Offensive lines don’t generate fantasy points, but they impact how many your players score. Rarely called out on television other than for a holding call, the linemen are at least partially responsible for the success of every play. Rating them is an inexact science to be sure but as with most analysis, at least the good and bad extremes are worth knowing.
Evaluating the effectiveness of a line is complicated. They are affected by the quality of the other players, game situations, injuries and a myriad of other considerations. The reality with offensive linemen is that they are often injured and constantly changing lineups impede their ability to work as a unit.
Nothing succeeds with offensive lines more than having the same unit from one year to the next. Consistency and chemistry are everything for the blockers.
Offensive Line Rankings Summary
1. New Orleans Saints
Drew Brees can play into his 40’s thanks in large part to one of the premier offensive lines in the NFL. While certainly as wise and savvy as any quarterback, there’s no denying how much staying clean in the pocket has helped his production and durability. LT Terron Armstead and C Max Unger come off Pro Bowl years. The Saints are spending big on their O-line with the fourth highest salary cost in the NFL for the unit. They spent their 2.16 pick this year on C Erik McCoy. Unger’s retirement made that a need pick but he’ll need to win the job in the preseason. But otherwise, all four other linemen offer stellar production.
2. New England Patriots
The Patriots offensive line sported superior marks in almost every measurable category last season. They are a critical success factor that doesn’t get enough credit. And that’s typically losing great players almost annually. This time RT Trenton Brown left to sign a 4-year, $66 million deal in Oakland as the most coveted free-agent lineman. The Pats added LT Yodny Cajuste (3.37) in the draft. OL coach Dante Scarnecchia is a big part of the Pats winning ways. There will be reshuffling as there is almost every year but no reason to expect less from this always competent unit.
3. Pittsburgh Steelers
Both RG David Castro and C Maurkice Pouncey went to the Pro Bowl and the Steelers saw above average marks in most line metrics. And likely would have had them all had Le’Veon Bell opted to play. OL coach Mike Munchak leaves after spending the last five seasons cranking out top offensive lines. His job goes to protégé Shaun Sarrett who helped Munchak for all five years. That should spell consistency and continuity. The right tackle spot is open after Marcus Gilbert was traded to the Cardinals. Matt Feiler is favored for the position going into the preseason but there will be a competition. This is another offensive line that returns almost everyone after a highly successful season.
4. Indianapolis Colts
This is what happens when a team is committed to using the draft to upgrade an offensive line. 2018 netted LG Quenton Nelson (1.06) and RT Braden Smith (2.05). 2016 netted C Ryan Kelly (1.18) and Le’Raven Clark (3.19) and those were just the higher-picked selections. LT Anthony Constonzo was their 1.22 pick in 2011. Only RG Mark Glowinski is a starter originally drafted by a different team. Nelson comes off a Pro Bowl appearance as a rookie. This line is talented throughout and has enough depth that an injury or two doesn’t have too heavy of an impact.
5. Green Bay Packers
The Packers have spent big on their offensive line and rank #2 in salary cost this year. They used their 2.12 pick to draft C Elgton Jenkins and brought in RG Billy Turner from the Broncos on a four-year deal. That should pay dividends for the rushing effort. The Packers already have very competent tackles in Bryan Bulaga and David Bakhtiari. This is an above average unit that could be better for 2018 but the Packers are installing a new offense under HC Matt LaFleur. There shouldn’t be much of a learning curve though and most of the line has experience with each other.
6. Los Angeles Rams
The Rams spent their 3.33 pick on OT Bobby Evans but let LG Rodger Saffold and C John Sullivan leave. LT Andrew Whitworth is winding down a great career at 37 years old and hangs on for one more season. RT Rob Haverstein holds down the right side but the Rams have to settle on a reshuffled interior of the line. That could impact the run blocking until it settles down but the pass blocking should remain solid with those tackles.
7. Baltimore Ravens
RG Marshal Yanda went to his seventh Pro Bowl and the 34-year-old is still considered one of the better lineman in the NFL. This was already a solid group of entirely home-grown blockers and starting midway through last season, their jobs all became easier. The rookie Lamar Jackson ran the ball between 11 and 26 times each game in addition to what the running backs produced. That forces the defense need to react to an additional element in the offense. They cannot limit their focus on the running back on rushing plays or expect the quarterback to still be there when they rush the pocket on a pass play.
8. Dallas Cowboys
The once stellar offensive line of the Cowboys took a hit last year when C Travis Frederick missed the season with Guillain-Barre syndrome. He is expected to return for Week 1 work. Both LT Tyron Smith and RG Zack Martin went to the Pro Bowl though Smith battled injuries in 2018. The Cowboys drafted OG Connor McGovern (3.26) for better depth. The Cowboys will spend 30% of their salary cap on their offensive line this year, easily the most of any NFL team. The unit slipped last year but should rebound with a healthy Smith and Frederick.
