Ranking the 2012 Offensive Lines

| January 28, 2013

Each year we present our list of the top offensive lines in football. It’s not built on which teams gave up the most sacks, or who had the most rushing yards.

It goes far beyond that.

No, we understand that the success a team has in running the ball or protecting the quarterback is more than just a reflection of the offensive line. It involves the skill players making plays, whether that’s getting rid of the ball before pressure can develop, breaking a tackle to turn a 2-yard run into a 20-yard one, or making sure that blitzing defensive back is halted in his progress.

Our 2012 Offensive Line Rankings look solely at those guys who are offensive linemen, and how they’ve performed. It’s broken down into three categories (Pass Protection, Run and Screen Blocking, and Penalties) and between them they give us an overall score which leads to the rankings.

Now, let’s countdown to No. 1 (2011 rank in brackets – green Improving, red dropping).

32. Arizona Cardinals (21)

PB – 32nd, RB – 32nd, PEN – 16th

Stud: It’s not so much that Daryn Colledge (-0.8) was a stud, as much as he was the best of a very bad bunch. The former Packer was on big money, but his run blocking left a lot to be desired and it was only his work in pass protection that saw him land in this section.

Dud: Look no further than D’Anthony Batiste (-38.7). He was never meant to start, but he was so bad he gave backup left tackles a bad name. In his 10 games he amassed the second-lowest rating of all tackles (the lowest average rating per game), with his pass protection a particular lowlight. You won’t find many players who give up 54 quarterback disruptions on 404 pass blocking snaps.

Summary: Just a truly horrible offensive line. The Cardinals had made progress in recent years, but losing Levi Brown and then deciding Adam Snyder would prove an upgrade at right guard came back to hurt them in a big way. The small consolation was Bobby Massie, who turned his performance around in the second half of the season, raising expectations going forward.

31. Indianapolis Colts (20)

PB – 31st, RB – 31st, PEN – 5th

Stud: You won’t be getting Anthony Castonzo (+7.2) confused with the top left tackles any time soon if he keeps playing like this, but unlike most of his peers he didn’t look out of place on an NFL field. The run blocking was impressive, but as the 55 quarterback disruptions allowed show, he needs to get better in the passing game.

Dud: You don’t often notice guard play unless it’s really bad. Well, you’d have to have missed a large percentage of the Colts’ offensive snaps not to see Mike McGlynn (-25.1). Manhandled in the run game and treated like a turnstile in the passing game, he made life harder than it needed to be for his quarterback.

Summary: There were some bright spots. Both centers they used got some push in the run game, while former first-round pick Castonzo took a step forward this year. However, there’s a lot of room for improvement and they chiefly need to stop allowing so much pressure. The 245 combined sacks, hits and hurries they gave up were 32 more than any other team.

30. Chicago Bears (32)

PB – 28th, RB – 27th, PEN – 30th

Stud: I never thought I’d see the day where not only would J’Marcus Webb (-0.8) not be the weak link on this line, but also be the most consistent performer. He took a huge step forward this year in becoming an adequate left tackle. You can win football games with them.

Dud: Take your pick. Ultimately it has to be the man who is on the path to ‘Bustville’, Gabe Carimi (-10.1). The former first-round pick does get push in the run game, but he’s horribly overmatched when he gets on his heels. That’s a horrible habit for an offensive tackle who earned his late benching.

Summary: They don’t make life easy for Jay Cutler and they make their running backs earn every yard. However you measure them this line just isn’t good enough, to the point where the best performers are the guys who just don’t get beat with regularity.

29. Jacksonville Jaguars (18)

PB – 30th, RB – 25th, PEN – 13th

Stud: It really isn’t even close in Jacksonville. Eugene Monroe (+22.9) isn’t just the best player they have on their offensive line, he’s their best player on offense. A top-quality franchise left tackle who gets push in the run game, he’d get more press if he played for a more successful team.

Dud: It’s always hard to pick on an undrafted free agent rookie guard like Mike Brewster (-20.7) but what else can you do when he plays as badly as he did? He may develop into something, but this year the Jags asked way too much out of him.

Summary: There are two players on this line that look like they belong. The aforementioned Monroe and Uche Nwaneri. Everybody else has a replaceable feel about them even if you’d hope young guys like Brewster and Cameron Bradfield learn from the lumps they’ve taken this year.

