Ranking the 2013 Offensive Lines: First Quarter
The Offensive Line. Sometimes they’re the heroes and sometimes they’re the villains, but not often is it justified. If a quarterback can handle pressure and a running back breaks tackles their shortcomings can be managed, whereas if a quarterback holds onto the ball for an age or a running back can’t hit the hole, then things look a lot worse than they are.
That’s why above any stat of a skill player and how it relates to an offensive lineman, we champion our own grading. We look at what an offensive lineman is trying to do and grade him based on that, taking into account what’s asked of him and how long, in the example of pass protection, the quarterback holds the ball.
So without further ado, here are our Week 5 Offensive Line Rankings.
32. Baltimore Ravens: -38.6
Stud: Well, by default it’s kind of Marshal Yanda (+3.4), but let’s not kid ourselves in believing that he’s playing anywhere near his best. He’s not.
Dud: Some contenders here but Gino Gradkowski (-13.4) is the man under fire. He just hasn’t got the job done and is atrocious (by center standards) with his work in pass protection.
Summary: The team didn’t feel the need to trade for 11 games of Eugene Monroe because they were happy with how things were going. Bryant McKinnie has been awful and whoever has played left guard (chiefly Kelechi Osemele) has struggled. Not good enough.
31. Seattle Seahawks: -33.4
Stud: By the process of elimination right now it’s seventh-rounder Michael Bowie (+0.7).
Dud: A below-average guard, there’s little surprise that Paul McQuistan (-14.9) is a way below average tackle.
Summary: They lost Russell Okung and are currently without Max Unger. Two men who just happen to be their best linemen. That has hurt, but the J.R. Sweezy experiment isn’t working out and they’re just not executing right now.
30. Jacksonville Jaguars: -30.5
Stud: Well … Uche Nwaneri (-0.3) but there’s some really slim pickings there.
Dud: As is often the case, it’s Will Rackley (-14.7) who is on a mission to prove the faith in him misguided. Five games and his best grade was a -2.1.
Summary: It hasn’t worked in Year 1 of the new regime and the line is a big part of why. They’ve lost their two starting tackles, have question marks across the line and are about as bad it gets when it comes to run blocking. Nobody said rebuilding would be easy.
29. New York Giants: -30.2
Stud: Is stud the right word to use? Kevin Boothe (+2.4) has got better since the season started at least.
Dud: How disappointed must the team be in Will Beatty (–9.3)? He was well worth his contract extension but has proceeded to flop on the field this year.
Summary: It’s not good. A mix of old guys getting injured and not getting the job done, and young guys not ready to deliver. They’ve gone from contenders to a transition team with the kind of speed nobody saw coming.
28. Atlanta Falcons: -24.0
Stud: The guards are the best of a bad bunch with Justin Blalock (+8.1) solid enough in pass protection (seven quarterback disruptions allowed on 242 pass blocks) that he takes the honors.
Dud: Pick a tackle, pick any tackle. It’s Sam Baker (-13.8) who has reverted to type this year and hasn’t even be able to save his grade by missing time.
Summary: A line that has got better but still isn’t great. They’re struggling at both tackle spots no matter who they line up and that has caused no end of problems. Of course it hasn’t helped that Peter Konz has been a noticeable drop off from Todd McClure as the team has struggled to get anything going on the ground.
27. Arizona Cardinals: -19.4
Stud: It’s Daryn Colledge (+3.6) and it’s not really close. Even then he’s hardly lit it up with his run blocking.
Dud: With Levi Brown no longer the baddest tackle in town (well, this town anyway) it’s the overmatched right guard Paul Fanaika (-8.2), thrust into the lineup because of the unfortunate injury to Jonathan Cooper.
Summary: It’s still not a particularly good offensive line. Last year’s blossoming star Bobby Massie isn’t a favorite of the new regime, while the moves they made just haven’t worked out. Still, at least they finally cut the chord with Brown and can look toward finding a long-term answer at the left tackle spot.
26. Buffalo Bills: -18.1
Stud: He’s been flagged four times but Cordy Glenn (+10.3) has been extremely reliable outside of that, particularly in pass protection. Just what you want from your left tackle.
Dud: Anyone not expecting this to be Colin Brown (-28.1)? In fairness he has improved the past two weeks, but his opening three performances were as bad as any that we have seen.
