The Detroit Lions are one of a number of teams climbing up PFF's 2021 offensive line rankings thanks to much-improved play from key players over the past few weeks — rookie Penei Sewell, in their case. The Dallas Cowboys and Tampa Bay Buccaneers are likely to remain at the top through the end of the season, but the San Francisco 49ers are climbing ever higher, driven by the absurd play of left tackle Trent Williams. The Indianapolis Colts also continue to climb with a relatively healthy line compared to earlier in the season.
Let’s run through the rankings team by team ahead of Week 15 of the 2021 NFL season.
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1. DALLAS COWBOYS (No Change)
Best-graded: G Zack Martin | 94.6
Worst-graded: T Terence Steele | 61.9
The Cowboys field the NFL's best offensive line when everyone is healthy, but Tyron Smith is all of a sudden back to dealing with nagging injuries. Smith is expected to miss more time in Week 15, but he still gives the Cowboys a pair of linemen with 90.0-plus PFF grades.
La’el Collins being back in the lineup gives Dallas three players with 90.0-plus PFF run-blocking grades. Zack Martin is dominating once again, earning a 94.6 overall grade so far after surrendering 15 total pressures in 12 games and conceding just one penalty.
2. TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (Up 1)
Best-graded: T Tristan Wirfs | 84.8
Worst-graded: G Alex Cappa | 70.7
The Buccaneers are allowing the lowest pressure rate in the NFL so far this season, with quarterback Tom Brady feeling the heat on just 19.2% of his dropbacks. While Brady’s lightning-fast release time certainly helps that, only one Tampa Bay lineman has surrendered more than a single sack all season.
All five starters on the line have played almost the entire season and have earned 70.0-plus overall PFF grades. Tristan Wirfs, in particular, is having an outstanding season, with the lowest pressure rate allowed of any lineman at any position. He has given up just nine pressures in 13 games.
3. SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (Up 4)
Best-graded: T Trent Williams | 99.0
Worst-graded: G Daniel Brunskill | 65.2
Trent Williams now carries a 99.0 overall PFF grade through Week 14. The higher up the scale a grade goes, the harder it is to move to the next increment. Needless to say, his current mark would be the best single-season grade from an offensive tackle. The next best marks belong to Jonathan Ogden and Joe Thomas — both Hall of Famers. It would also rank as the best single-season grade achieved by any player at any position over the past 15 years.
Williams has been a dominant force this season and should win Offensive Player of the Year if the voters for such awards acknowledged offensive linemen. He is by far the best player on this line, and the unit doesn't really have a weak link.
4. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (Down 2)
Best-graded: C Creed Humphrey | 90.4
Worst-graded: T Andrew Wylie | 58.4
The Chiefs are back and rolling toward another possible No. 1 seed in the AFC, and while they have slipped a couple of places in the offensive line rankings, that says more about the teams that have jumped them. Their offensive line remains a huge strength, with Creed Humphrey being the league’s best-graded center as a rookie.
Injuries have forced Andrew Wylie to start some games at right tackle, and he has been a clear weak link in those contests. Wylie has surrendered four sacks in his limited action, tied for the most on the line.
5. CLEVELAND BROWNS (Down 1)
Best-graded: G Joel Bitonio | 92.7
Worst-graded: T Blake Hance | 57.6
Cleveland’s starting five forms an excellent line, but when the unit's bench pieces are forced into action, it causes extensive tweaks to the game plan. Backup Blake Hance has now played over 500 snaps between left and right tackle, earning a PFF pass-blocking grade in the 30s. He is two pressures away from leading the team overall despite being protected with extra help from running backs and tight ends.
A silver lining is that even Hance has an above-average grade as a run-blocker — a huge reason behind the team’s rushing success.
6. WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM (No Change)
Best-graded: C Chase Roullier | 81.4
Worst-graded: G Brandon Scherff | 71.4
Washington’s line remains one of the most underrated and quietly impressive units in all of football, and the team is finally enjoying a little more success in the win column in recent weeks because of it. There isn’t a bad performer on the line, with each of the seven linemen who have played at least 300 snaps this season earning above-average PFF grades in every facet of play. Most teams can’t make that claim about their starting five, so for Washington to achieve it despite having turned to the bench is very impressive.
7. LOS ANGELES RAMS (Down 2)
Best-graded: T Andrew Whitworth | 84.0
Worst-graded: G David Edwards | 65.1
Only the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have allowed a lower pressure rate than the Rams this season, and they also have Tom Brady's lightning-fast release influencing those numbers. Andrew Whitworth became the first left tackle to start a game at the age of 40, and he remains the best player on this line. Whitworth again boasts a 90.0-plus PFF pass-blocking grade after allowing just 11 pressures in 12 games this season.
8. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (Up 3)
Best-graded: G Michael Onwenu | 87.9
Worst-graded: T Justin Herron | 48.4
What’s truly remarkable about the Patriots' offensive line resurgence is that they benched their best player since everybody got healthy. Michael Onwenu is still the team's best-graded player, but despite earning outstanding PFF grades since being drafted, he took a seat on the bench after Trent Brown returned at right tackle.
Still, the five current starters are performing well, with each earning above-average grades as both run-blockers and pass-blockers.
9. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (Down 1)
Best-graded: C Jason Kelce | 84.7
Worst-graded: G Nate Herbig | 62.8
The Eagles' offensive line is another with few weak links. Jordan Mailata has gone from strength to strength in the NFL, even improving after he signed a big-money extension. He has allowed just 18 pressures in 11 games while also putting together some phenomenal run-blocking displays.
Center Jason Kelce has been back to his best this season, earning a 90.0-plus run-blocking grade and allowing 15 total pressures in 13 games. The Eagles' offensive line performing this well is especially impressive given the loss of multiple starters to injury.
10. LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (Down 1)
Best-graded: C Corey Linsley | 84.2
Worst-graded: T Storm Norton | 57.2
Rookie Rashawn Slater is already one of the best left tackles in the game, and the magnitude of his “bad” outings tells you just how good he is. His most recent outing against the Giants earned him his lowest single-game PFF grade this year, and he allowed just one pressure in the contest. Slater is capable of shutting down pass-rushers and providing the Chargers the solid play they've been missing at left tackle in recent years. Matt Feiler and Corey Linsley make it a successful trio of new acquisitions for the unit, but the right side is a little less stable.
11. INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (Up 5)
Best-graded: T Braden Smith | 83.5
Worst-graded: T Julie’n Davenport | 47.3
The Colts are climbing back up the rankings after placing No. 2 before the season. With a largely healthy line in recent weeks, the team has been dominant up front, paving the way for Jonathan Taylor to lead the league in rushing and have seven more carries of 10-plus yards than any other back.
The Colts have used 10 different linemen this season, and there have certainly been issues with some of them, but the starting five is among the best in the league when healthy. Only recently has Indianapolis been able to enjoy that reality.
12. NEW YORK JETS (Up 4)
Best-graded: C Connor McGovern | 75.2
Worst-graded: G Laurent Duvernay-Tardif | 57.9
The Jets have thrown a lot of resources at the offensive line in recent years, and while it’s still not a fantastic unit, it has made massive steps in the right direction, even after losing key members, such as Mekhi Becton, to injury. George Fant has moved over to left tackle, and while he was a liability there earlier in his career, he has allowed just one sack all season.
Rookie Alijah Vera-Tucker endured a tough run of play but looks to be past that poor stretch. He is back playing solid football. He has surrendered 38 pressures this season but been a far better run-blocker.
