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2014 Offensive Line Rankings

By Kevin English | Updated on Tue, 23 May 2023 . 1:27 PM EDT

Note: Designated rankings are from Pro Football Focus (PFF).

1. Dallas Cowboys

2013 Run-blocking rank: 2nd

2013 Pass-blocking rank: 9th

2014 Projected Lineup: LT Tyron Smith, LG Ronald Leary, C Travis Frederick, RG Zack Martin, RT Doug Free

This O-line used to be one to ridicule. Not anymore.

Smith headlines a dynamic unit. Despite entering his 4th season, he’s a stunningly young 23 years old. PFF ranked him as the #4 pass-blocking LT last year, boosted by the fact that he allowed just 1 sack. Free didn’t rank too far below him, as he rebounded from a horrendous 2012.

Martin arrived in the 1st round of May’s draft. Many draft insiders considered the Notre Dame product one of the “safest” players available. Loaded with athleticism, he profiles as a plug-‘n-play RG who can also shift to the perimeter.

Frederick sits to his left and showed last year that he has Pro Bowl potential. PFF ranked the 2013 first rounder as the NFL’s premier pass-blocking center. There’s room for improvement as a run-blocker, but ability is there for him to improve.

We saved the worst for last. 2013 was Leary’s first as an NFL starter – and it wasn’t pretty. Dallas signed experienced vet Uche Nwaneri in June, allowing for a potential camp competition. Leary’s the more imposing specimen, while Nwaneri has the established track record.

Draft Sharks Bottom Line

QB Tony Romo has a dreamy duo of OTs along with a premier young center. And with Martin in the mix, the Cowboys could showcase a consistent running game. (No, really.) New OC Scott Linehan brings a pass-happy attitude to Dallas, but there’s no doubting the backfield talent – or the success that this line had last year. Cowboy RBs combined to average a tasty 4.5 yards-per-carry in 2013.

2. Philadelphia Eagles

2013 Run-blocking rank: 1st

2013 Pass-blocking rank: 18th

2014 Projected Starters: LT Jason Peters, LG Evan Mathis, C Jason Kelce, RG Todd Herremans, RT Lane Johnson

Where’s the weakness? Peters, Mathis and Kelce all earned top-3 marks at their respective position. Johnson and Herremans excelled in run blocking, helping propel RB LeSean McCoy to an MVP-type season. Pro Football Focus slapped them with ugly pass blocking grades, however.

The Eagles scooped up Johnson with the 2013 first round pick. With athleticism off the charts, there's plenty of all-around upside here. The 24-year-old reportedly added weight to handle stronger DEs.

Draft Sharks Bottom Line

There’s no need to overanalyze this unit. While the interior is getting up there in age – Mathis is 32 while Herremans is 31 – they’re still playing at a high level. And as we saw last year, the O-line helped spring one of the most dynamic offenses of all time. This is the type of athletic group that’ll thrive in HC Chip Kelly’s up-tempo attack. It only helps that all 5 players gained valuable experience last year.

3. Denver Broncos
2013 Run-blocking rank: 8th

2013 Pass-blocking rank: 2nd

2014 Projected Lineup: LT Ryan Clady, LG Orlando Franklin, C Manny Ramirez/Will Montgomery, RG Louis Vasquez, RT Chris Clark

QB Peyton Manning’s influence on the O-line is enormous. Not only does he make a ton of calls at the line – and protection changes that go with them – he also gets rid of the ball quickly. That helps explain Denver’s top-tier pass-block rankings.

They earned such positive marks despite playing 14 weeks without LT Ryan Clady. He’s recovered smoothly from a foot injury, meaning he’ll be back on the blindside. Clark took Clady’s spot last year and surprisingly held his own, as the former undrafted free agent entered 2013 with just 6 pro starts under his belt. Denver added experienced rookie Michael Schofield in Round 3 of May’s draft, but Clark remains the favorite to start. Winston Justice – a career underachiever – is the dark horse candidate.

Franklin hasn’t played on the interior in the NFL, but he has experience there from his college days at Miami (FL). He’s a mauling blocker who team insiders believe will help the inside running game. Vasquez fits that description, too. Quietly, he finished as Pro Football Focus’ top ranked RG last season (and 3rd overall).

Ramirez also received elite grades from PFF last year. Denver signed former Washington C Will Montgomery in April, prompting speculation that he could start. We don’t buy it, though. Manning’s comfortable with Ramirez, and there was nothing wrong with the center’s play last year. Montgomery at least provides valuable depth.

Draft Sharks Bottom Line

Manning doesn’t need an All-Star O-line to produce rock star fantasy numbers. But that’s what he has. Clady’s return bodes well for the entire offense, while the interior should improve with Franklin moving to LG. You can doubt RB Montee Ball’s talent – just don’t cite his O-line as a negative.

