Awards week is still ongoing and so what better time than to announce our 2013 Offensive Line Rankings. That’s right those big guys up front who don’t post positive stats with their reputation often a product of where they play or where they were drafted are now getting the attention they deserve.
For some that’s good and for that is most definitely bad. One thing not in question though is that each player was judged by the same standards as his peers from our tireless tape watchers to give the most comprehensive list out there.
Numbers in bracket indicate last year’s rank while “PB” equals their pass blocking rank, “RB” their run and screen blocking rank & “PEN” their procedural or disciplinary penalty rank.
A mea culpa here. Some erroneous adding up of grades left the run blocking rankings out of whack and obviously had an impact on the total grades. This has now been corrected and double checked.
32. Arizona Cardinals (32nd)
PB: 32nd, RB: 27th, PEN: 22nd
Stud: Our 18th-ranked center on the year Lyle Sendlein (+0.5). The former undrafted free agent is the definition of a solid player, rarely wowing you in either a good or bad way. The team would have hoped Jonathan Cooper would be this guy, but that will have to wait for a year.
Dud: There was some serious competition here but Bradley Sowell (-38.4) takes the cake. In 12 games he earned 11 negative grades with 10 of them -2.2 or worse. The NFC West did feast on him.
Analysis: It’s rare to see a team finish last two years on the trot, but then it’s nothing Cardinals fans wouldn’t have seen coming. It wasn’t helped by the aforementioned loss of Cooper, while incredibly the team’s long overdue divorce from Levi Brown actually left them in a worse position at left tackle. It’s hard to imagine them being worse next year.
31. Jacksonville Jaguars (29th)
PB: 23rd, RB: 32nd, PEN: 29th
Stud: Hmm. We’re not allowed to pass so Uche Nwaneri (-0.3) gets that nod here. Probably best we move along from this quickly.
Dud: He’s not getting any better is he? Will Rackley (-32.7) is a disaster waiting to happen and in a division that features J.J. Watt that’s just asking for trouble.
Analysis: They traded away their star left tackle, watched as their rookie first round pick went on Injured Reserve and at the season’s end said goodbye to their long-term center. Performance was perhaps secondary to the coaches getting a chance to evaluate which of the 11 lineman they used they wanted to keep around. Unfortunately, the talent level just isn’t there right now.
30. Atlanta Falcons (15th)
PB: 30th, RB: 26th, PEN: 18th
Stud: I hesitate in calling Justin Blalock (+6.8) a stud because he’s symptomatic of some of the wrong moves this franchise has made in years gone by. Namely, treating a good player like a great one when it comes to contract negotiations. Still you can get by with five Blalock-level talents on your line. You can’t cope when he’s the best of the bunch.
Dud: The team didn’t envisage Lamarr Holmes (-32.3) starting on the left side and before Mike Johnson’s injury probably didn’t see him starting at all. As it was, he had a baptism of fire giving up the second highest number of quarterback disruptions of any tackle.
Analysis: They overpaid Sam Baker who promptly got injured, cut the reliable Tyson Clabo and had to deal with Todd McClure retiring. It was likely to be a rough transition but nobody saw this coming. The team had to alter their passing attack (screens and quick get outs for Matt Ryan) because whoever they fielded at tackle couldn’t defend the outside rush, and they allowed far too much penetration up the middle. Gave up more pressure than any other line. Without serious personnel questions answered it’s hard to see how this isn’t a disaster next year.
29. Oakland Raiders (24th)
PB: 21st, RB: 31st, PEN: 32nd
Stud: With Jared Veldheer missing most of the year it was left to Stefen Wisniewski (+10.4) to lead this line. He was easily the most consistent player on the line and looks set to lock down the center spot for years to come.
Dud: Starting Lucas Nix (-44.3) was a disaster. He was nowhere near ready for what was put on his plate and but for a midseason benching would have set records for low grades that you’d think would be hard to surpass in the years to come.
Analysis: Given the cap situation and injuries problems that befell this line, 27th might be considered a minor victory. They brought in players like Tony Pashos and Matt McCants and got surprisingly decent play out of both of them as rookie Menelik Watson found himself limited to 177 snaps that were not hugely encouraging. If they can re-sign Veldheer and get him healthy then there are pieces here to make a slow rise up these rankings.
28. New York Giants (11th)
PB: 31st, RB: 20th, PEN: 4th
Stud: In good news for the G-Men, rookie Justin Pugh (+7.1) got better and better as the season went on. Derided by many as something of a reach and with questions as to whether he can hold up at tackle, he was the biggest success story in a bad year for the Giants.
