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Offensive Line Rankings

Extensive write up of each NFL team's offensive line, prior to the 2013 preseason. 

2013 Update

Besides the personnel updates to reflect free agency and the draft, there have been three changes to the methodology behind the offensive line grades.

Most significantly, right tackles are being weighted more heavily than in last year's rankings. While they are not as ranked as heavily as left tackles, they are being weighted more heavily than the other three positions. This is due in part to the developments in the 2013 draft, which saw three teams in the top five picks select a stud left tackle, with plans to play him at right tackle. Another team, San Diego, took a pure right tackle in the top twelve picks.

Even though the free agent market wasn't kind to this position, it is clear that the league has emphasized finding pass blocking capable right tackles for their offenses. While it is still true that a blind side pass rusher can end a quarterback's season, being able to see the marauding pass rusher from the front side isn't such a huge benefit to the passing game. Quarterbacks need to have at least two or three seconds to make a throw, and being able to see the right tackle get beat is cold comfort to floundering offenses. Going forward, I hope it's a fair change. Would love to hear feedback if people disagree.

In addition, offensive line coaches were de-emphasized by a factor of 50% from last year's rankings. While a quality coach is still very important, it is apparent that the positional coaches can only do so much. The talent on the field is the most important.

One final note, the All-Pro honors used to only count for the Associated Press list; however, this year we will also include Pro Football Writers Association and the Sporting News lists. These lists often feature the same players, so this should not be a big change.

Rank
Team
Overall Grade
Run Blocking
Pass Protection
1
San Francisco 49ers
A+
A+
A
2
Houston Texans
A
A+
A-
3
Minnesota Vikings
A
A+
A-
4
Seattle Seahawks
A
A+
B+
5
Cleveland Browns
A
A+
B+
6
New England Patriots
A-
A-
A-
7
Tennessee Titans
A-
A-
A-
8
Denver Broncos
A-
B+
A-
9
Carolina Panthers
B+
A-
B
10t
Baltimore Ravens
B+
B+
B+
10t
Cincinnati Bengals
B+
A-
A-
12
St. Louis Rams
B
B+
B-
13
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
B
B+
B-
14
Jacksonville Jaguars
B-
B-
B-
15
New York Jets
B-
B
C+
16
Washington Redskins
B-
B+
C
17
New York Giants
B-
C+
B
18
Philadelphia Eagles
C+
C
B-
19
Chicago Bears
C+
B-
C-
20
Pittsburgh Steelers
C+
B-
C-
21
Oakland Raiders
C+
C+
C+
22
Kansas City Chiefs
C
C
C
23t
Dallas Cowboys
C
C+
C-
23t
New Orleans Saints
C
C-
C+
25
Miami Dolphins
C
C+
C-
26
Arizona Cardinals
C-
C+
D+
27
Indianapolis Colts
C-
D+
C
28
Green Bay Packers
D+
D
C-
29
Buffalo Bills
D+
C-
D
30
Atlanta Falcons
D
D-
D+
31
Detroit Lions
D-
D-
D+
32
San Diego Chargers
D-
D-
D-

San Francisco 49ers

Overall Rank: 1st

  • Overall Grade: A+
  • Run Blocking Grade: A+
  • Pass Blocking Grade: A

Final 2012 Rank: 1st

Grades

  • Left Tackle Joe Staley: A+
  • Left Guard Mike Iupati: A+
  • Center Jonathan Goodwin: B+
  • Right Guard Alex Boone: B+
  • Right Tackle Anthony Davis: B
  • Swing Tackle Adam Synder: C+
  • Line Coach Tim Drevno: B+
  • Cohesion: A+

Notes

The San Francisco 49ers offensive line starts the new league year where they left off last year, at the top of the rankings. This line imposed their will on the opposition, especially in the running game. The line returns intact and provides this unit with a perfect cohesion score. The left side of the line features AP All-Pro's in Joe Staley and Mike Iupati. Both of these players are dominant and Iupati is arguably the best guard in football right now. Iupati actually had a shoulder procedure this offseason, but should be ready for the start of training camp. Jonathan Goodwin continues to do a very good job at the center position. Right guard Alex Boone is underrated and performed at a Pro Bowl level last season. He is a rare upgrade in these rankings graded at that level despite not getting the honor (yet). Boone is a beast in run blocking and a player watch for those honors in 2013. Right tackle Anthony Davis has really matured in the last season and rounds out what is undoubtedly the top group in football. In terms of depth, the team took a small hit with the retirement of Leonard Davis. However, recent addition Adam Snyder rejoins his old squad from the Cardinals and can provide immediate emergency depth across the board. Snyder will take Iupati's reps in minicamp, for example. There are some interesting names on the bench, including backup center Daniel Kilgore and former Temple undrafted free agent Wayne Tribue. But overall the starting lineup is the story here and any interruption in personnel would create a hit. The 49ers get this top ranking because of their dominant rushing attack. This team is extremely dangerous rushing the football, and this offensive line group is shaping up to be really special. Someone should start thinking of a nickname.

Houston Texans

Overall Rank: 2nd

  • Overall Grade: A
  • Run Blocking Grade: A+
  • Pass Blocking Grade: A-

Final 2012 Rank: 2nd

Grades

  • Left Tackle Duane Brown: A+
  • Left Guard Wade Smith: A
  • Center Chris Myers: A
  • Right Guard Ben Jones: C+
  • Right Tackle Derek Newton: C+
  • Swing Tackle Ryan Harris: C+
  • Line Coach John Benton: B+
  • Cohesion: A

Notes

The Houston Texans offensive line was very successful in 2012 and look to build on that success in 2013. Duane Brown is arguably the best left tackle in the game and continues to play at an extremely high level. Left guard Wade Smith and center Chris Myers were 2012 Pro Bowl honorees, and together with Brown the left side of the line is extremely formidable. In fact, the Texans are the only team in the league with three current Pro Bowlers on the offensive line. Smith especially was a load in the running attack. The right side of the line is less certain. Second year man Ben Jones (originally out of Georgia) looks to build on a successful rookie season, and could slide over to center in case of an injury to Myers. The right tackle position is somewhat of a free-for-all, and this is the main reason why the Texans are not the top of the rankings. There is currently a three way competition between last year's starter Derek Newton, recently re-signed veteran Ryan Harris and third round draft pick out of North Carolina, Brennan Williams. Newton is currently penciled in as the starter but clearly the team is not happy with that situation. It would not be surprising if Newton loses his starting job, should he have a bad preseason. Williams is coming off of injury but he is the player the team hopes win the position in preseason. Williams will be given every opportunity to win that job. However, Ryan Harris is a steady vet and could be in the mix for starter's reps until Williams is ready. Brandon Brooks is an interesting depth name as he is a massive human being and continues to develop at guard and tackle spots. David Quessenberry is a gritty former sixth round pick out of San Jose State who could win a reserve spot with the Texans. Overall the Texans have a strong system and execute it to perfection. Factor in the triple Pro Bowl left side and it can be one of the league's very best running attacks.

Minnesota Vikings

Overall Rank: 3rd

  • Overall Grade: A
  • Run Blocking Grade: A+
  • Pass Blocking Grade: A-

Final 2012 Rank: 7th

Grades

  • Left Tackle Matt Kalil: A
  • Left Guard Charlie Johnson: B
  • Center John Sullivan: A+
  • Right Guard Brandon Fusco: C+
  • Right Tackle Phil Loadholt: B
  • Swing Tackle Demarcus Love: C+
  • Line Coach Jeff Davidson: B+
  • Cohesion: A+

Notes

The Minnesota Vikings offensive line is a story about how quickly things can turn around in this league. It was only two years ago, this line was in shambles and the team was picking a left tackle in the top five of the draft. That left tackle turned out to be Matt Kalil, who started all 16 games and made the Pro Bowl as a rookie. After the season, news leaked that Kalil was playing the final three games while suffering from pneumonia, and he did give up two sacks during that time. Nevertheless, his toughness must be applauded and Kalil is the cornerstone for this unit. The draft pick of Kalil allowed Charlie Johnson to slide over to left guard, where he does a solid job. Center John Sullivan made the Pro Football Writers Association's All-Pro team, and he was a key ingredient on many of Adrian Peterson's long runs. Brandon Fusco is an extremely capable run blocker who has his weaknesses in pass protection. Nonetheless, Fusco received extra money from the league's performance based bonus system, indicating that he outperformed his contract last year. Phil Loadholt has a similar profile however he has the benefit of being extremely massive and his size covers up some of his pass blocking deficiencies. If there is competition on this line it will be at right guard, where former Panthers starter Seth Olsen lurks, along with rookie Jeff Baca out of UCLA. Baca was a workout warrior at the Indianapolis combine and is known for being a tough guy, among tough guys. Baca is a safe bet for a guy who will start a fight in training camp. Joe Berger backs up Sullivan and is serviceable in that role, while Troy Kropog could be on his last chance, battling Demarcus Love for a swing tackle position. This line returns all five starters from the end of the 2012 season, for a perfect cohesion score. The Vikings' offensive line is especially good in run blocking and when they really get going, will routinely create a new line of scrimmage two yards deep in the defense.