28. San Diego Chargers (26)

PB – 29th, RB – 24th, PEN – 7th

Stud: He wasn’t perfect, but next to the rest of the guys on the line Louis Vasquez (+12.7) looked like a million bucks. That said, you’d still like to see him doing a better job in the run game.

Dud: When you start a UDFA at tackle what do you expect? Michael Harris (-43.4) earned the lowest grade of all tackles this year. Shame on the Chargers for putting him in that situation.

Summary: No quarterback had as little faith in his offensive line as ‘Throw Away Phil’. So rare was it that they weren’t allowing pressure that he assumed it was coming and just couldn’t (or wouldn’t) go through his reads and progressions. Injuries hurt them for sure, but they find themselves in a horrible position right now.

27. Carolina Panthers (9)

PB – 27th, RB – 23rd, PEN – 14th

Stud: As is often the case, it’s the ever reliable Jordan Gross (+16.4) who continues to get the job done, even if his performance in Week 17 was the worst we’ve ever seen from him. He may never be an elite tackle, but at least he’s more than a one-tricky pony.

Dud: There was a close competition but ultimately the inability of Geoff Hangartner (-14.5) to get any push in the run game meant he was the way to go.

Summary: The Panthers haven’t been shy about investing draft picks on the line, but with the injury to Ryan Kalil this year it fell apart. Amini Silatolu looked every bit the rookie, while Byron Bell isn’t good enough, often enough, to be a starter in this league yet.

26. St Louis Rams (28)

PB – 21st, RB – 26th, PEN – 29th

Stud: After a rookie year where he got too much praise, and a sophomore season where he earned his criticism, I for one wasn’t expecting much from Rodger Saffold (+8.6). Color me wrong, as he excelled in pass protection, looking like the player he was drafted to be.

Dud: The Rams got a lot of sub-standard play from a lot of sub-standard players. None stood out more than Quinn Ojinnaka (-9.5) before he was replaced in the lineup and then cut.

Summary: Every time I write about the Rams’ line I wax lyrical about how it’s a miracle they finished as high as they did. They coped with injuries and filled in with guys who were flops elsewhere and managed to get a line on the field that wasn’t an embarrassment. There’s a long way to go, but kudos for that if nothing else.

 

Click below to continue the countdown

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  • Anders

    Im surprised there exist 12 lines worse than the Eagles

    • qwerty uiop

      Only 7 worse at Pass Blocking, though.

  • LinkMaster111

    I knew the Patriots’ line would be top 10, but I didn’t expect to be number 2. Nice to see that even without a probowler like Brian Waters the Pats’ line is still rated even higher than last year.

  • Istillovingyou

    #Packers “When you have a QB who holds on to the ball, sometimes things can look worse than they are.”  how many sack He avoid by being athletic/mobil QB?

    • AR12

      Thank goodness other people recognize how many sacks are due to how long Aaron Rodgers holds on to the ball and his terrible lack of awareness in the pocket.  Its a major knock on a guy who might have the best arm in the game.  The sacks he takes are drive killers and a lot of them can be avoided.  Until he realizes he doesn’t have 5+ seconds every snap, people need to stop declaring him the best QB in the league.

      • river

         But you need to watch the all-22 to assign blame correctly (and even then you can’t do it 100% correct without knowing the routes that are called).

        If nobody is open, then Rodgers has to take extra time before he can throw it. If someone isn’t where they should be, again it takes extra time. If he has to move because he doesn’t trust his protection, it takes longer to throw.

        Rodgers has made more plays by extending the play, then has sacks down to him this season and throughout his career.

        Sometimes I think he should throw the ball away when nobody is open, but you don’t win Superbowls by being conservative

        • AR12

          If nobody is open in a certain amount of time, he should realize that the pass rushers are about to be on top of him and he needs to take off or throw it away.  A lot the sacks he takes are unnecessary.  End of story.  

          • istillovingyou

            I really don’t think he will change the way he plays the game, you are free to point that. 51 sacks, max 10 are on him, that’s left 41 on the o-line. you or the guys at PFF don’t answered my question, how many sacks he avoid by being elusive?

          • Jack

            I like how people say “end of story” or type out “Period” as though those things make what they said more authoritative as opposed to really meaning: “I’ve made closed my mind and I will NOT reopen it”.

          • Jack

            Fail…”I’ve closed my mind and I will NOT reopen it”.

