Ranking the 2011 Offensive Lines – Part 1

| February 22, 2012

As we make our way through this week devoted to the offensive line, it only seems right that we put out our list of offensive line rankings.

This is PFF’s way of letting you know which units graded out the best and in which areas. There are some limitations to these rankings, in that they don’t account for strength of opponents nor do they look at how injuries impacted individual players. Instead, we’ve looked at how each individual lineman graded out and compiled three different categories: pass blocking, run blocking (including screen blocking) and penalties. Then we added them and like magic, got ourselves a set of rankings with the number next to the team in parenthesis denoting their 2010 finish. (Note that these numbers are just for the regular season.)

Tomorrow we’ll continue to count down to the top, but for now, we start at the bottom.

 

32. Chicago Bears (31st)

Run Rank 31st, Pass Rank 31st, Penalties Rank 25th

Does this really surprise anyone? The Bears at least attempted to rectify their horrible offensive line by drafting Gabe Carimi, only for the tackle to manage 100 snaps before a dislocated knee ended his year. It left them with a group of individuals who struggle to get much push in the run game, and aren’t much better in pass protection. You’d struggle to find a line that performed as badly as the Bears over the years.

Best Player: By default, this was Edwin Williams (+0.5), though this is more of a reflection on the rest of the line which amassed a combined -116.1 grade.

Worst Player: Take your pick. J’Marcus Webb (-26.2) was a failure on the left side, but even he was outdone by Lance Louis (-35.6). Louis should never have moved out to tackle and it really showed down the stretch; in no game more so than when he gave up five sacks to a Chiefs defense that simply destroyed him.

 

31. New York Giants (13th)

Run Rank 24th, Pass Rank 32nd, Penalties Rank 7th

Yes, they won the Super Bowl, but they did so in spite of a line that sieved pressure throughout the year. Our lowest-ranked pass protecting line had problems all over, but nowhere as bad as at the tackle positions (especially once Will Beatty was lost for the year). It wasn’t just the tackles however, with every member of the Giants’ line earning a negative grade. This explains the drop-off in the run game and makes the season that Eli Manning had all the more remarkable.

Best Player: Before his season was cut short, Will Beatty (-1.2) was having a good first year starting … outside of Trent Cole showing him what for in Week 11.

Worst Player: It’s hard to look past David Diehl (-48.1) who was terrible at guard, and even worse at tackle. His on field performance is simply unacceptable, giving up a ridiculous nine sacks, eight hits and 48 hurries during the regular season.

 

30. Denver Broncos (18th)

Run Rank 32nd, Pass Rank 22nd, Penalties Rank 23rd

Wait, how could this be since the Broncos picked up so many yards on the ground? Well, we’ve got a great piece coming up tomorrow that will examine the question of how a bad run blocking team can rush for so many yards, so I won’t spoil that.

Best Player: In something of a surprise, it graded out as Orlando Franklin (-9.1). Denver’s best run blocker, Franklin had some issues in pass protection but improved as the season went on.

Worst Player: You kind of expect J.D. Walton (-28.9) to start getting better, but the man who finished second-from-the-bottom in Pass Blocking Efficiency ranking for centers had an even worse sophomore year. This is a crucial third year coming up for him.

 

29. Seattle Seahawks (22nd)

Run Rank 26th, Pass Rank 27th, Penalties Rank 32nd

The Seahawks’ line took a hit with the loss of Matt Hasselbeck, a player who excels in making those around him look better than they are. The line struggled big time in the first half of the year, though, with the loss of James Carpenter and John Moffit, it did improve. Their replacements showed more seasoning than the rookies that could make up the right side in Seattle for the foreseeable future. The big concern here is what if these young players don’t improve?

Best Player: It’s taken a few years, but Max Unger (+3.3) is starting to “get it”. Outside of an atrocious game against St Louis, he took a huge leap forward this year.

Worst Player: While Robert Gallery (-21.5) was a big disappointment as he had worked with OL coach Tom Cable in Oakland, the Seahawks got very little return on their first round pick James Carpenter (-25.3). He has a long way to go to live up to the billing.

 

28. St Louis Rams (26th)

Run Rank 25th, Pass Rank 28th, Penalties Rank 31st

With the Rams getting rid of the ball so quickly in 2010, it kind of got lost on people that the line wasn’t all that good. There was no hiding it in 2011 with their efforts to rebuild the offensive line being a huge failure; the lone exception being the pickup of Harvey Dahl. When the dust settled, a total of 11 players were used on the line with big free agent signings, former first round picks and their franchise left tackle all looking terrible in action. For a team that has invested quite a bit of money and draft picks on the line, it’s inexcusable to have got it so wrong, so often.

Best Player: Whether it was at right tackle or right guard, there wasn’t a better Rams lineman than Harvey Dahl (+3.2).

