Top Ten Offensive Lines

It may not be flashy or sexy, but more than anything, the outcome of a football game often comes down to five 300 pound men on the offensive trenches. If an offensive line cannot protect their quarterback or open up running lanes, it’s nearly impossible for an offense to function properly. Therefore, having a strong offensive line may be, outside of having a reliable quarterback, the most important part of team building. For these ten teams, the offensive trenches won’t be a concern for them; they have elite offensive lines, which should allow them to take their offenses to even greater heights than imagined. So, who has the best offensive line in football? Let’s discuss.

*Rankings via Football Outsiders

#10: Green Bay Packers

bakhatrri
LT David Bakhitiari- David Photo Cred: 247 Sports

Starters: David Bakhtiari (LT), Lane Taylor (LG), Corey Lindsley (C), Billy Turner (RG), Bryan Bulaga (RT)

Depth: T Jason Spriggs, C/G Elgton Jenkins, G Cole Madison, T Justin McRay

For some reason, people tend to make the excuse that quarterback Aaron Rodgers doesn’t have enough a supporting cast to succeed. Yet, he quietly has one of the best offensive lines protecting him. Yes, Green Bay’s offensive line ranked just 21st in pass protection last year, according to Football Outsiders, but on paper, this is a very strong group. David Bakhtiari is arguably the best left tackle in all of football, and although Bryan Bulaga is starting to regress, the two form a strong tackle duo. Additionally, center Corey Lindsley is amongst the league’s best at his position, while offseason addition Billy Turner is extremely versatile. There are some questions at left guard since Lane Taylor allowed eight sacks last year, but with second-round pick Elgton Jenkins, there’s plenty of competition for that starting spot.  Though only Bakhtiari is a superstar on this offensive line, it’s a very underrated unit that should thrive in new head coach Matt LeFleur’s zone-blocking scheme.

#9: Philadelphia Eagles

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Photo Cred: PhillyVoice

Starters: Jason Peters (LT), Isaac Seumalo (LG), Jason Kelce (C), Brandon Brooks (RG), Lane Johnson (RT)

Depth: T Andre Dillard, G Stefan Wisniewski, C Anthony Fabiano, RG Matt Pryor, T Hal Vaitai

Like the Packers, the Eagles offensive line wasn’t as productive as expected last season; they ranked 17th in pass protection and also struggled at times opening up running lanes. Still, there’s plenty of reason to be optimistic heading into 2019. After all, though he’s closer to 40 than 30, Jason Peters remains one of the premier tackles in football, and the same can be said about Lane Johnson; the tackles will protect quarterback Carson Wentz tremendously. Furthermore, Jason Kelce may be the best center in the NFL, while Brandon Brooks is also an above-average interior offensive lineman. Heck, even Issac Seumalo fared well at left guard last year! It gets better; in first-round pick Andre Dillard and Hal Vaitai, Philadelphia has as much tackle depth as anyone else, and Stefan Wisniewski is a great depth option at guard and center. Honestly, this ranking may be a little too low; this is a very talented group on paper, and though they struggled last season, should be in for a major bounce-back this season.

#8: Dallas Cowboys

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Photo Cred: Inside The Star

Starters: Tyron Smith (LT), Connor Williams (LG), Travis Frederick (C), Zack Martin (RG), La’el Collins (RT)

Depth: T Cameron Flemming, G Connor McGovern, C/G Joe Looney, G Xavier Su’a-Filo

The Cowboys have always notoriously had arguably the league’s best offensive line, but last season, the unit’s regression was obvious. They once again were excellent in run blocking, leading to great numbers by running back Ezekiel Elliot, but unfortunately, the same cannot be said about how they protected quarterback Dak Prescott. They were the fifth-worst pass protecting offensive line last season, while multiple members failed to meet expectations last seasons. Among those linemen were La’el Collins, who allowed eight sacks last season, as well as Connor Williams, who ranked in the top ten as well in sacks allowed. However, Williams and Collins are both talented enough to rebound, and in Tyron Smith and Zack Martin, Dallas has two of the best offensive linemen in the NFL. The X-Factor of this line will be center Travis Frederick, who returns after missing the entire seasons with Guillain-Barre syndrome. He was easily the best center in football before dealing with this illness, and if he picks up right where he left off, this will be a top-five offensive line in football. However, that’s not a certainty, and though they have depth with Connor McGovern Joe Looney, and Cameron Flemming, they also have two inconsistent starters and have no idea what to expect from Frederick; they are by no means a sure bet to be a dominant unit in 2019.

