, the team needs right guard John Miller to keep getting better in his second year. Miller started hot as a rookie but ran into the wall big time. Right tackle should be a free for all between Jordan Mills, Cyrus Kouandijo and Seantrel Henderson. It’s not clear that any of these options are above average. The Bills have more strengths than weaknesses along their offensive line and they grade out well to start the season. They can be better if their right side matches the performance of the other three players. 

MIAMI

  • Preseason rank: 16th. Difference from the end of last season: +14.
  • Run Blocking: B. Pass Blocking: B-. Total: B.
  • Projected Starters:  LT Branden Albert, LG Laremy Tunsil, C Mike Pouncey, RG Jermon Bushrod, RT Ju’Wuan James.
  • Key Backups: Billy Turner, Sam Young, Kraig Urbik, Dallas Thomas, Jamil Douglas.

The Dolphins will be thrilled to get Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey back into the lineup. Pouncey was on the shelf for the final two games of last season with a foot injury. Branden Albert made his second Pro Bowl last season, and has quietly been among the better left tackles in the league. He might be replaced by this year’s 13th overall pick Laremy Tunsil out of Ole Miss. Tunsil had a public drop during draft night but he is considered a smash mouth prospect from the SEC and his addition elevates this unit to the next level.  Right tackle Ju’Wuan James does an effective job, but the right guard position is an open competition between Jermon Bushrod, Kraig Urbik, Billy Turner and Sam Young. Projecting Bushrod to win this competition is based purely on his veteran experience, it could certainly go a different direction. Kraig Urbik and Sam Young will be lurking should Bushrod or the youth movement fail at the position. Overall, the Dolphins can be among the league’s better units this season if their high profile first round pick adjusts quickly to life in the league and if they can resolve the right guard training camp battle. 

NY JETS

  • Preseason rank: 17th. Difference from the end of last season: -15.
  • Run Blocking: B-. Pass Blocking: B-. Total: B-.
  • Projected Starters: LT Ryan Clady, LG James Carpenter, C Nick Mangold, RG Brian Winters, RT Breno Giacomini.
  • Key Backups: Brent Qvale, Brandon Shell, Ben Ijalana, Jarvis Harrison, Dakota Dozier.

The Jets have experienced turnover at their left tackle position. They traded with Denver for oft injured left tackle Ryan Clady, to backfill for the retirement of D’Brickashaw Ferguson. When healthy, Clady could be an upgrade, but he’s almost always hurt. This is a situation to watch, as the team only has Ben Ijalana as an alternative to Clady. James Carpenter was extremely solid at left guard last year, and provides an excellent run blocking tandem with Pro Bowl center Nick Mangold. Mangold is still playing at an elite level. The right side could be shaky. Right guard and right tackle both have nominal starters returning in Brian Winters and Breno Giacomini but both could be pushed by the backups. The team reportedly is high on Brent Qvale and drafted Brandon Shell, nephew of Hall of Famer Art. Dakota Dozier and Jarvis Harrison are former mid round picks who could push for playing time at guard. Overall this line could be good if Clady stays healthy and the right side improves. But as long as Mangold stays on the field they will be at least decent.  

CHICAGO

  • Preseason rank: 18th. Difference from the end of last season: -1.
  • Run Blocking: B-. Pass Blocking: C+. Total: B-.
  • Projected Starters: LT Charles Leno, LG Cody Whitehair, C Hroniss Grasu, RG Kyle Long, RT Bobbie Massie.
  • Key Backups: Ted Larsen, Nate Chandler.

The Bears’ offensive line is led by Pro Bowl right guard Kyle Long. Long was playing slightly out of position at right tackle last year, and the team would rather have an elite player at guard than a good player at tackle. Bobbie Massie joins the team via free agency, and should be the starting caliber right tackle that allows Long to kick back inside. The team traded Matt Slauson to San Diego, but backfilled using a second round pick on Cody Whitehair, a player most observers graded out as the best guard in the draft. Charles Leno is an average left tackle but the team likes his contract. Hroniss Grasu is an up and coming center who needs to stay healthy. Ted Larsen provides an interesting depth option at the interior but the Bears are much less deep at the tackle position. Nate Chandler is the only name on the roster with experience. Overall, this is a solid line, that has had turnover at two spots. Their ranking could improve if the rookie guard can take the starting job early and Leno steps up his game.