4. San Francisco 49ers

2013 Run-blocking rank: 4th

2013 Pass-blocking rank: 10th

2014 Projected Lineup: LT Joe Staley, LG Mike Iupati, C Daniel Kilgore, RG Alex Boone, RT Anthony Davis

The 49ers pack 3 former 1st round picks in this unit. The left side contains 2, reading like a Pro Bowl roster. Staley’s posted back-to-back top 8 finishes in PFF’s OT rankings. Iupati excels in the run game, and while he suffered a broken fibula in January, it won’t keep him out of training camp.

Davis is the remaining guy with a 1st round pedigree. With a proven pass blocking prowess, he’s lived up to that billing.

Boone has held out of OTAs in hopes of landing a new contract. He’s a solid run blocker who struggles to string together strong pass-blocking performances. Expect him to report for camp.

Kilgore represents the lone fresh face. He’s a 2011 draft pick who’s primarily played a reserve role. USC rookie Marcus Martin might push for his job, but Kilgore is expected to receive every chance to succeed.

Draft Sharks Bottom Line

Four of the five starters have played together for 2 straight seasons. Kilgore, the outcast, might not approach a Pro Bowl level. But that’s not going to bring down an offense piloted by one the NFL’s most athletic QBs of all time. Kaepernick’s surrounded by the talent to take his game to the next level. He carries top-5 fantasy upside into 2014.

5. New Orleans Saints

2013 Run-blocking rank: 13th

2013 Pass-blocking rank: 8th

2014 Projected Lineup: LT Terron Armstead, LG Ben Grubbs, C Tim Lelito, RG Jahri Evans, RT Zach Strief

The Saints are absolutely loaded with talent. Armstead boats the raw tools to develop into a perennial Pro Bowler. At 6’4, 305, he also has TE-like movement skills, along with the quickness to contain speed rushers.

Grubbs and Evans have 7 Pro Bowls between them. Both guys earned top-20 marks from Pro Football Focus last season.

Strief finished as PFF’s top RT, turning in a career-year. He nearly left in free agency, but the Saints were able to lure him back. The 30-year-old is a key pass-protector for QB Drew Brees.

The real intrigue with this line lies at center. Lelito’s drawn rave reviews for his size (6’4, 315) and footwork, though he’s never played the position in the NFL. The team brought back C Jonathan Goodwin in free agency as a contingency plan. HC Sean Peyton has stressed competition, but our money is on Lelito.

Draft Sharks Bottom Line

This is one of our favorite O-lines league-wide. They should maximize the production of a potentially unpredictable New Orleans backfield. Brees, now 35, looks poised for another top tier fantasy season despite losing Darren Sproles and Lance Moore.

6. New England Patriots

2013 Run-blocking rank: 17th

2013 Pass-blocking rank: 17th

2014 Projected lineup: LT Nate Solder, LG Logan Mankins, C Ryan Wendell, RG Marcus Cannon/Josh Kline/Don Connolly/Jon Halapio, RT Sebastian Vollmer

Even though Vollmer missed 8 games with a broken leg, New England’s unit turned in a respectable showing last season. The good news is that he’s back to full health and ready to regain his starting role. When healthy, he’s a dominate 2-way blocker.

Those words ring true for Solder, too. Missing just 1 game with a concussion, he posted a career-year both in run and pass-blocking. The presence of Mankins provides the Pats with a core of 3 rock solid blockers.

The C and RG spots are worth monitoring closely. Wendell’s a 2-year starter for the Pats who struggled throughout 2013. A poor training camp could find him in a reserve role.

The RG spot doesn’t have a clear favorite. Connolly’s the incumbent, but he’s overpaid for his ability. Kline’s a 2nd-year player who’s already been rotated in with the 1s in OTAs. Halapio, a rookie, is another name to watch as a 43-game starter at Florida.

Draft Sharks Bottom Line

This unit sets up nicely for QB Tom Brady and the running game. With pass-protecting studs at both ends – plus an elite LG – there’s reason to invest in New England’s offense in fantasy. RB Stevan Ridley is the most intriguing piece for us, especially after LeGarrette Blount departed in free agency.

7. Minnesota Vikings

2013 Run-blocking rank: 6th

2013 Pass-blocking rank: 7th

2014 Projected Lineup: LT Matt Kalil, LG Charlie Johnson/David Yankey, C John Sullivan, RG Brandon Fusco, RT Phil Loadholt

Kalil cited a knee issue for his down 2013. We’ll buy the excuse, as he dropped 26 spots in PFF’s rankings from 2012 to 2013. After undergoing an offseason scope, the injury should be in the past by training camp.

He’s bookended by Loadholt, a supersized RT standing 6’8 and 343 pounds. He was the Vikings most consistent lineman last year, earning a negative PFF grade in just 3 of 15 matchups.

Sullivan completes the cores of this group. He’s one of the NFL’s top run-blocking centers, and he also packs the frame to hold up in pass protection.

Fusco’s a young, 2-year starter who’s exceeded expectations. In fact, PFF placed him 9th in their overall guard rankings, ahead of established vets like Ben Grubbs and Logan Mankins. Nobody’s firmly entrenched in the LG spot. Johnson’s an underwhelming veteran who lacks ideal size. Yankey was the Vikings’ 5th round pick. He started 40 games at Stanford but needs to bulk up to stop NFL defenders. Keep an eye on second-year man Jeff Baca, as he could enter the starting mix.

