The Dallas Cowboys head into the 2021 NFL playoffs with the single best offensive line in the game this season, according to PFF’s data. In fact, the top five offensive lines in the NFL will all be playing in the postseason, with the first team to miss out being the Washington Football Team.
At the bottom end of the rankings, you can start to pinpoint where things went off the rails for several franchises this year. The New York Giants and Carolina Panthers sank ever-deeper as the season progressed because their offensive lines were terrible, but the Las Vegas Raiders defied the odds in Week 18 to make the playoffs despite fielding the worst lines in the game.
Let’s run through the rankings team by team after the 2021 NFL regular season.
Click here for more PFF tools:
1. DALLAS COWBOYS (No Change)
The Cowboys' offensive line was back to its best this regular season. That resurgence was driven by the return of some of its best players who have missed time with injuries or seen their play fall off because of them.
Tyron Smith earned a 91.9 PFF grade this season, a career high and the first time he has been above 90.0 since 2015. He allowed 11 pressures across 460 pass-blocking snaps. Zack Martin was again one of the best linemen in the game, and the unit's weakest link — center Tyler Biadasz — critically improved his performances and was solid overall. Only Tampa Bay’s line posted a better pass-blocking efficiency score than Dallas this season, and they were blocking for far less time on average.
2. TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (No Change)
Tom Brady was the only quarterback in the league this season to be pressured on fewer than 20% of his dropbacks (19.8%), thanks in part to a quick release and one of the best offensive lines in the game. All five starters earned overall PFF grades of at least 70.8, and they were almost completely spared any missed time due to injury. Each starter played at least 1,036 of a possible 1,182 snaps over the season, with Ali Marpet the only one to miss a game.
If anything, the line was even better in the run game, where every member earned at least a 70.0 PFF grade.
3. SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (No Change)
Trent Williams finished the year with the best PFF grade (98.3) in the NFL at any position. It’s the highest single-season grade PFF has ever given to an offensive lineman, and the next best marks belong to Hall of Famers Jonathan Ogden and Joe Thomas.
Williams allowed 16 pressures from 508 pass-blocking snaps, but it was his performance in the run game that was the stuff of legend, forming its own highlight reel of pancake blocks. All five of the 49ers' starters earned overall grades of 62.2 or higher, and the unit was forced to perform without right tackle Mike McGlinchey for nine games.
4. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (Up 5)
The Eagles ended up using 15 different offensive linemen this season, so it’s not a surprise that it took them some time to process all the losses and get into their groove. But once this group was settled, it dominated and propelled the team back into playoff contention as the foundation of a potent ground game.
Jordan Mailata became one of the game’s best linemen this season, enough to make PFF’s All-Pro second team. Mailata allowed 20 pressures in 14 starts. Lane Johnson at right tackle did not surrender a sack in 13 games, and 34-year-old Jason Kelce at center just somehow continues to run block like no other.
5. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (Down 1)
The Chiefs replacing their entire starting offensive line heading into the season and having it work out as well as it has is one of the most impressive personnel feats in the league. Kansas City found an All-Pro center in the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft with Creed Humphrey and a quality starting guard in the sixth round in Trey Smith. A big-money move for Joe Thuney in free agency paid dividends, and Orlando Brown Jr. proved he can be as good on the left side as he was at right tackle.
The Chiefs' line had no real weak link this regular season, though right tackle became a problem as the campaign wore on and injuries began to hit.
6. WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM (No Change)
Washington’s offense should have been far better than it was this season given the platform the team was getting from its offensive line. There was no weak link on the unit, especially in pass protection, and even the players who replaced injured starters acquitted themselves well. The dynamics did shift a little with those injuries. Samuel Cosmi, Wes Schweitzer and Chase Roullier earned the three best PFF run-blocking grades, but each missed significant time, and their replacements were better pass-blockers than run-blockers.
7. LOS ANGELES RAMS (No Change)
Andrew Whitworth — now 40 years old — was arguably the best pass-blocking left tackle in the NFL this season. He allowed 16 pressures across 15 games while protecting Matthew Stafford’s blindside, and the team had a great bookend on the other side with Rob Havenstein playing some of his best football.
The interior trio was also solid, but cracks appeared quickly whenever this group was forced to the bench. Their final few games saw them slip from the top of the pass-blocking efficiency metrics to 11th by the regular season's end, allowing 144 pressures as a group on the season.
