In years gone by rush totals, sack numbers and reputation have been the largest factors in determining how good offensive linemen are in the public arena. We here at PFF like to think we’re doing something about that, isolating the play of linemen to assess their true worth.
So with that in mind, every year we unveil our yearly Offensive Line Rankings, and this year is no different. Intrigued to see which unit is the best or how you’re team match up? Well now you can.
(Last year’s rankings are in parenthesis)
32. Miami Dolphins (21st)
Pass Blocking Ranking: 32nd, Run Blocking Ranking: 31st, Penalties Ranking: 29th
Stud: When Branden Albert went down things did not go well. He was in All-Pro contention before the injury struck and it was a huge blow to lose him.
Dud: In preseason Dallas Thomas (-32.7) struggled at guard. So naturally, being forced to start at right tackle did not go well as he was overmatched and routinely beaten.
Breakdown: Just horrible. The 210 combined sacks, hits and hurries they allowed were most in the league and they weren’t much better in the run game. The musical chairs that saw Mike Pouncey to guard and Ja’Waun James to left tackle had a detrimental effect and it was brutal to watch them. It’s a young group that needs to play better.
31. St Louis Rams (13th)
Pass Blocking Ranking: 30th, Run Blocking Ranking: 28th, Penalties Ranking: 28th
Stud: It doesn’t feel right to crown any player with a stud, with every lineman earning a negative grade. Rodger Saffold was the best of a bad bunch despite a shoulder injury.
Dud: It might be the end of the road for Scott Wells who was terrible in pass protection. You don’t see centers give up that much pressure that often.
Breakdown: Yuck. Given the investments the team has made this was something of a stunner. Jake Long went down, after a strong start the play of Joseph Barksdale fell off a cliff and Davin Joseph played exactly as you’d expect him to (not well). Then there was Greg Robinson who looked lost as the line tried to find a role for him. Will he be better in 2015 now the team has committed to him at left tackle?
30. Buffalo Bills (22nd)
Pass Blocking Ranking: 23rd, Run Blocking Ranking: 32nd, Penalties Ranking: 4th
Stud: Not his best season but still better than his teammates managed. Cordy Glenn (+6.5) continues to be a reliable if hardly imposing left tackle.
Dud: Two guys played every snap and while Seantrel Henderson finished with the lower grade, he’s an undrafted free agent. The same can’t be said of Erik Pears (-25.0) whose conversion to guard was a disaster.
Breakdown: It did not go well. The investment in Chris Williams seemed odd and he struggled before landing on Injured Reserve. The right side of the line was a liability from Day 1 and while it did get better, it was not to a degree that inspires any confidence in this unit for 2015.
29. San Diego Chargers (18th)
Pass Blocking Ranking: 27th, Run Blocking Ranking: 26th, Penalties Ranking: 11th
Stud: He’ll never be confused as elite, but King Dunlap is a solid enough left tackle that can get some push in the run game.
Dud: Pick a guard, any guard. We’ll go with Johnnie Troutman who just didn’t deliver in his 790 snaps. The whole interior is ripe for ripping up.
Breakdown: They don’t give you the cleanest pocket and the moves they’ve made haven’t turned them into road graders. D.J. Fluker concerns you with his pass protection and yet he’s arguably the only guy you’d guarantee will be starting for the team next year even if it is at guard.
28th. Tennessee Titans (17th)
Pass Blocking Ranking: 29th, Run Blocking Ranking: 16th, Penalties Ranking: 31st
Stud: Share it between the left tackles. Both Michael Roos and Taylor Lewan impressed when they got on the field.
Dud: He was poor towards the end of his time in Baltimore and Michael Oher carried that form over to his new team. Just a poor move in free agency on their part.
Breakdown: They’ve spent big on Oher and Andy Levitre in recent years with little return. They’ve used their last two first-round picks on Lewan and Chance Warmack and while Lewan has impressed and Warmack does catch the eye at times, Warmack especially hasn’t reached the heights expected of him. The new Buccaneers in terms of paying a lot of attention to their offensive line, but getting it wrong a lot more than they've gotten it right.
27. Kansas City Chiefs (20th)
Pass Blocking Ranking: 22nd, Run Blocking Ranking: 27th, Penalties Ranking: 12th
Stud: With a season that warranted Pro-Bowl contention, Rodney Hudson (+13.0) was comfortably the best player on this line. Finished the year our third-ranked center.
Dud: It can make tough watching for Chiefs fans seeing Mike McGlynn give up so much pressure and lose his one-on-ones in the run game. His benching likely came too late.