HOUSTON

  • Preseason rank: 19th. Difference from the end of last season: -7.
  • Run Blocking: B-. Pass Blocking: C+. Total: B-.
  • Projected Starters: LT Duane Brown, LG Xavier Su’a-Filo, C Nick Martin, RG Jeff Allen, RT Derek Newton.
  • Key Backups: Tony Bergstrom, Oday Aboushi, Jeff Adams.

The Texans offensive line have very good steady tackles but are experiencing significant turnover at the interior positions.Left tackle Duane Brown and right tackle Derek Newton provide solid, sometimes excellent production as bookends. The Texans traded up into the second round for their projected starting center, Nick Martin from Notre Dame. The younger brother of Dallas Cowboys’ All-Pro Zack, Nick Martin is expected to replace Ben Jones, who departed via free agency. Martin should be an instant starter with less of the technique and strength issues that usually plague rookie linemen. The team signed Jeff Allen from the Chiefs to start in place of Brandon Brooks at right guard. While Allen is a good player, that is a slight downgrade from Brooks, who was excellent.  At left guard, the team will have an open competition between former second-round draft pick Xavier Su’a-Filo, last year's fill-in Oday Aboushi, and former undrafted tackle from Columbia, Jeff Adams. Adams actually won the job last season but ended up on injured reserve before October. Aboushi has experience but the team wants the more athletic Su’a-Filo to win the job. Su’a-Filo has had trouble hanging on to this job, despite being given multiple chances. Projecting him to win this job is just a guess at this point. Backup center Tony Bergstrom could also factor into this conversation, if neither of the youth options can be trusted. Overall, the Texans can be among the best offensive lines again, once they find stability inside.

San Francisco

  • Preseason rank: 20th. Difference from the end of last season: +3.
  • Run Blocking: B-. Pass Blocking: C. Total: B-.
  • Projected Starters: LT Joe Staley, LG Josh Garnett, C Daniel Kilgore, RG Brandon Thomas, RT Erik Pears.
  • Key Backups: Zane Beadles, Trent Brown, Andrew Tiller, Marcus Martin, John Theus.

The 49ers’ line has seen some turnover this offseason, with the drafting of Josh Garnett, a first round guard from Stanford. The Outland Trophy winner, Garnett was picked up to help ease the departure of guard Alex Boone, and he should win the starting job early in his career. If Garnett isn’t ready for whatever reason, steady veteran Zane Beadles will step in at left guard. Left tackle Joe Staley continues to perform at an elite level and is clearly the unit’s best player. The rest of the line is less than stellar, however. Center Daniel Kilgore is a steady but unspectacular veteran and could face a challenge from Marcus Martin. Right guard Brandon Thomas is considered the lead for the job, however that could just be wishful thinking on the part of the front office. Thomas will face competition in Ian Silberman, Andrew Tiller and draft pick John Theus. Right tackle Erik Pears is replaceable and Trent Brown could swoop in to steal that job before the season begins. Overall the 49ers’ offensive line is a mixed bag. There is an elite talent at left tackle, some young potential at left guard, but also some uncertainty at the center, right guard and right tackle positions. 

SAN DIEGO

  • Preseason rank: 20th. Difference from the end of last season: +1.
  • Run Blocking: B+. Pass Blocking: C. Total: C+.
  • Projected Starters: LT King Dunlap, LG Orlando Franklin, C Matt Slauson, RG D.J. Fluker, RT Joe Barksdale.
  • Key Backups: Chris Hairston, Trevor Robinson, Max Tuerk, Tyreek Burrell, Kenny Wiggins, Chris Watt.

