Offensive Line Rankings and Notes: Week 17 - Footballguys

Offensive line related news, injuries and updates, prior to week seventeen of the regular season.

UPGRADES

Cleveland up three slots.

Left tackle Greg Robinson has started the last nine games in place of Desmond Harrison, and a cohesion upgrade is overdue. Robinson is an excellent example of how it can take time to develop players. Robinson is widely considered a first-round bust. He's on his third team, but he's only 26 years old and this is only his fifth season in the league. In prior eras, Robinson would be on schedule for player development. It's possible the franchise has found their starting left tackle for the foreseeable future, and they did it with a waiver wire pickup. Besides the stability at left tackle, the line has been dominating inside due to the play of left guard Joel Bitonio (the Dino Lucarelli "Good Guy" award winner, back-to-back) and right guard Kevin Zeitler. Center J.C. Tretter continues to gut out a high ankle injury but he hasn't missed a snap all season. The Browns' line has been efficient in recent weeks. They grade as a top-tier unit.

New Orleans up 17 slots.

After missing left tackle Terron Armstead (pectoral) for six games and center Max Unger (concussion) for a game, the Saints' offensive line briefly dipped in the rankings. However, both players returned for last week's contest against Pittsburgh. Unger's return sent Cameron Tom to the bench and Armstead's return allowed left guard Andrus Peat to play his natural position instead of left tackle. The reconstituted line looked excellent in the victory, which clinched home-field advantage for the Saints. This week, Unger was selected to his third career Pro Bowl. Swing tackle Jermon Bushrod remains limited with a hamstring injury, which would make Will Clapp the next man up. But assuming the starters remain healthy, this line again grades among the top-tier.

Seattle up three slots.

Right tackle Germain Ifedi (groin) missed last week's game against the Chiefs, but this week he has returned to practice. Ifedi's return is probably not coincidental as George Fant did an outstanding job starting in Ifedi's place. Ifedi's hold on the starting job has been tenuous and the swing tackle Fant (once the starter at left tackle before Duane Brown's arrival) made a case for more reps in the future. In other news, right guard D.J. Fluker (hamstring) was active last week and he split about half the snaps with Ethan Pocic. The team expects a similar mix this week as Fluker works his way back into shape. Left guard J.R. Sweezy hurt his foot in the home win, but he is practicing and is considered day-to-day by the coaches. Sweezy could still play this weekend against the Arizona Cardinals. Although the Seahawks have clinched a playoff spot, the coaches are not planning to hold back the starters for this divisional game. This line grades as a top-ten option in the latest ranks.

Chicago up eight slots.

Right guard Kyle Long (foot) has come off the injured reserve list and has been practicing with the team since mid-week. Coaches say Long is ready to play. He may not start but will likely take reps this week in the regular season finale at Minnesota. Long (son of Raiders HOF'er Howie and brother of Eagles defensive end Chris) is a powerful and athletic player who brings an edge to the proceedings. He's been injury prone over the course of his career but he carries All-Pro caliber skills when healthy. According to quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, Long's return makes the entire Bears offense better. Long sends Bryan Witzmann to the bench and boosts the Bears' grade from the cellar into respectability as they head into the playoffs.

Oakland up 11 slots.

With left guard Kelechi Osemele (knee) again in the starting lineup, the Raiders' offensive line looked completely revitalized in the Monday Night Football home win against Denver. Osemele had missed several games but with their best lineman in the mix, quarterback David Carr was kept clean against the Broncos' pass rush. The rushing attack also looked good, as Raiders' running backs combined to rush 26 times for 114 yards, with Doug Martin accounting for 100. With Gabe Jackson, Donald Penn and others (Jon Feliciano, TJ Clemmings) on the injured reserve list, it has been a brutal season for the Raiders line. Still, they will also be at least decent with Osemele in the game. The team will look to play spoiler as they wrap their season up with a divisional matchup at Kansas City.

DOWNGRADES

Indianapolis down 13 slots.

Center Ryan Kelly was forced from last week's game against the Giants with a knee injury after only 26 snaps or 39% of the game. Kelly has been dealing several injuries for the second half of the season, as he missed four total games with various issues, beginning in Week 9. Kelly has not practiced as of Wednesday and assuming he's still out for Thursday, Evan Boehm would likely get another start. Boehm is actually a decent backup but he is a huge step down from Kelly, who has been in Pro Bowl form. In other news, right guard Mark Glowinski was full go in practice and his return would send Joe Haeg back to the bench. This line has been among the most improved this season. They are a top-tier line with their former first-round center and only a solid line without him.

Carolina down 11 slots.

Right guard Trai Turner was forced from last week's home loss to the Falcons with an ankle injury. Utility backup Tyler Larsen replaced Turner and all signs point to Turner being shut down for the final game against New Orleans. In related news, the Panthers' could rest more starters, including center Ryan Kalil who has told the local media he will be retiring after the season. With right tackle Darryl Williams entering free agency, this could be a very different lineup next season. For now, they grade as a low-tier unit.

