Offensive Line Rankings and Notes: Week 12

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

The season grinds on and it's already Week 12. Time flies, doesn't it? 

As usual for this point in the year, there's a ton of injury and lineup news to relate. The big men, the #offensiveline, Turkey Day. Let's get after it! 

UPGRADES

 

DAL +3

The Cowboys' offense has not looked the same without All-Pro left tackle Tyron Smith, who has missed the last two games (back). This week there are signs that Smith will be in the lineup for the Thanksgiving game at home against the Los Angeles Chargers. Smith practiced with the first team on Tuesday, and his likely return sends Bryon Bell back to the bench. Smith's back has become a chronic issue, and he probably won't be 100% for the rest of this season, but as these last two weeks have proven, any amount of Smith is better for the Cowboys offense than the alternatives. While this upgrade does elevate the Cowboys' line back to the top ranking, keep in mind that this week's matchup is not an easy one, as both Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram III are impact pass rushers. Check out the trench matchups article with Justis Mosqueda for all the games matched up by offensive line against defensive front. 

CAR +7

Another speculative injury upgrade, this one on the possibility that the Panthers' offensive line could get their starting center Ryan Kalil back in the lineup for the first time since Week 7. Kalil has been battling a neck injury all season but he has been spotted at practice and could make his return this weekend at the New York Jets. Tyler Larsen has been a steady starter while Kalil has been out, but the line certainly improves with both Kalil brothers in the lineup at the same time. The Panthers' grade out as a mid-tier unit with Larsen but a top-tier unit with Kalil manning the pivot. 

MIN +6

This upgrade comes primarily on the play of backup right tackle Rashod Hill, who has started the last three games for Mike Remmers, who has been out with a concussion. Hill had been graded as below replacement level prior to the season. However, Hill has played well recently and the Vikings' offense has been firing on all cylinders. Last week the line didn't allow a single quarterback hit. If Hill keeps up his play, it's entirely possible that Hill is playing himself into starter level opportunities and the money that comes with it. The Vikings' offensive line grades out as a strong mid-tier unit heading into the stretch run of the season. 

DET +10 

After missing the Week 10 win over Cleveland, right guard T.J. Lang rejoined the line up last week for the team's close win over Chicago. Lang had a rough day against Bears' defensive tackle Akiem Hicks, and had a couple of bad holding penalties called. Still, Lang is a big upgrade over Corey Robinson, and with Taylor Decker's return, the Lions' ideal starting lineup is on the field together for the first time in a long while. The Lions' offensive line grades out above average in the latest rankings, a solid mid-tier unit.   

DOWNGRADES

OAK -2

Right tackle Vadal Alexander got the start in Mexico City last week in the loss to New England. Marshall Newhouse had injured his hip/quad on a fumble recovery a week prior. The offense did not suffer without Newhouse, who is a better pass protector than the younger Alexander. But Alexander is a more aggressive run blocker. The changes to the rankings are minimal, and the Raiders' offensive line grade out as a top-tier unit either way. 

JAX -5

Right tackle Jermey Parnell and left tackle Patrick Omameh both missed last week's win at Cleveland. Assuming both are still out of action, Chris Reed would likely get the start again at left guard, while Josh Wells would start at right tackle. Wells is a more veteran player than Reed but both have been serviceable while the starters rehab. The Jaguars' line remains a mid-tier power-running option but the bench lacks depth should there be further injuries in the near term. 

BAL -4

Left tackle Ronnie Stanley entered the league's concussion protocol two weeks ago, prior to the Ravens' Week 10 bye. Stanley did not clear the protocol in time for the game against Green Bay, and it's probable that Stanley remains in the protocol for several weeks to come. The comments from the coaches have been nebulous and this injury is a tough one to predict. Some players return in less than a week, while others take months. Without Stanley, James Hurst slides to left tackle from left guard while Luke Bowanko steps in a left guard. It's the latest new lineup in a season full of them; the Ravens' line grade out as a low-tier option.  