      • Redmund55

        I’d rather Rogers take sacks than throw stupid interceptions. Like his predecessor did. Like in NFC championship games. For a guy whose line was hardly adequate most of the year. Hurt receivers that is the MVP

        • TA

          ha ha – I remember his predecessor in a Monday night game in overtime. He starts getting pressure and just leans back and heaves one straight up with no clue where it’s going. It goes right into the CB arms like a fly ball to the shortstop. The CB muffs it and it bounces off Freemans leg but Freeman picks it up and runs into for game winner. Favre talked in the press conference like he was the hero and a great QB. -never saw so many receivers catch one guy’s hail mary throws and take credit for them like it wasn’t a terrible decision. What memories.

      • Johnpeterson675

        I think Packer fans need to thank their lucky stars they have Aaron Rodgers! As w Brown’s fan, this beyond comical to me. Haha you should pray nightly to the football gods for Aaron Rodgers! 

      • Saying

        It usually takes 5+ seconds every snap when your Play Caller continues calling 7 step drops and 50+yard Routes against teams like the Seahawks/Colts/49ers/Giants …
        Then you have the “Let’s not have a HB/TE chip the Edge Rusher so we can help out Newhouse/Barclay.”

        Rodgers pocket awareness – awful ? …really ?  And the people declaring him one of the best QBs in the league are his own peers… not some keyboard warrior.

      • Kevin Byrd

         Rodgers has a lack of awareness in the pocket? I completely disagree. I just think back to the ATL game during their superbowl run. He was nearly sacked 5 times  from his blindside and somehow anticipated it. Very impressive. I find myself consistently impressed with his pocket awareness.

        I agree he holds onto the ball too long but with any player you take the good with the bad. 1 time he will hold onto the ball too long and get sacked then another time he will complete a 40 yard TD. He takes sacks but rarely turns the ball over and has a good chance of making it into a positive player.

        I have to believe you aren’t really a Packers fan.

    • http://twitter.com/Cornerss william

      arent most sacks from holding onto the ball too long?Qb’s can avoid sacks also, not like rodger cant run.

      • TA

        “1 second release would be great. But most QBs at least need time for a receiver to run 10 yards.” – Rodgers, Romo, Cutler

  • dave

    49ers are in a great spot! The only member on their offensive line who’s older is Goodwin. I’d say finding/grooming his replacement, as well as Justin Smith’s should be top priority. This 49er team should be very good for a long time. 

    • Saying

      Problem arises when their young pups wanna be paid like the Superstars they are.

  • MrRich

    Its rare i would argue what these guys say, but i notice in a lot of these paragraphs they give unacceptable excuses into y certain things happen. I understand all these technicalities they use, but i got by the EYE test. There was no way the Jets had the 3rd best Oline. I watched every game. Next, They say Buffalo basically would of been worse without Spiller making crazy plays, which is tru, but on the other end with the Jets u flip it and use there lack of talent as a positive. So i guess U blaming Buffalo for having a better player.

  • roguepatriot

    For the Patriots, Vollmer and Thomas are UFAs. I felt that Thomas should have replaced Connolly at RG.

    Rumor has Alex Smith getting dealt to the Browns. When you consider the following: Ravens overrated defense (the Pats offense has been overrated for years) that might be sans Lewis and Reed in 2013, a Steelers D that is washed up, an awesome Browns line, a stud RB, and an underrated WR corps…

    … Smith might be happy in Cleveland. Yes, happy in Cleveland.

    • http://www.facebook.com/antonio.moltisanti.1 Antonio Moltisanti

      The Pats offense has been overrated for years?

      Dude, they have averaged 30 points per game in each of the past three seasons. They’ve been #1 twice and #3 once in offensive DVOA, with identical points per drive rankings, in the same timespan. If they’re overrated, who is better? Seriously?

  • Hibachi JR

    Vikings definitely need to upgrade at the guard position over Fusco and Johnson. Hopefully Schwartz is given his rightful due and is a starter next year.

  • http://twitter.com/XCWarrior1 Andrew

    What a joke. I’m an Browns fan, and I watched our awful line let Brandon Weeden get hurt twice, then Colt McCoy, then our third stringer Thad Lewis. The last offensive play of the year, Browns were on a 4th string QB. That is not the sign of a good offensive line. Whoever wrote this needs to wake up and learn something about football.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Fasteddie20 Ed Worvie

    Skins and Seahawks #1 and 2 in rushing, yet they were ranked #16 and 20, but the Lions have the 2nd best o-line?  PFF has no credibility with me.

