Top 25 offensive linemen of the 2017 NFL season
After 14 weeks of the NFL season, offensive line play continues to dominate the landscape for several teams across the league. Teams have persevered through injury on their respective offensive lines, while others have suffered through tough injury stretches that may or may not have completely effected their seasons.
PFF’s Sam Monson highlights the list of top 25 offensive linemen through 14 weeks of football, with several noteworthy players on this list who have certainly had their part in pushing their teams to where they are now.
*Editor’s Note: This list is largely based on our Pro Football Focus Player Grades, but does not stick to them 100 percent, rather Senior Analyst Sam Monson has adjusted for scheme and/or role variances between select players in certain instances.
1. Jason Kelce, C, Philadelphia Eagles – 92.4 overall grade
PFF Elite Stat: Kelce has allowed 20 QB pressures this season for a pass blocking efficiency of 97.0.
Back in 2013, Jason Kelce was one of the best centers in the game, but after a slight dip following that, his play fell off a cliff last year. This season though, he has been back better than ever, at least as far as his run blocking goes. Kelce is actually one of the more one-dimensional players on this list as far as his play this season goes, because while he has been executing every block in the Eagles ground game, outdoing his opponents with quickness and execution, he has struggled relatively as a pass-protector, surrendering two sacks and 20 total pressures, compared to half that total for some other centers in the league.
2. David DeCastro, G, Pittsburgh Steelers – 91.1 overall grade
PFF Elite Stat: DeCastro has stayed in to pass block for a whopping 569 snaps, and allowed just 14 QB pressures.
Another player enjoying the best season of his career, Pittsburgh’s David DeCastro is only getting better over the past few years. He has been a balanced player, yet to surrender a sack while dominating people at the point of attack with sheer power in the run game. He has surrendered just 14 total pressures all season, playing every snap of Pittsburgh’s season, and cut down on the number of penalties he had a year ago, which was really the only black mark on his play that year. With Marshal Yanda on the shelf, DeCastro has assumed the mantle of the league’s best guard.
3. Zack Martin, G, Dallas Cowboys – 89.8 overall grade
PFF Elite Stat: Martin fields the league’s second-highest pass blocking efficiency at 98.0, tied with DeCastro.
The offensive line in Dallas has taken a step back from a season ago, but the one player that has maintained his extremely high level of play all season long is right guard Zack Martin. The only games that have been anything other than impressive from Martin this season have been when he has gone one-on-one with one of the best interior defenders in the game in Philadelphia’s Fletcher Cox and Green Bay’s Mike Daniels, but even including those games he has surrendered just 11 total pressures all year and has six perfect games in pass protection.
4. Alex Mack, C, Atlanta Falcons – 89.2 overall grade
PFF Elite Stat: Mack has allowed just nine total QB pressures this year, and fields the league’s sixth-highest pass blocking efficiency among centers with a 98.5 mark.
Alex Mack was one of the best centers in the game with the Browns before injury bit deep and derailed his career. The move to Atlanta coincided with a return to his best play and he has been as good as any center in the league since suiting up for the Falcons. This year, Mack has yet to surrender a sack, and has just nine total pressures to his name over the season, while maintaining an impressive run blocking performance, as the most complete player at his position. The only thing separating him from Kelce was just how phenomenal Kelce has been in the run game.
5. David Bakhtiari, T, Green Bay Packers – 86.8 overall grade
PFF Elite Stat: Bakhtiari leads the league’s tackles with a 98.5 pass blocking efficiency mark.
The league’s best pass blocking tackle has picked up where he left off a season ago once he got back on the field after missing some time due to injury. Bakhtiari’s ability to prevent pressure is remarkable, and in nine games for the Packers this season, he has allowed a total of just six pressures, while being flagged once for a penalty. His run blocking was a significant weakness earlier in his career, but if anything, it has been better again than a season ago where he had pulled it up to being at least capable.
6. Brandon Brooks, G, Philadelphia Eagles – 88.9 overall grade
PFF Elite Stat: Also tied for second in terms of pass blocking efficiency, Brooks has allowed 14 QB pressures on 517 pass blocking snaps.
Brandon Brooks has proved to be a free agent success story for the Philadelphia Eagles, as he has been an excellent performer since arriving from Houston. The top guards in the league are separated by extremely fine margins, and like DeCastro, Brooks has yet to surrender a sack. He has six perfect games in pass protection and has surrendered just 14 total pressures on the year. Brooks has one poor game on his resume this season, and even in that game he didn’t allow a hit or a sack on the quarterback.
7. Travis Frederick, C, Dallas Cowboys – 88.4 overall grade
PFF Elite Stat: Frederick is yet to allow a sack this season, on a total of 450 snaps in pass protection.
Not quite as dominant as in years past over the first half of the season, Travis Frederick has settled back into a groove and is consistently churning out quality performances now. He hasn’t allowed a sack this season and has surrendered 10 total pressures, but as ever with Frederick it’s his work in the run game and ability to execute tough blocks across big shades that makes that zone blocking scheme in Dallas fire on all cylinders.