Summary: The line grades out worse than you’d imagine largely because of the problem left guard spot and a really disappointing performance from Erik Pears against the Browns. They’re likely to prove themselves better than this and will really need to with their quarterback situation.
Click below to continue the countdown.
25. New York Jets: -14.9
Stud: Look for Austin Howard (+6.7) to get himself a decent deal next year. He’s a solid right tackle.
Dud: It’s amazing how good Vladimir Ducasse (-10.4) can look at times, and then look so abysmal moments later.
Summary: Far from pretty, as the big-name performers have failed to deliver at the kind of level you’d want to see out of them. We expect more from players like Nick Mangold and D’Brickashaw Ferguson because they’ve conditioned us to expect more.
24. Cleveland Browns: -11.5
Stud: As ever, it’s Joe Thomas (+9.5) even if he’s giving up a little more pressure than we’re used to seeing from him.
Dud: He’s out of the lineup now but few Browns fans will forget the play of Oniel Cousins (-15.3) anytime soon.
Summary: A line that will be better for losing its weakest link. They’ll need Shawn Lauvao to play better than he did in his season opener, but after a rough start Mitchell Schwartz is playing better and they’re in a stronger position to execute the plan they want to.
23. Kansas City Chiefs: -8.2
Stud: He’s not put forth a massive claim to a big contract at the end of the year with six penalties, but Branden Albert (+4.9) is holding up in pass protection.
Dud: Whoever lines up at right tackle. Eric Fisher can take solace in the notion that Donald Stephenson (-12.0) has been much worse.
Summary: Perhaps the one area where the team could really stand to improve. The problem spot is at right tackle where they seem damned with whatever they do, but the run blocking really hasn’t delivered as they would have hoped.
22. Indianapolis Colts: -7.7
Stud: He’s taking baby steps toward being the top talent they’d hope him to be, is Anthony Castonzo (+7.3).
Dud: Was 2012 not enough for this team to realize that Mike McGlynn (-10.5) isn’t up to the task of starting for the team? Apparently not.
Summary: A mixed year as they tried to fix this problem area through free agency only to see Donald Thomas go down for the year. They really need to fix the interior that gives next to nothing for their running backs to work with.
21. Miami Dolphins: -7.0
Stud: The ultra-aggressive Richie Incognito (+7.0) has been especially impressive with his pass protection work.
Dud: The team would have hoped for more when they brought Tyson Clabo (-8.8) in. He just hasn’t played to the level he was at in Atlanta.
Summary: It could be worse. Not much if you’re looking at their run blocking, which has been poor, but despite the sacks allowed they’ve done a reasonable job in pass protection with every sack coming after 2.6 seconds of the quarterback holding the ball.
20. Tennessee Titans: -6.5
Stud: He wasn’t great last week, but Michael Roos (+7.4) was playing at an All-Pro level through the first quarter of the season.
Dud: It’s understandable to move on from a guy because he doesn’t fit your scheme, but you have to question the wisdom of replacing your starting center with a marginal talent like Robert Turner (-10.6).
Summary: A lot of the talk before the year was about their new guards. Well, they haven’t quite delivered have they? Andy Levitre has earned a positive grade but has been far from dominant, while Chance Warmack has been found out in pass protection.
19. Houston Texans: -6.3
Stud: Our top ranked center on the year is Chris Myers (+9.6), who remains an excellent fit in their zone blocking scheme.
Dud: Isn’t it time to accept that Derek Newton (-13.3) just isn’t good enough to be starting right now? He’s the lowest graded player on the team.
Summary: It’s not been a great year for a line that seems to get worse year on year. The problem right now is the right side, and without Duane Brown playing at an All-Pro level they’re just not good enough to overcome the shortfalls of other areas of the team. They need to pass block better.
18. Chicago Bears: -5.7
Stud: Of all the moves they made this year, perhaps the most under-the-radar has been the signing of Matt Slauson (+3.8), who has fit into the offense seamlessly.
Dud: It was asking a lot for a rookie right tackle to step in and play well straight away. After a decent start Jordan Mills (-11.4) is really looking out of his depth right now.