Seattle Seahawks

Overall Rank: 4th

  • Overall Grade: A
  • Run Blocking Grade: A+
  • Pass Blocking Grade: B+

Final 2012 Rank: 17th

Grades

  • Left Tackle Russell Okung: A
  • Left Guard James Carpenter: C+
  • Center Max Unger: A+
  • Right Guard Paul McQuistan: C+
  • Right Tackle Breno Giacomini: B
  • Swing Tackle Mike Person: C+
  • Line Coach Tom Cable: A
  • Cohesion: A+

The Seattle Seahawks offensive line had some injuries, and limped to the finish line last season. This is how they finished seventeenth in last season's rankings. However, they are healthy and return all five starters, good for a perfect cohesion score. Left tackle Russell Okung finally reached his Pro Bowl potential and was rewarded for a top notch season with a trip to Hawaii. Center Max Unger was an AP All-Pro and was a dominant player in both phases of the game. These players are the stars of this unit, and drive this high ranking. However both guard positions and right tackle are more upgradable. Right tackle Breno Giacomini is a surprisingly decent player who started all sixteen games last season for the Seahawks, while playing with an elbow injury that required surgery after the season. Giacomini is far from a perfect player, but overall he is more good than bad, and is becoming a favorite of both fans and coaches. At left guard, James Carpenter is a former first round pick who has been beset by injuries. At right guard, Paul McQuistan has been the definition of “just a guy.” Neither guard is particularly reliable. Both players will be pushed by an interesting list of depth names, including former Wisconsin Badger John Moffitt and former college defensive tackle J.R. Sweezy. Mike Person is likely to be the sixth man in at swing tackle, although he could be pushed for that job by seventh round pick Michael Bowie out of Northwestern State. The Seahawks have built a really tough and high performing offensive line, and few teams are better at pounding the rock.

Cleveland Browns

Overall Rank: 5th

  • Overall Grade: A
  • Run Blocking Grade: A+
  • Pass Blocking Grade: B+

Final 2012 Rank: 4th

Grades

  • Left Tackle Joe Thomas: A+
  • Left Guard Jason Pinkston: B
  • Center Alex Mack: B+
  • Right Guard Shawn Lauvao: C+
  • Right Tackle Mitchell Schwartz: B
  • Swing Tackle Oneil Cousins: C+
  • Line Coach George Warhop: B
  • Cohesion: A+

Notes

Left tackle Joe Thomas continues to perform at an All-Pro level and is one of the most talented offensive linemen in football. On a personal level, there's a lot to like about this rugged outdoorsman, who chose to go fishing instead of attend the NFL draft in New York City. Center Alex Mack is a former Pro Bowl selection that still has sound technique. The story about Mack playing through appendicitis is legendary (he got surgery during the bye week and started the next game). Getting left guard Jason Pinkston back from injury is a huge boost to this group. Pinkston missed most of last year with a very serious blood clotting issue in his lungs; it was a life-threatening situation and he was rumored to never play football again. Right guard Shawn Lauvao and Right tackle Mitchell Schwartz are, like Pinkston, converted left tackles from college and are coming along in their development. Lauvao is beatable in pass protection but still is young enough to improve. Schwartz was a rookie who played like a veteran last season and was good in both phases of the game. Schwartz has good football bloodlines as he is from the same Cal program as Mack, with an older brother Geoff already in the league. John Greco was a gritty replacement when Pinkston went down and should battle for a depth spot with Ryan Miller, another left tackle converted to guard. Oneil Cousins provides depth at the swing tackle position but could see competition for this job from rookie Garrett Gilkey out of Chadron State. Undrafted center Garth Gerhart (younger brother of Toby) will battle with Notre Dame rookie Braxton Cave for the backup center job. This line returns all five starters from the end of the 2012 season, for a perfect cohesion score. Overall the Browns line is perennially underrated but they tend to take over games with run blocking, especially at home where emotions run high.

New England Patriots

Overall Rank: 6th

  • Overall Grade: A-
  • Run Blocking Grade: A-
  • Pass Blocking Grade: A-

Final 2012 Rank: 11th

Grades

  • Left Tackle Nate Solder: B
  • Left Guard Logan Mankins: A+
  • Center Ryan Wendell: B
  • Right Guard Dan Connolly: C+
  • Right Tackle Sebastian Vollmer: A
  • Swing Tackle Will Svitek: C+
  • Line Coach Dante Scarnecchia: A
  • Cohesion: A+

Notes

Left tackle Nate Solder is an up-and-coming player at his position, known for rare agility. Solder still has some lapses but he makes a fearsome tandem with perennial All-Pro Logan Mankins, and a great deal of the team's run production happens over this left side of the line. The Patriots' line missed Mankins for the first half of 2012 (departed Donald Thomas saw many reps) and is a much better unit with him in the lineup. The lost of Thomas should not affect the Patriots, as long as the guards stay healthy. Ryan Wendell has been a surprisingly decent option at center, and is especially known for his run blocking. Right guard Dan Connolly is another option at center and his versatility is a plus for this unit. However Connolly is probably the weak spot of the line, as he can be beaten in pass protection. Right tackle Sebastian Vollmer is a former All-Pro performer who was re-signed for good money in the offseason. This signing was key to the Patriots' spring, as doing so kept the same five starters together, good for a perfect cohesion score. Former Falcons tackle Will Svitek was an interesting depth signing, as he has legitimate starting experience, should any starter succumb to injury. Line coach Dante Scarnecchia continues to be one of the best positional coaches in the game. Marcus Cannon is a developing right tackle prospect with size apparently in good health. Still, the signing of Vollmer doesn't speak much to Cannon's future with the team. Other depth names include Nick McDonald and Markus Zusevics. Overall this line starts the season as one of the league's best units, and should remain high in the rankings if they can avoid injury.

Tennessee Titans

Overall Rank: 7th

  • Overall Grade: A-
  • Run Blocking Grade: A-
  • Pass Blocking Grade: A-

Final 2012 Rank: 14th

Grades

  • Left Tackle Michael Roos: A
  • Left Guard Andy Levitre: A
  • Center Fernando Velasco: C+
  • Right Guard Chance Warmack: B
  • Right Tackle David Stewart: A
  • Swing Tackle Mike Otto: C+
  • Line Coach Bruce Matthews: A+
  • Cohesion: C+

Notes

As 2012 wound down, the Titans placed Steve Hutchinson and David Stewart on season-ending injured reserve. This made a total of four starters on injured reserve for last year, which explains how they ended the year fourteenth in our rankings. The only player to stay healthy was their best player, left tackle Michael Roos. Roos is a former All-Pro. Roos has not played quite to that level lately but he still remains an excellent pass protector on the left side. Free agent addition Andy Levitre (former of the Buffalo Bills) is one of this year's rare upgrades, as he is being graded as a Pro Bowl player in our rankings, despite not receiving that honor (yet). Levitre is a versatile player who was employed in a variety of roles in Buffalo, including left tackle. Levitre received big money from the Titans and is known as a lock down pass protector within league circles, despite being an extremely underrated player in the public eye. At center, Fernando Velasco will see competition with fourth round rookie Brian Schwenke from Cal. Right guard is being given to first round rookie Chance Warmack, projected to have a Will Shields type of career in the league. David Stewart rounds out the starting five, and will be backed up by Mike Otto in the swing role. Rob Turner, signed from the Rams, is a tough player, who also has starting experience at several interior spots. Turner actually received money in the league's performance based bonus system, indicating he outperformed his contract last season. Chris Spencer also could make the team as a depth player on the interior. The depth that the Titans have could be among the league's best, and they really invested in this unit in the offseason. Overall this line sees several changes (two new guards, possibly a new center) and that hurts near term cohesion. But if these players gel, under the watchful eye of Hall-of-Famer Bruce Matthews, this line could really rise in the rankings as the season progresses.