8. Daryl Williams, T, Carolina Panthers – 86.2 overall grade
PFF Elite Stat: On 458 snaps in pass protection, Williams has given up just three sacks.
One of the surprises of the 2017 season has been the play of Daryl Williams at right tackle for the Carolina Panthers. The team had been high on him in the past, but we had seen little to suggest there was anything to that until this year. After a slow start, he has been as good as any tackle in the game since Week 4, and has been particularly impressive as a pass blocker, surrendering just 28 total pressures on the season, eight of which came in those first three games before he found his form. He has now gone seven straight games without allowing a sack.
9. Lane Johnson, T, Philadelphia Eagles – 85.8 overall grade
PFF Elite Stat: Johnson fields the league’s sixth-highest pass blocking efficiency with a rating of 97.1, tied with Duane Brown.
Coming into the season, PFF had the Eagles offensive line as the No. 1 unit in the NFL on paper, and with three members of the line top-10 linemen across the entire league, the logic behind that becomes apparent, and that’s with Jason Peters going down hurt, who could easily have made a fourth. At right tackle, Lane Johnson has been as good as ever, having a couple of absolute dominant stretches this season, and acquitting himself very well against pass-rushing monsters like Denver’s Von Miller.
10. Josh Sitton, G, Chicago Bears – 86.6 overall grade
PFF Elite Stat: Sitton has allowed just 10 QB pressures on 335 snaps in pass protection.
There is no better pass blocking guard in the game than Josh Sitton, and despite battling injuries along with the rest of the Chicago offensive line, he has once again been excellent in that area when on the field, but has been better than he has in the past as a run blocker, paving the way for Jordan Howard on the ground. Sitton has surrendered 10 total pressures in 12 games and had some dominant run blocking performances.
11. Brandon Scherff, G, Washington Redskins – 86.3 overall grade
PFF Elite Stat: Scherff has allowed 18 pressures this season, across 399 pass blocking snaps.
This past week notwithstanding, Brandon Scherff has been one of the best run blockers in the game. He has also had big performances against top opposition, having a strong game against the Eagles in Week 7 and the Vikings in Week 10. He has struggled more as a pass blocker, but particularly just in two games, his first of the year and this past week against the Chargers.
12. Andrew Norwell, G, Carolina Panthers – 85.6 overall grade
PFF Elite Stat: Norwell is the only guard in the league with at least 200 snaps in pass protection, and to not allow a sack nor a QB hit.
Another consistent stud over the past few years at guard, Andrew Norwell has been as good as ever for the Panthers this season. He has yet to surrender a sack or a hit across all of his games this season, and given up 13 total hurries. In the past, run blocking has been the better side of his game, but this season that has taken a back seat to pass blocking, while still remaining a strong positive overall.
13. Demar Dotson, T, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 85.0 overall grade
PFF Elite Stat: Dotson allowed just 14 total QB pressures this season before injury, and saw a pass blocking efficiency of 97.6, or fourth-highest.
Demar Dotson is another in a long list of top players to go down for the season with injury, but his 11 games were good enough that he deserves a place on the list regardless. Dotson surrendered just two sacks on the season and 14 total pressures across those 11 games. He was the highest-graded pass blocking right tackle in the league and though his run blocking hasn’t been quite as dominant as it was in previous seasons, it has still been a positive trait.
14. Joel Bitonio, G, Cleveland Browns – 84.7 overall grade
PFF Elite Stat: Bitonio has allowed just nine QB hurries this season, on 555 pass blocking snaps.
The Browns offensive line was supposed to be one of the best in the league this season with the additions they made to the group in free agency, and while it hasn’t lived up to that hype, hurt still further by the loss of Joe Thomas to injury, Joel Bitonio has been impressive. Bitonio is coming off his worst game of the season, trying to deal with Green Bay’s formidable interior defenders, but he has allowed just 19 total pressures this season in an offense that has been inviting pressure and stressing the pass protection.
15. Rodger Saffold, G, Los Angeles Rams – 84.2 overall grade
PFF Elite Stat: Saffold has given up just one sack all season, across 445 snaps in pass protection.
After a tough start to the season, Rodger Saffold has been a force for the Rams in their run this season. On the year, he has given up just one sack, and 18 total pressures, but his most dominant aspect of play has been run blocking. Saffold’s brute strength is impressive and his ability to make blocks on the move has led to some highlight reel plays in opening space for Todd Gurley to exploit for big gains.
16. Andrew Whitworth, T, Los Angeles Rams – 83.6 overall grade
PFF Elite Stat: Whitworth has allowed just 21 pressures this year, across 443 pass blocking snaps.
He may be 36-years old, but Andrew Whitworth remains one of the best tackles in the game, and has done so outside of the protection of the Cincinnati offensive scheme which has been one of the easier to block within for the past several seasons. Whitworth has represented a monstrous upgrade over what the Rams have had at left tackle over the past few years. Whitworth has surrendered 21 total pressures on the season, and has positive grades in every facet of play PFF measures.
17. Anthony Castonzo, T, Indianapolis Colts – 83.3 overall grade
PFF Elite Stat: Castonzo has allowed just three QB hits, and sees a pass blocking efficiency mark of 95.3.
