The value of a cohesive, capable set of blockers is impossible to overvalue. And yet, while these are the reasons that everything else on the offense works, they incur a high rate of injury and the shifting of blockers in and out of the lineup is something that usually goes unnoticed despite its’ significant bearing on success. Unlike every other offensive player, their job is to engage the defense, not try to avoid it.
This is a very complex part of every football team. O-lines deal with injuries, new coaches and schemes, depth chart moves, schedule challenges and the effects of when new quarterbacks and running backs are used. Every play is like conducting a symphony in the middle of a riot.
This ranking considers where each O-line ranked last year in certain metrics, their additions and losses in linemen, the continuity of the unit and scheme, and plus the impact of the rest of the offense and schedule.
1. Philadelphia Eagles
This is the premier offensive line in the current NFL, stocked with talent and experience, including the coaching staff. Pro-Bowl center Jason Kelce returns to mentor their 2.19 pick of C Cam Jurgens, who will take over as early as next year. Their 2021 second-round pick of LG Landon Dickerson quickly transitioned from Alabama to the NFL. LT Jordan Mailata and RT Lane Johnson helped pave the way last year as the Eagles mediocre backfield still enjoyed the highest yards-before-contact in the league. The only lacking measurable from last year was the percent of pressures, but that spoke more to Jalen Hurts holding onto the ball too long, thanks in part to a marginal set of receivers. Adding A.J. Brown should upgrade and speed up the passing effort.
2. Kansas City Chiefs
Continuity is critical with offensive lines, making what OL coach Andy Heck did all the more remarkable. The Chiefs rebuilt their offensive line last year with five new starters and produced like a seasoned unit. The Chiefs O-line enjoyed high marks in every metric. The same five return including Pro Bowler Orlando Brown, and the pair of starting rookies from last year in C Creed Humphrey and RG Trey Smith for what should be even better play in their second season. Tyreek Hill may have left, but Patrick Mahomes should have plenty of time to find new targets.
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
If you want to keep a 45-year-old quarterback on the field, it helps to rank No. 1 across the board for pocket protection metrics. The Buccaneers sent RT Tristan Wirfs, C Ryan Jensen, and G Ali Marpet to the Pro Bowl. They lost Marpet to retirement and G Alex Cappa was signed by the Bengals, so there are two big holes to fill. They acquired Shaq Mason from the Patriots and drafted Luke Goedeke (2.25) who’ll likely move from the tackle spot he played at Central Michigan to the right guard. There’s depth and a solid set of tackles in Donovan Smith and Tristan Wirfs to keep Brady playing for at least one more year.
4. Detroit Lions
The Lions’ investment in their offensive line has paid dividends with average or better metrics despite blocking for a mediocre set of offensive skill players. All starters return this year, and C Frank Ragnow is back to health since missing most of 2021 with a toe injury. Former first-rounders Taylor Decker and second-year Penei Sewell man the tackles, with Decker looking for a healthy year after missing eight games with a finger injury. The second year of HC Dan Campbell should keep the momentum going in this talented group and upgrades in the receivers should help the passing effort. This collection of blockers is one of the best so long as they stay healthy.
5. Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys’ vaunted offensive line was decimated by injuries in 2020, and they became average with a constant rotation of replacements. The unit bounced back last year, holding down Top-5 marks in nearly every blocking metric. Both LT Tyron Smith and RG Zack Martin went to the Pro Bowl. But they lost RT La’el Collins to the Bengals and C Conner Williams to the Dolphins. Fortunately, the Cowboys are comfortable with C Tyler Biadasz and T Terence Steele moving up as replacements. They spent their 1.24 pick on Tulsa’s Tyler Smith who will likely move from tackle to starting guard. This unit will need to further develop both Biadasz and Steele, and get the rookie Smith up to speed, so they’ll likely improve as the season progresses.