8. CLEVELAND BROWNS (Down 3)
Cleveland’s starting five forms one of the best offensive lines in the game. However, Jack Conklin played in only seven games before injury shut him down at right tackle, and Blake Hance produced a 36.9 PFF pass-blocking grade in his stead on over 600 snaps. Jedrick Wills Jr. missed several games at left tackle, at times leaving the Browns with backups at both tackle spots against some elite pass-rushers.
Few lines were as good in the run game, with Wyatt Teller backing up his breakout season last year with an 84.4 overall PFF grade this year and an 87.7 mark as a run-blocker.
9. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (Down 1)
The New England Patriots are one of the few NFL teams with both a good starting five on the offensive line and backup talent on the bench. Michael Onwenu boasts an 88.6 PFF grade since entering the league, playing across multiple positions, but the team benched him this season once everybody got healthy. Trent Brown allowed nine pressures in nine games and has still never recorded a poor pass-blocking season in the NFL. Shaq Mason at right guard was back to being one of the best run-blocking players in the league, allowing 15 pressures in 15 games.
10. LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (No Change)
The Chargers overhauled their offensive line in the offseason, and it has been a roaring success. Rashawn Slater represents a slam-dunk first-round draft pick. He is already one of the best left tackles in the league, allowing 26 pressures across 16 games and being one of only four tackles with 80.0-plus PFF grades as both a run-blocker and a pass-protector.
Corey Linsley and Matt Feiler were massive upgrades in free agency, leaving the team with just a weak link at right tackle once Bryan Bulaga went down 45 snaps into the season.
11. NEW YORK JETS (Up 1)
The Jets' offensive line overhaul has been a long-term process, but it’s starting to come together well — even if it’s being undermined a little by the tendency of their rookie quarterback to hold the ball too long and work his way into trouble.
Every starter on the line earned an above-average PFF grade, even if they each had their wobbles over the season. Despite being without Mekhi Becton for almost the entire year, this line had solid play across the board, with George Fant deserving real praise for his development as a tackle. Fant allowed 18 pressures in 15 games and across almost 600 pass-blocking snaps.
12. INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (Down 1)
The Colts just were never able to piece things together in pass protection well enough. They began the season with injuries, but even when their top players returned, they didn’t play to the peak of their powers. Quenton Nelson is one of the best offensive linemen in all of football when healthy, but he earned a 69.7 overall PFF grade this year and a 62.0 pass-blocking mark.
The Colts ranked 30th as a unit in pass-blocking efficiency, but they dominated as a run-blocking group, helping pave the way for Jonathan Taylor to lead the league in rushing.
13. DETROIT LIONS (Up 2)
The Lions' offensive line pulled into shape toward the end of the season and should be entering the offseason with a feeling of optimism like much of the rest of the team. Frank Ragnow, the unit's best player, played just four games before going down injured. Rookie Penei Sewell played well at both left and right tackle over the year, earning a 77.4 PFF grade overall.
The biggest weak link was Matt Nelson at right tackle, and that resolved with the return of Taylor Decker. Left guard Jonah Jackson improved his PFF grade from 57.0 as a rookie to 70.0 in Year 2. If he takes another jump next season, this could be an elite offensive line.
14. GREEN BAY PACKERS (Up 2)
Green Bay’s offensive has had its best players picked off throughout the season. David Bakhtiari — arguably the top pass-blocking left tackle in the game — only returned for a cameo performance in Week 18, while Elgton Jenkins went down for the season after eight games. Despite those injuries, the Packers' line continues to be fine.
Yosh Nijman earned an average 63.8 PFF grade and was better than average as a pass-blocker, surrendering 20 pressures in 10 games and 356 pass-blocking snaps. With a healthy Bakhtiari and Jenkins, this would be a top-10 line.
15. ARIZONA CARDINALS (Down 2)
Run blocking has been a problem for Arizona all season, and the success they have had on the ground is due in large part to their offensive line splits and the performance of James Conner. Pass protection has been better, though. Rodney Hudson at center has improved the overall cohesion of the group, even if his 60.3 PFF grade is the lowest of his impressive career. He allowed four pressures in 12 starts. D.J. Humphries showed his importance when he missed a game and forced a reshuffle on the line.