13. ARIZONA CARDINALS (Down 3)
Best-graded: T D.J. Humphries | 72.8
Worst-graded: G Max Garcia | 51.7
The Cardinals' Week 14 contest against the Rams showed that while their offensive line may have been overachieving this season, there are limits to such things. Aaron Donald has wrecked plenty of offensive lines in his NFL career, and he destroyed Arizona’s interior to the tune of 14 pressures.
D.J. Humphries has been the unit’s best player, earning PFF grades of at least 68.5 as both a run-blocker and a pass-protector. Four of the five members grade out below average in at least one facet of blocking.
14. DENVER BRONCOS (Up 5)
Best-graded: T Garett Bolles | 71.9
Worst-graded: G Quinn Meinerz | 61.2
Denver’s offensive line has a habit of looking worse than it actually is. When the unit loses, it tends to lose badly, resulting in a disproportionate number of sacks for a group that has actually been pass blocking pretty well. Every starter has given up multiple sacks, but four of the five carry 70.0-plus PFF pass-blocking grades.
On the flip side, the group has probably been worse in run blocking than the performances of their running backs would indicate. Javonte Williams leads the NFL in broken tackles, and both he and Melvin Gordon III are averaging at least 2.95 yards after contact.
15. DETROIT LIONS (Up 10)
Best-graded: C Frank Ragnow | 86.2
Worst-graded: T Matt Nelson | 53.7
The Lions looked like they might be able to put together a pretty good offensive line if a few things broke their way heading into the 2021 season. It certainly didn’t start out that way, but over the past few weeks, this group has started to come together, despite missing their best player in center Frank Ragnow.
Rookie Penei Sewell has been as good, if not better, on the right side as he was at left tackle. Since Week 6, he ranks second in the league in PFF grade at either spot. Taylor Decker has allowed just nine pressures in five games since returning to the lineup, and even the play of the interior has been trending up.
16. GREEN BAY PACKERS (Down 4)
Best-graded: T Elgton Jenkins | 82.3
Worst-graded: G Royce Newman | 52.8
Green Bay’s offensive line is dealing with major injuries, and the unit's best five players are significantly better than this ranking, but David Bakhtiari is still sidelined. And in the meantime, the Packers lost Elgton Jenkins, putting them down to a third-string left tackle at best. The right side saw Dennis Kelly forced into action this past week against Chicago, meaning the team has now played nine different linemen, with a 10th in Bakhtiari returning at some point in the future. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers helps mitigate weak spots along the line, though, and the group is weaker collectively against the run than in pass protection.
17. NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (Down 3)
Best-graded: T Ryan Ramczyk | 82.4
Worst-graded: G Calvin Throckmorton | 42.7
Another offensive line that has been battling injuries, the Saints have lost both of their tackles — Terron Armstead and Ryan Ramczyk — for multiple games. Those players were the strength of the unit, with the interior already causing plenty of problems. James Hurst has been a pleasant surprise off the bench, filling in at four different positions at various points this season and earning a 77.7 PFF pass-blocking grade while doing so.
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18. BUFFALO BILLS (No Change)
Best-graded: T Daryl Williams | 71.1
Worst-graded: G Cody Ford | 46.7
Three of the five spots on Buffalo's line are solid, with both tackles and center Mitch Morse playing almost every snap. All three have been solid pass-blockers, but the issues have come trying to patch together the two guard spots and constantly shuffling the line — including moving Daryl Williams to guard and back again — to make that happen. None of the players who have taken a turn at guard have distinguished themselves, with Ike Boettger the only one to post even passable PFF pass-blocking grades (71.1).
19. TENNESSEE TITANS (Down 2)
Best-graded: T David Quessenberry | 79.3
Worst-graded: G Aaron Brewer | 61.8
Derrick Henry‘s absence changes how the Titans' offense operates on a fundamental level, and even the offensive line doesn’t look the unit it once was. It is still a significantly better run-blocking line than it is in pass protection, but since Henry went down, none of the starters have a run-blocking grade higher than 73.7. Before Henry's injury, the worst run-blocking grade among the starters was 71.3.