Last year this unit was decimated by injuries. But they all should be healthy this season, and even added some help via trade. The Chargers’ improved their line this offseason with a trade for Bears’ center Matt Slauson. Slauson was considered a glue guy for Chicago and should at least be solid at the position for San Diego.  The left side of tackle King Dunlap and guard Orlando Franklin have bulk and should be effective opening holes in the running attack. Right guard D.J. Fluker and right tackle Joe Barksdale are also maulers in the running game and the team clearly wants to emphasize that aspect of the offense. When looking at the Chargers’ offensive line as a group, it is notable how all of their starters excel at run blocking. The flip side to these players is that few if any can be considered above average pass protectors. The team drafted Max Tuerk to develop at center behind Slauson and they usually find a way to get Chris Hairston and Kenny Wiggins into the lineup. Overall this is a clearly run-happy group who could have shortcomings protecting the quarterback.  

LOW TIER LINES

These teams occupy the lower third of the rankings, and can be considered below average. Teams from the low tier often move up to middle tier as they play together or simply stay healthy. Fantasy players should remember that there is not always a correlation between poor offensive line play and fantasy points. A great quarterback who has talented targets can and will overcome a bad offensive line. It happens every year. These low tier lines are probably less efficient in the running game than the lines ranked higher. Fans of particular teams should bear in mind that this only a starting rank.

TENNESSEE 

  • Preseason rank: 22nd. Difference from the end of last season: -6.
  • Run Blocking: C. Pass Blocking: C+. Total: C+.
  • Projected Starters: LT Taylor Lewan, LG Jeremiah Poutasi, C Ben Jones, RG Chance Warmack, RT Jack Conklin.
  • Key Backups: Andy Gallik, Brian Schwenke, Sebastian Tratola. 

The Titans added several new pieces to their line this offseason. As these pieces learn the system and play together, this line could very feasibly move up the rankings. Center Ben Jones was signed from the Houston Texans, and he should be a significant upgrade over Brian Schwenke. Right tackle Tough guy Jack Conklin was drafted with the 8th overall pick in the first round and should be a instant starter at a troublesome spot. Last year’s right tackle Byron Bell was moved to left guard, but hurt his knee in organized team activities. In his place, Jeremiah Poutasi should be the favorite for the gig, but the team could also make a move for a starter during cut-downs. Poutasi should be a decent run blocker between Jones and left tackle Taylor Lewan. Lewan was quietly among the league’s better left tackles and is considered a young leader on the team. The team declined right guard Chance Warmack’s 5th-year option, but he will continue to start and has no clear competition on the roster for his job this season. Overall this unit has a good mix of talent and their ranking can improve as the talent grows familiar with each other.  

NY GIANTS

  • Preseason rank: 23rd. Difference from the end of last season: +5.
  • Run Blocking: C-. Pass Blocking: C. Total: C.
  • Projected Starters: LT Ereck Flowers, LG Justin Pugh, C Weston Richburg, RG John Jerry, RT Marshall Newhouse.
  • Key Backups: Bobby Hart, Byron Stingily, Adam Gettis.

The Giants’ offensive line is strong along the left side, where Ereck Flowers enters his second year at left tackle. Flowers had his ups and downs but is at least a decent starter at the key position, with upside to improve over time. Left guard Justin Pugh was often forced into tackle duty due to injuries at other spots, but the team believes he can be an elite player at guard. Center Weston Richburg is quietly one of the better pivot men in the league and even made second team All-Pro according to one media source. The problems are on the right side, where right guard John Jerry and right tackle Marshall Newhouse have starter ability but play like backups. John Jerry made offseason headlines by working with Richburg, and beat writers are calling it a "career-changing offseason" for the massive player. The team hopes he can take the next step in his career.The team could have another option in Bobby Hart, who filled in capably at right tackle for several games last season. Adam Gettis could compete with Jerry. But overall this line is mediocre to bad, primarily because of the weakness on their right side. 

INDIANAPOLIS

  • Preseason rank: 24th. Difference from the end of last season: -3.
  • Run Blocking: C-. Pass Blocking: C. Total: C.
  • Projected Starters: LT Anthony Castonzo, LG Hugh Thornton, C Ryan Kelly, RG Denzelle Good, RT Jack Mewhort.
  • Key Backups: Joe Reitz, Joe Haig, Le’Raven Clark, Jonotthan Harrison, Austin Blythe.