9. Carolina Panthers
The Panthers may only rank 31st in salary cap spending on their line this year but they return RG Trai Turner who comes off his fourth-straight Pro Bowl and enjoyed impressive metrics from their line. Part of that stems from adding OC Norv Turner last year and letting Christian McCaffrey run free. C Ryan Kalil retired but Denver’s Matt Paradis signed a lucrative three-year deal to replace him. They also spent their 2.05 pick on LT Greg Little. They re-signed RT Daryl Williams. This unit was much improved in 2018 over past seasons and the addition of Paradis more than compensates for losing Kalil.
10. Chicago Bears
The Bears have been great in pass blocking and return all the same lineman from 2018. They have one of the longest-tenured set of blockers in the NFL and that extended experience works in their favor. Mitchell Trubisky has enjoyed superior protection while learning two different offenses over his two seasons. Going into the second year for HC Matt Nagy should improve the rush blocking along with a new backfield better suited to the scheme. While the Bears don’t sport a superstar lineman, they show the value in shrewd drafting and developing their own players. Now they can get even more consistency by playing in the same offense for two consecutive seasons.
11. Philadelphia Eagles
This has been one of the better lines for several years. RT Alejandro Villanueva and RG Brandon Brooks got invites to the Pro Bowl. Brooks is healing from a torn Achilles so his status for Week 1 isn’t certain. LT Jason Peters plays at least one more season in his stellar career. Just to help the line depth, they drafted LT Andre Dilliard (1.22) so they have someone to move onto if Peters retires in 2020. Like most teams, they have to remain healthy but the Eagles have a better options than most if injuries hit.
12. Denver Broncos
The Broncos added RG Dalton Riser (2.09) for an upgrade to the run game but lost C Matt Paradis and RG Billy Turner. They also picked up RT Ja’Wuan James from the Dolphins. The Broncos are installing a new offense under OC Rich Scangarello and he’ll get help from new O-line guru Mike Munchak who coached the blockers for the Titans and Steelers. That may not help this unit push beyond average in their first season but they shouldn’t be a liability.
13. Los Angeles Chargers
C Mike Pouncey went to his fourth Pro Bowl in 2018 after his first season with the Chargers. They drafted OT Trey Pipkins (3.27) for positional depth and there isn’t any turnover for the starters. While the Chargers linemen have received less than stellar reviews, the reality is that they ranked well in the above metrics and benefit from the same players returning to play in the same offensive scheme.
14. Kansas City Chiefs
LT Eric Fisher comes off a Pro Bowl appearance and the only notable loss was C Mitch Morse going to Buffalo. RT Mitchell Schwartz had his contract extended so the pair of starting tackles are among the best in the league. But the Chiefs are opting for C Austin Reiter to take over despite being signed off waivers last year. Both guards (Cameron Erving and Laurent Duvernay-Tardif) are nothing special.
15. Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons spent big in the NFL draft, rebuilding the right side of the line with RG Chris Lindstrom (1.14) and RT Kaleb McGary (1.31). C Alex Mack went to his sixth Pro Bowl. They also spent big in free agency and signed guards James Carpenter and Jamon Brown to multi-year deals. The Falcons were hit with injuries last season and this group will be better if healthy. Starting two rookies – albeit both first rounders – won’t come together immediately but sets the team up for later in the season and in future years.
16. Seattle Seahawks
The offense became the heaviest rushing unit in the NFL last year and that should continue with a group that is largely unchanged from last season other than losing LG J.R. Sweezy to the Cardinals. They have one of the least changing offensive lines in the NFL and are built to run the ball. They should be at least incrementally better in the second season with OC Brian Schottenheimer.
17. Oakland Raiders
The Raiders made the biggest splash in free agency by signing RT Trent Brown from the Patriots and making him the highest-paid tackle in the NFL. They brought in LG Richie Incognito who should help so long as he limits his mayhem to blocking opposing defenders. The 1.15 pick from 2018 of LT Kolton Miller hopes to get up to speed in his second season after struggling as a rookie. Brown is the obvious upgrade here and should benefit both David Carr and the rookie running back Josh Jacobs.
18. Cleveland Browns
The Browns made no notable additions in the draft or free agency and lost starting RG Kevin Zeitler to the Giants in the trade for DE Olivier Vernon. The 2.01 pick from 2018 of Austin Corbett will take Zeitler’s place and LG Joel Bitonio made his first Pro Bowl. Together they should be the strength of the line while LT Greg Robinson and RT Chris Hubbard remain only average.
19. Detroit Lions
The Lions line didn’t add any notable players this year and the retirement of RG T.J. Lang isn’t a major loss. The line will be reshuffled but the same group otherwise returns and the bigger limitation will be installing the new offense under OC Darrell Bevell. By no means an elite group, this is still a functional, capable set of blockers.
20. Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals drafted premier OT Jonah Williams (1.11) who will provide a big upgrade but he needed shoulder surgery and will likely miss the 2019 season. The only add of any note was RG John Miller from the Bills. That means one of the weakest set of offensive tackles return and the Bengals install a new offense with an old, sub-standard set of blockers.
21. New York Giants
The Giants added RT Mike Remmers from the Vikings but he’s always fallen short of expectations. They traded with the Browns by giving up DE Olivier Vernon for RG Kevin Zeitler and that should prove to be a major upgrade with one of the top guards in the NFL now helping out. LT Nate Solder was a disappointment in his first season after leaving the Patriots and he needed an ankle scope in the offseason. He is expected to be good to go for the start of the season. Remmers may not prove to be a big benefit but he was cheap enough. Getting Solder and Zeitler to meet expectations would help the team improve significantly from 2018.
22. San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers return all of their starters though LG Lake Tomlinson tore his MCL at the end of last year. Former Pro-Bowler LT Joe Staley is still the anchor and they are entering their third season with the HC Kyle Shanahan offense. The continuity will be a big benefit as long as they remain healthy. The 49ers didn’t add or lose any notable linemen.
23. Tennessee Titans
LT Taylor Lewan enters his fourth season as a starter and comes off his third straight Pro Bowl. RG Josh Kline was signed away by the Vikings but Kevin Pamphile will take his place and the Titans signed LG Rodger Saffold from the Rams to a four-year deal worth $44 million. The bigger challenge for the O-line is adjusting to a new offense and offensive coordinator for the third straight year. The intention is to run the ball more and Saffold can help, but run blocking was the biggest weakness from 2018.
24. Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings rank only 30th in spending on their offensive line this year but added C Garrett Bradbury (1.18) with their first pick. He should prove a major upgrade as soon as he gets up to speed. They added OG Josh Kline from the Titans on a three-year deal. They lost RT Mike Remmers to the Giants but that’s considered more of a positive after a disappointing year.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jags were racked by injuries last year and just having healthy players will help. The only notable addition was OT Jawaan Taylor (2.03). LT Cam Robinson returns from a torn ACL and is not expected to be ready by the start of training camp. RT Josh Wells missed most of last year with a groin injury but was re-signed back in April. If Taylor can contribute as a rookie and all the wounded of 2018 return to health, the line should be more effective.
26. Buffalo Bills
The Bills offensive line is undergoing a major retooling and they drafted OT Cody Ford (2.06). They raided free agency for C Mitch Morse, G Spencer Long, RT Ty Nsekhe and G Jon Feliciano. This could be a completely different line from 2018 but will take some time since the unit has never played together. The line play should be better by the end of the season.
27. New York Jets
The Jets traded with the Raiders to land LG Kelechi Osemele and he should be a major upgrade to the interior of the line if he can remain healthy. They also traded up to the 3.28 pick to grab LT Chuma Edoga who should benefit the pass blocking if he is called on later in the year. There’s a new offense being installed by HC Adam Gase and he left behind a terrible O-line in Miami. Osemele should help the run game but this was one of the worst lines in 2018. (Note – C Ryan Kalil came out of retirement to play for this year with the Jets. That helps though not enough to consider the Jets O-line as average yet.)
28. Washington Redskins
The Redskins spent fifth most on their offensive line this year without much return outside of Pro-Bowler LT Trent Williams. Injuries brought the effectiveness down last season but the line should get back RG Brandon Scherff. With a rookie quarterback to protect, the Skins need a better showing than last year but so far the line hasn’t been helped by one of the weakest set of receivers in the NFL and that’s not changing.
29. Arizona Cardinals
One of the worst offensive lines from 2018 undergoes an upheaval from a new offensive system installed under new HC Kliff Kingsbury and a rookie quarterback who is everything but a standard drop-back passer. There’s already plenty to accomplish in year one of the rebuild and the only notable addition was LG J.R. Sweezy from the Seahawks. This is slated to be a wide-open offense with a running quarterback and a receiving halfback. That may make the line look better than it is.
30. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Buccaneers struggled in run blocking but had consistency in their O-line all year and did not add or lose any notable linemen. They currently have the #3 highest payroll for the offensive linemen and should see improvement from their experience with each other. The Bucs are installing a new offense with HC Bruce Arians and if he can improve the passing game as expected, it will only help the rushing offense.
31. Houston Texans
The Texans O-line did no favors for DeShaun Watson and they spent their first two draft picks on OT Tytus Howard (1.23) and OT Max Scharping (2.23). That won’t make Week 1 much better than 2018 but it could pay off by the end of the season and certainly for future years. They also signed C Matt Kalil from the Panthers who missed 2018 due to a knee scope. He could end up starting though he’s been slow to heal.
32. Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins are shaping up for a rebuilding year of painful proportions. They sport the lowest salary cost of any offensive line in the NFL and it shows. They did nothing to change it other than drafting Michael Dieter (3.14) as a left guard and losing former first-rounder RT Ja-Wuan James.