Dud: He’s been kicked around every position but center in his time as a Giant, but David Diehl (-26.5) really didn’t take to life at right guard. He earned this grade despite missing five games and at this point just can’t handle better athletes lining up opposite him.
Analysis: Injuries didn’t help, with the loss of David Bass seeing Kevin Boothe move to center where he would struggle. That created all sorts of shuffling and was further compounded by Chris Snee having his season ended after 188 snaps. Throw in Will Beatty responding to getting paid with a huge drop off from his 2012 season and you have the perfect storm. A once proud unit is now a major question mark.
27. Seattle Seahawks (20th)
PB: 25th, RB: 23rd, PEN: 30th
Stud: With injuries depleting the ranks, it was left to Michael Bowie (+7.1) to lead the team with their highest grade. He may eventually end up at guard (as he was for their recent playoff victory over the Saints) with his run blocking particularly impressive.
Dud: The team has to hope they never, ever have to start Paul McQuistan (-24.8) at left tackle again. It went very badly and he wasn’t much better at guard.
Analysis: An interesting year. Losing Russell Okung hurt but when they did get him on the field his play was a level or three below it’s usual high standard. At center Max Unger had a down year as a variety of combinations on either side of him failed. Essentially, they did enough at times for Marshawn Lynch to make yardage, but this had the feel of an experimental group with the coaches trying to luck into the right combination.
26. New York Jets (3rd)
PB: 15th, RB: 30th, PEN: 25th
Stud: For a line with as much talent as they have, it’s really surprising that D’Brickashaw Ferguson (+0.1) would walk away with the highest grade. A bad year by his standards where he gave up eight sacks and was poor with his run blocking.
Dud: Whoever they put at left guard. Vlad Ducasse (-9.5) had a breakout game against the Patriots and then proceeded to stink the joint up, forcing rookie Brian Winters (-28.5) into action. It did not go well.
Analysis: The awe factor of watching Nick Mangold has gone. He finished the year strong but his streaky early season play was anything but what we’ve come to expect from a usual contender for first team All-Pro center duty. He epitomized why this line took such a nosedive. Losing Damien Woody was the first step in the team’s gradual decline and it seems saying goodbye to Brandon Moore may have really accelerated that process.
25. Indianapolis Colts (31st)
PB: 28th, RB: 22nd, PEN: 13th
Stud: They spent big on Gosder Cherilus (+12.2) and while the grade is good perhaps they’d want a little more from him? Particularly in the run game where the team struggled all too frequently.
Dud: Will Mike McGlynn (-23.4) be starting next year? After reviewing the 2012 and 2013 tape it’s hard to see how the team allows that to happen without his game reaching a whole new level that we haven’t seen.
Analysis: It didn’t go well in losing Donald Thomas early on, leaving them starting a rookie guard. But for all the investment here more is needed to help Andrew Luck and whoever is running the ball. The tackles are good enough (though it wouldn’t hurt for Anthony Castonzo to give up a little less pressure), but the interior need fixing.
Turn the page for the next eight on the list…
24. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (18th)
PB: 21st, RB: 25th, PEN: 17th
Stud: The team has to love how Demar Dotson (+23.0) has developed over the years. He’s among the best right tackles in the league right now.
Dud: We’ve never understood the infatuation with Davin Joseph (-34.4). He’s a high draft pick with great measurables, but his play on the field as never backed up the hype he gets off it. This year was about as bad as it gets for him, being a liability in the run game and earning a negative in pass protection.
Analysis: The two tackles earned the top marks on offense for the Bucs, but that was about all this offensive line had to shout about. Clearly the injury to Carl Nicks has hurt this team significantly with every person they tried to replace him with unqualified for the task. A shame because with him they’re probably a top unit.
23. Baltimore Ravens (17th)
PB: 20th, RB: 24th, PEN: 27th
Stud: They found exactly what they were looking for with the in season trade for Eugene Monroe (+24.0). A genuinely top-tier tackle, he came in and protected the blindside of Joe Flacco and added some push to the run game. Tying him down must be the team’s No. 1 offseason priority.
Dud: The team went with Gino Gradkowski (-18.1) at center over A.Q. Shipley (-18.1) and it did not go well. Shipley had the misfortune of switching to a guard spot he rarely looked comfortable at, but for Gradkowski he may have blown his audition to be the long-term starter.