Draft Sharks Bottom Line

There’s really only one problem spot along this line. That places RB Adrian Peterson in a great position to produce another All-Pro season. Two stalwart OTs should help WR Cordarrelle Patterson beat defenses deep, too. This is definitely one of the league’s most talented units.

8. Tennessee Titans

2013 Run-blocking rank: 5th

2013 Pass-blocking rank: 27th

2014 Projected Lineup: LT Michael Roos, LG Andy Levitre, C Brian Schwenke, RG Chance Warmack, RT Michael Oher

The Titans used the 11th overall pick on Michigan OT Taylor Lewan. But barring a dynamite training camp, he’s expected to handle a swing role behind established OTs Michael Roos and Michael Oher. Roos is a complete blocker, but Oher’s game doesn’t live up to his name. PFF handed him disastrous run-blocking marks last season.

Schwenke could stand to improve, too. He allowed 8 QB hits last year – tops among centers. Fortunately, he’s a 23-year-old entering just his 2nd pro campaign. There’s room for growth from the former 4th round pick.

The rest of the line looks great. Levitre is a proven vet who showed excellent run-blocking ability in 2013. Warmack struggled to control his weight last year after being taken with the 10th overall pick. The elite young prospect should improve significantly in 2014.

Draft Sharks Bottom Line

We’re counting on improvement from 2 young pieces in the interior. Their college pedigrees indicate that it’s coming, though. While RB Chris Johnson liked to blame his O-line, truth is, this group oozes with talent. Overall, the Titans have one of our favorite young offenses – and the O-line certainly boosts their outlook. It’s a great environment for rookie rusher Bishop Sankey.

9. Chicago Bears

2013 Run-blocking rank: 3rd

2013 Pass-blocking rank: 29th

2014 Projected Lineup: LT Jermon Bushrod, LG Matt Slauson, C Roberto Garza, RG Kyle Long, RT Jordan Mills

The Bears rolled out just 1 starting lineup all year. Considering all the punishment these guys take, that’s pretty impressive.

It’s probably not repeatable in 2014. But when together, we know this unit is strong.

Yep – that pass-block ranking is deceiving. Sure, 3 starters (Bushrod, Mills and Long) earned negative grades from PFF. But Mills’ -32.5 grade brought them down (and safely placed him at the bottom of his position). Returning from a fractured foot bone, he’s the guy to keep a close eye on this season. HC Marc Trestman has already indicated that they’ll limit his reps in training camp.

Slauson hasn’t practiced this offseason as he recovers from shoulder surgery. It’s not a serious concern, however. Expect to see him hit the field for training camp. The former Jet hasn’t missed a game since his rookie year (2009).

Long lacked consistency in his rookie campaign, ultimately failing to produce like a 1st round pick. The fact that he played alongside the struggling Mills didn’t help. It’s also important to note that Long started playing the O-line in 2011 – and that was at a junior college. We can reasonably expect growth in 2014.

The Bears signed former Saint Brian de la Puente in free agency, but Garza is expected to stick in the lineup. At 35, age isn’t on the incumbent’s side. We can’t dispute the track record, though: Garza’s started 126 of a possible 128 games over the past 8 seasons.

Draft Sharks Bottom Line

Remember how dominant Chicago’s offense was in 2013? Prepare to see it again this fall. O-line cohesion – along with another offseason to digest Marc Trestman’s system – should yield plenty of fantasy goodness. We’re especially antsy to see QB Jay Cutler’s upside. 

10. Atlanta Falcons

2013 Run-blocking rank: 22nd

2013 Pass-blocking rank: 30th

2014 Projected Lineup: LT Sam Baker, LG Justin Blalock, C Joe Hawley, RG Jon Asamoah, RT Jake Matthews

Atlanta’s O-line didn’t do much to prevent a 4-12 record last season. One key injury certainly didn’t help.

Baker missed all but 4 games with a knee issue. He underwent platelet rich plasma treatment in an attempted to avoid surgery, but it wasn’t fully effective. He went under the knife in November, although he’s already participated in OTAs. While Baker struggled mightily in his limited 2013 action, he approached an elite level in 2012. At 29, he has bounce-back appeal.

Rookie Jake Matthews will man the RT spot. He brings 46 starts at Texas A&M to the pros, including 37 at RT. He excelled on Johnny Manziel’s blindside last year and projects as a steady pass-blocker from day 1.

The interior looks rock solid. Blalock has started 16 games for 6 straight years and still plays at a high level. Asamoah, formerly with Kansas City, arrived via free agency with the reputation of a mauling blocker. He adds some much-needed toughness to the line.

You could say the same for Hawley. After former 2nd rounder Peter Konz flopped as the anchor, Atlanta turned to the more nimble Hawley. His 7 starts were enough for the Falcons to hand him a 2-year deal worth $6.5 million, despite a 2012 suspension for PED use. He’s a virtual lock to start Week 1.

