With only two weeks left in the season, we’ve reached the point where we won’t be seeing much change in the rankings. Since it’s been a while since we highlighted the standout performers, and we love to see the positive in things here at PFF, let’s look at the highest-graded player from each offensive line in the league.
[Editor’s Note: Now that we are through Week 15 of the 2018 regular season, we’ve adjusted the rankings to factor in ALL snaps played along each team’s offensive line so far this season. Therefore, the rankings below reflect how every offensive lineman on each team has contributed in Weeks 1-15.]
Unsurprisingly, the Steelers have a lot of players grading highly to choose from. All five starters are within the 60 highest-graded linemen in the NFL at the moment. Left tackle Alejandro Villanueva gets the nod, though, at 77.9 overall. He’s allowed all of 18 pressures in what’s been a career year for the former wide receiver.
While the signing of Kevin Zeitler before last offseason didn’t move the needle for many, it’s proved prudent this season. He’s been critical to the success of Baker Mayfield with his work in pass protection. He’s yielded only 10 pressures all season long and has the highest pass-blocking grade of any guard.
It’s about time we start talking about right guard Shaq Mason among the best in the league. He’s yet to make a Pro Bowl, but hopefully that changes this year. He currently ranks second in our grades behind only Zack Martin among all guards and has been equally good in pass protection and run blocking.
You can’t go wrong choosing between either of the Saints offensive tackles, but Terron Armstead was on another level this season before he got hurt. In nine games, he allowed all of nine pressures and earned the highest run-blocking grade of any tackle in the league.
Jason Kelce’s career grade arc is very much a head-scratcher. Nothing about it is more confusing than how he’s performed in pass protection. There were games back in 2016 where he would repeatedly get his butt handed to him via the bull-rush. Now, he’s allowed all of nine pressures all season long and is easily the top-graded center.
The single most improved offensive line in the NFL this season. It helps when your rookie first-round pick also happens to then be the highest-graded player on your line. After a slow start, Quenton Nelson is now the eighth highest-graded guard in the NFL. He’s only allowed eight pressures in his last nine games after allowing 13 in his first five.
The mentee has become the mentor in Los Angeles. Rob Havenstein’s 82.2 overall grade barely edges out Andrew Whitworth’s 81.4 for the highest-graded on the Rams front. The track record of tackles drafted in the second round is not good whatsoever, but Havenstein has bucked that trend. He hasn’t had a single game grade below 60.0 on the season.
David Bakhtiari continues to play his butt off blocking for Aaron Rodgers. His 93.1 pass-blocking grade ranks first among all linemen in the league. The left tackle has never been much of a run blocker, but when you’re as consistent as he is on the blindside in pass pro, does it matter?
Chicago has very quietly put out one of the best pass-blocking duos in the NFL this season at tackle. Charles Leno Jr. and Bobby Massie have pass-blocking grades of 80.7 and 77.5, respectively, so far on the season. Those figures both rank inside the top-25 for tackles in the league.
Jake Matthews is a premier example of what the developmental curve looks like for most linemen in the NFL. After an injury-plagued rookie season, Matthews took a big step forward in Year 2 before refining his game to the point where he now has the third-highest pass-blocking grade of any tackle in the league (87.4) in Year 5.
Mere days after we hyped up Mitchell Schwartz as the best right tackle in the NFL, he went out and had his lowest-graded performance of the season against the Chargers, allowing a sack, a hit and a hurry. The veteran tackle’s body of work up to this point is still extremely impressive and includes five separate games in which he hadn’t allowed a single pressure.
The once-dominant line has turned into Zack Martin and Tyron Smith with some guys. Martin is still quite easily the best guard in the NFL. Whether it’s run or pass-blocking, he handles himself at an elite level. Smith deserves a shoutout as well, though. Even with his continued injury problems, he still leads all tackles in pass-blocking efficiency.
The Titans have had their ups and downs this season, but it’s been mostly up of late. Taylor Lewan’s play has been a big reason why. He’s allowed only six pressures in his last six games, including a performance against the Patriots that earned an 89.3 overall grade.
The ageless Marshal Yanda is back and balling once again. He’s yet to allow a single sack after his return from an ankle injury that cost him the 2017 season and has given up all of 14 pressures on the season. He isn’t quite grading at the elite level we once saw, but at 34 years old, it’s pretty damn impressive nonetheless.
Can we talk about Joe Staley’s Hall of Fame credentials? Another season, another top-5 grade for Staley, who has twice been PFF’s highest graded tackle in the NFL. He may have had a slow start to his career, but since the start of 2012, he’s earned an elite or near elite grade every season.
We’ve probably beat it to death at this point, but Taylor Moton deserves more credit for his role in the Panthers’ offense this season. They could have completely crumbled with all the injuries they suffered, but he came in and earned a 78.4 overall grade on the right side.