Analysis: When you have a back that needs space to operate, it really shows up when you don’t give it to him. The Ravens got better as the year went on, but they simply didn’t deliver as you’d expect Super Bowl champs to. It didn’t help that Marshal Yanda had, by his high standards, a down year or that Kelechi Osemele played hurt before going down, but it just wasn’t good enough. On the bright side they have too much talent to finish this low next year. Way too much.
22. Buffalo Bills (13th)
PB: 11th, RB: 29th, PEN: 7th
Stud: The team drafted Cordy Glenn (+23.0) to be a stud left tackle, and a stud left tackle he has come. A superb pass blocker, Glenn has allayed any fears of those who figured he’d be a guard in the pros.
Dud: It seems like a long time ago when Colin Brown (-30.1) was a Bill, but the taste hasn’t completely washed away yet. He earned that grade in just 400 snaps.
Analysis: The days of the Bills having a laughing stock of a line are over, but there remains room for improvement. Despite the -12.5 grade, they got much better with Doug Legursky in the lineup, but they’ll be looking to upgrade on him. Outside of that it’s hard to see them making the kind of massive strides to crack the Top 10.
21. Miami Dolphins (23rd)
PB: 14th, RB: 28th, PEN: 11th
Stud: He wasn’t as good as last year but Mike Pouncey (+7.1) has established himself as the kind of center this team will be able to count on for the long term.
Dud: Despite only playing 292 snaps, Sam Brenner (-9.5) looked overmatched wherever the team lined him up.
Analysis: A turbulent year as Jonathan Martin and Richie Incognito and their off-the-field issues caused the kind of spotlight to fall on the team that nobody wanted to see. Much was made of the sacks taken by Ryan Tannehill; they were somewhat simplistically used as a means to lament the play of the line in pass protection, but it wasn’t anywhere near as bad with the line producing a Pass Blocking Efficiency ranking right around the middle of the pack. A lot of questions to answer and while it seems a little patchwork at the moment, they’ll be striving for a settled lineup next year.
20. Kansas City Chiefs (12th)
PB: 16th, RB: 23rd, PEN: 28th
Stud: He finally got his chance and boy did Geoff Schwartz (+18.6) deliver. A capable and versatile lineman, his play ensured that the team couldn’t switch back to Jon Asamoah (who wasn’t playing badly himself).
Dud: It’s not easy being a starting rookie, but you had to expect more from Eric Fisher (-17.8). A poor run blocker, he let his play slip for stretches resulting in even worse pass protection.
Analysis: A lot of questions here. The late-season play of Donald Stephenson may have sown him up the right tackle job, so will that mean a move to the left side for Fisher and the departure of their star pass protector Branden Albert? Then what happens at guard where both Schwartz and Jon Asamoah are set for free agency? This could get worse before it gets better.
19. Chicago Bears (30th)
PB: 29th, RB:11th , PEN: 9th
Stud: Jets fans will remember Matt Slauson (+20.2) as a solid player. So they’ll be surprised with how he upped his game in Chicago, being the surprise of a unit that is very much in rebuild mode.
Dud: It’s always harsh to label a rookie a dud but Jordan Mills (-31.1) gave up way too many hurries (78 combined quarterback disruptions) and will need to fix this issue in Year 2.
Analysis: A significant step forward. Considering they had four new starters, they can be happy with the output after the shambles the line had become. You might question if they overspent on Jermon Bushrod (they did), but they did improve the play of their left tackle and got their rookies on the right side some much needed experience.
18. San Diego Chargers (28th)
PB: 24th, RB: 12th, PEN: 23rd
Stud: He’s big and he’s a brutal run blocker. They don’t make left tackles like King Dunlap (+24.4) who was one of the pickups of the offseason. He’ll always give you a bit when he’s protecting the passer, but my word is he fun to watch in the run game.
Dud: Switching from tackle to guard didn’t lead to a turnaround in the fortunes of Jeromey Clary (-18.3). He did earn a positive with his pass blocking, but his run blocking was so bad and often why running plays broke down.
Analysis: Quite the turnaround. Perhaps even more impressively was that they did it despite a gluttony of injuries that included having to switch D.J. Fluker to left tackle. A shame for the rookie who was so good on the right side and so much worse on the left. The transition is coming along a lot quicker than expected.
17. Tennessee Titans (14th)
PB: 26th, RB: 13th, PEN: 9th
Stud: Despite the new additions, it was Michael Roos (+22.0) who led the team. A good all-around year even if he did give up more hurries than we’re accustomed to seeing from him.