#7: Baltimore Ravens

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Photo Cred: Baltimore Sun

Starters: Ronnie Stanley (LT), Alex Lewis (LG), Matt Skura (C), Marshal Yanda (RG), Orlando Brown (RT)

Depth: T James Hurst, G Ben Powers, G Bradley Bozeman

Similar to the Cowboys, the Ravens, to an even greater extent, are a run-heavy offense. Therefore, the offensive line’s ability to open up running lanes is actually the most important aspect of this offense. It’s encouraging then, they ranked as the best power run-blocking unit last season, and allowed the running back to get stuffed at or behind the line of scrimmage the third least. The interior remains solid with Marshal Yanda still producing at a high level, and Alex Lewis and Matt Skura decent starters. However, the most exciting part of this group is the tackles. Ronnie Stanley has quietly emerged as one of the top tackles in the NFL, and Orlando Brown was terrific last season, setting a tone in the running game as a mauler while also not allowing a single sack. Though Lamar Jackson’s mobility means that he doesn’t need the greatest pass protection, the fact that he has two of the best pass blocking tackles in the NFL doesn’t hurt, and the run blocking should be strong once again behind Mark Ingram. This group extends past the starting five, as fourth-round pick Ben Powers is a tremendous fit in this scheme, while Bradley Bozeman and James Hurst saw a lot of action last season. It’s a very underrated unit that may Baltimore’s only chance of having a successful offense this season.

#6: Carolina Panthers

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Photo Cred: ProFootballTalk – NBC Sports

Starters: Greg Little (LT), Daryl Williams (LG), Matt Paradis (C), Trai Turner (RG), Taylor Moton (RT)

Depth: G Greg Van Roten, C Tyler Larsen, G Dorian Johnson, G Taylor Hearn, T Dennis Daley

Last season was a rough season for the Panthers offensive line. All-Pro guard Andrew Norwell dealt for the Jaguars in the past offseason, and with center Ryan Kalil regressing and Daryl Williams going down with an injury, it looked like they were heading towards a disastrous season upfront. However, to the pleasant surprise of the front office, Carolina actually got better in the trenches, ranking 10th in pass protection and doing solid as a run-blocking unit. Yet, the front office continued to make investments in the offensive line, adding one of the best centers in football in Matt Paradis on a three-year contract, while drafting tackle Greg Little in the second round. Little’s a raw prospect that probably should be moved to guard momentarily before taking over as the long-term tackle, but his athletic traits are off the charts, and there are other options at tackle. Williams was brought back on a one-year contract as well, and whether it’s inside or preferably at right tackle, he should be a huge part of this unit’s success. Plus, tackle Taylor Moton developed into an above-average tackle last season, and Trai Turner remains a glue at right guard. With the depth solid as well, quarterback Cam Newton should have plenty of time to throw this season; the offensive line may be the reason the Panthers make a serious playoff push this season.

#5: Kansas City Chiefs

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Photo Cred: Arrowhead Pride

Starters: Eric Fisher (LT), Cameron Erving (LG), Austin Reiter (C), Laurent Duvernay-Tardif (RG), Mitchell Schwartz (RT)

Depth: C Nick Allegretti, G Kahil McKenzie, G Andrew Wylie, T Ryan Hunter

Out of all these teams on this list, the Chiefs may be the offensive line that I’m the least confident in. After all, they suffered the biggest loss out of any team on this list when they lost center Mitch Morse, who be the best pass-blocking center in the NFL, and didn’t quite find an adequate replacement. Austin Reiter did perform strongly when Morse went down with an injury last season, but they are relying on him to duplicate it this season by only investing a seventh-round pick to add depth (Nick Allegretti). Still, the rest of the offensive line is top-notch. Left tackle Eric Fisher has finally hit his stride as an above-average tackle, while Mitchell Schwartz is one of the best tackles in football. Therefore, the pass blocking around Patrick Mahomes is elite, and with Cameron Erving and Laurent Duvernay-Tardif form a solid interior pairing. The depth could be better, but the starters are so strong, that this offense should continue to produce at historic levels.

#4: New Orleans Saints

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Photo Cred: New Orleans Saints

Starters: Terron Armstead (LT), Andrus Peat (LG), Erik McCoy (C), Larry Warford (RG), Ryan Ramczyk (RT)

Depth: C/G Nick Easton, C/G Will Clapp, T Michael Ola, G/C Cameron Tom, T Marshall Newhouse

The Saints offense really struggled down the stretch, and a major emphasis fell on the offensive line. They struggled, especially on the interior, to guard the likes of Fletcher Cox, Aaron Donald, and others, which was very uncharacteristic of them considering the investments they’ve made in the trenches. Part of it was the injury bug, as multiple offensive linemen missed games due to injury last season. However, there was a need for new life, and with Max Unger retiring, the additions of centers/guards Erik McCoy (second round) and Nick Easton (four-year contract) should provide it. Unger was one of the league’s best centers when right, but he clearly wasn’t right last season, and though both are unknowns, it’s intriguing to see how McCoy and Easton will fit on the offensive line. At the very least, Terron Armstead and Ryan Ramczyk are the league’s best tackle duo, which is extremely valuable considering they need to protect an immobile 40-year-old quarterback in Drew Brees. Larry Warford is fine on the interior, but Andrus Peat is a major question mark. He really struggled last season after developing into a starting-caliber player, and if he can rebound, this offensive line can be the best in football. Still, there is depth behind him in Eason, Will Clapp, and Cameron Tom. Plus, since Warford is the oldest player here at 28-years-old, regression isn’t a concern, while this figures to be their group beyond this season. Therefore, no matter who’s under center, they figure to be in a good spot for the future.