Denver Broncos

Overall Rank: 8th

  • Overall Grade: A-
  • Run Blocking Grade: B+
  • Pass Blocking Grade: A-

Final 2012 Rank: 17th

Grades

  • Left Tackle Ryan Clady: A+
  • Left Guard Zane Beadles: A
  • Center J.D. Walton: C+
  • Right Guard Louis Vasquez: C+
  • Right Tackle Orlando Franklin: B
  • Swing Tackle Chris Clark: C+
  • Line Coach Dave Magazu: B+
  • Cohesion: B+

Notes

The tackle positions remain key for the Denver Broncos. Left tackle Ryan Clady is the Broncos' franchise player and he is one of the more athletic pass protectors in the league. But there are issues. Clady is recovering from an offseason shoulder surgery, but should be fine for the start of the season. Clady has not signed his tag yet, but is likely to do so before Week 1 and enjoy a ten million-dollar payday. Solid starter Orlando Franklin mans the right side and does a good job without issues. Chris Clark, restricted free agent swing tackle, is a capable backup with sixty games experience (six starts), and will take Ryan Clady's reps with the first team while Clady recovers. At left guard, Zane Beadles made his first Pro Bowl in 2012 and is blossoming into a fan favorite for his tough blocking. The tackle positions and left guard are the good news in the story of the Broncos' offensive line. However, the center and right guard positions can be upgraded upon. By the end of the 2012 season, two of the Broncos' starters (center and right guard) were seriously injured, which explains the lines' struggles down the stretch. Despite changes, these two positions could remain a problem for the Broncos. This season, the Broncos signed a new right guard in Louis Vasquez. Vasquez, formerly of San Diego, will compete with last year's starter Chris Kuper for the starting position. Vasquez is a larger player but both are vulnerable in pass protection. Meanwhile, the Broncos are throwing bodies at the center problem, as incumbent starter J.D. Walton will compete with at least four other centers to keep his job. Most threatening to Walton is former fourth round draft pick Phillip Blake, a second year man out of Baylor. The cohesion of this line is slightly impacted by the uncertainty at the center and right guard positions. But overall this line can improve if Ryan Clady answers all of his questions and has a big year.

Carolina Panthers

Overall Rank: 9th

  • Overall Grade: B+
  • Run Blocking Grade: A-
  • Pass Blocking Grade: B

Final 2012 Rank: 10th

Grades

  • Left Tackle Jordan Gross: A
  • Left Guard Amini Silatolu: C+
  • Center Ryan Kalil: A
  • Right Guard Geoff Hangartner: C+
  • Right Tackle Byron Bell: C+
  • Swing Tackle Bruce Campbell: C+
  • Line Coach John Matsko: B+
  • Cohesion: A+

Notes

On the surface, the story of the Carolina Panthers offensive line is a boring one. They return the same five starters as last year. But dig deeper there are issues. Recently left tackle Jordan Gross took a payout to stay with the team. Gross is a former All-Pro who is slipping from that form as he ages. He was once a top five left tackle, now he's more like a top ten type of talent. Gross will have lock down games but they all aren't gems. Center Ryan Kalil is another former All-Pro who had a disaster of a season in 2012. Kalil took out a full-page ad guaranteeing a Super Bowl, and then went down for the year with a Lisfranc fracture. Kalil was also approached about a pay-cut, which he accepted in the offseason. Kalil is expected to be a full participant in training camp, but is another player who bears watching. When these two players are good, the Panthers line can be elite, especially in the running game. Left guard Amini Silatolu had an up and down campaign as a rookie, starting out of training camp, but eventually was placed on the injured reserve with a dislocated wrist. Silatolu will face competition from feisty fourth rounder Edmund Kugbila out of Valdosta State. Right guard Geoff Hangartner is a decent option, as long as he is not playing center. Byron Bell is a serviceable right tackle, who is generally underrated. Bell will sometimes succumb to elite pass rushers but actually received more money from the team this offseason through the performance-based bonus program. Swing tackle Bruce Campbell is an interesting prospect, as he has rare foot speed and can pass protect extremely well, given the opportunity. Campbell, still only 24, plays as an extra tight end and actually has the speed to be used in pass patterns. While Campbell has glaring technical deficiencies, the team could be looking him as a possible long-term replacement for the thirty-three year-old Gross. Should injury strike, depth such as Jeff Byers, Garry Williams and Thomas Austin are not reliable as starters. Overall this line is ranked highly but definitely has questions.

Baltimore Ravens

Overall Rank: 10th (tie)

  • Overall Grade: B+
  • Run Blocking Grade: B+
  • Pass Blocking Grade: B-

Final 2012 Rank: 6th

Grades

  • Left Tackle Bryant McKinnie: B+
  • Left Guard Kelechi Osemele: B+
  • Center Geno Gradkowski: C+
  • Right Guard Marshal Yanda: A+
  • Right Tackle Michael Oher: B
  • Swing Tackle Jah Reid: C+
  • Line Coach Andy Moeller: B
  • Cohesion: B+

Notes

The Baltimore Ravens' offensive line was a major contributor toward the team's Super Bowl championship last season. The line was reshuffled just before the playoffs, with Bryant McKinnie taking over at left tackle. This late change proved to be genius and it was huge that the team resigned McKinnie this offseason. Left guard Kelechi Osemele is another rare upgrade player who is receiving Pro Bowl grade despite not receiving that honor (yet). He is a mauler who is really blossoming into one of the better guards in the game. Osemele is also a hold the fort player at RT, which could factor into the team's negotiation with right tackle Michael Oher. The center position takes a huge hit this offseason with the retirement of Matt Birk. The loss of Birk is the main reason why this line isn't ranked higher. Geno Gradkowski was drafted to replace Birk but it is unlikely that Gradkowski will play at the high level of Birk at first. Ryan Jensen out of Colorado State – Pueblo was drafted in the sixth round to compete with Gradkowski, and possibly provide an alternative should Gradkowski not be ready for prime time. Right guard Marshal Yanda continues to perform at an All-Pro level and is easily among the top guards in the league at this time. He's a dominant player, especially pulling, who is a big part of the team's success on offense. While he can play on the left side, Michael Oher looks more comfortable at right tackle. Oher is nearing the end of his rookie deal and his value is uncertain. Oher has Pro Bowl flashes but also gives up penalties and isn't consistent. The Ravens drafted Ricky Wagner in the fifth round out of Wisconsin to provide competition at right tackle. Wagner will compete with Ramon Harewood for the swing tackle role. Harewood might be on his last chance with the Ravens this preseason, as the team has seemingly done everything possible to make sure he doesn't see the field. Jack Cornell is a developmental name to watch as the team has been stashing him on the roster. Overall this unit is talented and can be ranked higher if two things happen: first center position becomes more certain in preseason, and secondly Bryant McKinnie stays in shape for a whole season.

Cincinnati Bengals

Overall Rank: 10th (tie)

  • Overall Grade: B+
  • Run Blocking Grade: B-
  • Pass Blocking Grade: A-

Final 2012 Rank: 25th

Grades

  • Left Tackle Andrew Whitworth: A
  • Left Guard Travelle Wharton: B
  • Center Trevor Robinson: C+
  • Right Guard Kevin Zeitler: B
  • Right Tackle Andre Smith: B+
  • Swing Tackle Anthony Collins: B
  • Line Coach Paul Alexander: A
  • Cohesion: B

Notes

The Cincinnati Bengals' offensive line was beset with injuries last season, with several key players on the injured reserve list by playoff time. Left tackle Andrew Whitworth was one of those players injured by the end of the year, but he also made his first Pro Bowl in 2012. Whitworth is a top notch left tackle, who also boasts a touchdown catch in 2010 on his resume. Left guard Travelle Wharton was injured in preseason last year and could be a significant addition to this unit now that he is fully healthy. In Wharton's absence, Clint Boling filled in capably. Boling received additional money through the league's performance based bonus system, which is awarded to players who outperformed their contracts. Center Trevor Robinson parlayed an undrafted free agency signing into a starting position, and seems unlikely to relinquish this role. Robinson is a fiery player and could be a player to watch for grade increase as the season progresses. Still, Kyle Cook lurks and will try to win his starting role back this preseason. Former first round selections Kevin Zeitler and Andre Smith do solid jobs at right guard and right tackle respectively. It took a while but eventually the team re-signed Smith, preserving the cohesion score of this unit. Anthony Collins is one of the rare cases where the swing tackle is actually starter quality, and the team could actually trade him to a tackle-needy team at some point. Mike Pollak is an interesting depth signing and could backup Zeitler at right guard. Dennis Roland and fifth round rookie Tanner Hawkinson provide depth options at tackle. Few (if any) teams in the league have as robust options on the bench as the Bengals. Overall, this unit could be rise in the rankings to be listed among the league's elite, should the center position settle down and they remain healthy.