Breakdown: It was always going to be tough to replace Branden Albert, Jon Asamoah and Geoff Schwartz and it proved every bit that. It didn’t help that Eric Fisher didn’t take the leap forward on the left side the team had hoped for, looking anything but a former first overall pick.
26. Atlanta Falcons (30th)
Pass Blocking Ranking: 19th, Run Blocking Ranking: 29th, Penalties Ranking: 22nd
Stud: Stud seems generous, but the team lucked into something when injury after injury forced Ryan Schraeder (+7.1) to start at right tackle. He was a stabilizing presence.
Dud: Injured or not, the season of Jake Matthews (-36.8) did not go as planned. Switched from right to left tackle, he gave up too much pressure and was too lightweight in the run game. The hope is a healthy offseason will see him get closer to what is required of a left tackle at this level.
Breakdown: They got better, but even with the injuries it wasn’t the level they had hoped for after spending a high pick on a tackle and investing big money in Jon Asamoah. The encouraging sign is they did get better as the season went on, but it’s far from an imposing unit.
25. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (24th)
Pass Blocking Ranking: 26th, Run Blocking Ranking: 10th, Penalties Ranking: 32nd
Stud: Credit to Demar Dotson who flipped between left and right tackle and maintained a positive grade.
Dud: Any time you’re forced to start Oniel Cousins it’s unlikely to go well. Suffice to say it didn’t work out for the Bucs either.
Breakdown: The decision to get younger at left tackle backfired with Anthony Collins struggling as Donald Penn flourished. Logan Mankins was a vital pickup given what they had at the guards spot but you’d be hard pressed to figure out what this line will look like next year.
24. Arizona Cardinals (32nd)
Pass Blocking Ranking: 24th, Run Blocking Ranking: 23rd, Penalties Ranking: 26th
Stud: The offseason acquisition of Jared Veldheer (+16.5) has proven to be a big hit. The former Raider has given them the kind of security at left tackle that predates the PFF era.
Dud: Usually the steadiest of the group, the form of Lyle Sendlein (-29.1) has seen a sharp decline. Only one center had a worse rating with him with a lack of control of blocks in the run game and too much pressure allowed in the pass game being the charges laid against him.
Breakdown: Slowly they get better, but we’ve seen false dawns before in Arizona. Veldheer lifted the talent level of the team, but the interior remains something of a mess. What they wouldn’t give for Jonathon Cooper to get completely healthy and deliver as his draft pick suggested he would.
23. New England Patriots (14th)
Pass Blocking Ranking: 31st, Run Blocking Ranking: 8th, Penalties Ranking: 19th
Stud: Our second-team All-Pro right tackle Sebastian Vollmer had himself another good year and avoided the injury bug for a change. Bonus.
Dud: The 306 snaps that Jordan Devey managed were brutal to watch at times. Not much of a pass blocker, he didn’t exactly light it up in the run game either.
Breakdown: Nate Solder had a bad year by his standards and the interior gave up way too much pressure. They did bloody some rookies, but this group appeared a unit in transition, with the team trying to patch up something just good enough to not harm their skill players too much.
22. Carolina Panthers (7th)
Pass Blocking Ranking: 27th, Run Blocking Ranking: 15th, Penalties Ranking: 3rd
Stud: While his work in pass protection was suspect, you have to appreciate the run blocking of Ryan Kalil that contributed to his +6.6 grade.
Dud: The move to left tackle was no easier for Byron Bell (-33.4) who continues to give up too much pressure.
Breakdown: All things considered, this could have been a lot worse. After losing studs Jordan Gross and Travelle Wharton to retirement and dealing with injuries during the season, they tried a number of different combinations with more success than you had any right to imagine. A bit of special praise here for the pickup of Andrew Norwell who has been something of a revelation.
21. Minnesota Vikings (6th)
Pass Blocking Ranking: 25th, Run Blocking Ranking: 17th, Penalties Ranking: 15th
Stud: He wasn’t at his best but it was still a decent year for John Sullivan, particularly in the run game.
Dud: It’s been disappointing to watch Matt Kalil (-29.1) fall from his superb rookie year to what he put on tape in 2014. The good news is his last five games of the year were considerably better and offer hope that he’s healthy and ready to get back to his best.
Breakdown: The only pleasant surprise here was the play of Joe Berger when he filled in, but outside of that not one player excelled or played up to their previous best. Was it just a year where injuries sapped their strength? Or has this unit peaked? These are questions we’ll likely find out the answer to in 2015.
20. New York Giants (28th)
Pass Blocking Ranking: 13th, Run Blocking Ranking: 30th, Penalties Ranking: 19th
Stud: A much better year from Will Beatty (+13.0) even if there were some games where he didn’t really show up.