The Colts made a splash in the first round when they drafted center Ryan Kelly from Alabama. Kelly rose throughout the draft process and the hope is that he can be a rock for Andrew Luck, the way that Jeff Saturday was a rock for Peyton Manning. The tackles are fairly strong, with left tackle Anthony Castonzo doing yeoman’s work every week and Jack Mewhort growing into an above average starter at right tackle. Hugh Thornton should be an acceptable left guard and the right guard competition is between Denzelle Good and Jonotthan Harrison. The coaches are big on Good, who was originally from tiny Mars Hill. Good made his way through the super-regional combines and got starting experience at right tackle late in the season due to injuries in front of him on the depth chart. Good held his own and should be able to keep Harrison on the bench. Joe Reitz has been one of the league’s better utility backups but is getting older. The team seems to want him in a backup role, but he could start at right guard as well. The team is attempting to reload with drafted rookies Joe Haig, Le’Raven Clark and Austin Blythe. Overall, the Colts’ offensive line is trending upward but still has serious work to do before it can be considered among the league’s better units.  

DETROIT

  • Preseason rank: 25th. Difference from the end of last season: +1.
  • Run Blocking: C. Pass Blocking: C-. Total: C.
  • Projected Starters: LT Taylor Decker, LG Laken Tomlinson, C Travis Swanson, RG Larry Warford, RT Reily Reiff.
  • Key Backups: Michael Ola, Joe Dahl, Graham Glasgow, Geoff Schwartz, Cornelius Lucas.

The Lions made a key move to solidify their offensive line when they drafted Taylor Decker out of Ohio State in the first round. Decker is big and should be an instant starter at tackle, which was a weak point for this unit. The team has been working Decker in at left tackle during organized team activities, and it looks like they will move Reily Reiff to the right side. Reiff had struggled at left tackle, and he will be helped by playing next to right guard Larry Warford, who is the Lions’ highest performing lineman when he is healthy. Last year's first round pick Laken Tomlinson is developing into a well above average option at left guard. Travis Swanson took the center job last season and does a better job in the running game than against the pass. He will be pushed by third-round draft pick Graham Glasgow. The team signed Geoff Schwartz to be a veteran backup at several spots, and they have interesting swing tackle prospects in Michael Ola and Cornelius Lucas. Overall, this is a young group with talent in run blocking, and the unit has upside potential to improve as the season progresses.  

KANSAS CITY 

  • Preseason rank: 25th. Difference from the end of last season: +1.
  • Run Blocking: C. Pass Blocking: C. Total: C.
  • Projected Starters: LT Eric Fisher, LG Zach Fulton, C Mitch Morse, RG Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, RT Mitchell Schwartz.
  • Key Backups: Jah Reid, Jarrod Pughsley, Parker Ehinger, Jordan Devey, Reid Fragel.

The Chiefs’ line will be one of the youngest in all of professional football this season. That can be a positive in the case of their tackles, former one overall left tackle Eric Fisher and big money free agent addition right tackle Mitchell Schwartz. Their center Mitch Morse is another young player, performing well, with upside. But their guard situations are completely unstable. Laurent Duvernay-Tardif is an interesting prospect but he does not have much job security. There’s a very good chance both projected starters are incorrect. Jah Reid, Jordan Devey, Jarrod Pughsley and fourth round rookie Parker Ehinger will have real chances to win a guard spot. That level of instability, combined with youth, can be exciting but it can also be an adventure. It’s entirely possible the Chiefs continue to play with the formula, as veterans shake loose from deeper lines. This line can rise in the rankings once they settle on a lineup. 

JACKSONVILLE

  • Preseason rank: 27th. Difference from the end of last season: -14.
  • Run Blocking: C. Pass Blocking: C. Total: C.
  • Projected Starters: LT Luke Joeckel, LG Mackenzie Bernadeau, C Brandon Linder, RG A.J. Cann, RT Jermey Parnell.
  • Key Backups: Kelvin Beachum, Jeff Linkenbach, Luke Bowanko.