6. Green Bay Packers
The Packer’s O-line played well last year despite numerous injuries but they lost G Lucas Patrick to the Bears and G Billy Turner to the Broncos. This unit combines for greater results than the individual parts suggest. That includes missing LT David Bakhtiari for all but one game recovering from an ACL injury in 2020, and his healthy return makes a major impact. RT Elgton Jenkins tore his ACL last November and is expected to be 100% “sometime during the season.” The Packers have invested two picks over the first four rounds of the NFL draft for offensive linemen in each of the last two years for promising depth. The line play is also helped by a capable backfield and a smart quarterback in Aaron Rodgers.
7. Cleveland Browns
Considered one of the best O-lines in the NFL for the last few years, the Browns’ run-blocking remained elite last year but dropped significantly in pass-blocking metrics for reasons not of their own making. Both guards Joel Bitonio and Wyatt Teller went to the Pro Bowl. The loss of C JC Tretter will impact the run game and promoting up former fifth-round pick Nick Harris won’t make up for that loss. But the other four starters all return and keeping the group healthy will make a difference after missing both tackles to injury at times last year. The quarterback situation could be problematic for improving the passing stats if Deshaun Watson doesn’t play, but the run game with Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt will remain elite.
8. New England Patriots
The Patriots always produce above-average results from their offensive line, and last year the pass blocking was even more impressive considering they started an immobile pocket passer in rookie Mac Jones. The run-blocking stats suffered but also reflected how defenses focused primarily against the Pat’s rushing last year. But they have lost two starters – RG Shaq Mason heads to Tampa Bay top block for Tom Brady, and LG Ted Karras left in free agency to the Bengals. But they used their first-round pick on Cole Strange to fill in for Mason. They re-signed Trent Brown and have the depth to handle revamping the interior. Improvement from second-year quarterback Jones will help the blocking and in turn, the run results since this unit should easily be above average when rushing the ball.
9. Los Angeles Rams
The Rams O-line rated Top-5 in all passing metrics in their journey to a Super Bowl victory. But they finally lost LT Andrew Whitworth to a well-deserved retirement, and G Austin Corbett signed with the Panthers. Joseph Noteboom will replace Whitworth and the Rams drafted G Logan Bruss with their 3.04 pick, and he should take over for Corbett. The unit remains above average but should drop a notch at least earlier in the season while replacing Whitworth and getting the rookie Bruss up to speed.
10. Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers’ investment in their offensive line paid off. They posted Top-10 stats in nearly every O-line metric. The rookie LT Rashawn Slater was their 1.13 pick and made the Pro Bowl, along with C Corey Linsley. The right side is the weaker and a camp battle between Storm Norton and Trey Pipkins will fill the right tackle. The right guard spot goes to the 1.17 draft pick of Zion Johnson this year. This O-line is already and advantage and is likely to become even better with emerging talent.
11. San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers sent LT Trent Williams to the Pro Bowl again, and the unit posted above-average stats other than negative runs, which are partly attributed to spinning through eight different running backs last year. Jimmy Garoppolo enjoyed a clean pocket while keeping Trey Lance mostly on the bench. But they lost G Tom Compton to the Broncos and starter G Laken Tomlinson to the Jets. Former second-rounder LG Aaron Banks enters his second season and C Alex Mack holds on for one more season at the age of 37. Williams is an elite player holding down the most critical spot, but the rest are either young and learning or old and holding on.
12. Indianapolis Colts
This O-line paved the way for Jonathan Taylor to lead the NFL in rushing yards last year, and the continual changes at quarterback are partly to blame for lower passing metrics for the O-line. This unit sent T Quenton Nelson and C Ryan Kelly to the Pro Bowl. But they let aging LT Eric Fisher leave in free agency and G Mark Glowinski signed with the Giants. Quenton Nelson missed time to injury, and Kelly was less effective than usual. The other three starters return and Matt Pryor is expected to take Fisher’s place after being acquired in a trade with the Eagles last year and re-signed in the offseason. The Colts drafted T Bernhard Raimann in the third round, and he will figure in as depth at the least. Hopefully, new starting quarterback Matt Ryan will get rid of the ball faster than Carson Wentz. But installing a new left tackle won’t make it any easier to start the season.