Draft Sharks Bottom Line

Quietly, Atlanta will field one of the league’s most improved O-lines this season. They added an NFL-ready RT and a proven RG. New position coach Mike Tice – a no-nonsense presence – should be a welcome addition, too. It’s excellent news for all the skill position players, particularly QB Matt Ryan and declining RB Steven Jackson. Among 16-game starters, only scramblers Russell Wilson and Geno Smith faced pressure on a greater percentage of their dropbacks.

11. Detroit Lions

2013 Run-blocking rank: 18th

2013 Pass-blocking rank: 3rd

2014 Projected lineup: LT Riley Reiff, LG Rob Sims, C Dominic Raiola, RG Larry Warford, RT LaAdrian Waddle

The right side of this group packs plenty of upside. Waddle was an undraftred free agent last year but surprised when injuries hammered the position. Appearing in 9 games, he earned positive marks across the board from PFF. Warford admittedly wore down in 2013, his rookie season. He still finished as PFF’s #4 overall guard.

Reiff produced mixed results in his first full season as a starter. He struggled in pass protection, but it wasn’t enough to cripple the unit. Despite a whopping 634 attempts from Matt Stafford, he absorbed just 23 sacks. Reiff enters just his 3rd season, so improvement is certainly possible.

Sims and Raiola are the veterans. Riola, now 35, returned on a 1-year deal after an elite 2013. Sims is the clear weak link of this group. He’s coming off undisclosed surgery, although he’s participated in OTAs. If Sims isn’t sharp in camp, a challenger could push for the job.

Draft Sharks Bottom Line

With 3 young building blocks, there’s a chance this line takes a step forward in 2014. Mix in Detroit’s offseason acquisitions – including the hiring of OC Joe Lombardi – and you have one of our favorite fantasy offenses.

12. Cleveland Browns

2013 Run-blocking rank: 21st

2013 Pass-blocking rank: 5th

2014 Projected Starters: LT Joe Thomas, LG Joel Bitonio, C Alex Mack, RG John Greco, RT Mitchell Schwartz

The Browns will shift to a zone-blocking scheme under new OC Kyle Shanahan. Linemen must be able to explode off the ball in order to maximize production. That’s just what the bookends provide – particularly Thomas. The 7x Pro Bowler is perhaps the league’s premier LT. Schwartz has caught the eye of onlookers in offseason workouts.

Cleveland invested a 2nd rounder in Bitonio. The rookie profiles as an impact starter despite less-than-ideal size (6’4, 305). He’s certainly in a dreamy spot, with Thomas to his left and another elite talent – Alex Mack – to his right.  Bitonio's recovering from a sprained ankle, but he told the Cleveland media that he'll be ready for training camp. 

Mack nearly left for Jacksonville after the Browns assigned him the seldom-used transition tag in March. He ultimately returned on a 5-year, $42 million deal. (Yep – he’s the NFL’s highest paid center.)

Greco isn’t a sexy name. The 29-year-old regressed after an impressive 2012. He’s also transitioning to RG after playing LG in 2013.

Draft Sharks Bottom Line

With potentially 4 difference-making starters, there’s plenty of upside here. Unfortunately, the Browns offense isn’t so loveable given Josh Gordon’s looming suspension. And we’re skeptical that RB Ben Tate will have a consistent role this fall. Still, the talent is here to create running lanes for whoever occupies the backfield.

13. Cincinnati Bengals

2013 Run-blocking rank: 12th

2013 Pass-blocking rank: 1st

2014 Projected Lineup: LT Andrew Whitworth, LG Clint Boling, Mike Pollak/C Russell Bodine, RG Kevin Zeitler, RT Andre Smith

Whitworth primarily played LG last season. But the departure of Anthony Collins – a 14-game blindside starter – permanently shifts Whitworth back to the outside. He was an annual top 10 finisher in PFFs rankings at LT prior to 2013. No concerns there.

The interior packs 2 big questions: who plays LG and C? Boling tore his ACL in November, and while he hasn’t practiced yet this offseason, the team is counting on a return for training camp.

A knee injury has sidelined Pollak – a career-long guard – in OTAs. The versatile veteran hopes to be fully healthy for camp. If he’s not, Bodine, a rookie from North Carolina, likely fills the hole. He’s taken the majority of 1st team snaps in his place.

Zeitler is a former 1st round pick with plenty of upside. He missed 4 games with a foot injury last season. Still, PFF gave him positive marks – especially in run-blocking. RT Andre Smith shed his overweight label this offseason. He proceeded to start all 16 games on the edge and finish as PFF’s #7 overall RT. He’s an eye-opening pass-blocker at 6’4, 335 pounds.

Draft Sharks Bottom Line

Injuries provide the storyline for this group. But it’s too early to be alarmed. The OTs are set in stone – a key for speedy edge RB Gio Bernard. And while the interior might struggle to open consistent holes, the plan to diversify Bernard’s touches helps trump those (potential) weak spots.