Summary: This isn’t a line for 2013 as much as one for the future. A rookie right side is getting blooded and will be better for it going forward, but all things considered they’ll be happy after what they put out a year ago. They would have expected a bit more out of Jermon Bushrod though.
17. Oakland Raiders: -3.2
Stud: Discarded by the Redskins and thought over the hill by most, Tony Pashos (+7.8) has allowed five quarterback disruptions on 148 pass blocking situations.
Dud: His day may come at some point in the future, but right now Lucas Nix (-17.0) is an accident waiting to happen on the field.
Summary: Perhaps the most surprising unit of all. They’ve been coached into a cohesive outfit and have delivered reasonable play. What more could you want? Given the injuries they’ve suffered that’s practically a miracle.
Click below for numbers 16 through 9
16. Philadelphia Eagles: -0.6
Stud: That monster again, Evan Mathis (+14.9). His work in pass protection has dropped off a tad but he’s really enjoying the Chip Kelly offense.
Dud: He’s a rookie so you have to take your lumps, but you’d like to see fewer than the 21 quarterback disruptions Lane Johnson (-8.9) has allowed.
Summary: They’d be higher but for the meltdown endured by Jason Kelce against the Giants in the run game. He was our top-ranked center until that abomination. Still, a good athletic line that is a big part of the success of LeSean McCoy.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers: -0.5
Stud: It’s the right guard David DeCastro (+4.8) who is the one to keep an eye on.
Dud: He’s been benched for now and it’s not really a surprise. Mike Adams (-9.7) was struggling out there.
Summary: From snap to whistle there’s be no real drop off with Fernando Velasco on the field as the interior of this line has done a nice job. It’s as good a Steelers line as we’ve seen in a while, which admittedly isn’t saying much.
14. San Francisco 49ers: +1.3
Stud: He’s not reached the heights of last year but Joe Staley (+5.2) is still playing well.
Dud: You have to wonder if the team will re-sign Jonathan Goodwin (-3.9) after the year. He’s serviceable, but do they think they can do better?
Summary: The best line in the league last year hasn’t been the best in 2013. They’ve not got the same level of play out of Mike Iupati and Anthony Davis and it’s hurting their production on offense.
13. New Orleans Saints: +3.5
Stud: You rarely notice Zach Strief (+9.1), who is the model of consistency in pass protection with just a sack, hit and five hurries allowed on the year.
Dud: The right guard spot has been troubling. It was worse when Tim Lelito had to stand in, but it has to be worrying how much Jahri Evans (-4.9) has struggled.
Summary: A line that just keeps getting the job done. They haven’t been let down by Ben Grubbs since he joined, and Brian De La Puente has been a very nice find. Would be higher but for the massive downgrade Lelito earned in his start.
12. San Diego Chargers: +4.7
Stud: It looks like Nick Hardwick (+6.8) is somewhere near back to being his best.
Dud: The idea to move Jeromey Clary (-7.6) to guard has gone about as well as expected. As in to say, it has not gone well.
Summary: They’ve made moves to get better and the proof is in the pudding. Philip Rivers is happier and his pocket is a lot cleaner. The tackles are doing a nice job and they’ve got better than expected play out of fill-in Johnnie Troutman. They’re young and on the rise.
11. Minnesota Vikings: +5.9
Stud: Last year he was the weak link but Brandon Fusco (+6.0) has turned it around exceptionally well.
Dud: The strength in this line this year isn’t so much that they have stars, but that nobody has been that bad. The worst of the bunch is Charlie Johnson (-1.5).
Summary: A drop off from last year but they’ve avoided the kind of catastrophic performance that can cripple. They just need to take things to the next level, and a lot of that is down to players like John Sullivan and Matt Kalil moving up a gear.
10. Detroit Lions: +6.3
Stud: It’s the rookie revelation Larry Warford (+8.3) who could stand with being more consistent in the run game, but has had a fine start to his NFL life.
Dud: We’ve been a little bit disappointed by Rob Sims (-3.7) and his poor work in the run game.
Summary: They’ve taken a step forward this year even after losing their top tackles from last year. That largely comes down to some better play from the inside, but the tackles have held their own.
9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: +6.6
Stud: It’s gone unnoticed largely, but Donald Penn (+9.1) is playing rather well. He’s mauling people in the run game like few tackles can.
Dud: He never looked great before the injury, but Davin Joseph (-9.2) looks worse now.
