Offensive Line Rankings and Notes: Week 6 - Footballguys

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

UPGRADES

San Francisco up 15 slots.

This blurb is going to read like a downgrade, but it's actually a story about resiliency. Most notably, Left tackle Joe Staley was questionable last week with a right knee injury. This was the same knee which caused him problems in the past. Staley did not practice and was held out of the model. Betting against this player was a mistake, as Staley suited up and played for the 49ers' offensive line during their loss to Arizona. Another example, center Weston Richburg was forced from last week's game with his own knee injury and Erik Magnuson took his place. Yet another starter, right tackle Mike McGlinchey is dealing with a knee injury of his own, but all these starters keep playing. This week they will get the benefit of an extra day of rest before Monday Night Football at Green Bay. Even though the offense has suffered due to injuries at the skill positions, the good news is line has proven their toughness this season. Expect the trend to continue. Assuming an intact lineup, the 49ers' offensive line grades as a top-tier unit.

Indianapolis up 16 slots.

Left tackle Anthony Castonzo was full-go during Wednesday's practice. Despite being listed as questionable with a hamstring injury, expect Castonzo to be ready for this week's road contest against the New York Jets. This player's significance to the lineup is so great, it outweighs the loss of veteran right guard Matt Slauson, who was placed on injured reserve this week. Slauson played through two broken vertebrae during the loss to the Patriots, admitting later it was "not his smartest moment." Still, Castonzo's return is the rising tide which lifts all boats. It allows LeRaven Clark to slide to right tackle if Denzelle Good remains unavailable. Braden Smith, who started his first NFL game ever at right tackle, is expected to take Slauson's spot. The right guard position should be more natural fit for the rookie, who survived his trial by fire last week at Foxborough. It's a lot of injury machinations to process, but with Castonzo's return, the Colts' offensive line moves up from the low-tier to the mid-tier.

LA Chargers up 10 slots.

Starting tackles Russell Okung and Joe Barksdale were both limited participants in practice this week and there's a sense around the team both could be available for this week's contest at Cleveland. Sam Tevi did an admirable job stepping up, first at right tackle in place of Barksdale and then on the left side for Okung. Tevi played so decently, he could have made his case to be included the team's long-term plans after Barksdale, which has to be sooner rather than later. This Chargers' offensive line looked like one of the most improved this preseason, but early injuries derailed the improvement process. Assuming they are again healthy and can stay that way, this line grades as a solid mid-tier unit.

Also note, #9 WAS, #10 SEA, #14 CLE, and #26 BUF were given scheduled cohesion upgrades. For more on how the rankings work, check the explanation in the Methodology section at the bottom of this year's Training Camp article.

DOWNGRADES

Kansas City down seven slots.

Right guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif fractured his leg during last week's win over Jacksonville and was placed on injured reserve this week. His injury is estimated to be about an eight week recovery time, and Duvernay-Tardif is eligible for a return later in the season. Jordan Devey took over the right guard spot during the contest and will look to get the start again this week during Sunday Night Football at New England. Devey, a former Patriot, will have familiarity with the defense and the stadium, but the opposing coaching staff will also know his weak points better than almost anyone. Devey is a step down from "the Doctor" and the Chiefs' line also takes a small hit to their previously perfect cohesion. Their new grade lands them at 12, a strong mid-tier unit, but just outside the top-tier.

Jacksonville down seven slots.

The Jaguars will have their third starting left tackle of the season, as Josh Wells has already been ruled out of this week's game at Dallas with a groin injury. Josh Walker, who replaced Wells during last week's game at Kansas City, will likely start again this week. Wells had been starting for Cam Robinson who tore his ACL during Week Two. Three other starters missed practice this week, as right tackle Jermey Parnell (knee), left guard Andrew Norwell (foot) and Center Brandon Linder (knee) are all dealing with injuries. The model assumes these three, as well as right guard A.J. Cann will be in the lineup this week, but overall this line has seen more than its fair share of injuries. This is a still a mid-tier line, but their depth is being tested.

Tennessee down 15 slots.

Left tackle Taylor Lewan was forced from the contest at Buffalo with a foot injury. Lewan is officially listed as questionable and usually, his tough guy reputation would keep him in the model. However, the language Lewan used after the game was suspicious, specifically the 'pop' noise he heard, coupled with the team's order of an MRI, and the fact this is the same foot which has bothered him for several weeks, all could point to a multi-week recovery. Rookie Taylor Marz took Lewan's place in the game but the team should have Dennis Kelly available this week if Lewan can't go. Kelly has apparently recovered from the mysterious illness which hospitalized him and caused him to lose over 20 pounds. The Titans' line is a top-tier group with Lewan in the lineup but average without him.

Oakland down 10 slots.

Left guard Kelechi Osemele missed last week's game with a knee injury and has not practiced this week prior to the team's upcoming contest in London. Judging from coaching comments, Osemele may need another week to recover, meaning it will likely be Jon Feliciano who again is called to make the start. Missing Osemele and right tackle Donald Penn, the new-look offensive line had difficulty protecting quarterback Derek Carr during last week's game against the Chargers. Injuries have taken a toll this season on a usually dominant line. Assuming their all-pro guard is not available, the Raiders' offensive line grades as a low-tier option.

