Offensive Line Review & Ratings: Summary
John Tuvey
August 17, 2012
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You won't find names like Carl Nicks, Eric Winston, or Jared Veldheer anywhere on your cheat sheet. But how those those guys play will directly impact guys you will be drafting--specifically the likes of Doug Martin, Jamaal Charles, and Carson Palmer.

No worries, you won't be tested on those names. We've done all the heavy lifting for you, breaking down offensive lines and providing a bite-sized capsule as to how the big fellas up front affect the fantasy players you draft--or avoid. So when the best run-blocking guard in football lands in Tampa Bay, when a top zone-scheme tackle swaps Houston blue for Kansas City red, or when a small-school left tackle develops into a solid pass-protector the ramifications will be covered here--and reflected in our cheat sheets.

With that in mind, here’s a capsule look at each offensive line in the league. Keep in mind these rankings are subjective, taking into account past performance, continuity, scheme, and personnel. They also draw from an emerging trove of statistical data from sources like the Football Outsiders (FO), the Football Scientist (FS), and Pro Football Focus (PFF), all of whom endeavor to quantify just how much of a team’s offensive performance can be directly attributed to line play.

This article will reference stats from these sources, so here’s a quick primer on what those numbers measure:

  • Adjusted Line Yards — an FO stat that assigns responsibility for rushing yards to the offensive line based on where those yards were gained in proximity to the line of scrimmage
  • Power Success — an FO stat that tracks the percentage of runs on third or fourth down with two yards or less to go (or first or second down and goal to go from two yards and in) that resulted in a first-down or touchdown
  • Stuffed — an FO stat measuring the percentage of rushing attempts where the back is tackled at or behind the line of scrimmage
  • Adjusted Sack Rate – an FO stat measuring sacks per pass attempt tweaked for down, distance, and opponent
Rank Team Overall Grade Rush Grade Pass Grade Regulars Returning Summary
1 New Orleans A- B+ A 4 How good is a line when you lose the best run-blocking guard in football and still rank at the top? Pretty doggone good.
2 New England A- B+ A- 5 The Pats might lose two starters from last year, but they have backup plans in place and always seem to cobble together a solid front wall.
3 Carolina A- A B 4 Cam Newton makes this unit look a little better than they might be, but Newton or no they're still the top run-blocking unit in the league.
4 Houston B+ B+ B 4 The zone scheme allows Houston to let a talent like Eric Winston walk, then simply reload and keep their elite ground game rolling.
5 Atlanta B+ B- A- 5 Atlanta's line is perfectly suited to take advantage of the wrinkles new offensive coordinator Dick Koetter wants to introduce.
6 Baltimore B+ B+ B 4 If Bryant McKinnie gets (and stays) in shape, everything falls into place and the line helps keep Baltimore's window of opportunity open. If not...
7 NY Giants B+ B- A- 5 Moving David Diehl yet again--this time to right tackle--helps in both run blocking and pass protection; they just need Will Beatty to hold up at LT.
8 Cincinnati B+ B A- 3 Maybe the Bengals' line won't be so underrated with BenJarvus Green-Ellis taking advantage of holes rather than Cedric Benson.
9 Tampa Bay B B+ B 4 Add the aforementioned Nicks to a line that already has plenty of nasty, mix in a run-first new coach, and the Bucs' ground game is good to go.
10 Philadelphia B B- B 4 Philly spent much of last season mixing and matching, eventually cooking up a winning recipe. Can they do it again with a replacement left tackle?
11 Oakland B B B- 4 New OC Greg Knapp inherits a talented unit well-suited for his zone-blocking scheme--yet adept at keeping Carson Palmer upright as well.
12 San Diego B B B- 5 The Chargers' left side was decimated by injury, but if Jared Gaither can get/stay healthy the beat will go on for Norv Turner's offense.
13 Tennessee B B- B+ 3 The Titans' o-line is much maligned, but their tackles are solid. They have issues inside, but all Chris Johnson needs is a crease.
14 NY Jets B B+ C+ 5 A curious mix in Gotham: three Pro Bowlers and two absolute turnstiles. That mix didn't work in front of Shonn Greene; could Bilal Powell be next?
15 Buffalo B- B- B- 4 Eric Wood's return shores up one of the NFL's better interiors, but Buffalo keeps losing left tackles to the Eagles. Can they refill the spot yet again?
16 Kansas City B- B+ C 3 Houston's loss is KC's gain: plugging Eric Winston in at right tackle will help the Chiefs get mileage out of both Jamaal Charles and Peyton Hillis.
17 Dallas B- B B- 3 Swapping tackles should help kick this line into gear, and the Cowboys took steps to address issues in the middle as well.
18 Green Bay C+ C- B- 4 The Packers continue to cobble at the tackles, but between Aaron Rodgers' mobility and the lack of a ground game does it even matter?
19 Seattle C+ B C- 4 Seattle's front office has invested plenty of early picks in this line; last year it paid off in front of Marshawn Lynch, and that's the plan again in 2012.
20 Minnesota C+ B- C+ 3 Fourth overall pick Matt Kalil has Christian Ponder's back; the rest of the unit is designed to pave the way for Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart.
21 Detroit C+ D B+ 5 The Lions trot out the same unit once again; why expect different results? Pass protection was better, but Detroit running backs are on their own.
22 Jacksonville C+ B C- 5 Jacksonville's line is well-suited for opening holes in the ground game, but they'll look much better if it's Maurice Jones-Drew handling the rock.
23 San Francisco C B D 4 This is a seriously nasty run-blocking group, but with a Pro Bowl tackle and a run-heavy scheme they should be much better in pass protection.
24 Cleveland C C- C+ 3 There is talent here; the question is, is there enough to push a very young quartet of skill position players into fantasy relevancy?
25 Pittsburgh C- B- C- 3 This line takes plenty of heat, some of it undeserved. They need rookies David DeCastro and Mike Adams to step up to keep that heat off of boil.
26 Denver C- C D+ 5 Tim Tebow helped this line look better than it truly is; now they're charged with keeping Peyton Manning's spinal fusion intact? Hmmm...
27 Miami C- C- C- 3 Miami's line has consistently underachieved, but there's enough talent here to make franchise QB Ryan Tannehill's transition relatively painless.
28 St. Louis C- C- C- 3 Another solid offseason addition to the interior, but the Rams have too many early-round misses at tackles to be anything more than ordinary.
29 Indianapolis C- D+ C- 2 Indy's transition from finesse to a Bruce Arians power unit won't be easy; this year four castoffs from other teams line up in front of Andrew Luck..
30 Washington D+ C- D+ 5 Eventually this group has to figure out Shanny's zone scheme and be productive with it... right? It's a good thing RG3 is mobile.
31 Chicago D D+ D 4 There's only so much Mike Tice can do with a five guys who "earned" negative game scores in both run blocking and pass protection.
32 Arizona D D D 4 One definition of insanity is repeating the same behavior and expecting different results. The Cards bring back essentially the same line. So...

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