16. Tennessee Titans (Up 3)
Only the Miami Dolphins recorded a worse pass-blocking efficiency score than the Titans' offensive line this season. Needless to say, that is not good, but this line may be the most unbalanced group in the league in terms of performance in the run game or in pass protection. Even without Derrick Henry, the unit was still opening up significant run lanes, and some of the issues in pass protection came from the Titans running out of healthy bodies at receiver.
17. BUFFALO BILLS (Up 1)
The Bills had approached their offensive line in recent years to try and ensure they had solid depth should they be forced to use it, but those depth players this season were where the majority of their problems cropped up. The five players who appeared in the fewest games earned the worst five PFF grades of the 10 linemen Buffalo used over the season, but three of those five played at least 440 snaps and were major contributors. Dion Dawkins was the best player on the line at left tackle, allowing 25 pressures across 16 games.
18. NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (Down 1)
The Saints have had a relatively settled line personnel-wise for a while, but they were forced to use 13 different linemen this season, with nine of them playing at least 133 snaps. Calvin Throckmorton played 938 snaps and earned a 43.4 PFF grade at guard, and Terron Armstead — the unit's best player — played in only eight games due to injury. Armstead allowed 12 pressures in those games and posted an 85.3 PFF pass-blocking grade.
19. DENVER BRONCOS (Down 5)
Denver’s offensive line actually had a passable baseline, but when the unit lost, it tended to be ugly. The group gave up 28 sacks this season, which ranked 27th in the league, but it allowed only 165 total pressures (including those sacks), which ranked 15th.
Despite the success of their running backs, the Broncos' run blocking actually wasn't as strong. They ranked 19th in yards before contact per carry as a team (1.2), and Melvin Gordon III and Javonte Williams broke a combined 108 tackles on the season.
20. CINCINNATI BENGALS (Up 2)
The Bengals' offensive line is vastly improved from a season ago, but the last few weeks of the regular season showed how fragile that is — and how quickly it can become a problem if injuries arise. Jonah Williams has been impressive at left tackle, earning a 77.9 PFF grade, even if he has a tendency to lose badly when he does lose (he has allowed eight sacks).
Quinton Spain has played some of his best football, and there were other positive contributors, but not one member of the line played all 17 games, and the play of the backups has been problematic in some cases. Of the 11 players the team has used for 50 or more snaps, seven of them carry sub-58.0 PFF grades.
21. BALTIMORE RAVENS (Down 1)
The Ravens were without Ronnie Stanley all season after he suffered an injury setback in Week 1 and never made his way back to full strength. Patrick Mekari actually turned in a solid season at right tackle, particularly as a pass-blocker, allowing 23 pressures from 447 pass-blocking snaps. Kevin Zeitler and Bradley Bozeman also each put in solid seasons on the interior, but Alejandro Villanueva surrendered 55 pressures and earned a 58.5 PFF pass-blocking grade — more than 20 grading points lower than his career baseline as a pass-protector.
22. CHICAGO BEARS (Down 1)
There were games this season in which the Chicago offensive line couldn’t block anybody, but overall it wasn’t as bad as those low moments. Jason Peters gave the team 853 snaps of good play across 15 games before injury took him down. He allowed 28 pressures on 517 pass-blocking snaps. The biggest contributors were at least average with the exception of Sam Mustipher, whose 51.8 PFF grade was the lowest of the starters. Rookie Teven Jenkins struggled once he got his chance late in the season, allowing 11 pressures and being flagged seven times on 160 snaps.
23. MINNESOTA VIKINGS (Up 2)
Rookie Christian Darrisaw looks like a major addition to the line that will pay dividends going forward, the first Minnesota has had since it drafted Brian O’Neill on the other side of the line. Darrisaw finished with a 71.8 PFF grade after allowing 22 pressures in 11 games.
The tackles were the two best-graded members of the line, and the only two above 70.0 overall. O’Neill was the lone Vikings lineman to play snaps this season who earned a pass-blocking grade above 65.0, and that is where Minnesota’s biggest area to target improvement needs to be.
24. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (Down 1)
Rookie Walker Little ended up playing seven games at left tackle, earning the best PFF grade on the team among offensive linemen (68.8). He allowed six pressures from 139 pass-blocking snaps. The best players on this line were better in pass protection than they were in run blocking, but they still topped out at above average. Still, the baseline of play simply isn’t high enough in the group.