14. Houston Texans

2013 Run-blocking rank: 10th

2013 Pass-blocking rank: 28th

2014 Projected lineup: LT Duane Brown, LG Ben Jones, C Chris Myers, RG Brandon Brooks, RT Derek Newton

Here’s your usual Texan crew – short on household names yet strong on gamedays.

Brown’s the guy who immediately stands out. A finesse player with elite pass blocking skill, the 28-year-old has added a reported 20 pounds this offseason. He’s started at least 12 games for Houston for 6 straight years.

You’ll likely find Newton lined up opposite Brown come Week 1. But it’s not based off his 2013 performance. Newton drew the ire of Pro Football Focus, finishing as a bottom-5 OT across 16 games. Brennan Williams could steal his job if not for a pesky knee injury.

Jones assembled a pedestrian 2013, while Myers and Brooks provided positives from a disappointing season. All 3 guys could stand to improve in pass protection, but the latter 2 are rock solid in the run game.

Draft Sharks Bottom Line

Newton is our lone concern along this line. Entering just his 3rd starting season, however, he could make strides. Regardless, if RB Arian Foster avoids the injury bug, he’ll run behind a capable O-line. 1,500 total yards aren’t out of the question if everything breaks right.

15. Green Bay Packers

2013 Run-blocking rank: 29th

2013 Pass-blocking rank: 6th

2014 Projected lineup: LT David Bakhtiari, LG Josh Sitton, C- JC Tretter, RG T.J. Lang, RT Bryan Bulaga

It’s not a flashy bunch, but Aaron Rodgers’ protection shouldn’t be headache-educing in 2014.

Bakhtiari, a 2013 fourth round pick, holds the key to this group. His final PFF grade found him in the red, though he improved as last season went on. A mobile Rodgers allows some of the LT’s mistakes to be hidden.

Playing next to an upper-echelon LG helps. Sitton’s established as an elite pass protector, while he’s also the team’s top road grader. Lang represents a reliable complement on the other side.

Tretter’s training camp will be interesting to watch. He missed all of last season with a broken ankle. Now, he’s a 2nd-year player who played OT in college. 2014 rookie Corey Linsley might push him for the gig, but Tretter’s expected to get the first crack. Either way, Rodgers will handle snaps from his 4th center in as many years.

Bulaga’s coming off a torn ACL but boasts a 1st round pedigree. He’ll be a full go for training camp. If the 25-year-old falters, Green Bay has intriguing depth in Don Barclay and Derek Sherrod.

Draft Sharks Bottom Line

If Bulaga returns to his pre-injury form, center will be our only worrisome spot. Rodgers has played behind worst O-lines, though. And while we’d rather not see RB Eddie Lacy take unnecessary punishment, he has the tackle-breaking skill to overcome a shaky center. We remain high on the prospects of this proven offense.

16. Buffalo Bills

2013 Run-blocking rank: 24th

2013 Pass-blocking rank: 12th

2014 Projected Lineup: LT Cordy Glenn, LG Chris Williams, C Eric Wood, RG Kraig Urbik/Chris Hairston, RT Cyrus Kouandjio/Erik Pears

The Bills could have as many as 3 new starters this season. Williams is locked into the LG spot, as the former Bear inked a pricy 4-year deal in March. While he struggled mightily in 2013, the former 1st rounder possesses the size to open up rushing lanes.

Urbik and Hairston will battle for the other guard position. PFF ranked Urbik, a 16-game starter, 21st at his position last year. Apparently, though, the Bills aren’t satisfied, as Hairston has taken reps at guard in OTAs. At 6’6, 330 pounds, Hairston’s ability to play LT, RT and inside makes him an ideal reserve. He also missed all of 2013 due to an “undisclosed condition.”

Buffalo surely hopes to see their rookie 2nd rounder win the RT job. Kouandjio entered the draft with concerns regarding both knees. So far so good, however, and if the 6’7 mountain man continues to progress, he’ll likely beat out the incumbent. Pears crashed and burned last year, especially in run-blocking.

We have no concerns about the LT and C spots. Glenn’s earned the right to be called one of the game’s top young OTs. Wood appeared in 16 games last year – the first time he’s done so in 5 pro seasons. Gritty and nasty, he’s the glue that holds this unit together.

Draft Sharks Bottom Line

HC Doug Marrone’s up-tempo offense should help mask some of the potential issues along the right side. We don’t expect this group to tank, though. With an influx of talent at LG and RT – plus the continued development of Cordy Glenn – the pieces are here to field a fantasy friendly offense. RB C.J. Spiller stands to benefit the most in fantasy.

17. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

2013 Run-blocking rank: 28th

2013 Pass-blocking rank: 23rd

2014 Projected Lineup: LT Anthony Collins, LG Kadeem Edwards, C Evan Dietrich-Smith, RG Patrick Omameh, RT Demar Dotson

The Bucs replaced massive LT Donald Penn with Collins, a pass-blocking specialist. The move will be felt in the running game, but it’s not worth overreacting to. Dotson was one of PFF’s top overall RTs in 2013. At 6’9, 315 pounds, he’s one of the league’s most physically gifted OTs.