For now, Luke Joeckel is the starting left tackle for the Jaguars. In the offseason, he was denied a fifth year option, which is often a sign that a player is on the trade block. The team signed Kelvin Beachum from Pittsburgh to start at left tackle, and Beachum’s contract is not commensurate for a backup player. Still, Beachum is recovering from a knee injury and can use the extra time to strengthen during rehab. Joeckel will be given the first half of season to either lock down the job or audition for the rest of the league. The team has moved Joeckel to left guard during organized team activities and could be planning on that lineup when Beachum returns to full health. Center Brandon Linder is considered a rising young player at the position. Right tackle Jermey Parnell was the line’s most consistent performer last season. But the guard positions are below average. The team signed unexciting journeyman Mackenzie Bernadeau to start at left guard, and hopefully, he will be pushed by Tyler Shatley. Right guard A.J. Cann can make plays in run blocking but is below average in pass protection. The team signed Jeff Linkenbach, who has been a useful utility veteran in his career. Overall it’s an interesting group but lacking any Pro Bowl or All-Pro type of performers. The best lineup probably has Beachum at left tackle and Joeckel at guard but that might be unsustainable in the long term.

LOS ANGELES 

  • Preseason rank: 28th. Difference from the end of last season: +4.
  • Run Blocking: C-. Pass Blocking: C-. Total: C-.
  • Projected Starters: LT Greg Robinson, LG Rodger Saffold, C Tim Barnes, RG Jamon Brown, RT Rob Havenstein.
  • Key Backups: Isaiah Battle, Garrett Reynolds, Cody Wichmann, Andrew Donnal.

Despite not adding anyone in the draft, the Rams’ offensive line will again be one of the younger units in the game. Their crop of second years is led by left tackle Greg Robinson, who showed signs of improvement as the season progressed. Robinson has all the physical skills to be an elite player and has to just settle into the position before that can happen. Left guard Rodger Saffold is often hurt, but while healthy can be a very good player. Saffold should be pushed by Andrew Donnal and Cody Wichmann, but the team guaranteed Saffold’s salary prior to the season. Both right side players, right guard Jamon Brown and Rob Havenstein, looked promising last year before succumbing to season-ending injuries. The center position is manned by local product Tim Barnes and he will be looked toward for veteran leadership. The bench includes journeyman Garrett Reynolds, who always seems to be starting football games, and athletic but super raw former supplemental draftee from Clemson, Isaiah Battle. Overall, the Rams‘ line has talent but it needs to gain experience and prove it can avoid injuries.

TAMPA BAY

  • Preseason rank: 29th. Difference from the end of last season: -15.
  • Run Blocking: C-. Pass Blocking: D+. Total: C-.
  • Projected Starters: LT Donovan Smith, LG J.R. Sweezy, C Joe Hawley, RG Ali Marpet, RT Demar Dotson.
  • Key Backups:  Evan Smith, Gosder Cherilus, Kevin Pamphile, Caleb Benenoch, Garret Gilkey.

The Buccaneers’ offensive line lost their best player this offseason when left guard Logan Mankins retired. In his place the team signed J.R. Sweezy from the Seahawks to start at left guard. Sweezy is an aggressive run blocker and an overall solid veteran but he can be compromised in pass protection. The team will look for second-year players left tackle Donovan Smith and right guard Ali Marpet to continue their progression after promising rookie seasons. The center position will be a competition between Joe Hawley and Evan Smith (formerly Evan Dietrich-Smith). Both are solid veterans but not special options. Right tackle will be a competition between Gosder Cherilus and Demar Dotson, who was the starter until he was injured for most of last season. Look for Dotson to win this battle, but the lineup might actually be better with both players on the field at the same time. Mid round draft pick Caleb Benenoch could compete for playing time at several spots. Overall the Buccaneers’ offensive line has interesting prospects but the unit lost their best player to retirement. To get to the next tier, this line needs several players to take the next step.

DENVER 

  • Preseason rank: 30th. Difference from the end of last season: +1.
  • Run Blocking: C-. Pass Blocking: D. Total: C-.
  • Projected Starters: LT Russell Okung, LG Ty Sambrailo, C Matt Paradis, RG Max Garcia, RT Donald Stephenson.
  • Key Backups: Connor McGovern, James Ferentz, Michael Schofield.