St. Louis Rams

Overall Rank: 12th

  • Overall Grade: B+
  • Run Blocking Grade: A-
  • Pass Blocking Grade: B

Final 2012 Rank: 28th

Grades

  • Left Tackle Jake Long: A
  • Left Guard Shelley Smith: C+
  • Center Scott Wells: B+
  • Right Guard Harvey Dahl: C+
  • Right Tackle Rodger Saffold: B
  • Swing Tackle Joe Barksdale: C+
  • Line Coach Paul Boudreau: B+
  • Cohesion: B+

Notes

The big news for the Rams is the acquisition of left tackle Jake Long. Long had four Pro Bowl appearances in his five years in Miami and is actually underrated at this point. Some will say he's overpaid, but regardless he's an elite left tackle in the prime of his career. Long returning to the Midwest was apparently a priority; it was reported that Long could have taken more to stay in Miami. Adding Long to this group had the further benefit of sliding Rodger Saffold to right tackle, solving that problem with one addition. Saffold is a solid player who should excel in his new role. The Rams return all four other starters from the end of last season, besides Long, which is very good for their cohesion score. Left guard Shelley Smith will battle with Rokevious Watkins for a starting position. Neither player is especially great, but either would benefit by playing next to Long. Former first rounder Chris Williams is back with the team, and could also be in the mix for this position. Center Scott Wells is a player to watch, as he has had several surgeries on the same knee. When healthy, Wells is a Pro Bowl caliber center who can make a real difference. However, it is a question how healthy the thirty-two year-old is at this point. Wells has to prove on the field that his injury problems are behind him. Right guard Harvey Dahl finished last season on the injured reserve list with a torn bicep. When healthy, Dahl is an upgradable player. Dahl can push the pile in running situations but can be exploited in pass protection, and is somewhat penalty prone. If either of these starters falter, fourth round center Barrett Jones out of Alabama should be a future starter for the Rams. Jones has his own injury issues, actually playing with a Lisfranc injury through the final weeks of the Tide's national championship campaign. Jones may not be ready for Week 1, but he is versatile and will get a shot somewhere along the line. Joe Barksdale is the swing tackle but isn't the greatest athlete. Ty Nsekhe, a massive former Arena league signing with the Colts, could push Barksdale for the swing tackle job. Overall this Rams line is vastly improved from 2012 and if they stay healthy will be among the league's better lines.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Overall Rank: 13th

  • Overall Grade: B
  • Run Blocking Grade: B+
  • Pass Blocking Grade: B-

Final 2012 Rank: 12th

Grades

  • Left Tackle Donald Penn: B+
  • Left Guard Carl Nicks: A
  • Center Jeremy Zuttah: B
  • Right Guard Davin Joseph: B+
  • Right Tackle Demar Dotson: C+
  • Swing Tackle Jamon Meredith: C+
  • Line Coach Bob Bostad: B
  • Cohesion: B+

Notes

The league has an award for come back player of the year, and this Tampa Bay offensive line could be the come back story of the year. Left guard Carl Nicks ended last season on the injured reserve list (toe injury). Before that point, Nicks had never missed a game in his career. This team greatly improves with him back in the lineup. Right guard Davin Joseph hurt his knee in preseason and spent the year on the injured reserve list. Joseph is a former first round pick and former Pro Bowl selection. The team getting him and Nicks back from injury would be huge improvements. Left tackle Donald Penn is a former undrafted free agent who made good. Penn has become a Pro Bowler known for his aggression, and is a capable performer in pass protection. Some trivia, Penn caught several passes and blocked an extra point in 2009. Right tackle Demar Dotson is another former undrafted free agent who signed a four-year deal to remain with the team in the offseason. Dotson is known as a workmanlike player with upside to improve over the long term. Center Jeremy Zuttah is solid and known as an extremely versatile lineman, having starting experience at both guard spots. Swing tackle Jamon Meredith did not perform well when pressed into a starting role and might be in the process of being phased out (some depth charts list him as a backup guard). Other depth names include tough guy Ted Larsen in the interior and new undrafted free agents Jason Weaver, Bryce Schwab, Jace Daniels and Nick Spellers. I usually wouldn't mention undrafted rookies in this article, but the Bucs seem to emphasize these types of players. This line is built in a unique fashion, paying huge money to the guards but finding athletic and inexpensive tackles. Overall this is an extremely talented (and expensive) offensive line, and can rise in the rankings to be one of the best if they remain healthy.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Overall Rank: 14th

  • Overall Grade: B-
  • Run Blocking Grade: B-
  • Pass Blocking Grade: B-

Final 2012 Rank: 22nd

Grades

  • Left Tackle Eugene Monroe: B+
  • Left Guard Will Rackley: C+
  • Center Brad Meester: B
  • Right Guard Uche Nwaneri: B+
  • Right Tackle Luke Joeckel: B
  • Swing Tackle Cameron Bradfield: C+
  • Line Coach George Yarno: A
  • Cohesion: B+

Notes

The Jaguars were one of three teams to take a top left tackle high in the draft, with plans to play him at right tackle. Many of the pre-draft pundits (and Jaguars fans) believed that since the team had Eugene Monroe, and he was one of their best players, a pick such as Texas A&M's Luke Joeckel was not likely. The fact that the Jaguars went offensive tackle signifies how the league is changing, and how pass protection is emphasized at all positions. As the team learned last year, having a bad right tackle leaves the quarterback vulnerable. Opposing defenses will exploit any vulnerability. Adding Joeckel (and removing Cameron Bradfield) boosts the Jaguars ranking almost ten spots. Eugene Monroe is one of the few players in these rankings to receive a Pro Bowl grade, despite not receiving that honor (yet). Monroe does an excellent job in pass protection and is one of the league's better left tackles. Left guard Will Rackley is on some thin ice, as he missed all of 2012 with an ankle injury, and wasn't great as a rookie in 2011. Austin Pasztor replaced Rackley toward the end of the season and could compete for this job in preseason. Center Brad Meester is a steady veteran who continues to play at a decent level as his career winds down. Right guard Uche Nwaneri is an up-and-coming player with size and agility. Nwaneri is a player to watch for Pro Bowl honors in 2013. Finally the aforementioned Luke Joeckel will be a huge upgrade at right tackle, and his addition really changes the quality level of this unit. Joeckel may be moved to left tackle eventually but in the near term he should be instantly good in both phases of the game. Moving swing tackle Cameron Bradfield out of the starting lineup is a case of addition by subtraction, as he was one of the most exploited starters in football. The depth on this line is not great, as Mike Brewster has proven not to be a starting quality player. Jason Spitz is an addition who could backup interior line positions. New Like coach George Yarno brings with him a ton of pass blocking tips from his time with the Lions turning chicken you-know-what into chicken salad. Overall this line is hugely improved from last season and could continue their rise in the rankings if the quality at the left guard position improves.

New York Jets

Overall Rank: 15th

  • Overall Grade: B-
  • Run Blocking Grade: B
  • Pass Blocking Grade: C+

Final 2012 Rank: 3rd

Grades

  • Left Tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson: B+
  • Left Guard Brian Winters: C+
  • Center Nick Mangold: A
  • Right Guard Willie Colon: B
  • Right Tackle Austin Howard: B
  • Swing Tackle Vlad Ducasse C+
  • Line Coach Mike Devlin: B
  • Cohesion: B

Notes

The New York Jets lost both starting guards to free agency this offseason. Predicting the depth chart in May is like picking names out of a hat. Brian Winters, a third round pick out of Kent State, is the player Jets fans hope wins a job. Winters spent his career at left tackle but his best position is probably left guard. Winters can pass block and could win a job this summer, depending on how quickly he can learn a new position. There are several vets who will try to keep him on the bench. Local product Willie Colon returns home and is a decent bet for the other guard spot. Colon is prone to injury and penalty but he can run block when he feels like it. Vlad Ducasse played about 40% of the left guard reps last year but he will really have to step up to win a job. Former Detroit Lions guard Stephen Peterman had a bad year and was signed during the draft. Peterman has over 60 starts at right guard. All these veterans are problems in pass protection but all can be solid run blockers. Former Green Bay Packers left guard Caleb Schlauderaff is an interesting depth name at guard and center, and he also could be in the mix to compete for a starting job during preseason. In addition, the Jets drafted Virginia tackle Oday Aboushi in the fifth round, and he could be groomed for swing tackle. It's a real competition for jobs on the Jets this year. Unfortunately, none of these players are as good as Brandon Moore, who is still on the free agent market. Should Moore somehow rejoin the team, the Jets line would grade out at ninth overall in the offensive line rankings due to improved cohesion and Moore's individual grade of B+. But that's not a likely outcome unless Moore reduces his salary demands. However there is some certainty for the New York Jets offensive line. Left tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson and center Nick Mangold continue to play at a high level. Both are big money players and Mangold especially is the leader of this unit. Right tackle Austin Howard actually did a good job last season stepping in for Wayne Hunter. Howard is the Jets only starting restricted free agent and he received money from the league's performance based bonus system, indicating that he outplayed his contract. If Brian Winters can win a job in camp, this team has the ability to rise up the rankings.

