NFL

Ranking the NFL Offensive Lines: Who’s Average

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The backbone of every offense is the offensive line. The running backs, wide receivers, tight end and quarterbacks get the majority of the credit for moving the ball and scoring touchdowns, but none of that what would be possible without diligent effort and effective play from the offensive line as a whole.

Unlike other positions and units, the offensive line has to work together as a whole. If one offensive lineman is not in sync with the others, it will lead to the whole unit failing on any given play. Playing on the offensive line is not for the unintelligent as you have to recognize and understand a variety of looks, blitzes and stunt from defenses.

Furthermore, not only does an offensive lineman have to be extremely intelligent, they must also be incredibly strong and deceptively athletic. Also, an offensive lineman has little room for error from a technique standpoint. On almost every pay, an offensive lineman will line up against a player who is much more athletic then them and it some cases just as strong. Therefore, if they are extremely technical, they will get beaten repeatedly by opposing defensive linemen.

When a team has a great offensive line, it makes everything they do on offense easier. The quarterback has more time to find his receivers and the running backs have bigger holes to run through. It isn’t impossible to have a good offense with a below-average offensive line, but it makes things a lot more difficult.

Without further ado, let’s rank all 32 offensive lines in the NFL and see how it shakes out.

We looked at the worst units in the NFL in our first volumethe below-average units in our second volume and the slightly below-average units in our third volume, now we’re moving on to those that are a small step above.

17. New York Jets

Best Player: Nick Mangold

Player Who Needs To Improve: Breno Giacomini

As you will see with the rest of the offensive lines in this article, even though these offensive lines are technically average, they still aren’t very good. The New York Jets are not an exception.

What the Jets do have is quite possibly the best center in football with Nick Mangold. He is one of the most intelligent and technically sound offensive linemen in the league. Also, D’Brickashaw Ferguson is a solid left tackle who does a good job week in and week out.

Furthermore, James Carpenter should be an upgrade at the right guard spot as he is young and still improving every season. The Jets really need their right tackle Breno Giacomini to step up and solidify the right side of the offensive line.

The Jets finally have given Geno Smith some weapons to work with; however, that will be all for not if the Jets offensive line can’t protect him.

16. Chicago Bears

Best Player: Kyle Long

Player Who Needs To Improve: Jordon Mills

The Chicago Bears’ offensive line has been hampered by one or two players who have played terribly, which makes the whole offensive line look bad. The main culprit last year was Jordan Mills. He had a ton of trouble in the run and passing games last year and the Bears really need him to step up his game this year.

The Bears actually have a very good interior offensive line led By Kyle Long. He is one of the most underrated players in the game and he should be in the conversation for best guard in the NFL. Next to him, the Bears added Will Montgomery from the Denver Broncos who should give the Bears offensive line another bump.

If Jerome Bushrod and Matt Slauson can be serviceable players on the left side, the Bears could have a solid offensive line that could help the Bears make a surprising run during the season.

15. Arizona Cardinals

Best Player: Jared Veldheer

Player Who Needs To Improve: Jonathan Cooper

The Arizona Cardinals were hampered by awful quarterback play after Carson Palmer went down for the season, but they were one of the Super-Bowl favorites prior to that. The one area where the Cardinals need to improve is on the offensive line.

Jared Veldheer was the one bright spot on the offensive line as he was fantastic throughout the season. Also, the Cardinals made a great move to bring in Mike Iupati this offseason and he should greatly improve the Cardinals abysmal run game from last year.

Bobbie Massie was a solid player last year, but he will have some big competition with first-round pick D.J. Humphries, which will be interesting to watch throughout the preseason.

Overall, the Cardinals have appeared to improve their offensive line, which may lead to them improving off their great season last year.

14. San Francisco 49ers

Best Player: Joe Staley

Player Who Needs To Improve: Eric Pears

Last season, the San Francisco 49ers had one of the best offensive lines in the league. They were dominating in the run game and solid in pass protection; however, with the losses of Mike Iupati and Anthony Davis, they have taken a step back.

Joe Staley and Alex Boone are holdovers from last year for the 49ers and they are very good. They should be able to maintain their high level of play from the last couple years.

After that, everything gets a little hazier. The 49ers signed Eric Pears to play the right tackle spot, but he was an extremely poor guard for the Buffalo Bills last year. It will be interesting to see how he does out at tackle.

Marcus Murphy and Brandon Thomas are unknown commodities and the 49ers will need them to play at a high level if they hope to have a good year offensively.

13. Detroit Lions

Best Player: Larry Warford

Player Who Needs To Improve: Travis Swanson

The Detroit Lions have one of the most underrated offensive lines in football and they are only getting better. As a unit, they protect Matt Stafford extremely well and they do a solid job of opening holes in the run game.

Larry Warford and Riley Reiff are two young players who have played extremely well in their short careers. Both should be able to grow together and help be the cornerstones have a great offensive line in the future.

The Lions signed Manny Ramirez to help solidify the interior of the offensive line, but he will be pushed by first-round pick Laken Tomlinson in training camp. No matter who wins that battle, the Lions will have a better offensive line from last year.

The Lions could be a team who could make a surprising run in the playoffs, which in large part will be thanks to an ever-improving offensive line.

 


About John Owning

John Owning

John Owning is a NFL columnist for Football Insiders. He has years of experience covering the NFL, NFL draft and NCAA football. John's work has been featured on the Bleacher Report and DraftBreakdown.com