Week 12 Rank: 18th
All it took was a fifth- and a second-round pick for the Seahawks’ prolonged nightmare at left tackle to go away. Duane Brown has been worth every pick and penny paid to him this season. His 79.7 overall grade ranks eighth among all tackles in the NFL.
Week 12 Rank: 20th
While there’s no questioning Trent Williams‘ play, his injury history continues to mount up. He somehow hasn’t played 1,000 snaps in a season since 2013! While he’s earned a pass-blocking grade of 80.0-plus in all of those years, it’s incredible to think what he could have done fully healthy over that span.
Week 12 Rank: 17th
You love to see free agent success stories, and Rick Wagner certainly qualifies as one. He got above average tackle money and is rewarding the Lions with above average tackle play. Wagner’s 71.9 overall grade ranks 22nd among all tackles in the league.
Week 12 Rank: 19th
While I predicted 2017 to be Ali Marpet’s breakout season, I’ll blame it on the switch to center for why I was a year early. Now back at guard, Marpet has been dominant since Week 1. He’s now the third-highest graded guard in the NFL with solid grades in both run blocking and pass protection.
Week 12 Rank: 21st
While Andrew Norwell has been their highest-graded offensive lineman this season, it hasn’t been a banner year for their big money free agent signing. His 65.9 overall grade would actually be the lowest of his entire career. He’s still been solid in pass protection, though, with only 14 pressures allowed all season.
Week 12 Rank: 25th
While the Giants line as a whole has been an obvious issue, it’s at least encouraging that big free agent signing Nate Solder and second-round pick WIll Hernandez have been their two highest-graded offensive linemen. Solder has been much better of late after a shaky start. He’s allowed seven pressures over the last six weeks after giving up 20 over the first eight.
Week 12 Rank: 22nd
The Broncos were clearly on the verge of something special along their line early in the season before injuries continually piled up. Nothing exemplifies that more than the fact that Matt Paradis is still their highest-graded player at 79.0 overall despite going down for the season in Week 9. The center was on his way towards a career year before ending up on IR.
Week 12 Rank: 23rd
It hasn’t quite been the sophomore campaign that Dion Dawkins may have wanted, but for a player that many wanted to switch to guard last year coming out of Temple, he’s more than held his own at left tackle. His 68.5 overall grade this season shows just how ugly it’s been for the Bills up front, and his seven sacks allowed are over twice as many as he allowed a season ago.
Week 12 Rank: 27th
You don’t need these rankings to tell you it’s not been good in Houston. Bill O’Brien and Deshaun Watson deserve a ton of credit for still being able to lead a solid offense despite their shortcomings up front. Right tackle Kendall Lamm has actually been their highest graded player so far and even he’s sputtered to a 62.7 overall grade.
Week 12 Rank: 26th
While Kelvin Beachum has always had his shortcomings as a run blocker, he’s been extremely consistent in pass protection over the past five seasons. He’s allowed only six combined sacks and hits so far this year and ranks 18th among all tackles in pass-blocking efficiency.
Week 12 Rank: 28th
Even this low, this is still easily one of the best Chargers lines in the past five years. Russell Okung’s play on the blindside is a big reason why. They caught some flak for doling out big money for the oft-injured left tackle, but he’s been worth every penny. His 79.4 overall grade currently ranks 10th among all tackles in the league.
Week 12 Rank: 24th
With a ranking like this, it should come as no surprise that there has been little standout play on the Bengals line. Clint Boling has been a stalwart up front, but a move to tackle of late has torpedoed his overall grade. In those two weeks at left tackle, he earned overall game grades of 69.1 and 49.3.
Week 12 Rank: 30th
Outside of getting demolished by Jerry Hughes, Riley Reiff has actually been the lone bright spot on an otherwise dumpster fire of an offensive line. Even then, qualifying him as a bright spot might be a stretch. Outside of that Buffalo game, he’s allowed 22 total pressures in 10 games.
Week 12 Rank: 29th
It’s almost amazing how quickly the Raiders’ line, which was arguably the best in the league two short years ago, has crumbled into an unmitigated mess. Rodney Hudson continues to perform like a Pro Bowler, however, and has given up a grand total of four pressures on the season.
Week 12 Rank: 31st
After all the pub he got on draft night, Laremy Tunsil has flown quietly under the radar since. Not enough has been made of the fact that he’s turned himself into one of the best blindside protectors in the NFL. His 83.3 pass-blocking grade currently ranks ninth among all tackles.
Week 12 Rank: 32nd
After investing so much into the offensive line of late, to get the kind of results Arizona has had is extremely discouraging. D.J. Humphries, Arizona’s highest-graded linemen, ranks 66th among all starting linemen in the NFL in terms of overall grade. I get that injuries have run rampant over the line, but they were a liability even fully healthy.