13. Buffalo Bills
The Bills only short-fall with their O-line last year was yards-before-contact, but their backfield has been one of the least effective for several seasons and the offense is devoted to passing the ball and letting Josh Allen add as a rusher. LT Dion Dawkins went to the Pro Bowl after the O-line only allowed 26 sacks. They lost G Jon Feliciano to the Giants but added G Rodger Saffold from the Titans for an upgrade that will benefit the rushing effort. Outside of Dawkins, the O-line is mostly average, but should remain at least as good as 2021 and potentially a bit better.
14. Denver Broncos
The Broncos O-line is just average and the new coaching staff under new head coach Nathaniel Hackett will install a new scheme that should result in better blocking than Russell Wilson experienced in Seattle. They brought in guards Billy Turner (GB) and Tom Compton (DEN) on thrifty one-year deals. Turner follows Hackett from Green Bay and is expected to be the right tackle, while Garrett Bolles comes off an uneven season and looks to get back on track. This unit will be made better, in theory, just with the upgrade in the wise veteran Wilson at quarterback. This O-line may not be an asset but shouldn’t be a liability either.
15. Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins upgraded their offense and blocking in particular during the offseason. The poor marks rushing stemmed from the backfield talent last year when virtually every statistical category for the backfield ended in the Bottom-5. While they upgraded to a slightly more talented mishmash of committee running backs, the offensive line should be much improved. They added C Conner Williams from the Cowboys for a two-year, $14M contract and LT Terron Armstead from the Saints on a five-year deal worth $75M while only losing a little depth with T Jesse Davis leaving. They even added T Liam Eichenberg with their 2.10 pick in the draft. Tua Tagovailoa should have the best line seen in Miami in years.
16. Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals came within a field goal of winning the Super Bowl, but the offensive line wasn’t a star in the process. Joe Burrow was returning from a torn ACL and yet was still one of the most sacked quarterbacks in the league. Skipping over a first round lineman to draft Ja’Marr Chase still seems prudent, but the Bengals knew they needed blocking help and addressed it by bringing in G Alex Cappa (four-year, $35M TB) and RT La’el Collins (three-year, $21M DAL), and G Ted Karras (three-year, $18M NE). They’ve rebuilt the right side from the center out and start three new linemen who should all be significant upgrades. Joe Mixon will benefit and Burrows might make it out alive this year.
17. Washington Commanders
The Commanders sent G Brandon Scherff to the Pro Bowl and then let him sign with the Jaguars, but also signed G Andrew Norwell from the same Jaguars with a net loss that may only be minor. While the individual blockers are mostly well-regarded, collectively the Commanders O-line were below average in most metrics though only slightly. G Ereck Flowers was also allowed to leave but they added G Trai Turner from the Steelers which is a wash at worse and likely a small upgrade. Bringing in Carson Wentz may not positively affect the blocking since the Colts O-line dipped in pass blocking metrics last year. RT Samuel Cosmi was the 2.19 pick last year and started with promising results. This has been a unit that seems worse as a whole than their individual parts suggest.
18. Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jaguars’ 2021 season was a disaster by most measurements, but less so from the O-line that played better than most. And that was with the loss of both running backs and a passing effort that struggled despite starting the 1.01 pick of the draft in Trevor Lawrence. The O-line will be at least incrementally better, so long as injuries don’t become a factor. The Jags lost guards A.J. Cann and Andrew Norwell but signed RG Brandon Scherff (three-years, $49M) from the Commanders. C Brandon Linder retired and will be replaced by either Tyler Shatley or the 3.01 pick Luke Fortner may get the job as a rookie. The Jaguars O-line exceeded expectations while the overall team imploded last year. The blocking could be even better if Scherff remains healthy all season.
19. Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings’ O-line is another average unit and ranked at the bottom in negative runs while Dalvin Cook missed three games and ran less effectively. The Vikes sent T Brian O’Neill to the Pro Bowl. The Vikings’ blocking has improved at least incrementally on pass plays and they’ve invested in their line with LT Christian Darrisaw (1.23), showing promise as a rookie last year and adding Wyatt Davis (3.23) for depth, along with G Ed Ingram (2.27) this season. The Vikings added G Chris Reed (IND) and T Jesse Davis (MIA) for depth but lost C Mason Cole to the Steelers. This is an average line but one with youth and depth. Installing the new offense under HC Kevin O’Connell may take time to come together.
20. New York Jets
The Jets O-line was decent blocking the run but gained no favors from the four different quarterbacks that started games last year. Last years’ first-round pick of RG Alijah Vera-Tucker was a hit and the Jets just acquired LG Laken Tomlinson (three-year, $40M SF) to shore up the middle next to C Connor McGovern. LT Mekhi Becton was lost for nearly all of 2021 with a knee injury after the former 1.11 pick had a promising rookie season in 2020. RT Morgan Moses left for the Ravens and George Fant switches back to the right after replacing the injured Becton last year. The Jets offense upgraded several spots, but it will all come back to how well Zach Wilson plays. The O-line will be improved.
21. Arizona Cardinals
The Cardinals O-line is average and they didn’t do much either way to alter expectations. LT D.J. Humphries went to the Pro Bowl but had a down year. The Cards swapped aging G Max Garcia for younger G Will Hernandez with the Giants as a minor upgrade. Otherwise, they did nothing in free agency or the draft to upgrade. The offense enters the fourth year under HC Kliff Kingsbury with the same O-line that isn’t any advantage but doesn’t hurt the team.
22. Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens started the season with a decimated backfield and ended with an O-line that constantly lost blockers to injury. LT Ronnie Stanley is still healing from the ankle injury that ended his season and he’s the difference-maker in the group when healthy. Lamar Jackson became one of the most sacked quarterbacks last year as a result. C Bradley Bozeman left for the Panthers, but the Ravens used their 1.25 pick on talented rookie Tyler Linderbaum as the new center. They also brought on RT Morgan Moses from the Jets on a three-year, $15M contract. The Ravens line is only average and not even that if Stanley is slow to return. Losing LT Alejandro Villanueva to retirement won’t help, but the pick of Linderbaum should pay dividends even this year.
23. Pittsburgh Steelers
Najee Harris’ first season was astounding considering he played behind an O-line that ranked dead last in yards-before-contact. And yet he gained 1,200 rush yards to rank No. 4 in the NFL. The pass blocking was better than expected, though it became a short game of pitch-and-catch between Ben Roethlisberger and Diontae Johnson. Upgrades were made by signing RG James Daniels (three-year, $26.5M CHI) and C Mason Cole (three-year $15M MIN). This still projects to remain below average, and the pass blocking will get more challenging with either Mitchell Trubisky or the rookie Kenny Pickett less likely to settle for constant ten-yard strikes to Johnson.
24. Tennessee Titans
The impact of losing Derrick Henry last season cannot be overstated. The Titans O-line enjoyed Top-10 marks in all categories for 2020, but then fell back dramatically in several areas. They nearly doubled the number of sacks allowed in part because there was no Henry to account for in the second half of the year. Injuries were also a factor. The only Pro Bowler for Tennessee last year was RG Rodger Saffold who left for the Bills, and RT David Quessenberry left in free agency. Dillon Radunz was the 2.21 pick in 2021 and will get first shot at taking the right tackle. Jamarco Jones (two-year, $4.8M) was signed for depth and Nicholas Petit-Frere was drafted in the third round to help. Pass blocking could be tougher too with the loss of the dependable A.J. Brown as an outlet.
25. New York Giants
The Giants O-line has defied all attempts at improvement in recent years, and they’re back again this year with what should prove to be upgrades. The G-Men drafted Evan Neal (1.07) from Alabama, who was one of the top lineman in the draft and he’ll slide into the right tackle. They drafted G Joshua Ezuedu in the third round and acquired G Jon Feliciano (one-year, $3.3M BUF) and G Mark Glowinski (three-year, $18.3M IND) who steps into the right guard. LT Andrew was the 1.04 pick of 2020 and showed improvement last season. The Giants are installing a new offense so it will take some time for this group to hit their optimal performance, but the Giants – yet again – are trying to improve and appear to be on the right track.