The Broncos’ offensive line is undergoing an overhaul after their Super Bowl winning run. Left tackle Russell Okung signed an incentive-laden deal, and is currently the best lineman on the roster. Okung is talented but has only once played a complete sixteen game season. His durability is a factor to consider. Left guard is a free-for-all between Ty Sambrailo and fifth-round rookie Connor McGovern. Projecting former left tackle Sambrailo is a guess at this point in the process, it could very well be McGovern, whom the team is hyping in media as if he was a second round player. Donald Stephenson was lured away from division rival Kansas City, and should be an instant starter at right tackle in the Broncos’ zone scheme. Matt Paradis does a decent job at center and the team hopes that Max Garcia can take the next step at right guard. Michael Schofield should be the swing option, and James Ferentz will back-up at center. There’s tons of uncertainty with this group, and they come into the year graded among the weaker groups in the league.  This line can improve as they settle on a left guard and the key to the unit will be the durability of their left tackle. 

NEW ENGLAND

  • Preseason rank: . Difference from the end of last season: .
  • Run Blocking: D. Pass Blocking: C+. Total: C-.
  • Projected Starters: LT Nate Solder, LG Shaq Mason, C Bryan Stork, RG Tre’ Jackson, RT Sebastian Vollmer
  • Key Backups: Marcus Cannon, Jonathan Cooper, David Andrews, LaAdrian Waddle, Josh Kline

The Patriots’ offensive line is undergoing serious change, especially at the interior positions. The projection of Mason-Stork-Jackson is just a wild guess at this point. All three of those projections could be wrong. The team has active competition from several players, including Jonathan Cooper, a former top 10 pick in the draft acquired in a trade from Arizona. David Andrews started most of the last year at center, and the team could keep him in that spot, and move Stork to guard or even swing tackle. The Patriots will be happy to get Nate Solder back at left tackle after missing all of the last season with an ACL injury. Sebastian Vollmer did an admirable job filling in for Solder and will be able to move back to right tackle, a position where is more comfortable. Getting backup tackles Cameron Fleming and Marcus Cannon back on the bench is a positive development. The Patriots offensive line is often overrated because of the speed which their quarterback gets rid of the ball, but make no mistake, this is a line with only two settled starting positions. While they have interesting prospects, there is a clear lack of elite talent, compared to other teams. 

SEATTLE

  • Preseason rank: 32nd. Difference from the end of last season: -8.
  • Run Blocking: D-. Pass Blocking: D-. Total: D-. 
  • Projected Starters: LT Garry Gilliam, LG Rees Odhiambo, C Justin Britt, RG Germain Ifedi, RT J’Marcus Webb.
  • Key Backups: Bradley Sowell, Mark Glowinski, Kristjan Sokoli, Terry Poole, Patrick Lewis.

The Seahawks’ offensive line is tough to predict at this point. They have competition at nearly every position, and they have not invested much in the unit at all. The team believes offensive line coach Tom Cable can turn any prospect into a starter, and that belief will be tested this season. Left tackle could be manned by Garry Gilliam, who turned in a below average effort at right tackle last season. The coaches have a ton of confidence in Gilliam, and believe he  has the athleticism to be a top left tackle. That is a projection at this point and the left tackle position could instead be manned by Bradley Sowell, free agent addition from Arizona.  Left guard will be a battle between Mark Glowinski and third round pick Rees Odhiambo out of Boise State. Justin Britt was the left guard last season, but will be moved to center this year to battle with Patrick Lewis. Germain Ifedi was the team’s late first round pick, and he should win a starting spot as a rookie, probably at right guard. Nominal right tackle J’Marcus Webb can be considered a journeyman at this point in his career, and he could face serious competition at the spot from Sowell and last year’s fourth-round pick Terry Poole. There is just a ton of uncertainty with the Seahawks’ offensive line and until the lineup resolves, and the players stop changing positions, it will be tough to expect much from the unit.

As usual, if you have a question about a situation not specifically talked about in this article, please feel free to contact me via twitter or in the Shark Pool.