Like rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence, this is a unit that wasn’t being helped by the scheme and situation around them, so the potential for quick improvement in 2022 is real.
25. SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (Down 1)
Seattle’s offensive line just can’t find a way to get out of its rut, and if anything is going to convince quarterback Russell Wilson that maybe the grass is greener somewhere else, it may be that. Duane Brown has been the unit's best player since the team traded for him in 2017, but he just posted his lowest PFF grade (72.0) since he was a rookie. Wilson was under pressure on 37.0% of his dropbacks this season, one of the higher marks in the league.
26. PITTSBURGH STEELERS (Up 1)
Any analysis of the Steelers' offensive line needs to come with the context that Ben Roethlisberger averaged an absurd 2.20 seconds per pass, quicker than most pressure is ever going to arrive. Pittsburgh ranked sixth as a line in pressures allowed (142) but placed 17th in pass-blocking grade. The unit was heavily protected by that quick time to throw, which limited how exposed it was to rushers.
As a run-blocking unit, the Steelers ranked 24th in the league in grade, generating just 0.9 yards before contact on average (29th).
27. ATLANTA FALCONS (Down 1)
Atlanta’s line allowed 200 pressures on the season, ranking 29th in pass-blocking efficiency. Chris Lindstrom was a borderline All-Pro at right guard, but three-fifths of the starting line earned pass-blocking grades of 53.3 or lower.
Rookie Jalen Mayfield allowed 11 sacks and 57 pressures from his left guard spot. He was also penalized nine times and recorded a lowly 27.6 pass-blocking grade. Jake Matthews was the best-graded pass-blocker at left tackle, but his run-blocking grade sat at just 58.8.
28. LAS VEGAS RAIDERS (Up 1)
Kolton Miller was impressive for the Raiders at left tackle, earning an 84.2 PFF grade and marks of at least 76.6 as a run-blocker and a pass-blocker. He allowed 34 pressures from 730 pass-blocking snaps, but he was the lone ray of light in the darkness. Rookie Alex Leatherwood posted a meager 29.0 pass-blocking grade, allowing a league-leading 65 pressures at right tackle and then right guard.
Two different players allowed eight sacks individually, and only Miller earned a run-blocking grade better than 65.0. It’s remarkable that the Raiders made the postseason with this offensive line.
29. HOUSTON TEXANS (Up 1)
Eleven different offensive linemen played at least 58 snaps for the Texans this season, with 10 of them playing over 200. The team’s biggest issue is that those who played the most earned some of the worst grades, with the unit's top three players by workload earning PFF grades between 51.9 and 60.0. Five different linemen earned a run-blocking grade lower than 50.0, and the line as a whole earned the worst PFF run-blocking grade (47.4) in the league — the only unit to grade lower than 55.0.
30. NEW YORK GIANTS (Down 2)
Things weren’t just bad on the offensive line for the Giants (left tackle Andrew Thomas had more receiving touchdowns than Kenny Golladay and Kadarius Toney — their big-money free agent and first-round rookie — combined), but it certainly started there.
Thomas was the best-graded player on the line, and when he missed time, things were near disastrous. He allowed 19 pressures across 517 pass-blocking snaps. His development in Year 2 was a massive positive, but he might be the only member of the line who has a clear future going forward.
31. CAROLINA PANTHERS (No Change)
Carolina’s offensive line was always going to become an issue given the players they prioritized to acquire in the offseason. Taylor Moton earned a 77.8 PFF grade and was one of the better right tackles in the NFL, but he was the only one of 11 linemen to end with a grade above 67.0. John Miller and Michael Jordan, who played just 21 games combined, allowed 13 sacks from their guard spots, and three different linemen earned PFF pass-blocking grades lower than 40.0. This offensive line performance was a true case of reaping what you sow.
32. MIAMI DOLPHINS (No Change)
Miami’s offensive line surrendered a league-leading 235 pressures this season and recorded the worst pass-blocking efficiency score in the NFL. The unit did this despite being well protected by a quarterback getting rid of the ball quickly and by the team running the third-most RPOs in the league. The offensive line was run blocking on almost one out of every five passing plays, removing the chance of being exposed in pass protection. Miami gambled that their young players would develop this season and the line would improve, but that unquestionably backfired.