Donald Penn tops the list of free agent offensive tackles

Matt Claassen identifies the best seven offensive tackles set to hit the free-agent market.

| 1 year ago
(Jeff Haynes/AP Images for Panini)

(Jeff Haynes/AP Images for Panini)

Donald Penn tops the list of free agent offensive tackles

The Super Bowl was a prime example of how important offensive tackle performance can be, particularly in pass protection. Many teams could use an upgrade at one of their tackle spots, and there are a few good options for teams to target as starters this year.

Below are PFF’s top offensive tackle free agents entering the NFL offseason.

(Editor’s note: This list was updated on March 2, 2016, removing Bills LT Cordy Glenn, previously in the No. 1 spot.)

1. Donald Penn

2015 team: Oakland Raiders

The 33-year-old veteran would probably only be a short-term solution, but he is a solid option. He has earned positive run-blocking grades in all nine seasons of the PFF era. Penn is also coming off arguably his best two pass-blocking seasons as a pro, with a pass blocking efficiency above 95.0 in both years. Penn has also been extremely reliable when it comes to his health; he’s missed just 52 total offensive snaps out of nearly 8,500 over the past eight seasons.

2. Kelvin Beachum

2015 team: Pittsburgh Steelers

Beachum was one of the best pass-blocking tackles in 2014, with a third-best 97.5 pass blocking efficiency. Unfortunately, an ACL injury cut his 2015 campaign short before he could continue to build on the previous year’s success. After a rocky opening weekend against the Patriots where Beachum allowed four pressures, he allowed just two pressures over the next five games before being injured this season. He’s been average as a run blocker so far in his career, but with pass protection at a premium nowadays, his pass-blocking grades and ceiling are quite valuable.

3. Mitchell Schwartz

2015 team: Cleveland Browns

Schwartz has been criticized by some for allowing so many pressures this season (43, to be exact), but rarely does it get mentioned that his 705 snaps in pass protection were tied for the most in the league. On a per-snap basis, Schwartz’s 95.3 pass-blocking efficiency ranked 27th out of 75 qualifying tackles. He has earned positive pass-blocking grades each of his four years in the league, and three of four years as a run blocker. Schwartz has also not missed a single one of the Browns’ 4,427 offensive snaps since he was drafted.

4. Russell Okung

2015 team: Seattle Seahawks

There was a time when Okung was close to being a top-10 tackle in the league, but it has been three years since his peak in 2012. He was a good run-blocker early in his career, but his cumulative run block grades of -7.2 and +1.0 the past two seasons have been considerably lower. He’s had just one above-average pass-blocking season in six years, but the Seahawks’ comparatively run-heavy offense has lessened that exposure. All that said, he has shown his potential in the past, and has put together small stretches of good play since then. If he can stay healthy, it’s certainly possible that he could reach that level again.

5. Andre Smith, Jr.

2015 team: Cincinnati Bengals

Smith had the worst season of his career in 2015 with an overall player grade of 39.6. In his defense, the Bengal has dealt with multiple injuries and concussions over the last two years, both of which could be significant contributors to his worst two seasons out of his five years as a starter. In 2012, he was our highest-graded right tackle in the league, with one of the better run-blocking grades that season. Similar to Okung, it’s possible that he can regain that form, but the uncertainty might be the difference between a short- and long-term contract.

6. Bobby Massie

2015 team: Arizona Cardinals

It’s tough to know what to expect from Bobby Massie. He was one of the worst pass-blocking tackles back in 2012, but he improved quite a bit after being given another chance in 2014. However, he couldn’t sustain the improvement last season. He regressed in pass protection, with particularly poor outings against the Seahawks’ and Rams’ good defensive lines. As for the run game, Massie has been a decent run-blocker in his three seasons as a starter. You won’t be sure which player you are getting by signing Massie, but at the least he could be a viable sixth offensive lineman.

| Analyst

Matt has been an analyst for PFF since 2013. He is also a contributor to 120 Sports and a former NCAA Division-III football player.

  • AKjester

    How much of a knock does Okung get on pass blocking based on Wilson’s improvising? Wilson tends to roll toward Okung when he feels pressure and that means Okung is now on the wrong side of the lineman he is blocking. I have definitely seen him completely whiff on more blocks in the last couple years causes instant pressure, but Seahawk OL have a hard task with Wilson as the QB since even the OL doesn’t know where the QB will be.

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  • Bill Doerr

    Arizona is set at OT w/ a top tier LT in Jared Veldheer & 2015 1st round pick 6″5 D.J Humphries who has drastically improved & is ready to start & after a year in a NFL strength & conditioning program has put on 18 pounds of muscle and now 325 Pounds, up from 307 when drafted. Humphries is going to be a beast.
    I think RT Bobby Massie thinks he is going to be in demand now that he has hit F/A & will get an above average pay-day which I don’t see happening. He was horrible in pass protection this last year w/ a -16.9 overall pass pro grade though he did have an above AVG +3.9 run blocking grade. My guess is he struggles to find a team. I would not mind if Arizona GM could work out a deal signing him at like 2.5 million per year on 3/YR 7.5 Million Dollar deal as a back up option slash insurance policy .

  • Mike Riley

    If you’re the Raiders do you pay Penn $19 million for 2 years? I don’t know. I’d rather either sign the 26 year old Beachum or draft Conklin or another tackle in the 1st. Too many questions about Penn who tailed off last year as the entire O-line did once Rodney Hudson got hurt in Pittsburgh.

  • sandbun

    If Matt Kalil was cut, where would he rank on this list?

    • NAJ