Washington Redskins

Overall Rank: 16th

  • Overall Grade: B-
  • Run Blocking Grade: B+
  • Pass Blocking Grade: C

Final 2012 Rank: 26th

Grades

  • Left Tackle Trent Williams: A
  • Left Guard Kory Lichtensteiger: C+
  • Center Will Montgomery: C+
  • Right Guard Chris Chester: B
  • Right Tackle Tyler Polumbus: C+
  • Swing Tackle Jeremy Trueblood: C+
  • Line Coach Chris Foerster: B
  • Cohesion: A+

Notes

The Washington Redskins offensive line improves in our rankings as they bring back all five starters from last year, good for a perfect cohesion score. Even more than that, they run a very specific zone blocking system and run it well. Left tackle Trent Williams has matured and made his first Pro Bowl in 2012. Williams is an athletic pass protector and the cornerstone of this unit. Left guard Kory Lichtensteiger is a country-strong and versatile player, who sometimes has injury issues. Center Will Montgomery isn't a great fit in other systems but he works well in the Redskins' rushing attack. Montgomery is another versatile but injury prone player with starting experience at the guard positions. Montgomery could have to fend off recent signing Kevin Matthews (son of Hall-of-Famer Bruce). Right guard Chris Chester is an unassuming but effective starter who is actually among the league's better guards. The Redskins were judged harshly for giving Chester a large free agent contract, but he has been worth the cost. Right tackle Tyler Polumbus is a massive but limited starter, who could be seriously challenged by new addition Jeremy Trueblood. Trueblood is the brawling type that coaches can rely upon to start fights in training camp. In terms of depth, the Redskins have several interesting developmental names. Maurice Hurt is extremely versatile and can effectively spot start at almost any position in case of emergency. Adam Gettis and Josh LeRibeus are athletic depth options at the interior positions (who also can compete at center). Tony Pashos has signed on in an attempt to revive his career. Overall the Washington Redskins line is trending upwards. This unit can continue to improve with more consistency out of the left guard and right tackle positions. The good news is that they have legitimate depth options that could push the starters.

New York Giants

Overall Rank: 17th

  • Overall Grade: B-
  • Run Blocking Grade: C+
  • Pass Blocking Grade: B

Final 2012 Rank: 5th

Grades

  • Left Tackle Will Beatty: B
  • Left Guard Kevin Boothe: C+
  • Center David Baas: B
  • Right Guard Chris Snee: B+
  • Right Tackle Justin Pugh: B
  • Swing Tackle David Diehl: A
  • Line Coach Chris Foerster: B
  • Cohesion: B+

Notes

At left tackle, Will Beatty has developed into an athletically capable pass blocker. Center David Baas is a solid and tough mauler inside the line. Chris Snee is a former Pro Bowler who is rock solid at right guard. These are the known facts about the Giants offensive line. However, the line is somewhat of a confusing situation at two other spots: left guard and right tackle. Left guard is currently manned by below average starter Kevin Boothe, who briefly left the team but was re-signed on the cheap in the offseason. The Giants drafted Syracuse tackle Justin Pugh in the first round, and he could be a natural fit at left guard. However the Giants will to try him first at right tackle, where former fourth round pick out of Indiana James Brewer has been developing. Brewer is a player the team reportedly likes and will also be given his chance to start on the right side. If Brewer wins the implication is Pugh goes to guard. Meanwhile, David Diehl is a former All-Pro who has starting experience up and down the line, but is currently not listed as a starter. Diehl recently took a pay cut to stay with the Giants and for now he is penciled in as a swing tackle, or first man in the game in case of injury. It is interesting to note that if Diehl started at left guard, the Giants' ranking would be eleventh in the offensive line rankings, more in line with last year's high ranking. However it is not clear that the team has Diehl in their plans. Brandon Mosley (originally out of Auburn) is an interesting depth name, as he could compete for a starting position with a strong preseason. Jim Cordle is a solid emergency center. The Giants line has talent but it is unclear where each player will be playing in the near term. This line in general does better in pass protection than in run blocking, and were an excellent pass blocking unit in 2012 (after being dreadful in 2011). Overall this offensive line can improve to the top half of the rankings if the musical chairs stop and the starting positions firm up in the preseason.

Philadelphia Eagles

Overall Rank: 18th

  • Overall Grade: C+
  • Run Blocking Grade: C
  • Pass Blocking Grade: B-

Final 2012 Rank: 32nd

Grades

  • Left Tackle Jason Peters: A
  • Left Guard Evan Mathis: B
  • Center Jason Kelce: C+
  • Right Guard Todd Herremans: B
  • Right Tackle Lane Johnson: B
  • Swing Tackle Dennis Kelly: C+
  • Line Coach Jeff Stoutland: B
  • Cohesion: B

Notes

The Philadelphia Eagles offensive line was absolutely decimated by injury last season, which is how they ended up at the bottom of last year's final rankings. This is another possible comeback story of the season. Getting players such as left tackle Jason Peters back should be a huge boost. Peters was arguably the best tackle in football before his Achilles tendon injury. With medical science in it's current state he should come back all the way. Left guard Evan Mathis had a somewhat of a letdown year after receiving a second contract and will try to rebound into the borderline Pro Bowl player he was two seasons ago. Center Jason Kelce might be underrated in our rankings; he has the ability to be a good starter, if he stays healthy. Right guard Todd Herremans was excellent at guard earlier in his career and moving him to this position from right tackle should pay dividends. Right tackle Lane Johnson is a physical specimen who was selected with the fourth pick in the draft, and will start immediately. No one really knows what new head coach Chip Kelly will do in the league, but it's a safe bet that he will stock his team with players like Lane Johnson who are incredibly athletic with rare gifts. At Oregon, Chip Kelly's teams were known for fast tempo (many plays, quick snaps) and an emphasis on the rushing attack. Both of these tactics are likely to make the jobs of the offensive linemen easier, at least in comparison to the pass-heavy attack of Andy Reid. In terms of depth, Dennis Kelly has potential to step in at either right guard or right tackle, should injury strike. Former first round pick Danny Watkins will take Evan Mathis' snaps in mini camps as Mathis is recovering from a minor ankle procedure. Watkins could be on his last chance with this team as he has played poorly last year. The Reynolds brothers, Matt and Dallas, have lost their champion in fellow BYU alum Andy Reid and will be fighting for jobs. Dallas Reynolds played a ton of snaps at center in relief of Kelce, and actually received money through the league's performance based bonus system, indicating that he outplayed his contract. Matt Kopa is familiar to Chip Kelly from when he played for Stanford and could be a swing tackle. Overall the Eagles seem to be moving in a more athletic direction and this line should be vastly improved from last year. This line can rise in the rankings if they remain healthy and build cohesion.

Chicago Bears

Overall Rank: 19th

  • Overall Grade: C+
  • Run Blocking Grade: B-
  • Pass Blocking Grade: C-

Final 2012 Rank: 29th

Grades

  • Left Tackle Jermon Bushrod: A
  • Left Guard Kyle Long: B
  • Center Roberto Garza: B
  • Right Guard Gabe Carimi: C+
  • Right Tackle J'Marcus Webb: B
  • Swing Tackle Jonathan Scott: C+
  • Line Coach Aaron Kromer: B+
  • Cohesion: C+

Notes

The Chicago Bears made a real effort to improve their line this offseason, and the result is a ranking ten slots higher than where they ended last season. The Bears made several free agency additions, but none were bigger impact than bringing Jermon Bushrod from New Orleans to play left tackle. Bushrod has made the Pro Bowl in the last two seasons and is known for being a solid pass protector without need of tight end or running back help. This move allows former left tackle J'Marcus Webb to move back to right tackle, a position where he started his career and likely to be more comfortable. Webb is still a relatively young player, he and Bushrod could be long term bookends in the Bears' system. The Bears made a high profile selection of Kyle Long in the first round. Kyle is the son of Howie and brother of Chris, and many thought he was a blatant reach at that point in the round. However sources report that other teams were ready to select Long within the next few picks. When we consider his bloodlines and athleticism, this was not a dire reach. Long is likely to start at left guard, and this is a further upgrade to the Bears' line, compared to last season. In addition to these moves, the Bears signed Eben Britton and Matt Slauson to compete at several spots. Neither man has a starting position yet, but both have experience and should fight for jobs in camp. Center Roberto Garza is mostly solid but nearing the end of his career at age thirty-four. Slauson, who has center experience, could push Garza. Right guard Gabe Carimi is running out of opportunities to shed the dreaded “bust” label and he will not simply be given his job as in years' past. Jonathan Scott provides emergency depth at the swing tackle role, but could be pushed out by either Britton or fifth round pick Jordan Mills out of Louisiana Tech. Overall there should be several interesting battles in preseason, and all of this competition adds up to an improved Bears offensive line. Jay Cutler was one of the most sacked quarterbacks last season; it is reasonable to expect better protection this season. This line has low cohesion due to all the changes but they can continue to improve in the rankings if the right side settles down and plays sound football.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Overall Rank: 20th