MIA -8 

Right guard Jermon Bushrod left the game last week against Tampa Bay with a foot injury. Sam Young took over at right tackle, allowing right tackle Jesse Daivs to slide over and man Bushrod's guard spot. Some sources graded out Young as the Dolphins' best lineman last week, and it's not clear whether that's good news or bad. The Dolphins' line has been shuffling the lineup recently and the offense isn't finding success in any phase of the game. The uncertainty at quarterback has not helped, but regardless the offensive line grades out as a low-tier option.  

GB -7 

The latest right tackle, former Arena league veteran Justin McCray injured his knee during the home loss to Baltimore.  McCray is actually more of a guard and has been doing a heroic job filling in for several games out of position. The team recently activated Jason Spriggs from injured reserve, and he got the call when McCray left the game. Spriggs did not look steady in pass protection and the Ravens' defensive front lived in the Packers' offensive backfield all game. With injuries mounting, the Packers' offensive line currently grades out as the worst in the rankings. 

OTHER NEWS

AZ - RT Jared Veldheer flipped to LT last with with D.J. Humphries on injured reserve. 

CHI - RG Kyle Long returned last week and is playing through multiple injuries.

KC - LG Bryan Witzmann benched for Zach Fulton. Parker Ehinger could also be a candidate for reps. 

NE - C David Andrews (illness) misses contest, Ted Karras looks fine in first career start at the position.

NYG - With Justin Pugh still out, RT Chad Wheeler looks decent in debut (a home OT win over KC) 

WAS - LG Shawn Lauvao and C Spencer Long to injured reserve. No downgrade as Ty Nshkhe and Chase Roullier solid in relief. 

FULL RANKINGS

  Rank Team Old Diff Score Overall Run Pass Notes                                         
TOP TIER 1 DAL 4 3 34.48 A++ A+ A+ LT Smith to return. 
2 ATL 1 -1 31.05 A+ A+ A+  
3 WAS 3 0 30.8 A+ A+ A LG Lauvao & C Long to IR (Nshkhe & Roullier)
4 OAK 2 -2 30.53 A A+ A- RT Newhouse (Alexander) 
5 NO 5 0 30.28 A A A  
6 PIT 6 0 30.15 A A+ B+  
7 CHI 7 0 30.15 A- A B+ RG Long returned. 
8 TEN 8 0 30.13 A- A B+ LG Spain returned. 
9 SF 9 0 29.6 B+ A B+  
10 LAR 10 0 29.4 B+ A- B+  
11 CAR 18 7 29.35 B+ A- B C Kalil could return. 
MID TIER 12 SEA 11 -1 29.13 B+ B A-  
13 MIN 19 6 29.1 B+ A- B RT Remmers (Hill).
14 DET 24 10 29.1 B+ B+ B+ RG Lang returned.
15 KC 12 -3 29.03 B+ A- B  
16 BUF 13 -3 28.98 B+ A- B  
17 AZ 15 -2 28.83 B B- B+ RT Veldheer swap to LT (Wetzel). 
18 PHI 22 4 28.83 B B+ C-  
19 JAX 14 -5 28.78 B B+ B- RT Parnell (Wells) & LG Omameh (Reed). 
20 NE 16 -4 28.78 B B B RT Cannon (Waddle)
21 TB 17 -4 28.78 B B B  
LOW TIER 22 NYJ 21 -1 28.48 B- B- B-  
23 HOU 26 3 28.1 C+ B- C  
24 BAL 20 -4 28.03 C+ B- C LT Stanley (Hurst). 
25 IND 27 2 28 C+ B- C  
26 DEN 29 3 27.93 C C C RT Watson (Barbre). 
27 CIN 30 3 27.9 C C+ C-  
28 CLE 31 3 27.85 C- C- C-  
29 LAC 32 3 27.78 C- C- C- RT Barksdale (Schofield)
30 NYG 28 -2 27.73 C- C D+ RT Pugh (Wheeler). 
31 MIA 23 -8 27.68 D+ C+ D RG Bushrod (Davis) Young to RT. LG Steen (Larsen).
32 GB 25 -7 27.6 D+ C+ D RT McCray (Spriggs). 

If there are any questions about a team or lineman not specifically talked about in this article, please feel free to contact me via Twitter.


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