Pass protection is where the real problems lie, however, with David Quessenberry offsetting some elite run blocking with nine sacks surrendered and 10 more knockdowns of the quarterback.
20. BALTIMORE RAVENS (Down 7)
Best-graded: C Bradley Bozeman | 73.1
Worst-graded: T Tyre Phillips | 54.1
The Ravens have now used 12 offensive linemen this season, yet four of them have played more than 800 snaps across 13 games apiece. Alejandro Villanueva is struggling mightily in pass protection — typically the veteran's strongest area. He has allowed nine sacks and 48 pressures thus far. That sack figure is tied for the league lead, and the pressure total is the fourth-most of any lineman. Patrick Mekari is one bright spot, as he has allowed just 17 pressures across 10 games and 330 pass-blocking snaps.
21. CHICAGO BEARS (Up 1)
Best-graded: T Jason Peters | 75.8
Worst-graded: C Sam Mustipher | 51.2
Jason Peters performing at his current level is remarkable, given that he's 39 years old and was signed as a free agent in mid-August. He allowed 24 pressures across 13 games before suffering an injury this past week against Green Bay. Elsewhere on the line, there have been issues, but the worst have come when injuries have forced backups into the lineup. The three worst PFF pass-blocking grades on the team are from players with fewer than 100 snaps, while the lowest mark from the five players with the most snaps is 58.2.
22. CINCINNATI BENGALS (Down 1)
Best-graded: T Jonah Williams | 75.8
Worst-graded: G Jackson Carman | 48.9
Cincinnati’s offensive line is much improved compared to last season, but that’s not to say it has progressed to being good. Quinton Spain has rediscovered some of his earlier-career form after struggling badly over the past couple of seasons. His 77.6 PFF run-blocking grade is his best since 2016, and he has allowed 19 total pressures on just under 500 pass-blocking snaps. Pass blocking is the biggest issue for this group, with just one starter (Jonah Williams) earning a grade higher than 65.0 in that area.
23. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (Down 2)
Best-graded: G Andrew Norwell | 69.0
Worst-graded: G A.J. Cann | 45.9
Like everything else in Jacksonville this season, the offensive line is heading in the wrong direction. Andrew Norwell is by far the best-graded member (69.0). He has allowed 17 pressures and sports a 66.7 run-blocking grade. Cam Robinson has actually been impressive in recent weeks as a pass-blocker, posting five straight games of excellent grades in that area and surrendering only one sack all season.
24. SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (Down 1)
Best-graded: T Duane Brown | 73.3
Worst-graded: C Kyle Fuller | 46.4
Andrew Whitworth playing like a shutdown left tackle at 40 years old might break perceptions a little, but Duane Brown at 36 is probably reaching the point of gradual decline. His 73.3 overall PFF grade is the worst mark since his rookie season, and he has surrendered eight sacks already, inching closer to his career-high of 11.
Brown has been the best member of the Seahawks' line since the team traded for him, and they have no ready replacement if they need to think about life beyond his services. In addition to that issue, the other linemen are as iffy as ever, with the highest PFF pass-blocking grade among them belonging to Brandon Shell at just 60.4.
25. MINNESOTA VIKINGS (Down 1)
Best-graded: C Mason Cole | 75.7
Worst-graded: T Rashod Hill | 42.2
Christian Darrisaw was a significant upgrade for Minnesota when he was on the field, allowing 14 total pressures on 250 pass-blocking snaps compared to 20 pressures from Rashod Hill’s 215 such snaps. When Darrisaw was injured, however, the Vikings shuffled three different positions to replace him, making the entire line notably worse. Right tackle Brian O’Neill is the unit's only member to play more than 100 snaps and earn a 60.0-plus PFF pass-blocking grade.
