NFL

Ranking NFL Offensive Lines: Who’s Below-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 volume and now we’re moving on to those that are a small step above.

27. Kansas City Chiefs

Best Player: Ben Grubbs

Player Who Needs To Improve: Eric Fisher

The Kansas City Chiefs lost their best offensive lineman from a year ago, Rodney Hudson, and things are not looking great for this upcoming year. They drafted a solid interior offensive lineman in Mitch Morse, but he will not be an improvement over Hudson from last year.

The Chiefs brought in Ben Grubbs who is a solid guard and he could be a stabilizing force on the interior offensive line. The thing the Chiefs really need is for Eric Fisher to develop in the left tackle that they thought they were getting when they took him No. 1 overall. Fisher has been awful since entering the NFL as he hasn’t been able to deal with the power of opposing defensive ends.

If Fisher can take the next step and Morse can play well, this Chiefs offensive line could be decent, but it’s hard to bet on either of those two wishes coming true.

 

26. Miami Dolphins

Best Player: Brandon Albert

Player Who Needs To Improve: Ju’Wuan James

The Miami Dolphins have a young and largely untested offensive line that could be very good or very bad. Contrary to popular opinion, Mike Pouncey is now a Pro-Bowl caliber center. If you were basing it off last year alone, you would say he is actually a below-average center.

Brandon Albert is easily the best player on the offensive line as he has proved to be a consistent left tackle who can take away a team’s best pass-rusher. Ju’Wuan James showed glimpses of what he can become, but he still needs to get better with his footwork and hand placement in pass protection and in the run game.

The Dolphins need Jamil Douglas to overtake Dallas Thomas at the left guard spot as Thomas is woefully inept when asked to play significant time.

The Dolphins offensive line is young and full of inexperience; therefore, you should expect a lot of up and downs throughout the season for them.

 

25. Minnesota Vikings

Best Player: John Sullivan

Player Who Needs To Improve: Matt Kalil

 

Teddy Bridgewater is one of, if not the best young quarterback in the NFL today; therefore, it is paramount that Minnesota Vikings protect him adequately. We have seen many good young quarterbacks spoiled because they were battered and beaten because of poor offensive line play.

If the Vikings don’t get significant improvement from their offensive line in 2015, Bridgewater may have his talent wasted because he wasn’t protected well enough. Matt Kalil has been a huge bust and the Vikings really need him to take the next step. T.J. Clemmings has a ton of potential, but he is still a rookie.

The one good player on the offensive line is center John Sullivan. He is a smart and savvy veteran who will always be in the right position. Phil Loadholt is a very up and down player who can be very good one week but very poor the next.

The Vikings haven’t done an adequate job of acquiring talent for the offensive line and that may rear its head this season.

24. Carolina Panthers

Best Player: Trai Turner

Player Who Needs To Improve: Michael Oher

 

The Carolina Panthers have a very solid interior offensive line with Trai Turner, Ryan Kalil and Andrew Norwell. Turner is one of the best young guards in the game as he proved to be powerful and technically sound throughout his rookie year. Norwell is a very underrated guard and Kalil is an above-average center who will carry out his responsibilities well.

Nonetheless, the Panthers have gotten putrid play from their offensive tackles in recent history. Cam Newton has had to deal with a ton of pressure off the edge and it has limited his ability to produce at a high level. The Panthers drafted Daryl Williams, a powerful right tackle who has the potential to be a solid player in the future. Michael Oher is a player that the Panthers really need to step in and become a solidifying force for the offensive line as a whole.

If the Panthers can even get adequate play from their tackles, their offense could improve a ton in 2015.

 

23. New York Giants

Best Player: Geoff Schwartz (Would be William Beatty if not for an injury)

Player Who Needs To Improve: Weston Richburg

 

The New York Giants could be a team that challenges for the NFC East crown; however, a lot of that hinges on how well their offensive line plays after a woeful 2014 campaign. At the moment, things are not looking great as their best player, William Beatty, tore his pectoral muscle and will be out a significant amount of time.

This means that first-round pick Ereck Flowers will likely be the day-one starter at left tackle, which should be terrifying for Giants fans. Flowers isn’t ready to consistently face NFL defensive ends and he will likely need a ton of help on the edge.

Geoff Schwartz is a very good veteran who will not make many mistakes. Weston Richburg needs to improve significantly from his rookie year as he struggled mightily on the interior of the offensive line.

For the Giants to make the playoffs they will need their offensive line to overachieve in 2015, which is a risky proposition to make.

 


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