Dud: To think the Titans let Fernando Velasco walk and replaced him with Robert Turner (-13.1). I get that Velasco wasn’t deemed a scheme fit, but surely you’ve got to have a better option at the spot if you’re going to cut ties.
Analysis: The Titans went big, they went bold and ultimately they went bad. It took overpaid offseason acquisition Andy Levitre (+12.3) too long to get going as he never justified the price tag. Then the can’t-miss NFL prospect that was Chance Warmack found out that playing in the pros is a whole new world to playing at the collegiate level. Levitre is a good player, but given what this team put into their line, they have to be extremely disappointed with the results.
Turn the page for O-lines No. 16 to No. 9 on the list…
16. Houston Texans (10th)
PB: 27th, RB: 8th, PEN: 21st
Stud: He wasn’t as good as last year, but left tackle Duane Brown (+14.6) still had a useful year. We expect an athlete like him to do a little more in the run game.
Dud: It’s hard to imagine Bill O’Brien sticking with Derek Newton (-24.3). If you could give him a pass last year, then this year there were no excuses.
Analysis: A line that has talent but didn’t always live up to it. Wade Smith remains a player not matching the high expectations he created in his first year, while the right tackle spot is just a mess at this point. The good news is Brandon Brooks is coming along nicely, but you do wonder if a change in offensive schemes might leave some players out of place.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers (25th)
PB: 12th, RB: 21st, PEN: 14th
Stud: We expected to be writing about another guard here but it quietly flew under the radar just how well Ramon Foster (+13.2) played. He defines the solid-but-not-spectacular type.
Dud: He was benched but before that Mike Adams (-7.3) gave plenty of reasons as to why he would be. A poor pass protector on a line where the QB likes having a bit of time to operate. Far from ideal.
Analysis: Losing Maurkice Pouncey eight snaps into the year was a blow and while Fernando Velasco tried to replace him, there was a drop off. A shame because both guards played well with the team happy to get 963 snaps out of David DeCastro. He endured a rough start to the second half of the year, but outside of that his top-end ability sets him apart from all the linemen on this team. The work of Kelvin Beachum was a pleasant surprise that will give the personnel people plenty to think about for 2014.
14. New England Patriots (2nd)
PB: 19th, RB: 15th, PEN: 1st
Stud: The heir to Matt Light might not have entered the top tier of tackles, but Nate Solder (+25.6) is knocking on the door. Too many sacks allowed (10), but you have to be happy when your tackle pass blocks 647 times and gives up just 35 quarterback disruptions.
Dud: Last year Ryan Wendell (-14.0) got something of a pass from us because of his tremendous run blocking. Well, when he’s not producing that you can’t ignore his woeful pass protection. Centers should never allow more quarterback disruptions (37) than the team’s starting left tackle no matter how good the LT is.
Analysis: A dropoff for a normally solid unit. It really didn’t help that they lost the league’s (at that point) top-rated right tackle in Sebastian Vollmer, but with Logan Mankins far from elite and Dan Connolly struggling, the real problem comes in the interior where the team might look to bring in some competition in the offseason.
13. St Louis Rams (26th)
PB: 17th, RB: 9th, PEN: 26th
Stud: Many, ourselves included, wondered if Jake Long (+25.8) was done. He’d enjoyed a great start to his career in Miami but two so-so years left a lot to be desired. Well, this was the year he came back with a bang, and it’s a horrible shame his season ended with an ACL and MCL tear.
Dud: He may be a former first-rounder but Chris Williams (-21.8) is just a liability as a lineman. Far too much pressure, not enough good run blocking, and he’s the team’s weak link on offense.
Analysis: A step forward but perhaps not as much as they would have like to see. They nailed it with the pickup of Long and got surprisingly good play from Joe Barksdale, Shelley Smith and Rodger Saffold at guard. That would suggest a higher finish, but the interior trio of Williams, Harvey Dahl and Scott Wells really didn’t play up to the level that was needed of them.
12. Cleveland Browns (5th)
PB: 6th, RB: 18th, PEN: 20th
Stud: He’s the gold standard of pass protecting left tackles. “He” of course is Joe Thomas (+35.2) who had another monster year that earned him first team All-Pro honors from our good selves. He’s a special talent.
Dud: Remember when the team had to play Oniel Cousins (-16.3)? Sure Shawn Lauvao wasn’t great, but sometimes it’s simply enough not to be that guy.