Summary: You expect more given how much the team has invested in the line. As it is, their star players (the tackles) are both undrafted free agents, though the team will be better for getting Carl Nicks up to speed.
8. Carolina Panthers: +9.9
Stud: This could be his last year with the team and in the league, so it’s good to see Jordan Gross (+8.7) playing so well. As reliable as ever.
Dud: The team probably didn’t expect Chris Scott (-7.1) to have to play 248 snaps. He has and it has not gone well.
Summary: The good news is this line was getting good performances from its key players. The bad news is that one of those, Amini Silatolu, just went down and is out for the year and that’s a big blow. They need every advantage they can get.
Continue reading to find out who sits at No. 1
7. Green Bay Packers: +10.9
Stud: The switch from left to right has done T.J. Lang (+5.8) no harm at all. He’s a more than capable run blocker.
Dud: He’s generally done a decent job with the Packers getting rid of the ball, but when David Bakhtiari (-6.5) does get beat it’s normally in quick fashion.
Summary: The decision to go with youth appears to be paying off, though this certainly owes something to the players being put in favorable positions by a coaching staff keen on limiting the work they do. Improving, but still with a lot to prove.
6. St Louis Rams: +14.0
Stud: Both tackles Joe Barksdale and Jake Long (+8.1) are producing, even if the team probably expected a little bit better pass protection from Long.
Dud: This owes largely to Glenn Dorsey pushing him about, but Scott Wells (-3.1) is a guy more is expected of.
Summary: Of all the things you thought might go wrong with the Rams their line had to be near the top. But even after losing Rodger Saffold they’ve coped in a shock to us all.
5. New England Patriots: +15.7
Stud: In a battle between tackles it’s just Nate Solder (+12.8) who is developing into one of the league’s best.
Dud: It’s hasn’t been pretty watching Dan Connolly (-6.8) in pass protection. He looks off the pace.
Summary: The strength is primarily in their tackles who are the kind of guys who can shut down edge rushers and get some push in the run game. Throw in Logan Mankins and they’re still one of the best groups around.
4. Washington Redskins: +20.8
Stud: The surprise package has been Kory Lichtensteiger (+10.0) who is playing his best football right now.
Dud: After a good 2012 most of us expected Chris Chester (-5.0) to kick on. He hasn’t.
Summary: This will surprise some, but the Redskins have done a really good job of keeping a clean pocket. Trent Williams has allowed just four quarterback disruptions on the year and the line has the third-best Pass Blocking Efficiency of all teams.
3. Dallas Cowboys: +23.9
Stud: To the surprise of everyone, Doug Free (+15.7) has used the offseason uncertainty to motivate himself into a frankly fantastic start to the year. Our top ranked right tackle.
Dud: The play of Mackenzy Bernadeau (-3.2) was always going to be something to watch, and the team looks better with him out of the lineup.
Summary: They made a bold move in bringing in Brian Waters and it appears to be paying off. Of course that wasn’t the only bold move they made, with first-round pick Travis Frederick justifying the faith in him.
2. Denver Broncos: +29.1
Stud: A lot of times you see an offensive linemen get paid it just doesn’t work out. Tell that to Louis Vasquez (+10.1), who is thriving right now after his move from San Diego.
Dud: It’s tough to single out a player, but you’d hope to see a little more from Zane Beadles (-1.5), especially in a contract year.
Summary: Everything that could go right for this team has, and when it’s gone wrong (injury to Ryan Clady) his replacement has filled in with such poise that you hardly noticed. With four starters graded above +6.3, what more could you want?
1. Cincinnati Bengals: +37.1
Stud: Pick your poison, and pick it well since there’s a fine selection. On top its Andrew Whitworth (+11.3), who so far is giving up a quarterback disruption on every 29.6 drop-backs.
Dud: There is no dud, but the least impressive of the unit is Kyle Cook (-2.3) and that’s chiefly down to his pass protection.
Summary: It comes to something when even the backup left tackle, Anthony Collins, is getting a positive grade. Helped by a quick-hit offense, they rarely allow pressure and their young guards have taken a big step forward in the run game.
If you’re interested in more information regarding your team, @PFF on twitter is the place to go to.
Follow Khaled on Twitter: @PFF_Khaled