The Colts offensive line has still been a major issue this season, with injuries throwing problems it’s way throughout the year, but the one stalwart on the unit once again has been Anthony Castonzo at left tackle. Castonzo has been a forceful run blocker, which has traditionally been the better side of his game, but his pass blocking has still been capable, and he has allowed just 28 total pressures over the season despite blocking for a quarterback in Jacoby Brissett who consistently takes more sacks than he should.
18. David Andrews, C, New England Patriots – 83.2 overall grade
PFF Elite Stat: Andrews has given up two sacks on the season, on 449 pass blocking snaps.
One of the biggest improvements from any offensive linemen is David Andrews of the New England Patriots. He has taken a huge leap forward from 2016, and has been a vastly improved run blocker for the Patriots this season, getting to the second level consistently to cut off linebackers, while also handling power players at nose tackle better than he did in the past. Andrews has allowed 18 total pressures in pass protection on 487 pass blocking snaps.
19. Shaq Mason, G, New England Patriots – 83.0 overall grade
PFF Elite Stat: Mason has allowed one sack all season long while logging 519 snaps in pass protection.
A dominant run blocker in college in Georgia Tech’s triple option offense, pass blocking was almost entirely a new thing to Shaq Mason when he was drafted by the Patriots. Under the tutelage of Dante Scarneccia, he has become one of the better guards in the league. His run blocking is obviously his strength, and coming out of that option system he has rare leverage and the ability to drive people off the line. In pass blocking, he has surrendered just one sack this season, but 20 total pressures.
20. Kevin Zeitler, G, Cleveland Browns – 82.9 overall grade
PFF Elite Stat: Zeitler has allowed one single sack on 555 pass blocking snaps.
The big offseason acquisition for the Cleveland Browns along the offensive line was Kevin Zeitler, coming over from the divisional-rival Cincinnati Bengals. Zeitler hasn’t been as good as he was in the past, but he has picked up his play and still been impressive overall as this Cleveland offensive line has begun to gel. His season has actually been very strong, punctuated be regular poor games, typically against the best interior defenders on his schedule. He has had poor outings against his old team in Cincinnati, against Tennessee and Jurrell Casey, against the Ravens and Jaguars, but against everybody else he has been excellent.
21. Ryan Ramczyk, T, New Orleans Saints – 82.4 overall grade
PFF Elite Stat: Ramczyk sports a 96.4 pass blocking efficiency, good enough for 13th in the league.
One of the rookies of the year, Ryan Ramczyk has been excellent for the dominant New Orleans offensive line since stepping in at right tackle. The better side of his game has been run blocking, where that Saints’ line has been able to generate movement at the point of attack like no other unit in the league, but even as a pass blocker, he has surrendered just 21 total pressures all year, and been flagged five times.
22. Joe Staley, T, San Francisco 49ers – 82.3 overall grade
PFF Elite Stat: Staley has allowed 21 total QB pressures this year on his 469 snaps in pass protection.
At his best, Joe Staley had a season as the No. 1 ranked tackle in football, and while he has never quite returned to that level, he remains a top quality starter, even in an offense that has had more than its fair share of struggles, and been blocking for a rookie quarterback for most of the season. Staley has surrendered four sacks and 21 total pressures all season, and after two rough outings in that area to begin the season, has been far better as the season has gone on.
23. Trent Williams, T, Washington Redskins – 82.1 overall grade
PFF Elite Stat: Williams sees a pass blocking efficiency of 96.5, but has yet to allow a sack this season on his 363 pass blocking snaps.
The top-graded offensive tackle in the league last year, Williams has taken a step back this year, posting his lowest grade since 2012, but he remains one of the league’ best. He’s already given up more pressures than he did all of last season, but he still ranks ninth in the league in pass blocking efficiency at 96.5 while posting an 83.2 run-blocking grade that is tied for 11th. Even in a down year in which he has battled injuries, Williams is one of the most reliable left tackles in the NFL.
24. Rick Wagner, T, Detroit Lions – 81.7 overall grade
PFF Elite Stat: Wagner has allowed Matthew Stafford to be sacked or hit just five times on his 444 snaps as a pass protector.
Wagner has been an excellent addition to the Lions’ offensive line, solidifying the right tackle spot and ranking 12th among tackles overall at 81.7. He’s surrendered two or fewer pressures in seven of his 12 games and has graded above-average in pass protection in all but two games. That level of consistency has been prevalent for much of Wagner’s career, aside from one poor season in 2015, and this is the best production the Lions have had at right tackle in years.
25. Rodney Hudson, C, Oakland Raiders – 81.0 overall grade
PFF Elite Stat: Hudson is the only offensive lineman this season to give up only one pressure with at least 200 snaps in pass protection.
If David Bakhtiari is the best pass blocking tackle in the game and Josh Sitton the best pass blocking guard, the best pass blocking center is Oakland’s Rodney Hudson. The lynchpin of the Raiders line is now closing in on two straight years without allowing either a sack or a hit, and has given up just one total pressure this season. His run blocking this season hasn’t been as good as year’s past, in particular dealing with monster defensive tackles like Damon Harrison, but his pass blocking has been phenomenal.