Analysis: Presuming the team keeps a hold of Alex Mack a new head coach won’t be short on line talent here. The usual suspects earned the big grades in the shape of Mack and Thomas, but Mitchell Schwartz improved after a rough start to the year and while John Greco didn’t quite replicate his 2012 play, he still earned positive marks. A really underrated unit.
11. New Orleans Saints (6th)
PB: 8th, RB: 16th, PEN: 5th
Stud: He might not be the flashiest of players but Zach Strief (+26.5) continues to deliver the goods at right tackle. A productive pass blocker, you might like to see a man of his size get more push in the run game but he’s a an extremely dependable tackle.
Dud: He ended up getting benched after Robert Quinn had his way with him, though before that Charles Brown (-9.2) had been a moderate success. The problem is that he is somewhat prone to the kind of play in pass protection and that can kill a team.
Analysis: One of the hallmarks of a Sean Payton team; a strong offensive line. The unit is more geared to giving Drew Brees time than their running backs free yards, and in that respect they were successful. You do think though a team like theirs would be a little stronger at the point of attack on a consistent basis.
10. Green Bay Packers (21st)
PB: 3rd, RB: 17th, PEN: 16th
Stud: How would Josh Sitton fare switching to left guard? The +33.1 grade should tell you. Ending the season with just one negatively graded game (Week 1) he was the model of consistency, allowing just eight quarterback disruptions all year.
Dud: He only played 250 snaps, yet that was enough time for Marshall Newhouse (-9.2) to show everyone the team made the right move in benching him.
Analysis: The strength of the unit remains the interior where besides Sitton, T.J. Lang had an encouraging year if somewhat lacking on the consistency front. Evan Dietrich-Smith was perhaps the biggest surprise as he likely locked down the starting centers job for a long time and it leaves the line in good shape. David Bakhtiari was hardly a disaster and with Bryan Bulaga to return, the team suddenly has some real depth.
9. San Francisco 49ers (1st)
PB: 13th, RB: 3rd, PEN: 31st
Stud: Another excellent year from Joe Staley (+27.7) who, after a slow start to life in the NFL, has peaked as an elite left tackle. Exactly what the team had hoped for, with his contract looking extremely 49er-friendly right now.
Dud: A bit of a fall back to Earth year for Alex Boone (-1.9). A revelation last year, he was always somewhat prone to getting beat in pass protection and this year that propelled him to a slightly negative grade.
Analysis: It was by no means terrible, but given what we saw from this unit last year still extremely disappointing. In 2012 they bullied teams and won their matchups with ease. This year they were just very good, making life a little harder for their backs. Credit to them for raising our expectations to the level that even with four of five starters earning positive run blocking grades, we still want more.
Turn the page for the Top 8 offensive lines in 2013…
8. Detroit Lions (7th)
PB: 5th, RB: 14th, PEN: 1st
Stud: Normally when your stud is a third-round rookie that’s a bad thing. But Larry Warford (+22.8) proved a steal with a season that earned him second team All-Pro honors here at PFF. The good news for Lions fans is he’s not the finished article.
Dud: How about this. The lowest rank they got was from a guy who played just 205 snaps and that was a mere -1.9. That’s Jason Fox by the way.
Analysis: A performance few saw coming. Gone were both starting tackles and the right guard. By the end of the year they’d replaced them with a sophomore left tackle many thought was out of his depth, a third-round rookie and an undrafted free agent. And yet they didn’t miss a beat. Held together by the excellent Dominic Raiola, the Lions have a line that just got very young in a lot of key areas.
7. Carolina Panthers (27th)
PB: 10th, RB: 7th, PEN: 6th
Stud: It’s been a year to remember for Jordan Gross (+33.5). Retirement had been talked about, but surely he won’t quit when playing this well?
Dud: When you convert a defensive linemen to starting right guard there are going to be teething problems. That said, they can be relieved that Nate Chandler (-9.0) wasn’t the total liability he could have been.
Analysis: A big part of their offensive turnaround. They lost Amini Silatolu to injury but Travelle Wharton came in and played lights out in his 851 snaps. Throw in the good (although media overrated) play of Ryan Kalil and it’s really just the right side of the line you look at and think they could do with upgrading the talent/ experience level there.
6. Minnesota Vikings (9th)
PB: 7th, RB: 6th, PEN: 15th
Stud: Right tackle Phil Loadholt (+25.0) earned All-Pro honors in our eyes. He didn’t get the press he garnered last year as the team struggled but he remains the prototypical right tackle.