  • Overall Grade: C+
  • Run Blocking Grade: B-
  • Pass Blocking Grade: C-

Final 2012 Rank: 25th

Grades

  • Left Tackle Marcus Gilbert: B
  • Left Guard Ramon Foster: C+
  • Center Maurkice Pouncey: A+
  • Right Guard David Decastro: B
  • Right Tackle Mike Adams: C+
  • Swing Tackle Kelvin Beachum: C+
  • Line Coach Jack Bicknell: B
  • Cohesion: B+

Notes

The Pittsburgh Steelers invested heavily in the offensive line last offseason, spending their first and second round picks to improve the troubled unit. But as the saying goes, the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry. At one point or another, every Steelers starter missed time with injury. Left tackle Marcus Gilbert is a solid starter who has the athleticism to protect Ben Roethlisberger's blind side. Gilbert needs to improve his consistency to be considered among the league's better left tackles. Left guard Ramon Foster was a key substitute and recently signed a long-term contract to remain with the team. Foster actually has experience playing tackle in an emergency, but is better suited for guard. Maurkice Pouncey continued to perform at an All-Pro level and is one of the best centers in the game at this point. Former first round pick David Decastro was sidelined for most of the season with a leg injury, but he did return and do a serviceable job at right guard through the last few games of the season. Mike Adams was given a trial by fire at left tackle last season, but is probably more suited to the right side, where he can lean in and employ his run blocking abilities. Swing tackle Kelvin Beachum also received seasoning as the multiple injuries forced him into several games last year. Guy Whimper recently signed and will fight Beachum for a depth role. The good news for this unit is that all of these starters are twenty-seven years old and under, and all except for Foster were either first or second round picks. This unit could really gel and rise in the rankings, as long as they avoid catastrophic scenarios such as everyone being injured, like last season.

Oakland Raiders

Overall Rank: 21st

  • Overall Grade: C+
  • Run Blocking Grade: C+
  • Pass Blocking Grade: C+

Final 2012 Rank: 16th

Grades

  • Left Tackle Jared Veldheer: B
  • Left Guard Tony Bergstrom: C+
  • Center Stefan Wisniewski: B
  • Right Guard Mike Brisiel: B
  • Right Tackle Khalif Barnes: B
  • Swing Tackle Menelik Watson: C+
  • Line Coach Tony Sparano: A
  • Cohesion: B+

Notes

The biggest change in the Oakland Raiders' offensive line was on the coaching staff. Tony Sparano and a power-blocking scheme have arrived, to replace the zone-blocking scheme preferred by former coordinator Greg Knapp. While Sparano was a bust as a head coach and an offensive coordinator, he is an accomplished offensive line coach and should bounce back in his latest job. Another interesting tidbit this offseason were the Internet pictures of Jared Veldheer working out. Veldheer apparently gained fifteen pounds of muscle and looks like the Incredible Hulk. Veldheer has been a great story; he's rising player on the left side, but his offseason workouts may vault him to elite status. Certainly he is a player to watch in 2013. Left guard Tony Bergstrom steps in for the departed Cooper Carlisle and he has the talent to improve on his current grade. Bergstrom was actually the first draft pick of the latest Raiders regime and has the full support of the organization to win this starting position. Center Stefan Wisniewski was an extremely solid player at center, and like Veldheer, is a tentpole player for this team. Right guard Mike Brisiel is not a popular player among the Raiders fans, as his inconsistency can be maddening. Brisiel has been injury prone and it was revealed that he limped through the end of the season on a seriously injured leg. While his pain tolerance is laudable, it is possible that Lucas Nix, the former Pitt Panther, could win this position in the preseason. Right tackle Khalif Barnes is another solid but unpopular player, and he will be seriously challenged by second round pick Menelik Watson out of Florida State. Watson is a British-born athlete known for his rare foot speed. However, Watson is very raw and might need to begin as the swing tackle before he is ready for a starting position. Willie Smith and Alex Barron round out the depth crew but neither should be expected to contribute meaningfully, if Watson is healthy. Overall this Raiders line lacks super-elite talent, but they are relatively young and can trend upwards if the players learn the new scheme and Menelik Watson can win starting position in preseason.

Kansas City Chiefs

Overall Rank: 22nd

  • Overall Grade: C
  • Run Blocking Grade: C
  • Pass Blocking Grade: C

Final 2012 Rank: 20th

Grades

  • Left Tackle Brandon Albert: B
  • Left Guard Geoff Schwartz: C+
  • Center Rodney Hudson: B
  • Right Guard Jon Asamoah: B
  • Right Tackle Eric Fisher: B
  • Swing Tackle Donald Stephenson: C+
  • Line Coach Andy Heck: B+
  • Cohesion: B+

Notes

The Kansas City Chiefs improved their offensive line by selecting Eric Fisher number one in the draft. They have a franchise tag on their left tackle Brandon Albert. So why aren't they ranked higher? Part of the answer is that rookies don't get graded in these rankings like Pro Bowlers in their first year, even top picks. Fisher should be an excellent player down the line but almost all rookies have struggles on the offensive line at first. Another part of the answer is that the Chiefs talent is relatively young across the board and has not reached full potential. Former Vikings left guard Geoff Schwartz is a serviceable player with size but he is vulnerable in pass protection. Schwartz is only on a one-year deal and could be upgraded upon if second year man Jeff Allen can win the job in the spring. Rodney Hudson out of Florida State is a solid starter at center; the line really missed him after he was injured last season. Jon Asamoah has been a good starter but also has to develop further to be considered elite. It will be interesting to see if the team signs Branden Albert long term, as they might have a better left tackle already on the roster in Fisher. Albert has little interest in playing right tackle (or guard), where some scouts say he could be more effective. In a year, swing tackle Donald Stephenson might be ready to graduate from swing tackle to starter and the team could move on from Albert's steep money demands. The Chiefs are a team to watch; they could be ranked much more highly as the season progresses. In a few years, after their players have a chance to mature, this line could be elite.

Dallas Cowboys

Overall Rank: 23rd (tie)

  • Overall Grade: C
  • Run Blocking Grade: C+
  • Pass Blocking Grade: C-

Final 2012 Rank: 24th

Grades

  • Left Tackle Tyron Smith: B+
  • Left Guard Nate Livings: C+
  • Center Phil Costa: C+
  • Right Guard Travis Frederick: B
  • Right Tackle Doug Free: C+
  • Swing Tackle Jermey Parnell: C+
  • Line Coach Bill Callahan: A
  • Cohesion: B+

Notes

The Dallas Cowboys offensive line is led by former first round pick Tyron Smith. Smith had a rocky transition to left tackle but got better as the year finished. A top athlete, Smith could perform at a near Pro Bowl level on the blind side. Left guard Nate Livings was a free agent addition prior to last season but the coaches are making it known they are not satisfied with the quality at either guard position. Livings is likely to survive his challenge from former undrafted free agent Ronald Leary. The Cowboys drafted Wisconsin center Travis Frederick in the late first round, which some have dubbed a reach. Frederick didn't work out well at the combine but he comes from a fine school for linemen and has been a prominent prospect for years. The latest word has Frederick sliding over to guard as the Cowboys may want to move on from Mackenzy Bearnadeau more than they want to move on from Phil Costa. Ryan Cook should be the backup center again this season. The right tackle position is turning into a situation as Doug Free reportedly has refused to take a pay cut. This is a calculated position by Free, as the Cowboys may not be comfortable turning the position over to Jermey Parnell quite yet. As most free agent right tackles have reached agreement with other teams, Free seems likely to keep his starting position. Darrion Weems and David Arkin are two developmental names that the Cowboys believe have a chance to contribute. Bill Callahan is a talented offensive line coach, and will try his best to get the youth up to speed. Overall this line can improve if the youth is served and they try to improve on the status quo.