Worst Player: You could go in a number of directions here. However, for Rodger Saffold (-14.7) to give up 11 sacks, four hits and 17 hurries on 376 pass blocks, it has to leave you worrying about his long-term prospects.

 

27. Washington Redskins (28th)

Run Rank 30th, Pass Rank 29th, Penalties Rank 12th

The Redskins’ line was meant to be better than this, especially after spending big in the offseason. It wasn’t, with injuries not helping matters, but very few actually showed they have what it takes to play at this level. Outside of one player (who we’ll get to), there isn’t anyone up front that the Redskins couldn’t easily replace. Though, to be fair, Will Montgomery did look somewhat handy at center.

Best Player: It was a bad year for the line, but at least 2010 first round pick Trent Williams (+3.8) started to look the part before injury. His future looks bright, if his 640 snaps this year are anything to go by (assuming he can avoid another suspension).

Worst Player: Is it Chris Chester (-17.2) or Jammal Brown (-18.5)? Brown looked spent while Chester was never going to live up to the contract the Redskins gave him. At least Chester is decent at something (pass protection), can you say that about Brown?

 

26. San Diego Chargers (15th)

Run Rank 28th, Pass Rank 20th, Penalties Rank 9th

The Chargers had to deal with injuries all year, which may have led them to long-term prosperity if they can get Jared Gaither (+6.8) tied up. The problems came at the tackle spot before the Gaither signing, with Marcus McNeil (-9.7) finally found out, and Brandyn Dombrowski (-14.2) looking woefully out of his depth. With potential retirements on the horizon here, the Chargers could be forced to retool this unit.

Best Player: Assuming San Diego can re-sign Nick Hardwick (+6.8), his dismissing of retirement talk is great news for a team that can’t afford to lose decent linemen.

Worst Player: Sure McNeil and Dombrowski were poor, but they couldn’t match the consistently awful displays of Jeromey Clary (-34.3). He had just one positively-graded game all year and was constantly beaten off the edge.

 

25. Pittsburgh Steelers (32nd)

Run Rank 21st, Pass Rank 23rd, Penalties Rank 27th

Something of an improvement for the Steelers, which owed a lot to changing things up at the tackle spots. The interior is still an issue, with the average Maurkice Pouncey not being helped by a lack of quality on either side of him. Pittsburgh got an injection of talent this year, but the Steelers need a bigger dose if they are going to move to a more balanced offense that relies less on the heroics of Ben Roethlisberger.

Best Player: It may already be Marcus Gilbert (-2.6) who needs to do more in the run game, but showed the kind of ability in pass protection to validate the feeling he can play on the left side.

Worst Player: He may not have been happy about being benched, but you can hardly blame the Steelers for doing what needed to be done with Chris Kemoeatu (-14.1). He came back at the end of the season and looked more motivated than he has in years after a horrendous first half.

 

24. Indianapolis Colts (20th)

Run Rank 29th, Pass Rank 19th, Penalties Rank 3rd

With Peyton Manning out injured, the Colts were always going to need to rely on their running game to try to limit the damage done by that loss. They didn’t. Outside of their center, the entire line just struggled. While Anthony Castonzo (-7.0) had a decent enough year for a rookie, there isn’t much on this line that gives you much hope for the future. Injuries didn’t help, but the Colts are ranked so low primarily due to the fact they’ve failed to bring in good linemen over the years.

Best Player: This line really doesn’t want to lose Jeff Saturday (+14.2) who may not be the player he once was, but he’s still better than 90% of the centers in the league.

Worst Player: It can’t have helped Jeff Linkenbach (-28.3) to be switched between the tackle spots. That can only buy you so much leniency, though, which Linkenbach more than used up. His finish to the season should be enough to convince the Colts he shouldn’t be playing at tackle anymore.

 

23. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (30th)

Run Rank 19th, Pass Rank 21st, Penalties Rank 29th

The Bucs haven’t been short in investing in their offensive line, but for what? How many of their players do you think they can build a line around? While Davin Joseph (-6.8) had one of his better years, it was still below average. Moves like the one for Jeff Faine (-11.4) just haven’t worked out, and they’ve done a poor job in general of drafting talent for this area.

Best Player: He’s not a top tier left tackle, but you could do plenty worse than Donald Penn (+5.4), even if he does give up a bit too much pressure.

Worst Player: Why did the Buccaneers re-sign Jeremy Trueblood (-30.6)? Since his impressive 2008, he’s been terrible, and he had no place playing 962 snaps this year.

 

22. Miami Dolphins (8th)

Run Rank 13th, Pass Rank 25th, Penalties Rank 16th

So what happened to Miami this year? Well, primarily, it came from moving Vernon Carey (-4.1) from tackle to guard. That caused issues at two positions and hurt a line that, based on their talent level, is better than this ranking. Getting healthy at left tackle for a full year combined with some improved play from rookie Mike Pouncey (-1.7) could see this unit quite easily jump into the Top 10.