Jacksonville down four slots.

Right tackle Josh Wells was forced from last week's win over Miami with a head injury and he has not been practicing this week while in the league's concussion protocol. Chris Reed replaced Wells in the contest and would likely get the call again this week, a home game against Houston. With Jermey Parnell and A.J. Cann added to injured reserve the line has lost all five of their original starters. The makeshift group allowed seven total quarterback sacks last week. Players like Wells and Josh Walker are not starters but they have lost these players as well. As this season mercifully comes to an end in Jacksonville, the Jaguars' line grade languishes at the very bottom of the rankings.

OTHER NEWS

BAL - LG Alex Lewis practices in full. Lewis has missed three games with a shoulder injury but looks likely to regain his starting spot. James Hurst and Bradley Bozeman have been splitting series at left guard in Lewis' place.

GB - LT David Bakhtiari did not practice (hip). Bakhtiari played 100% or 91 snaps (including overtime) last week at the New York Jets. This has been a chronic injury and the model expects Bakhtiari to gut it out one more time.

KC - RG Laurent Duvernay-Tardif status changed to "Designated for return." The Canadian doctor returned to practice and would likely target a playoff return. Andrew Wylie has been playing in place of Duvernay-Tardif.

NYG - C Spencer Pulley (calf) missed last week. Pulley is practicing this week in a limited fashion. If he cannot go, John Greco would again get the start.

PHI - LT Peters only played 5 snaps last week (quad). Peters did not practice Wednesday but due to a rare amount of cohesion gained by backup Halapoulivaati Vaitai during last year's Super Bowl run, the Eagles' rank remains the same either way.

WAS - Kyle Fuller and Zac Kerin (knee) split reps at RG. With Tony Bergstrom and Ty Nshkhe still hurt, Fuller could get the start against Philadelphia. Not so fun fact, Kyle Fuller would be the 12th starting guard for Washington this season.

FULL RANKINGS

Rank
Team
Old
Diff
Score
Overall Grade
Run Grade
Pass Grade
Cohesion
Notes
1
LAR
1
0
33.5
A+
A+
A+
5.0
2
PHI
2
0
33.5
A+
A+
A
4.5
3
PIT
3
0
30.8
A
A+
A-
4.5
4
BAL
4
0
30.3
A
A+
A-
4.5
5
CLE
8
3
30.0
A-
A-
A-
5.0
Pass blocking cohesion upgrade.
6
NO
23
17
30.0
A-
A
B+
5.0
C Max Unger & LT Terron Armstead returned to the lineup (Andrus Peat returns to LG from LT).
7
GB
9
2
30.0
A-
A-
A-
4.0
8
LAC
5
-3
30.0
A-
A-
A-
5.0
9
SF
6
-3
30.0
A-
B+
A
4.5
10
SEA
13
3
29.6
B+
A-
C+
4.5
RG D.J. Fluker returned vs KC, (splitting reps with Ethan Pocic).
11
DET
10
-1
29.5
B+
B+
B+
5.0
12
TEN
11
-1
29.5
B+
A-
B
4.0
13
DAL
12
-1
29.3
B
B+
B-
4.5
Assuming RG Zack Martin misses the game @ NYG (Connor Williams).
14
KC
14
0
29.3
B
B-
B+
3.5
15
CIN
15
0
29.3
B
A-
C+
4.5
16
CHI
24
8
29.3
B
B+
B-
5.0
RG Kyle Long returned to practice from injured reserve, could play @ MIN.
17
MIN
17
0
29.2
B
B-
B+
5.0
18
TB
18
0
29.0
B-
C+
B+
4.5
19
NE
20
1
28.9
B-
C+
B+
5.0
20
IND
7
-13
28.8
B-
C+
B
4.0
Assuming C Ryan Kelly misses the game @ TEN (Evan Boehm).
21
OAK
32
11
28.8
B-
B
C+
4.0
LG Kelechi Osemele returned to the lineup last week @ DEN.
22
ATL
26
4
28.6
C
C+
C-
3.5
23
WAS
19
-4
28.5
C+
B-
C
3.0
RG Zac Kerin injured (Kyle Fuller).
24
NYG
22
-2
28.5
C+
B
C-
4.5
25
DEN
21
-4
28.3
C+
B
C-
4.5
Pass blocking cohesion downgrade.
26
HOU
25
-1
28.2
C
B
D
4.5
27
CAR
16
-11
28.1
C
C+
C-
4.5
RG Trai Turner (ankle) likely to miss the game at NO (Tyler Larsen).
28
NYJ
27
-1
28.0
C
C+
C-
4.0
29
BUF
29
0
27.4
C-
C
D
4.5
30
AZ
30
0
27.4
C-
C-
C-
4.5
31
MIA
31
0
27.3
C-
C-
C-
4.0
32
JAX
28
-4
26.9
D+
C-
D
4.0
RT Jermey Parnell to IR, Josh Wells in concussion protocol (Chris Reed).

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