Dud: When you see an athlete the size of John Jerry you think to yourself he can make things happen in the run game. Unfortunately, as it has been through most of his career, that just didn’t happen.
Breakdown: The injury problems of Geoff Schwartz was a big blow for this line and as a unit they struggled for consistency. Imports Jerry and J.D. Walton both struggled, while Weston Richburg looked every bit the rookie. Still, the improved play at tackle and the blooding of some youngsters and new players see this as a step forward.
19. Seattle Seahawks (27th)
Pass Block Ranking: 18th, Run Blocking Ranking: 17th, Penalties Ranking: 30th
Stud: Max Unger played superbly but was limited to 385 snaps because of injury. His loss has hurt the team greatly.
Dud: Rookies will take their lumps. Justin Britt (-18.5) was no exception and while he was a bonus to the running game, he simply allowed too much pressure.
Breakdown: Nothing catastrophic here but just a lack of top-tier performances. It didn’t help that they have played most of the year without their best lineman but they probably would have expected their former first-rounder to deliver more consistently.
18. Jacksonville Jaguars (31st)
Pass Block Ranking: 15th, Run Blocking Ranking: 25th, Penalties Ranking: 6th
Stud: There’s no doubt the Jaguars are happy with just how quickly Brandon Linder (+16.6) has acclimatized to life in the NFL. He’s contributed to a top-notch group of rookie guards.
Dud: With eight sacks allowed and a team-worst pass blocking grade, the Jags must have hoped for more from Luke Joeckel by now.
Breakdown: They got better when they replaced Jacques McClendon with Luke Bowanko and have taken a huge step forward this year. A new offensive coordinator will still need to get more out of a unit that didn't help their rushers enough in the run game.
17. Indianapolis Colts (25th)
Pass Blocking Ranking: 21st, Run Blocking Ranking: 13th, Penalties Ranking: 18th
Stud: The best year as a pro for Anthony Castonzo who would grade positively with his pass blocking in all bar two games. A big step up.
Dud: It hasn’t really panned out for Gosder Cherilus in Indianapolis the way that they hoped. His work in pass protection just hasn’t been good enough; with him all too often not just beat, but beaten quickly.
Breakdown: Given the injuries and issues they’ve had at center, it’s a minor miracle the team has got better this year. That owes some to guys like A.Q. Shipley and Joe Reitz doing a good job filling in, while rookie Jack Mewhort has made a strong impression.
16. Oakland Raiders (29th)
Pass Blocking Ranking: 14th, Run Blocking Ranking: 24th, Penalties Ranking: 9th
Stud: There was a feeling Donald Penn was something of a panic move. Yet the long-time Buc proved he’s still got some gas in the tank with a very impressive year.
Dud: Former second-round pick Menelik Watson still looks incredibly raw. He only played 496 snaps but turned it into a team O-line worst -17.2 grade.
Breakdown: The signing of Penn, drafting of Gabe Jackson and solid play of Stefen Wisniewski see a foundation laid for a line that has improved. Still a ways to go, though, if they want to make life easier for their skill players.
15. Chicago Bears (19th)
Pass Blocking Ranking: 17th, Run Blocking Ranking: 12th, Penalties Ranking: 23rd
Stud: A steadier second season from Kyle Long (+12.1) who has begun to look the part in pass protection. His rookie year would suggest he’s got more in his locker in the run game, though.
Dud: A massive improvement from Jordan Mills (-15.7), but he still gives up too much pressure at this stage of his career. If he can have the leap forward from Year 2 to 3 that he had from last year, that should correct things.
Breakdown: If nothing else, Phil Emery left the legacy of a much better line than the one he inherited. While Jay Cutler remains the lightning rod for criticism, the line was often shaky in pass protection. Injuries didn’t help, but it’s rare you’ll avoid them completely.
14. Detroit Lions (8th)
Pass Blocking Ranking: 11th, Run Blocking Ranking: 22nd, Penalties Ranking: 5th
Stud: He’s not going to get confused with the top left tackle, but Riley Reiff (+6.8) is a good left tackle in a league that craves them. Given the performances of some recent first round picks, that’s a win.
Dud: He didn’t cover himself in glory from a discipline perspective and after a strong 2013 we wonder if this is the end of the road for Dominic Raiola (-17.2).
Breakdown: The unit had to cope with injuries throughout the year, but it just didn’t take the step forward coaching staff was hoping for. Right tackle remains a question mark and its likely next year that Travis Swanson will be asked to replace Raiola.