#3: Indianapolis Colts

Syndication: Indianapolis
Photo Cred: Colts Wire – USA Today

Starters: Anthony Castonzo (LT), Quenton Nelson (LG), Ryan Kelly (C), Mark Glowinski (RG), Braden Smith (RT)

Depth: C Evan Boehm, T Le’Raven Clark, T Joe Haeg, G Josh Andrews

For years, Andrew Luck was beaten up behind a very poor offensive line, to the point that he had a shoulder injury that caused him to miss all of the 2017 season, and that was expected to remain the case when he returned in 2018. However, new general manager Chris Ballard made several investments in the offensive line in the draft, adding guard Quenton Nelson (1st Round) and tackle Braden Smith (2nd Round). All of a sudden, Luck was the second most protected quarterback in football, while the running game fared well with the new additions as well. Nelson has already become one of the league’s best interior lineman, and his nasty mentality sets the tone on this offensive line. Additionally, Smith was excellent after being converted to right tackle, and though not spectacular, left tackle Anthony Castonzo has been a solid player on this offensive line since being drafted in the 2011 draft. It doesn’t stop there; Mark Glowinski has quietly emerged as one of the best guards in football, and the same can be said with Ryan Kelly at center, respectively. This revamped offensive line was the #1 reason behind Indianapolis’ resurgence last season, and as they take the next step forward to becoming a Super Bowl contender, it can be argued that it’s the true face and identity of this team.

#2: New England Patriots

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Photo Cred: Pats Pulpit

Starters: Isaiah Wynn (LT), Joe Thuney (LG), David Andrews (C), Shaq Mason (RG), Marcus Cannon (RT)

Depth: T Yodny Cajuste, G Ted Karras, G Hjalte Froholdt, T Cole Croston, C James Ferentz

Not many teams can lose their starting left tackles in back to back seasons and still have a formidable offensive line. Yet, this is what makes the Patriots so uniquely dominant throughout their dynasty. After losing Nate Solder to the Giants in free agency, New England promptly subbed in Trent Brown, who performed so well down the stretch that he earned the largest contract for a tackle in NFL history. Now, the Patriots are counting on 2018 first-round pick Isaiah Wynn to follow in their footsteps. He didn’t play a single snap last season after tearing his Achilles, but back healthy this season, he has all the makings of a franchise left tackle. If he holds up, good luck; Joe Thuney, David Andrews, and Shaq Mason form the best interior offensive line in the NFL, while Marcus Cannon is a seasoned veteran who’s been a very consistent player for them. Additionally, the depth is tremendous here, as third-round tackle Yodny Cajuste is extremely talented, while Ted Karras and fourth-round pick Hjalte Forholdt are capable of filling in on the interior if needed. Plus, the team has arguably the greatest offensive line coach in Dante Scarnecchia, while Tom Brady’s quick-release makes it easier for them to pass protect. As per usual, expect New England to be strong in the trenches as they make another Super Bowl push.

#1: Pittsburgh Steelers

steelers
Photo Cred: 247 Sports

Starters: Alejandro Villanueva (LT), Ramon Foster (LG), Maurkice Pouncey (C), David DeCastro (RG), Matt Feiler (RT)

Depth: T Chukwuma Okorafor, G Patrick Morris, C/G BJ Finney, T Derwin Gray, T Jerald Hawkins, G Fred Johnson

The Steelers offense may have taken a hit at the skill positions with the losses of running back Le’Veon Bell and wide receiver Antonio Brown, but they’ll still likely be one of the best offenses in 2019. Why? They continue to have by far the best offensive line in football. David DeCastro remains one of the elite offensive linemen, while center Maurkice Pouncey is one of the best at his position. On the left side, Alejandro Villanueva and Ramon Foster aren’t great players, but their important staples on the offensive line that are very consistent. Though the loss of right tackle Marcus Gilbert hurts, but Matt Feiler performed so well last season, that the drop off will be minimal to none. Long term, there are concerns about this offensive line; Pouncey, Foster, and Villanueva are all 30-years-old, and the team hasn’t added much in the way of young talent in the trenches recently. Still, as for this team, this remains a formidable unit that will continue to protect Roethlisberger exceptionally, while opening up running lanes for James Conner; they are the easy choice for the top spot on this list.

 

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