Denver down 11 slots.

Right tackle Jared Veldheer missed last week's game at New York with a bone bruise and coaches are saying he will likely miss this week's home contest against the LA Rams. Billy Turner got the start in Veldheer's place and gave up two sacks. Right guard Connor McGovern also had an off day, allowing 6 pressures and a sack. Left tackle Garret Bolles was forced from last week's game late with an ankle injury and Elijah Wilkinson took his place. The model assumes Bolles will tough it out but without Veldheer this right side has fallen into shambles. The Broncos' line will likely grade as a low-tier option until their right tackle proves he's healthy.

Minnesota minus 12 slots.

Right tackle Riley Reiff was forced from last week's game at Philadelphia with a foot injury and has not practiced this week. During the game, usual right tackle Rashod Hill slid over to take Reiff's place, leaving rookie second-round pick Brian O'Neill to step up at right tackle. O'Neill had been playing at right tackle all preseason and he is a better option off the bench than most teams have. Look for the team to again use this lineup should Reiff be unavailable for this week's home contest against Arizona. While O'Neill is an interesting prospect, the injury bug has been relentless in Minnesota all season. They are a mid-tier unit with Reiff in the lineup, but assuming Reiff misses this week's game, this line would grade in the low-tier.

OTHER NEWS

ARZ - Various injuries. Left guard Mike Iupati is questionable with a shoulder injury. Daniel Munyer replaced Iupati during the contest. Right tackle Andre Smith aggravated his hamstring injury during the game and was again replaced by John Wetzel. Left tackle D.J. Humphries did not practice with a knee injury. Still, the coaches expect all three players to be fine.

MIA - Left tackle Laremy Tunsil is limited in practice. Tunsil is in the league's concussion protocol but is expected to play.

FULL RANKINGS

Rank
Team
Old
Diff
Score
Overall Grade
Run Grade
Pass Grade
Cohesion
Notes
1
PHI
1
0
33.5
A+
A+
A+
4.0
2
LAR
2
0
31.8
A
A+
A-
4.5
3
PIT
3
0
31.7
A
A+
A-
5.0
4
BAL
7
3
30.8
A-
A
B+
5.0
5
NO
8
3
30.8
A-
B+
A
5.0
6
GB
10
4
30.5
A-
B+
A
4.0
7
ATL
6
-1
30.4
B+
A
B
3.5
8
DAL
9
1
30.3
B+
A
B
4.0
9
WAS
12
3
30.3
B+
B
A
4.5
10
SF
25
15
30.0
B
B-
B+
4.5
LT Joe Staley played Week 5.
11
SEA
13
2
29.8
B
B+
B-
5.0
12
KC
5
-7
29.8
B
B+
B-
4.0
RG Laurent Duvernay-Tardif to IR with a leg injury (Jordan Devey).
13
CHI
14
1
29.3
B
B+
B-
5.0
14
CLE
21
7
29.0
B-
B-
C
4.5
15
IND
31
16
29.0
B-
B
C+
4.0
LT Anthony Castonzo likely to return. RG Matt Slauson to IR with a back injury (Braden Smith).
16
LAC
26
10
29.0
B-
B
C+
4.0
LT Russell Okung and RT Joe Barksdale could return this week.
17
NYJ
16
-1
29.0
B-
B-
B-
4.5
18
JAX
11
-7
28.9
B-
B+
C+
4.0
LT Josh Wells ruled out (Josh Walker will be 3rd starting left tackle this season).
19
TEN
4
-15
28.6
C+
B-
C
4.5
LT Taylor Lewan is questionable with a foot injury (Taylor Marz or Dennis Kelly - #4 ranked line with Lewan).
20
CAR
19
-1
28.6
C+
B-
C
4.0
21
DET
20
-1
28.5
C+
B-
C
4.0
RG T.J. Lang likely out again (Kenny Wiggins).
22
TB
22
0
28.5
C+
C
B-
4.0
23
CIN
23
0
28.4
C
C+
C-
4.0
24
NE
24
0
28.4
C
C-
C+
4.5
25
OAK
15
-10
28.2
C
C+
C-
4.0
LG Kelechi Osemele questionable for this week's game in London, UK (Jon Feliciano).
26
BUF
29
3
28.2
C
C+
C-
5.0
27
NYG
28
1
28.0
C-
C-
C-
4.0
28
DEN
17
-11
27.8
C-
C
D+
3.5
RT Jared Veldheer missed Week 5, questionable this week (Billy Turner).
29
AZ
27
-2
27.8
C-
C
D+
4.5
30
MIN
18
-12
27.7
D+
D
C-
4.5
LT Riley Reiff questionable with a foot injury (Rashod Hill to LT, Brian O'Neill to RT - #18 ranked line with Reiff)
31
HOU
32
1
27.7
D+
D+
D+
4.0
32
MIA
30
-2
27.3
D
D+
D-
4.0

If you have a question about a player, team or matchup not specifically talked about in this article, please feel free to contact the author via Twitter.

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