Best Player: Despite not looking healthy at the start of the year, Jake Long (+4.4) got better as the year went on.

Worst Player: There weren’t many right tackles nearly as bad as Marc Colombo (-26.7). He gave up nine sacks, nine hits, and 35 hurries on the year. Ouch.

 

21. Arizona Cardinals (25th)

Run Rank 7th, Pass Rank 30th, Penalties Rank 2nd

It’s proving to be a very slow process, but the Cardinals are getting better along their offensive line. Though Daryn Colledge failed to justify the price tag, he showed himself to be an upgrade on a line that is far better attacking defenders than it is protecting it’s quarterback. They still need more consistency at both tackle spots, but this appears a line on the rise.

Best Player: He may give up more pressure (a sack, a hit, and 18 hurries) than you’d like from a center, but Lyle Sendlein (+3.3) has shown over the past two years he’s a very capable player.

Worst Player: It’s still Levi Brown (-17.6), but it should be noted that he earned that grade for his work in the first half of the season. His last eight games actually earned a +8.9 as he finally looked like the player he was drafted to be.

 

20. San Francisco 49ers (11th)

Run Rank 8th, Pass Rank 26th, Penalties Rank 18th

The 49ers line came in for more praise than it was due because of their dominance of the NFC West. While it does have plenty of talent and upside (particularly on the left), it’s a long way from delivering on it. They need to fix the problematic right guard spot, after Mr. Boom-or-Bust, Chilo Rachal (-8.2), was all bust this year. This line isn’t miles away from being very good, but it will need Anthony Davis (-15.0) to start playing more consistently.

Best Player: Since coming into the league, Mike Iupati (+9.6) has looked like he has belonged. A top talent.

Worst Player: You have to wonder about how bad the rest of the 49ers’ guards are in practice in that they’re forced to turn to Adam Snyder (-24.4).

 

19. Oakland Raiders (27th)

Run Rank 15th, Pass Rank 17th, Penalties Rank 28th

Big improvements for the Raiders offensive line, and given the young talent here, this could just be the start of things to come. A lot could depend on whether they go with Stefan Wisniewski (-7.3) at center and move on from Samson Satele (+3.0), who had a surprisingly good year. That’s the big decision for a line on the rise.

Best Player: A much better left tackle than center, Jared Veldheer (+5.9) came on this year. His performance against Jared Allen was something to behold.

Worst Player: It could have been a lot worse starting Khalif Barnes (-16.1), so perhaps his season was something of a best-case scenario.

 

18. Jacksonville Jaguars (19th)

Run Rank 9th, Pass Rank 24th, Penalties Rank 15th

The Jaguars aren’t short on talent, but need to get some of their younger players developed and healthier if they’re going to take a step up. What that should mean is no more Guy Whimper (-13.5) at right tackle, though, whether that position has Eben Britton (-4.9) or Cameron Bradfield (+2.8) on the field is anyone’s guess right now.

Best Player: This was the year where Eugene Monroe (+12.1) started to look like the player he was drafted to be.

Worst Player: While Blaine Gabbert got all the attention for his struggles, there was another rookie performing almost as badly. Will Rackley (-35.7made nearly every defensive tackle he went up against look like a star.

 

17. Atlanta Falcons (6th)

Run Rank 23rd, Pass Rank 13th, Penalties Rank 10th

In the offseason, the Falcons were concerned about potentially losing three of their starting linemen. The fact that they lost only one (Harvey Dahl) and dropped off so significantly has to be a worry for where this unit is heading. They struggled to get much push in the run game, and didn’t do a great job of keeping their QB upright when it mattered. This is a line that bullies weaker opposition, then gets bullied by better defenses.

Best Player: Tyson Clabo (+13.7) is a good right tackle who holds his own in pass protection (the second-ranked RT in our Pass Blocking Efficiency), though you’d like to see him do a little more in the run game.

Worst Player: It wasn’t a surprise when Sam Baker (-16.4) was benched, in the same way it wasn’t a surprise when Garrett Reynolds (-13.8) took a ride on the pine. Both men looked horrible when they saw the field, though Baker (especially his woeful Week 2) gets the nod, and with it the tag: “first round bust”.

 

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  • yaopau

    The Bears’ run block rating seems off to me. The Bears finished 9th in rushing yards, 10th in yards per carry, and they did it with a group of RBs who don’t have reputations as efficient runners. Forte was a 4.0ypc guy before this year, Barber was let go by the Cowboys, Bell was an undrafted 2.8ypc guy in college.

  • rtay

    Re:Giants 31st ranked pass blocking. Giants had sixth most passing attempts and gave up seventh fewest sacks. This with an offense that used long passes and deep drops. With the exception of a few games, Eli had adequate time to pass. You guys can use your metrics I’ll use mine

    • BoulderCreek27

      Giants not in the playoffs… That is my metrics!!