26. ATLANTA FALCONS (Up 4)
Best-graded: G Chris Lindstrom | 80.9
Worst-graded: G Jalen Mayfield | 51.2
Atlanta’s line would be decent if it didn’t have to think about pass protection, where only Jake Matthews at left tackle sports a passable grade. Four of the five players have above-average or better run-blocking grades (Matthews is ironically the odd man out), but rookie Jalen Mayfield has surrendered nine sacks and 46 total pressures, one of the highest totals in the NFL and by far the highest among guards.
27. PITTSBURGH STEELERS (Up 1)
Best-graded: G Trai Turner | 67.1
Worst-graded: C Kendrick Green | 54.4
The Steelers have allowed one of the lowest pressure rates in the NFL, but that's due in large part to quarterback Ben Roethlisberger getting the ball out of his hand in just 2.18 seconds on average, the quickest time in the league. Despite that, four of the five starters have allowed multiple sacks, and the unit's run blocking is poor. Pittsburgh is averaging just 0.9 yards before contact per rush this season, ranking 29th in the league.
28. NEW YORK GIANTS (Up 3)
Best-graded: T Andrew Thomas | 74.9
Worst-graded: G Ben Bredeson | 51.4
The Giants have dealt with a number of injuries this season, paving the way for seven different linemen to play at least 200 snaps. Andrew Thomas has shown massive improvements in his sophomore season, with just one sack surrendered and a 79.5 PFF pass-blocking grade. But when he is out of the lineup, things get ugly quickly. In 10 games, Matt Skura has earned a lowly 35.8 PFF pass-blocking grade. And the highest run-blocking grade on the team belongs to Billy Price at just 67.2.
29. LAS VEGAS RAIDERS (Down 3)
Best-graded: T Kolton Miller | 79.3
Worst-graded: G Alex Leatherwood | 41.0
Rookie Alex Leatherwood now leads the league in total pressures surrendered (55), and that's despite moving inside to guard, where the damage has been less severe. Leatherwood holds just a 24.7 PFF pass-blocking grade for the season, and he isn’t the only problem on this line. Brandon Parker at tackle and John Simpson at guard each have pass-blocking grades in the 50s and eight penalties to their name. The Raiders line has been a massive issue over the season, with left tackle Kolton Miller serving as the only bright spot.
30. HOUSTON TEXANS (Down 3)
Best-graded: T Marcus Cannon | 65.9
Worst-graded: C Jimmy Morrissey | 35.7
Nine Texans offensive linemen have played at least 190 snaps this season, and only two carry 50.0-plus overall PFF grades. Multiple players have sub-36.0 pass-blocking grades, and the unit’s run-blocking performance has been disastrous. The Texans average a league-worst 0.7 yards before contact this season, meaning running backs are barely making it half a yard past the line of scrimmage, on average, before taking on contact.
31. CAROLINA PANTHERS (No Change)
Best-graded: T Taylor Moton | 73.9
Worst-graded: G Trent Scott | 42.1
Carolina’s offensive line was problematic even when the unit was completely healthy, so things have understandably spiraled out of control with backups playing significant snaps. The unit's performance against Miami in Week 12 was one of the worst displays of offensive line play from one team in recent memory. All five starters earned sub-50.0 PFF pass-blocking grades in that game, and four were below 30.0. Taylor Moton has been the lone bright spot this season, and even he is posting an overall PFF grade lower than his past four seasons.
32. MIAMI DOLPHINS (No Change)
Best-graded: G Robert Hunt | 63.0
Worst-graded: G Austin Jackson | 47.8
Miami’s offensive line isn’t just the worst in the NFL; it is a historically bad unit. The group is allowing the highest pressure rate in the league (43.3%), despite being well protected with RPOs and quick passing. Tua Tagovailoa’s average depth of target is just 6.9 yards downfield, the second-lowest in the league. Miami rosters three of the NFL's 10 worst offensive linemen this season in terms of total pressures surrendered, and nobody boasts an overall PFF grade higher than 63.0 overall. It is a minor miracle that Tagovailoa looks functional behind this line.