26. New Orleans Saints
The loss of Drew Brees made an obvious impact last year, but the decline in blocking was just as significant for an O-line that had been one of the best in recent years. Losing LT Terron Armstead to the Dolphins only makes 2022 look even worse though they used their 1.19 pick on LT Trevor Penning as his replacement. All but RG Cesar Ruiz were injured at times last year, and the unit just gets worse. The net effect of losing Armstead for the rookie Penning will be a negative this year, and the Saints didn’t do anything else to upgrade a unit that struggled last season. The offense is still controlled by long-time OC Pete Carmichael, but the offensive line has gone from elite to being more of a liability.
27. Seattle Seahawks
There was a remarkable difference between the pass protection metrics – all bad – and the run blocking which was one of the best in yards-per-carry and yards-before-contact. The Seahawks lose LT Duane Brown who aged out at 36 years old, and C Evan Pocic who missed last year with a knee sprain anyway. But they added new starters C Austin Blythe (one-year, $4M KC), and rookies LT Charles Cross (1.09 pick) and RT Abraham Lucas (3.08 pick). Stepping down from Russell Wilson is a significant concern for the offense, but the O-line should show at least incremental improvement in pass protection.
28. Carolina Panthers
HC Matt Rhule enters his third season, but he needs to get much more from his O-line if he hopes to see a fourth year. The Panthers unit was abysmal across the board and ranked near the bottom in all categories. But the Panthers made several moves that give promise to the future, if not the present. The line will have at least three new starters this year, RG Austin Corbett (three-year, $26M LAR) and C Bradley Bozeman (one-year, $2,8M) were signed as starters. They spent their 1.06 pick on LT Ikem Ekwonu and RT Taylor Moton returns as the lone standout from 2021. The benefits may not be fully realized until next season, but this unit will play better even for 2021.
29. Las Vegas Raiders
The Raiders offensive line exceeded expectations with pass protection last year but did the backfield no favors. Their metrics were roughly the same against the pass from 2020 but declined versus the run. And the Raiders didn’t change much up other than drafting RT Alex Leatherwood with their 1.17 pick, who should go through growing pains as a rookie. LT Kolton Miller has been solid, but the rest of the line offers no advantages.
30. Houston Texans
The Texans’ marks were poor across the board for the O-line and the rushing effort had little chance to matter, though the quality of running backs was also no help for an offense ranked dead last in backfield yards-per-carry and the ratio of negative-yardage runs. The same offensive scheme remains with minimal upgrades in skill players. The Texans added LG Kenyon Green (1.15) in the draft and signed A.J. Cann (two-year, $8.5M JAC). LT Laremy Tunsil was lost after Week 5 last year because of a thumb injury and is expected back. This unit may be better for 2022, if only because it couldn’t have been much worse.
31. Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons return their starters from last year and did nothing to upgrade aside from bringing in journeyman T Elijah Wilkinson and drafting T Jalen Mayfield with their third round pick. The rookie Mayfield is expected to switch to right guard. The Falcons are in a rebuilding mode with a major change in offensive skill players and haven’t yet made offensive line a priority. This is a mostly younger unit that could see improvement this year, but still won’t hope to reach average.
32. Chicago Bears
There are precious few areas of football where there is a near 100% consensus but the Bears owning the worst offensive line is one of them. The rookie Justin Fields experienced more NFL sacks than anyone and was pressured about one in every three times he tried to pass. Worse yet, the Bears are in a full rebuild with new HC Matt Eberfus and the O-line didn’t make it to the top of the list of needs in the offseason. The Bears lost LT Jason Peters to retirement and arguably their best remaining blocker in G James Daniels was signed away by the Steelers. Their only additions were G Lucas Patrick (two-year, $8M GB) and drafting LT Teven Jenkins with their 2.07 pick. The rookie will start at left tackle and this unit looks even worse than last year.