  • SayItLikeYouMeanIt

    Amazing to see some of these changes , especially the drops

  • Don417

    KC was awful.
    22nd in sacks allowed.
    28th in QB hits allowed.
    No way they were the 12th best Oline. What a crock.

    • feedingfrenzy

      1) Aside from Dwayne Bowe, the Chiefs receivers are piss-poor route runners.
      2) Brady Quinn has terrible pocket presence.
      3) Pass-blocking is only half of what an O-lineman does. The Chiefs did a very good job opening up lanes in the running game (particularly on the right side as Asamoah and Winston are both maulers).
      4) The Chiefs don’t have a particularly good third-down back, especially with Hillis missing a fair chunk of playing time. I saw too many plays where Charles or Draughn simply missed blitzing linebackers.
      5) The Chiefs were losing by a fairly large amount every game, meaning they found themselves in a lot of obvious passing situations where defenses could pin their ears back and rush the passer. You can’t use NFL ranks that rely on counting statistics; ratios and percentages are usually more telling.

      • Budahmon

        The Chiefs offensive line was horrendous. They could not pick up an interior blitz, they allowed 48 sacks and something like +130 hits. They were not good Run Blocking either..they had Charles, who managed to make them look half way decent. None of the backs other than Charles had any kind of production and the Chiefs were terrible on third and short when attempting to run inside. There is no way this line should be ranked that high. They seldom passed the ball and when they did neither the QB, WRs or the OL did their job.

  • Don417

    This proves one thing…stat geeks dont actually watch the games.

  • http://twitter.com/RS1022 Rick Swartz

    Denver’s line seems to be overrated in that they never were very successful in the 4 minute offense or in 3rd and short situations. They were great in pass protection, especially when Kuper was healthy.

  • Nate

    How is Dallas 8th in run blocking???  Sometimes this site makes no sense at all.  I constantly saw the running backs get tackles behind  or at the line of scrimmage. What a joke.   

  • Confused Titans fan

    Titans @ #14? Yeah riiight. That OL was terrible in pass protection (towards the end of the year). Locker was throwing the ball away way early to avoid sacks/pressures. Run blocking was horrible all year, paired with CJs 70% effort, didn’t work well. I’m shocked we’re at #14, thought it would be more of #24-30.

    • JJ_Wilk

      Agreed… that line was trash.

  • Mark7425

    I think the reason a third of Joe Staley’s pressures became sacks was mostly Alex Smith playing safe.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dan.bock.71 Dan Bock

    The jets line was total garbage this yearr

    • http://twitter.com/B_International BAMNation

      Ah yese – the Butt Fumble!

  • thebirdofprey

    This is such a joke year after year. I watched Staley get blown by at times and not to mention instant sack A. Davis at RT. The Jets have terrible run blocking but hey keep pushing this is as truth

  • Delapore

    I really wish there was a top flight center in this draft for the Bengals to pick up.

  • VikingFan4Life

    Only a bunch of stat geeks would think the Lions had a better line last year than Minneaota. Who do they think was opening holes for AP’s 2,000-yard season!?!

  • CorporateRaider

    And yet the ’9ers still can’t score from in close … Ravens stopped them on the 8, the 9, and the 5. How can you give “stud” to a guy who gives up 33% sacks on pressures? I smell ’9er fan.

    • dubinsky

      nah, the line really is that good. but when the receivers ain’t much and the best running back is the QB, from in close the 5 linemen have to block 7

  • Fernando

    If you follow the Jets last season, this is what you would have seen from this o Line; FINALLY they plugged a gaping hole at RT, but, and a huge BUT, then one of the others, including 3 pro bowlers, Ferguson, Moore, Mangold would take turns melting down game to game. Shonn Greene went from 3-4 per carry, every carry to gaining 10, and a 1st down, then gaining 0, losing 2 on 2nd down and gone were the days of the 2 AFC Champ. game seasons putting Sanchez into many more 3rd and 8-9 rather then 3rd and 4-5′s. In those 2 good years, by the 3rd Qtr, the opposing Safeties would start creeping up on the run and that is when Braylon Edwards would earn his pay catching a long fly or post off of play action; this team did not win 42-38 type of games, they won 27-24, 24-20 and with that pass to Edwards and the Jets playing with only a 6-9 point lead, that would extend the lead to 9-12 points and with the clock running and the way Rex sets up the D, the other team would press and play right into the Ryan D defense.