New Orleans Saints

Overall Rank: 23rd (tie)

  • Overall Grade: C
  • Run Blocking Grade: C-
  • Pass Blocking Grade: C+

Final 2012 Rank: 9th

Grades

  • Left Tackle Charles Brown: C+
  • Left Guard Ben Grubbs: B+
  • Center Brian de la Puente: C+
  • Right Guard Jahri Evans: A+
  • Right Tackle Zach Strief: C+
  • Swing Tackle Terron Armstead: C+
  • Line Coach Bret Ingalls: B
  • Cohesion: B+

Notes

Losing left tackle Jermon Bushrod was a big setback for this unit, at least on paper. Bushrod was a two time Pro Bowler and replacing him with Charles Brown might be too much to ask of the often injured former USC Trojan. Brown was a right tackle last season and there isn't a huge amount of precedence for struggling right tackles converting to left tackle (and succeeding). As a result, there is an epic battle brewing for the left tackle position, and how this battle resolves will dictate other positions along the line. Primarily, Brown will have to beat back third round selection Terron Armstead out of Arkansas-Pine Bluff. Armstead is a ridiculously talented athlete but extremely raw in technical matters. Fun trivia, Armstead is from the same hometown as former Saints great Willie Roaf and the Saints fans certainly hope he's a similar player. Also in the mix for this job is former first rounder from Baylor Jason Smith, who actually played decent in limited reps with the Jets last season. Smith has left tackle experience and could have the light “turn-on” to win this job in camp. Former seventh rounder Marcel Jones and practice squad player Bryce Harris are also long shot possibilities for left tackle, as is current starting right tackle Zach Strief. This is certainly a position to watch in the preseason as it unfolds. In other positions, Ben Grubbs remains a very good option at left guard, despite not making the Pro Bowl recently. Center Brian de la Puente does a decent job and actually received money through the league's performance based bonus system, indicating he outplayed his contract. Jahri Evans remains the unit's best player, performing at an All-Pro level again in 2012. Overall it is hard to grade the Saints line at this time, in the face of such a wide ranging positional battle, at such an important position. Should the left tackle situation settle down, and the group remains healthy, this offensive line could climb back into the top half of the rankings. However it is also possible that this picture remains unclear and quarterback Drew Brees could be under more pressure than usual.

Miami Dolphins

Overall Rank: 25th

  • Overall Grade: C
  • Run Blocking Grade: C+
  • Pass Blocking Grade: C-

Final 2012 Rank: 15th

Grades

  • Left Tackle Jonathan Martin: C+
  • Left Guard Richie Incognito: B
  • Center Mike Pouncey: B+
  • Right Guard Lance Louis: B
  • Right Tackle Tyson Clabo: B+
  • Swing Tackle Will Yeatman: C+
  • Line Coach Jim Turner: B
  • Cohesion: C+

Notes

The Miami Dolphins have reconstructed their offensive line following free agent losses in the off season. Stanford product Jonathan Martin returns to his college position at left tackle, after doing a decent job on the right side as a rookie. Martin has agility to pass protect and his grade should rise as he develops as a professional. Left guard Richie Incognito is the type of player the other team loves to hate. He provides toughness on the interior along with the superb center Mike Pouncey. Pouncey is a borderline Pro Bowl player who is arguably better than his more famous brother. His grade certainly could rise, as a strong year from the Dolphins would garner him postseason honors. Newly arrived Lance Louis will battle John Jerry for the right guard position. Louis is recovering from a knee injury but could still win the job, as he was a technically sound player prior to injury. Tyson Clabo arrives from the Falcons with a reputation as one of the league's best right tackles in 2012. Clabo vastly improves the Dolphins line on paper. Unfortunately the games aren't played on paper and the worst part of this line's grade is cohesion, as only two players are playing in the same spots from 2012. In terms of depth, Will Yeatman is a very interesting character. Once a former college lacrosse player turned tight end, Yeatman has exceptional athleticism and should at least be the swing tackle this season. The coaching staff loves to talk him up to the media; he's certainly a player to watch in preseason. Going forward, this line certainly has the ability to rise up in the rankings, as they gain comfort with all the change.

Arizona Cardinals

Overall Rank: 26th

  • Overall Grade: C-
  • Run Blocking Grade: C+
  • Pass Blocking Grade: D+

Final 2012 Rank: 23rd

Grades

  • Left Tackle Levi Brown: B
  • Left Guard Daryn Colledge: B
  • Center Lyle Sendlein: B
  • Right Guard Jon Cooper: B
  • Right Tackle Bobbie Massie: C+
  • Swing Tackle Nate Potter: C+
  • Line Coach Larry Zierlein: B
  • Cohesion: B+

Notes

The Arizona Cardinals offensive line is a work in progress, but there are some positive signs. Getting left tackle Levi Brown back from injury should be a nice boost to their talent level. Brown, a former high first round pick, isn't considered a top notch left tackle, but he can be solid, especially in the run game. Left guard Daryn Colledge is another solid player, who has spent his entire seven year career at the same position. As a result, first round selection Jon Cooper is likely to be slotted in at either right guard or center, instead of his natural college position of left guard. Lyle Sendlein is another decent player but coming off of a knee injury, might not be ready for Week 1. Cooper is an elite athlete who can instantly contribute at any interior line position and is comfortable snapping the football. It will be interesting to see if Cooper has a better pro career than fellow first round guard Chance Warmack, who was picked three slots later. Cooper is certainly a more versatile and gifted athlete, and that could be why they picked him at seven overall in the first round. All signs point to former Ole Miss Rebel Bobbie Massie being the right tackle of the present and future, as the team reportedly really liked how he ended the season. In general both Brown and Massie are size players that can be exploited in pass protection but are destructive in the running attack. Swing tackle Nate Potter was forced into action at left tackle last season but was obviously overmatched. Potter could be a scrappy player in a less high profile position. Small school draft pick Earl Watford and former Bears free agent Chilo Rachal will be in competition for depth spots along the Cardinals bench. Watford is a tremendous athlete but technically raw coming out of James Madison. Backup guards Mike Gibson and Senio Kelemete might be on their last chances with the team, and will need to have a strong preseason to maintain their roster spots. The offensive line coach position is downgraded as Larry Zierlein replaces the retired Hall of Famer Russ Grimm. Overall this line could make a move up the rankings if Sendlein gets healthy and the young guys in Cooper and Massie continue to develop.

Indianapolis Colts

Overall Rank: 27th

  • Overall Grade: C-
  • Run Blocking Grade: D+
  • Pass Blocking Grade: C

Final 2012 Rank: 30th

Grades

  • Left Tackle Anthony Castonzo: B
  • Left Guard Donald Thomas: C+
  • Center A.Q. Shipley: B
  • Right Guard Hugh Thornton: C+
  • Right Tackle Gosder Cherilus: B
  • Swing Tackle Ben Ijalana: C+
  • Line Coach Joe Gilbert: B
  • Cohesion: B

Notes

The strength of the Indianapolis Colts' offensive line lies in the tackle positions. Former first round selection Anthony Castonzo does a solid job at the left side and recent free agent signing Gosder Cherlius should upgrade the right. The Colts added free agent Donald Thomas from the Patriots this spring. Thomas is known as a capable pass blocker and should improve the protection around franchise quarterback Andrew Luck. The rest of the offensive line could look different in the coming weeks, as starting center Samson Satele and starting right guard Mike McGlynn are rumored to be a June 1 cuts for salary reasons. Should this occur, A.Q. Shipley, who stepped in well while Satele was injured last season, would man the center position. Shipley is likely to be backed up by fourth round draft pick Khaled Holmes out of USC. Holmes is recovering for a leg injury, and might not be ready for mini camps. Meanwhile, third round pick Hugh Thornton out of Illinois looks like a strong bet to replace McGlynn at right guard. Thornton will face competition from Ben Iljalana, a former second round pick out of Villanova. Iljalana has talent but has also been injured and needs to stay healthy to finally reach his potential. Utility player Jeff Linkenbach seems to step up whenever he is called upon to start due to injury. Bradley Sowell and Lee Ziemba are former college tackles with developmental chances as depth players. Overall this Colts offensive line is skewing younger and could be in transition for the start of the season. As the year progresses, and these new players gel, this line has the ability to be among the better pass blocking units in football.

Green Bay Packers

Overall Rank: 28th

  • Overall Grade: D+
  • Run Blocking Grade: D
  • Pass Blocking Grade: C-

Final 2012 Rank: 19th

Grades

  • Left Tackle Bryan Bulaga: B
  • Left Guard Josh Sitton: A
  • Center Evan Dietrich-Smith: C+
  • Right Guard T.J. Lang: B
  • Right Tackle Marshall Newhouse: C+
  • Swing Tackle Don Barclay: C+
  • Line Coach James Campen: B+
  • Cohesion: C

Notes

Currently, the Green Bay Packers line is in serious transition. The Packers have decided to move their right tackle and right guard to left side, and their left tackle and left guard to the right side. In addition, their starting center Jeff Saturday has retired. Going in the season, the Packers have no starters in the same positions as last season. That is the short story as to why they are ranked near the bottom of these rankings. In the long term, this could be a sound idea. Josh Sitton is a Pro Bowler and the team's best lineman. Putting him next to Bryan Bulaga (or whoever) on the left side is probably a smart move. T.J. Lang and Marshall Newhouse are more power players and could be more suited for the right side. Newhouse and Bulaga are not exactly being given their positions and there are several realistic options to compete with both tackles for starting jobs. Fourth round pick David Bakhtiari out of Colorado is an athletically gifted player who could compete with Bulaga on the left side. Don Barclay is a workmanlike player out of West Virginia who looked decent replacing Bulaga for part of last season. Derek Sherrod is a former first round pick from Mississippi State who has been snakebit by injury since his arrival. Andrew Datko is a gritty swing tackle out of Florida State who has been stashed by the team for a year. All of these players are relatively young, and offer something different to the coaching staff. These players will get a shot in preseason. In addition, another fourth round pick J.C. Tretter could compete with Garth Gerhart (brother of Toby) for the backup center spot behind Evan Dietrich-Smith. Perhaps these rankings are wrong and the Packers are making a genius move with the preseason flip-flop. If this is the case, I will publicly apologize for all Cheeseheads and update the rankings as quickly as possible. As most of these players will not have to learn a new system, it might be easier than it would seem. But usually this amount of change proves problematic for the offensive line in the short term.

