Awards week is still ongoing and so what better time than to announce our 2013 Offensive Line Rankings. That’s right those big guys up front who don’t post positive stats with their reputation often a product of where they play or where they were drafted are now getting the attention they deserve.
For some that’s good and for that is most definitely bad. One thing not in question though is that each player was judged by the same standards as his peers from our tireless tape watchers to give the most comprehensive list out there.
Numbers in bracket indicate last year’s rank while “PB” equals their pass blocking rank, “RB” their run and screen blocking rank & “PEN” their procedural or disciplinary penalty rank.
32. Arizona Cardinals (32nd)
PB: 32nd, RB: 31st, PEN: 22nd
Stud: Our 18th-ranked center on the year Lyle Sendlein (+0.5). The former undrafted free agent is the definition of a solid player, rarely wowing you in either a good or bad way. The team would have hoped Jonathan Cooper would be this guy, but that will have to wait for a year.
Dud: There was some serious competition here but Bradley Sowell (-38.4) takes the cake. In 12 games he earned 11 negative grades with 10 of them -2.2 or worse. The NFC West did feast on him.
Analysis: It’s rare to see a team finish last two years on the trot, but then it’s nothing Cardinals fans wouldn’t have seen coming. It wasn’t helped by the aforementioned loss of Cooper, while incredibly the team’s long overdue divorce from Levi Brown actually left them in a worse position at left tackle. It’s hard to imagine them being worse next year.
31. Atlanta Falcons (15th)
PB: 30th, RB: 29th, PEN: 18th
Stud: I hesitate in calling Justin Blalock (+6.8) a stud because he’s symptomatic of some of the wrong moves this franchise has made in years gone by. Namely, treating a good player like a great one when it comes to contract negotiations. Still you can get by with five Blalock-level talents on your line. You can’t cope when he’s the best of the bunch.
Dud: The team didn’t envisage Lamarr Holmes (-32.3) starting on the left side and before Mike Johnson’s injury probably didn’t see him starting at all. As it was, he had a baptism of fire giving up the second highest number of quarterback disruptions of any tackle.
Analysis: They overpaid Sam Baker who promptly got injured, cut the reliable Tyson Clabo and had to deal with Todd McClure retiring. It was likely to be a rough transition but nobody saw this coming. The team had to alter their passing attack (screens and quick get outs for Matt Ryan) because whoever they fielded at tackle couldn’t defend the outside rush, and they allowed far too much penetration up the middle. Gave up more pressure than any other line. Without serious personnel questions answered it’s hard to see how this isn’t a disaster next year.
30. Jacksonville Jaguars (29th)
PB: 23rd, RB: 32nd, PEN: 29th
Stud: Hmm. We’re not allowed to pass so Uche Nwaneri (-0.3) gets that nod here. Probably best we move along from this quickly.
Dud: He’s not getting any better is he? Will Rackley (-32.7) is a disaster waiting to happen and in a division that features J.J. Watt that’s just asking for trouble.
Analysis: They traded away their star left tackle, watched as their rookie first round pick went on Injured Reserve and at the season’s end said goodbye to their long-term center. Performance was perhaps secondary to the coaches getting a chance to evaluate which of the 11 lineman they used they wanted to keep around. Unfortunately, the talent level just isn’t there right now.
29. New York Giants (11th)
PB: 31st, RB: 16th, PEN: 4th
Stud: In good news for the G-Men, rookie Justin Pugh (+7.1) got better and better as the season went on. Derided by many as something of a reach and with questions as to whether he can hold up at tackle, he was the biggest success story in a bad year for the Giants.
Dud: He’s been kicked around every position but center in his time as a Giant, but David Diehl (-26.5) really didn’t take to life at right guard. He earned this grade despite missing five games and at this point just can’t handle better athletes lining up opposite him.
Analysis: Injuries didn’t help, with the loss of David Bass seeing Kevin Boothe move to center where he would struggle. That created all sorts of shuffling and was further compounded by Chris Snee having his season ended after 188 snaps. Throw in Will Beatty responding to getting paid with a huge drop off from his 2012 season and you have the perfect storm. A once proud unit is now a major question mark.
28. Baltimore Ravens (17th)
PB: 20th, RB: 28th, PEN: 27th
Stud: They found exactly what they were looking for with the in season trade for Eugene Monroe (+24.0). A genuinely top-tier tackle, he came in and protected the blindside of Joe Flacco and added some push to the run game. Tying him down must be the team’s No. 1 offseason priority.
Dud: The team went with Gino Gradkowski (-18.1) at center over A.Q. Shipley (-18.1) and it did not go well. Shipley had the misfortune of switching to a guard spot he rarely looked comfortable at, but for Gradkowski he may have blown his audition to be the long-term starter.
Analysis: When you have a back that needs space to operate, it really shows up when you don’t give it to him. The Ravens got better as the year went on, but they simply didn’t deliver as you’d expect Super Bowl champs to. It didn’t help that Marshal Yanda had, by his high standards, a down year or that Kelechi Osemele played hurt before going down, but it just wasn’t good enough. On the bright side they have too much talent to finish this low next year. Way too much.
27. Oakland Raiders (24th)
PB: 22nd, RB: 22nd, PEN: 32nd
Stud: With Jared Veldheer missing most of the year it was left to Stefen Wisniewski (+10.4) to lead this line. He was easily the most consistent player on the line and looks set to lock down the center spot for years to come.
Dud: Starting Lucas Nix (-44.3) was a disaster. He was nowhere near ready for what was put on his plate and but for a midseason benching would have set records for low grades that you’d think would be hard to surpass in the years to come.
Analysis: Given the cap situation and injuries problems that befell this line, 27th might be considered a minor victory. They brought in players like Tony Pashos and Matt McCants and got surprisingly decent play out of both of them as rookie Menelik Watson found himself limited to 177 snaps that were not hugely encouraging. If they can re-sign Veldheer and get him healthy then there are pieces here to make a slow rise up these rankings.
26. Seattle Seahawks (20th)
PB: 25th, RB: 17th, PEN: 30th
Stud: With injuries depleting the ranks, it was left to Michael Bowie (+7.1) to lead the team with their highest grade. He may eventually end up at guard (as he was for their recent playoff victory over the Saints) with his run blocking particularly impressive.
Dud: The team has to hope they never, ever have to start Paul McQuistan (-24.8) at left tackle again. It went very badly and he wasn’t much better at guard.
Analysis: An interesting year. Losing Russell Okung hurt but when they did get him on the field his play was a level or three below it’s usual high standard. At center Max Unger had a down year as a variety of combinations on either side of him failed. Essentially, they did enough at times for Marshawn Lynch to make yardage, but this had the feel of an experimental group with the coaches trying to luck into the right combination.
25. New York Jets (3rd)
PB: 15th, RB: 30th, PEN: 25th
Stud: For a line with as much talent as they have, it’s really surprising that D’Brickashaw Ferguson (+0.1) would walk away with the highest grade. A bad year by his standards where he gave up eight sacks and was poor with his run blocking.
Dud: Whoever they put at left guard. Vlad Ducasse (-9.5) had a breakout game against the Patriots and then proceeded to stink the joint up, forcing rookie Brian Winters (-28.5) into action. It did not go well.
Analysis: The awe factor of watching Nick Mangold has gone. He finished the year strong but his streaky early season play was anything but what we’ve come to expect from a usual contender for first team All-Pro center duty. He epitomized why this line took such a nosedive. Losing Damien Woody was the first step in the team’s gradual decline and it seems saying goodbye to Brandon Moore may have really accelerated that process.
Turn the page for the next eight on the list…