Offensive Line Rankings
In this look back at the offensive line units through 2014's first five weeks, Khaled Elsayed sets them in order, ranking all 32 and naming the studs and duds from ...
Offensive Line Rankings
Five weeks into the NFL season and things are starting to take shape. And one area where increased time leads to evaluations less prone to weekly fluctuations is on the offensive line. So right now seems like a good time to unload some offensive line rankings, right?
As ever, we’ve looked at the combined scores for the offensive lines, while also given you an idea where they rank as pass blockers, run blockers and in terms of penalties (of the discipline variety). And, as ever, we look forward to your comments via our @PFF twitter handle.
*Last years rankings in parenthesis
32. Buffalo Bills (22nd)
PB: 31st, RB: 31st, PEN: 6th
Stud: Look no further than Cordy Glenn. The most reliable piece of this line, Glenn hasn’t reached the heights of last year but remains a solid pass protector as evidenced by just 10 QB disruptions allowed all year.
Dud: The switch to right guard has not been kind to Erik Pears. Our lowest-ranked guard on the year, he’s been an abomination in the run game while allowing far too much pressure up the gut. There have been signs of progress but not enough to convince.
Summary: Starting an undrafted free agent at right tackle might create a warm fuzzy feeling, but has also created a quick route to quarterbacks with only two tackles allowing more pressure than Seantrel Henderson. Throw in a fifth-rounder at left guard and there’s nothing reliable vets Glenn and Eric Wood can do to salvage this ranking.
31. San Diego Chargers
PB: 30th, RB: 30th, PEN: 6th
Stud: And the winner, as a result of default… King Dunlap. In fairness to Dunlap he’s good enough in pass protection and when he latches onto you in the run game it’s pretty much all over with his size and power.
Dud: It’s not been pretty watching Johnnie Troutman this year. He’s been poor in all phases of the game and but for injuries would surely be a candidate for benching.
Summary: Losing Nick Hardwick has hurt, with the centers replacing him combining for a -13.2 grade. Perhaps the bigger disappointment, though, comes from the guys either side of him and, with the interior not doing a good job of creating space for their quarterback to step up into. It makes the play of Rivers all the more remarkable.
30. Kansas City Chiefs (20th)
PB: 24th, RB: 32nd, PEN: 1st
Stud: The only man earning a positive grade this year is center Rodney Hudson. He’s the veteran of this group and it’s most reliable player.
Dud: Perhaps it’s time to start worrying about Eric Fisher? Switched to the left side he’s still allowing too much pressure and has yet to step up in the run game. To justify that first overall pick he needs to really step it up.
Summary: It was always likely to be a bumpy road after losing Branden Albert, Jon Asomoah and Geoff Schwartz and so it has proved. Will have to suck up the fact they’ve got youngsters gaining experience, while knowing journeymen Mike McGlynn and Ryan Harris are not long-term answers.
29. Carolina Panthers (7th)
PB: 29th, RB: 26th, PEN: 10th
Stud: He’s given up more pressure than a center should, but Ryan Kalil is the team’s best run blocker and is keeping this unit together.
Dud: It’s hard playing left tackle in the NFL. After a strong effort in Week 1 Byron Bell is proving that, with his showing against Baltimore particularly hard to watch. The plus side? Outside of that game the pressure levels have been acceptable from his side.
Summary: You don’t just lose Jordan Gross and Travelle Wharton and get over it. No, retirement has crippled this unit. Perhaps its only viewing this people will appreciate just how good those two (especially Gross) was.
28. Atlanta Falcons (30th)
PB: 20th, RB: 29th, PEN: 26th
Stud: You can pick your poison from Jon Asamoah or Justin Blalock. Blalock looked particularly good before trying to gut some plays out with a bad back against Minnesota.
Dud: The team placed Lamar Holmes on Injured Reserve and he may find it tough to work a way back into a starting spot when he returns.
Summary: That second-half domination by the Giants certainly pushed this unit down more than a few spots. Before that, Jake Matthews was looking an upgrade and the retooled interior was making some room for runners. But injuries have decimated the team and the backups have opponents licking their lips.
27. New England Patriots (14th)
PB: 32nd, RB: 13th, PEN: 20th
Stud: The only starter with a positive grade in pass protection is Sebastian Vollmer. That’s not what this line is used to, but it’s all they have right now.
Dud: It proved a bad idea to start Jordan Devey and the 2013 undrafted free agent who struggled in preseason was benched, but not before the damage was done.
Summary: For years New England has had one of the best lines in the league. They dropped off a little last year and have really hit hard times in 2014. They’ve struggled to find the right combination as they try to blend in new players and you get the feeling this is going to be a rollercoaster season for the unit.
26. Arizona Cardinals (32nd)
PB: 19th, RB: 27th, PEN: 27th
Stud: Given what the Cardinals got at left tackle last year Jared Veldheer must seem like the best bits of Joanthan Ogden, Walter Jones and Orlando Pace all rolled up into one. He’s not, but he’s been a huge improvement, particularly in pass pro.
Dud: Normally the rock on the line, Lyle Sendlein has mixed the average with some backside kickings. His efforts in his past two outings have not been him at his best.
Summary: It’s an improvement which owes a lot to their marquee free agent signing, but they’ve cobbled together a unit that hasn’t shamed them. The only real disappointment is that 2013 first round pick Jonathan Cooper has managed just three snaps as he tries to work himself back to playing shape.
25. Minnesota Vikings (6th)
PB: 23rd, RB: 25th, PEN: 25th
Stud: The only player with a positive run block grade so far is John Sullivan, and even he hasn’t hit the kind of form that has seen him be the league’s most consistent center these past two years.
Dud: As a rookie Matt Kalil looked like he was destined to be one of the top tackles in the league. A so-so sophomore season has turned into a full-on terrible third year. His efforts against both New England and New Orleans were not good enough, though there has been signs of improvement the past two weeks.
Summary: A slow start or a big backwards step? They have missed Brandon Fusco when he hasn’t been in the lineup, but there are too many talented players just not playing to their potential right now.