Buffalo Bills

Overall Rank: 29th

  • Overall Grade: D+
  • Run Blocking Grade: C-
  • Pass Blocking Grade: D

Final 2012 Rank: 21st

Grades

  • Left Tackle Cordy Glenn: C+
  • Left Guard Colin Brown: C+
  • Center Eric Wood: B
  • Right Guard Kraig Urbik: B
  • Right Tackle Erik Pears: C+
  • Swing Tackle Chris Hairston: C+
  • Line Coach Pat Morris: B
  • Cohesion: B+

Notes

The Buffalo Bills lost their best offensive lineman to free agency, and didn't make any moves this off season to backfill that loss. The Bills apparently believe in their current personnel and this year will be a huge test for the depth to step up. Left tackle Cordy Glenn started off hot but had an injury plagued 2012 campaign. Glenn but can be a good left tackle when healthy, especially in the running game. Glenn certainly has the upside to improve his current grade. Left guard is an open competition between the massive Colin Brown (who also spent most of last season injured) and David Snow, a versatile reserve who showed well when forced into action. A braver author would project Snow as the starter, and this will likely be the tightest competition in the Bills' training camp. Former first rounder Eric Wood is a pillar for this Bills line at center, and will be counted on for leadership in the coming year. Right guard Kraig Urbik is a technically sound player who usually produces at a high level. Right tackle Erik Pears is rumored to be a cap casualty in the summer, should that occur, swing tackle Chris Hairston would step up in his place. Honestly, the line wouldn't lose much with that change, as Pears has failed to impress. Reserve tackle Sam Young could factor into the right tackle conversation and there's even some talk of him or fellow reserve Keith Williams competing for the left guard spot. The Bills have a tendency to draft tackles rather than guards and bump these players inside if they cannot play tackle. Currently the Bills have a plethora of these conversions on the roster; if just two of these lottery tickets pay out, this offensive line can seriously rise in the rankings.

Atlanta Falcons

Overall Rank: 30th

  • Overall Grade: D
  • Run Blocking Grade: D-
  • Pass Blocking Grade: D+

Final 2012 Rank: 8th

Grades

  • Left Tackle Sam Baker: C+
  • Left Guard Justin Blalock: B
  • Center Peter Konz: B
  • Right Guard Garrett Reynolds: C+
  • Right Tackle Lamar Holmes: C+
  • Swing Tackle Mike Johnson: C+
  • Line Coach Pat Hill: B+
  • Cohesion: B

Notes

The obvious question with the Atlanta Falcons offensive line is how can a team that win 13 games and be so successful on offense, have such a lowly ranked offensive line? The short answer is that the Falcons offensive line was actually pretty good. However they lost their starting center to retirement, their starting right tackle to free agency, and they made no major moves to backfill these losses. At left tackle, Sam Baker is a serviceable option most of the time. Baker is prone to lapses in protection and cannot be relied upon all of the time to lock down his assignments. Left guard Justin Blalock is a good player, probably the most reliable of the Falcons offensive linemen. However Blalock probably isn't getting much better than he is right now. Former first round draft pick Peter Konz is slated to take over for the departed Todd McClure and should do a good job on the inside. Right guard is the perennial competition between Garrett Reynolds and Mike Johnson. Somehow Reynolds seems to win these matchups, but Johnson will be relied upon as a depth player and extra tight end. Right tackle should go to Lamar Holmes, a former third round pick, but there is a chance that Johnson could sneak into the lineup at that spot in Holmes' place. The Falcons have a boatload of college free agents but it is unclear at this time if any will be significant competition for the starters. In general offensive line coach Pat Hill does a very good job but the Falcons offensive line has a below average amount of talent, compared to others in the league.

Detroit Lions

Overall Rank: 31st

  • Overall Grade: D-
  • Run Blocking Grade: D-
  • Pass Blocking Grade: D+

Final 2012 Rank: 13th

Grades

  • Left Tackle Riley Reiff: B
  • Left Guard Rob Sims: B
  • Center Dominic Raiola: B
  • Right Guard Larry Warford: C+
  • Right Tackle Corey Hillard: C+
  • Swing Tackle Jason Fox: C
  • Line Coach Jeremiah Washburn: B
  • Cohesion: C

Notes

The Detroit Lions' offensive line is a unit in recovery. They say the first step in recovery is knowing you have a problem. The Lions front office knows they have a problem, and have been making efforts to correct the sub-standard offensive line. The Lions lost their starting left tackle to retirement, as well as their starting right guard and right tackle to free agency. Only left guard Rob Sims and center Dominic Raiola are back in the same positions as last season. Both of these players are underrated nationally and do a good job on Sundays. Left tackle Riley Reiff is a talented pass blocker and should be fine in the role replacing Jeff Backus. Third round pick Larry Warford out of Kentucky is a two time All-SEC performer and should win the right guard position in camp. Warford is known as a mauler, but he can get off balance and will need to be careful with the defensive linemen he will be facing in the NFC North. Bill Nagy and Dylan Gandy could compete for Warford's natural right guard position, with the consolation prize of backup center. Right tackle is an open competition between Corey Hilliard and Jason Fox. Neither player is great but Hilliard appears to have the edge for now. As with most lines undergoing huge change, the short term forecast for the Lions' offensive line is not bright. However in the long term this line could come together to be a solid unit, allowing the Lions offense to produce.

San Diego Chargers

Overall Rank: 32nd

  • Overall Grade: D-
  • Run Blocking Grade: D-
  • Pass Blocking Grade: D-

Final 2012 Rank: 31st

Grades

  • Left Tackle King Dunlap: C+
  • Left Guard Rich Ohrnberger: C+
  • Center Nick Hardwick: B+
  • Right Guard Chad Rinehart: C+
  • Right Tackle D.J. Fluker: B
  • Swing Tackle Mike Harris: C+
  • Line Coach Joe D'Alessandris: B
  • Cohesion: C-

Notes

As these rankings go to press, rumors are swirling that free agent tackle Max Starks, formerly of the Pittsburgh Steelers, could sign with the San Diego Chargers. Should this move occur, Starks would start at tackle and boost this club's fortunes up to twenty-ninth in the rankings. This story illustrates that the problem with the Chargers line isn't just a lack of top talent, but also a lack of cohesion. The Chargers have one starter from last year Nick Hardwick. Hardwick is a former Pro Bowler and does a very good job on the interior of the line. However all the other starters are new, and that fact doesn't change if they sign Max Starks. Left tackle King Dunlap is probably best as a swing tackle, as he had a rough season in relief of Jason Peters last year in Philadelphia. Dunlap is a massive player but can't move quickly enough for the league's speedier pass rushers. Rich Ohrnberger and Chad Rinehart are two backup caliber players who are getting a chance to start in San Diego. Ohrnberger could have a battle at right guard with Johnnie Troutman, formerly of Penn State. First round selection D.J. Fluker is a natural at right tackle with his massive frame and should help the team immediately. Fluker actually received comparisons to former Chargers great Marcus McNeill during the draft process, so it's fitting he wound up in San Diego. Swing tackle Mike Harris received money through the league's performance based bonus system, indicating that he outperformed his contract last year. Steve Schilling and David Molk are former Michigan linemen, and are best left as depth. Overall this line starts the year as the league's worst, and that seems pretty harsh for Chargers fans. However this line can rise in the rankings if the team adds more talent via free agency and if D.J. Fluker lives up to his billing.


More from Matt Bitonti:

LG Logan Mankins Traded to Tampa Bay - August 26
Atlanta LT Sam Baker's Injury - August 17
Offensive Line Rankings - July 4
2014 Rookie Review: OLs - June 6
Offensive Line Rankings - Updated - November 20
Offensive Line Rankings - Updated - October 16
Offensive Line Rankings - Updated - September 17
Offensive Line Rankings - Updated - August 23
Offensive Line Rankings - Updated - August 7