13. New York Jets (26th)
Pass Blocking Ranking: 8th, Run Blocking Ranking: 19th, Penalties Ranking: 23rd
Stud: The leader of this group, Nick Mangold, was back to his best this year and topped our center rankings before going down hurt.
Dud: Brian Winters earned his benching with a terrible -15.3 grade on only 381 snaps.
Breakdown: They got better when Oday Aboushi moved into the lineup. The move to bring in Breno Giacomini was a moderate success with him holding down the right side without being a liability. However, as a whole, the group gave whoever was behind center ample time to miss their targets.
12. Washington Redskins (5th)
Pass Blocking Ranking: 9th, Run Blocking Ranking: 21st, Penalties Ranking: 13th
Stud: Even playing banged up Trent Williams still looks like a class act.
Dud: Former 2012 sixth-round pick Tom Compton had his chance to shine and failed to take it. It would be a mild surprise to see him back with the team.
Breakdown: A lot of changing parts with Korey Lichtensteiger making a good switch to center and Chris Chester having one of his good years (which likely means a bad one is around the corner). There are still a few question marks out there and you get the feel this unit is in transition as they transform into something more of Jay Gruden’s liking.
11. New Orleans Saints (11th)
Pass Blocking Ranking: 20th, Run Blocking Ranking: 9th, Penalties Ranking: 1st
Stud: No denying that Zach Strief is among the most reliable right tackles in the league and he proved it again with another solid season.
Dud: He was only forced to play 393 snaps, but it might spell the end for Bryce Harris (-17.5) who really struggled, particularly at home against Atlanta which contributed to the end of the Saints' season.
Breakdown: The pass blocking is a big concern, especially with “Pro Bowl” Jahri Evans getting rag dolled more this year then it felt like he had in his entire career before it. For a line that has consistently been one of the best, it just didn’t stand out as it has previously.
10. Denver Broncos (3rd)
Pass Blocking Ranking: 5th, Run Blocking Ranking: 20th, Penalties Ranking: 19th
Stud: The switch to left guard hasn’t hurt Orlando Franklin (+12.0) one bit. He’s looked like a natural.
Dud: The switch to right tackle has hurt Chris Clark (-6.7). He failed to adjust and was benched before too long.
Breakdown: Lacking the same kind of dominance we’ve become accustomed to seeing, they’ve switched parts about with their Super Bowl implosion fresh in the memory. For the most part it’s worked out with Peyton Manning being kept upright and just enough room for running backs to operate. There’s a feeling they might need some new blood in 2015.
9. San Francisco 49ers (9th)
Pass Blocking Ranking: 16th, Run Blocking Ranking: 5th, Penalties Ranking: 23rd
Stud: The usual drill with the 49ers as the excellent Joe Staley had another Top-5 left tackle season, finishing fourth in our rankings.
Dud: Rookie’s often come into the league and struggle and Marcus Martin was no different there. He was pushed about frequently.
Breakdown: As is often the case in San Francisco, they are a bullying group of linemen who can impose themselves in the run game, but are susceptible to giving up quick pressure. No difference this year with free agent-to-be Mike Iupati epitomizing this.
8. Pittsburgh Steelers (15th)
Pass Blocking Ranking: 3rd, Run Blocking Ranking: 11th, Penalties Ranking: 17th
Stud: You don’t often hear the name Kelvin Beachum mentioned, but the former seventh-round pick has developed into an excellent tackle, finishing fifth overall in our left tackle rankings.
Dud: How close are the Steelers to pulling the plug on the Mike Adams experiment? The backup lineman was forced into playing 372 snaps and garnered a team-worst -14.5 grade from them.
Breakdown: It’s taken some years but the Steelers have transformed from one of the worst lines in the league to one of the best. Young talent has come through and delivered, with Beachum, Marcus Gilbert and David DeCastro all grading positively. Special mention for Maurkice Pouncey who is finally playing up to a level close to the hype he has received his entire career.
7. Cincinnati Bengals (2nd)
Pass Blocking Ranking: 6th, Run Blocking Ranking: 6th, Penalties Ranking: 6th
Stud: How good was Andrew Whitworth (+36.8) this year? His nine total quarterback disruptions allowed are less than some allowed in a single game. A truly fantastic player who has never got the credit he deserves.
Dud: The biggest issue they had came at right tackle where it did not go well when Marshall Newhouse (-11.6) started.
Breakdown: A drop down the rankings as they bedded in a new center and had to cope with Andre Smith missing so much time. The encouraging thing is Russell Bodine has been better and the pickup of Eric Winston has proven to be a success. A remarkably consistent line that is always lurking in the Top 10.