Dud: At this point in his career, Charlie Johnson (-5.4) might be best served in more of a utility linemen role. There are plenty of worse guards out there and if he’s the worst player on your line, you’re probably doing well.
Analysis: No doubt the team won’t be happy with how the left side performed with Matt Kalil suffering something of a sophomore slump. The good news is Brandon Fusco took a huge leap forward with his play to the point he was a legitimate All-Pro candidate. John Sullivan remains a quality center and whoever ends up coaching this unit can be happy with the talent they’ll be inheriting.
5. Washington Redskins (16th)
PB: 4th, RB: 10th, PEN: 3rd
Stud: An All-Pro-(or at least second team)-like performance from Trent Williams (+38.3). He has moments that make you smack your head, but by and large he’ll slow down elite pass rushers and has the kind of athleticism that generates movement whatever scheme you’re running.
Dud: Too many bad days for Chris Chester (-5.5) who continues to baffle with his streaky play.
Analysis: This ranking won’t please many Redskins fans who see the line as the root of their problems. The truth is the Shanahans had the zone blocking scheme working perfectly with huge cutback lanes regularly there for their backs to work with. Much is made of the hits Robert Griffin III took as if every single one of them must be the responsibility of the line. Well we charged RGIII himself with 10 of those sacks (more than any other player on the team) as the team gave whoever was quarterback ample time to get the job done. The big question now is what Jay Gruden intends for this line and whether he’ll move to a more power based scheme that could put a number of jobs on the line.
4. Dallas Cowboys (22nd)
PB: 9th, RB: 2nd, PEN: 24th
Stud: They got good play out of both tackles but Tyron Smith (+28.3) was the pick of the bunch. The 23-year-old is already one of the best left tackles in a league filled with good ones.
Dud: No player earned a lower grade than Ronald Leary (-9.4). The former undrafted free agent was largely decent but had a tricky middle spell to his season where he gave too much ground in pass protection.
Analysis: When things go wrong in Dallas they get magnified. But the truth is their line was a pleasant surprise as they opened up some big holes for DeMarco Murray and gave Tony Romo ample time to work with. While the tackles were the stars of the show but Travis Frederick came in and really added something to the run game.
3. Denver Broncos (4th)
PB: 2nd, RB: 4th, PEN: 7th
Stud: We didn’t expect Louis Vasquez (+33.6) to be quite this good but he was. Our All-Pro right guard, he even chipped in with good play at tackle to fully justify the outlay on him.
Dud: Left guard Zane Beadles (-5.7) is good out in space but his work in pass protection really leaves a lot to be desired.
Analysis: When Ryan Clady went down who saw this coming? Well Chris Clark filled in ably while the duo of Vasquez and Manny Ramirez delivered the goods in the run game. A real cohesive unit and while they benefit from the pocket presence of their quarterback, it’s a two-way street with both elements helping each other out.
2. Cincinnati Bengals (8th)
PB: 1st, RB: 5th, PEN: 12th
Stud: It’s hard enough to be good at one line position, but Andrew Whitworth (+36.7) excelled at two. A move to guard seemed to reinvigorate his run blocking while he kept his quarterback clean at the tackle spot.
Dud: He’d be a solid starter on most teams, but Kyle Cook (-4.8) remains the weakest link on a strong unit.
Analysis: Lose your starting guards? No problems. We’ll just ship in our backup left tackle and rotate a guy or two around. It was extremely impressive to see how the Bengals coped with injury, ending the year with six offensive linemen who played at least 350 snaps with a positive grade. With a lot of talent to work with, which five they put out next year will be worth keeping an eye on (and where they line up).
1. Philadelphia Eagles (19th)
PB: 18th, RB: 1st, PEN: 19th
Stud: Another season, another year of Evan Mathis (+46.7) putting on a clinic at guard. You don’t see linemen win as consistently as he does and it’s remarkable to think of his early career when you look at what he’s done these past three years.
Dud: It’s never bad when your dud, Lane Johnson (+0.2) earns a positive grade. The rookie right tackle started off slowly, giving up too much pressure but came on strong to finish the year.
Analysis: When you factor in that they started a rookie at one tackle spot and a veteran coming off two Achilles tears at the other, it’s miraculous they finished so high. By the season’s end no line created as much at the point of attack as this unit with three All-Pro candidates on board, and even with their sometimes porous pass protection they waltzed to the top spot. It’s an area for improvement on a fantastic line.
Follow Khaled on Twitter: @PFF_Khaled