New C Evan Dietrich-Smith provides a run-blocking boost.  Veteran Carl Nicks – who played in just 2 games last year – was expected to provide stability at LG.  But a lingering toe injury forced him to retire on July 25th.  Rookie Kadeem Edwards took 1st team reps in his place during OTAs, but he'll face competition from a host of players in camp. 

Omameh is expected to plug the RG hole. An 2013 undrafted Michigan product, he’s known for his ability to grasp a number of O-line concepts. That NFL-ready mindset puts him in a great spot to start, especially when you consider the lackluster competition he faces (Oniel Cousins and Jamon Meredith).

Draft Sharks Bottom Line

Tampa Bay’s run blocking will garner our attention. Their potential struggle in that area only clouds RB Doug Martin’s outlook. The team’s already discussed lightening Martin’s load, so he’ll need to revert back to his 2012 efficiency to enter comfy RB1 range.

18. St. Louis Rams

2013 Run-blocking rank: 16th

2013 Pass-blocking rank: 13th

2014 Projected Lineup: LT Jake Long, LG Greg Robinson, C Scott Wells, RG Rodger Staffold, RT Joe Barksdale

Long suffered a torn ACL late last season. He’s roughly 6 months removed from surgery, and the team expects him to return “somewhere in the middle” of training camp.

Robinson arrived via the 2nd overall pick in May’s draft. He has dream size for a LT or RT, but he’ll kick inside to LG to begin his career. While the Auburn product is a bit raw, he projects as an immediate difference-maker.

Stafford’s spent most of his career at OT, but he’s expected to man RG this season. That could change if recent signing Davin Joseph works out. The former Pro Bowler hasn’t rebounded since a 2012 torn patellar tendon.

Wells looks to bounce back from a December fractured fibula. At 33, he’s just an average all-around blocker. Barksdale, meanwhile, is coming off a solid season. He’s an effective pass-blocker with a run-blocking game that lacks polish. Barksdale started 13 games at RT last season.

Draft Sharks Bottom Line

We expect the Rams to rank near the top of the league in rush attempts. The addition of Robinson only cements that belief. The Rams lack bona fide pass catchers, while they discovered a hidden gem in RB Zac Stacy last season. Besides, HC Jeff Fisher has always loved the run game. Stacy’s the clear winner here.

19. Baltimore Ravens

2013 Run-blocking rank: 27th

2013 Pass-blocking rank: 22nd

2014 Projected Lineup: LT Eugene Monroe, LG Kelechi Osemele, C Jeremy Zuttah, RG Marshal Yanda, RT Ricky Wagner

Baltimore’s O-line struggled throughout 2013, but they at least improved after trading for
Monroe in October. PFF gave him positive marks in each of his 11 starts with the Ravens. He returns as an excellent protector of QB Joe Flacco’s blindside.

Osemele’s reinsertion into the starting lineup should boost this group. Predictably, he struggled in the 7 games he was limited to before undergoing back surgery. The 6’5, 330-pound behemoth originally hurt himself weightlifting last offseason, but he’s expected to be a full go for training camp.

Zuttah came over from Tampa Bay in a March trade. The career-long Buc turned in a sub-par showing last year, but there’s no doubt he’s a more athletic option than 2013 starter Gino Gradkowski. He was PFF’s worst ranked C last season.

Yanda isn’t a guy to lose sleep over. Despite undergoing shoulder surgery last spring, he finished 16th at his position in PFF’s rankings. The 29-year-old finished 2nd in 2012.

RT is the spot to be concerned with. Wagner lacks ideal strength – he posted 20 reps of 225 at the 2013 Combine – while he played just 80 snaps last year. He’ll need to shine this summer to prevent the Ravens from finding fresh blood.

Draft Sharks Bottom Line

Overall, this is an improved unit. Full seasons from Monroe and Osemele would go a long way toward curing the Ravens’ run-blocking woes. And if the rest of the unit can hold their own, it’s easy to see the RBs significantly improving on their league-worst yards-per-attempt mark (3.1). The upgraded group certainly helps QB Joe Flacco, too. We’ll just pass on him as a dependable fantasy backup.

20. New York Jets

2013 Run-blocking rank: 31st

2013 Pass-blocking rank: 21st

2014 Projected Lineup: LT D’Brickashaw Ferguson, LG Brian Winters, C Nick Mangold, RG Willie Colon, RT Breno Giacomini

Colon is the mystery man along the Jets’ O-line. He’s yet to practice this offseason as he rehabs from a knee scope and a torn biceps. The fragile lineman should be ready for camp, but he’s a poor bet to make it through a full season healthy. Keep an eye on 2nd-year man Oday Aboushi as a possible replacement.

New York has a new RT in Giacomini. He’s solid all-around, although he doesn’t excel in any area. He’s a noticeable downgrade from 2013 RT Austin Howard.