6. Cleveland Browns (12th)
Pass Blocking Ranking: 2nd, Run Blocking Ranking: 7th, Penalties Ranking: 16th
Stud: What a year from Joe Thomas (+33.5). The sure-fire Hall of Famer continues to amaze with his play, never having an off year, looking like the best tackle of his generation.
Dud: When Alex Mack went down, Nick McDonald (-28.3) got 481 snaps at center. It did not go well… at all. Truth be told, anyone who got snaps at center struggled after the loss of Mack.
Breakdown: The pickup of Joel Bitonio reaped immediate rewards with this line playing as well as any. That was until they lost Mack for the year and that was a hammer blow to their chances of the top spot. Still, there aren’t many lines with as much talent on their roster as the Browns.
5. Houston Texans (16th)
Pass Blocking Ranking: 12th, Run Blocking Ranking: 3rd, Penalties Ranking: 10th
Stud: Nobody mentions his name much, but Brandon Brooks (+18.7) has quietly put together two very good seasons with his run blocking being of the standout variety.
Dud: Rookie Xavier Su’a-Filo (-8.5) was supposed to be an instant contributor. His 130 snaps highlight how that has proven to not be the case.
Breakdown: They looked a line in need of a rebuild with a new head coach in town, but those same elements responded to Bill O’Brien and played extremely well. A special mention to Derek Newton whose turn around has been one of the most remarkable of anyone in 2014.
4. Green Bay Packers (10th)
Pass Blocking Ranking: 1st, Run Blocking Ranking: 14th, Penalties Ranking: 8th
Stud: You could pick either guard, but we’re going for T.J. Lang because his work in the run game is more impressive.
Dud: He’s no longer with the team but it was a disaster whenever Derek Sherrod got on the field. A -10.1 grade over 142 snaps is terrible.
Breakdown: The tackles are both strong with their pass blocking, but the highlight of this unit is the interior where they create movement in the running game and are as consistent as any time in pass protection.
3. Baltimore Ravens (23rd)
Pass Blocking Ranking: 7th, Run Blocking Ranking: 4th, Penalties Ranking: 14th
Stud: What a year from Marshal Yanda. Our top-ranked lineman at any spot, his season was truly one for the ages as his +43.4 grade would suggest.
Dud: Things rarely went well when undrafted free agent James Hurst (-24.9) had to play. It was a case of way too much, too soon.
Breakdown: The impact of Gary Kubiak was felt almost instantly, but especially at the guard’s spot where both Yanda and Kelechi Osemele had tremendous years. The development of Ricky Wagner was another reason to celebrate, though the investment in Eugene Monroe didn’t quite pan out.
2. Philadelphia Eagles (1st)
Pass Blocking Ranking: 10th, Run Blocking Ranking: 1st, Penalties Ranking: 27th
Stud: In the conversation for best left tackle in the league right now, and if nothing else the run blocking of Jason Peters makes him the most fun to watch.
Dud: Credit to Todd Herremans for trying to gut it out, but the upshot was him being something of a liability in pass protection before going on Injured Reserve.
Breakdown: How did the line finish this highly with all the injuries they had? The replacements (Matt Tobin, Andrew Gardner and David Molk) all struggled so you can place their midseason renaissance down to getting their studs back. Peters and Lane Johnson were PFF All-Pro first teamers, Evan Mathis was on pace to be one, but missed some time, while Jason Kelce had the sixth-highest run blocking score of any center. A strong finish to the year for this unit.
1. Dallas Cowboys (4th)
Pass Blocking Ranking: 4th, Run Blocking Ranking: 2nd, Penalties Ranking: 2nd
Stud: He’s just a notch below the top tackles, but not by much. Tyron Smith (+21.6) is a rock in pass protection and can have his way with you in the run game.
Dud: Move along. There is nothing to see here. They all, at the very least, had good years.
Breakdown: Years of building through the draft paid off in spectacular fashion. It was already a pretty good line, but the selection of Zack Martin pushed them over the edge. Strong in pass protection and opening up running lanes that would get me to 1,000 yards, the Cowboys were a true joy to watch. Don’t you just love it when a plan comes together?
Follow Khaled on Twitter: @PFF_Khaled
See the other awards we've handed out this week:
2014 PFF All-Pro Team
2014 PFF All-Pro Special Teams
2014 PFF Stephenson Award (Best Player)
2014 PFF Offensive Player of the Year
2014 PFF Defensive Player of the Year
2014 PFF Matthews Award (Best Offensive Lineman)
2014 PFF O-Line Rankings
2014 PFF Rookie of the Year
2014 PFF Offensive Rookie of the Year
2014 PFF Defensive Rookie of the Year