Ferguson and Mangold are coming off their worst years in the NFL, and they were huge reasons why the Jets finished 31st in PFF’s pass-blocking grades. Still, both players have the ability and the pedigree to bounce back in a big way. Ferguson hasn’t missed a game since entering the NFL in 2006. Mangold’s missed just 2 over the same span.

PFF placed Winters squarely in the red as a run and pass blocker. He’ll enter training camp as a starter, but he’s probably on a short leash.

Draft Sharks Bottom Line

This unit really needs their veterans to rebound. Not only do they play critical positions (LT and C) but they also lack reliable assets around them. RB Chris Johnson criticized his O-line in Tennessee, and we could hear more of that in the Big Apple.

21. New York Giants

2013 Run-blocking rank: 18th

2013 Pass-blocking rank: 31st

2014 Projected Starters: LT Will Beatty, LG Geoff Schwartz, C JD Walton, RG Brandon Mosley, RT Justin Pugh

Beatty suffered a broken tibia in New York’s season finale. He’s now a 50/50 bet for training camp. It’s a tough break, as Beatty attempts to rebound from a brutal pass blocking performance.

The Giants added a talented piece in Schwartz. The former Chief graded out as a top 10 guard across 12 appearances last season. He'll need to bring his 'A' game again in 2014, as veteran Chris Snee retired in July. Mosley figures to fill the void, although the 25-year-old has just 1 career start.

Pugh needed to add strength after getting bullied last season. He’s done just that this offseason, and we’ll see how it translates once the pads come on.

Walton is the tentative favorite to start in the middle. But it’s far from a lock. He missed all of 2013 with reoccurring ankle issues, while the Giants used a 2nd round pick on C Weston Richburg. He’s NFL-ready after starting 50 games at Colorado State.

Draft Sharks Bottom Line

The Giants added some key pieces to a talent-deprived O-line. We’re optimistic about their influence on new workhorse RB Rashad Jennings, a guy who’s excelled despite poor O-line play (most recently in Oakland). Pass blocking is another issue, especially when you’re protecting an immobile Eli Manning. New OC Ben McAdoo’s quick-strike offense should certainly help.

22. Washington Redskins

2013 Run-blocking rank: 9th

2013 Pass-blocking rank: 4th

2014 Projected lineup: LT Trent Williams, LG Shawn Lauvao, C Kory Lichtensteiger, RG Chris Chester/Spencer Long, RT Tyler Polumbus

Williams is the lone showstopper here. PFF ranked him atop a competitive OT crop last year, thanks in large part to a dominant pass-blocking performance.

You might think rookie OT Morgan Moses would push Polumbus for the starting gig this summer. And he might. But for now, HC Jay Gruden concedes that the newcomer has “a ways to go.” Polumbus struggled to create running lanes in 2013, though he fared well in pass-protection.

Chester’s roster spot was called into question after May’s draft. Long, a 3rd round pick, has experience at RG and draws praise for his brute strength. Gruden’s in pursuit of power linemen, a term we wouldn’t use to describe Chester. He was rag-dolled as a pass-blocker last season.

Lauvao struggled at RG for the Browns last season. Lichtensteiger hasn’t played center since his college days, but the coaching staff believes he’s the best fit there. He was a league-average LG last in 2013.

Draft Sharks Bottom Line

We don’t anticipate any major issues here. Still, the interior will be worth monitoring, as the ‘Skins might trot out a rookie and 2 guys changing positions. QB Robert Griffin’s scrambling ability certainly helps cover up any lapses. A beefy unit also meshes well with RB Alfred Morris’ downhill style.

23. Kansas City Chiefs

2013 Run-blocking rank: 11th

2013 Pass-blocking rank: 15th

2014 Projected lineup: LT Eric Fisher, LG Jeff Allen, C Rodney Hudson, RG Rishaw Johnson, RT Donald Stephenson

The Chiefs lost 3 crucial pieces this offseason: LT Branden Albert, G Geoff Schwartz and G Jon Asamoah.

A lot of the burden falls on Fisher, last year’s top pick. He handled RT last year and struggled to establish himself. Now, he’s coming off sports hernia surgery and shifting to the left side. It’s the position he played at Central Michigan, but that doesn’t mean he’ll seamlessly replace Albert. The youngster will be under the microscope in camp.

Allen and Hudson both had their issues in run-blocking last year. Hudson at least escaped the red in PFF’s grades in pass protection. Allen’s woes continued in that area, though.

Johnson – a 2013 practice squad player and former undrafted free agent – started just 1 game last year. He’s not a lock to start, but the Chiefs are reportedly high on his raw tools. There’s a chance free agent addition Jeff Linkenbach pushes him for the RG job.

Nobody’s stealing Stephenson’s gig, despite a lack luster 2013. Injuries forced him to play both tackle spots last year, but he should benefit from sticking on the right side.

Draft Sharks Bottom Line

An O-line in transition isn’t enough for us to serious downgrade RB Jamaal Charles. We’re not taking him 1st overall in fantasy drafts, though. And the O-line is one reason why. We’ll keep a keen eye on this unit throughout the summer.

24. Arizona Cardinals

2013 Run-blocking rank: 26th

2013 Pass-blocking rank: 32nd

2014 Projected lineup: LT Jared Veldheer, LG Jonathan Cooper, C Lyle Sendlein, RG Earl Watford /Paul Fanaika, RT Bobby Massie/Bradley Sowell/Nate Potter

Arizona inked Veldheer to a lucrative 5-year deal early in free agency. At 6’8, 320 pounds, he’s one of the NFL’s most imposing linemen. His technique is sound, too. Before a triceps injury limited him to 5 games last year, PFF handed Veldheer a top 10 pass-blocking grade in 2012. We have little doubt that he’ll provide a monster upgrade on last year’s revolving door.

RT is a messy spot. Massie enters training camp as the favorite to start, but that’s not a lock. He struggled with mental errors last year and played just 55 snaps. The light might be coming on in his 3rd NFL season, though.

"When you don't notice a guy [coming free off the edge], that's a good thing," QB Carson Palmer said in OTAs. That's what I've noticed with Bobby. And that's exactly what you want from tackles."

The true test comes in training camp when the pads come on. But Massie is clearly the most athletic option here. Sowell’s 14 games (12 at LT, 2 at RT) saw him finish as PFF’s worst overall OT. Potter has the ability to play multiple positions, making a utility role his best bet.

Cooper was a blue chip prospect coming out of North Carolina last spring. But a broken leg ended his season in August. While he participated in OTAs, HC Bruce Arians stopped short of deeming him 100%. In fact, Arians said it was “obvious” Cooper was “not the athlete he was last year at this time – and I wouldn’t expect him to be.” The 24-year-old should be at full health for training camp, so we’ll evaluate his play then.

Sendlein isn’t a difference-maker, but he’s not a liability, either. RG lacks stability, as Fanaika and Watford will battle for the gig. Fanaika played all 16 games at the position last year, finishing as PFF’s 6th worst G. Watford, a 2013 fourth round pick, didn’t appear in a single game last year. As with many young linemen, he struggled to grasp the mental side of the position. Arizona’s likely pulling for the small school product to earn the starting job entering year 2.

Draft Sharks Bottom Line

The right side of the line carries question marks. And despite Cooper’s pedigree, there’s no telling how he responds to a full season off the field. Really, though, there’s nowhere to go but up for this unit. And remember, fantasy assets like Carson Palmer and Andre Ellington weren’t affected by such a poor unit last year. With an improved bunch, we remain optimistic about the prospects of a Bruce Arians-led attack.

25. Seattle Seahawks

2013 Run-blocking rank: 25th

2013 Pass-blocking rank: 20th

2014 Projected Lineup: LT Russell Okung, LG James Carpenter, C Max Unger, RG JR Sweezy, RT Michael Bowie

This unit contains some durability concerns. Okung averages 5 missed games through 4 seasons and missed a career-high 8 contests in 2013. He’s now coming off foot surgery that’ll likely limit him in training camp.

Bowie, 22, bookends the veteran. He made 9 starts last year and fared well in run blocking. He’ll be pushed by rookie 2nd rounder Justin Britt. However, GM John Schneider already said Bowie gets the first crack at starting.

Unger missed 3 games last year with a variety of injuries, including a concussion. He posted elite marks from PFF in 2012 before regressing last season. Sweezy, a converted D-lineman, earned poor grades across the board. Carpenter tore his ACL in 2011 and hasn’t assembled a consistent season yet. The former 1st rounder has also struggled keeping his weight in check.

Draft Sharks Bottom Line

This isn’t a sexy group by any means. And that hurts the outlook of aging power back Marshawn Lynch. Seattle’s among the best in the league at developing and evaluating talent, though. We’re confident that they’ll assemble the best 5 players, allowing the offense to remain efficient.

26. Miami Dolphins

2013 Run-blocking rank: 11th

2013 Pass-blocking rank: 30th

2014 Projected lineup: LT Branden Albert, LG Dallas Thomas/Billy Turner, C Mike Pouncey, RG Shelly Smith, RT Ja’Wuan James

Miami’s unit looked poised to improve on their abysmal 2013 showing. Then, 1 key injury struck.

Pouncey, arguably the team’s most valuable lineman, will miss at least 3 months following hip surgery. He’s a clear candidate for the PUP, keeping him out for the first 6 games. Former undrafted free agent Sam Brenner is the leading internal candidate to take Pouncey’s place. It’s a clear-cut downgrade.

Miami’s likely to start a few other inexperienced players. Smith enters his age 27 season with just 8 career starts. Turner’s a rookie 3rd rounder, while Thomas struggled to see the field last season coming off shoulder surgery. Miami selected Thomas in Round 2 last year.

James was a slight surprise in Round 1 of May’s draft. He’s an athletic pass-blocker, but there’s certainly room for improvement in the run game. The former Tennessee Volunteer is a polished product having started 49 games at RT.

Draft Sharks Bottom Line

While the loss of Pouncey stings, this line still looks better than the 2013 version. They’ll enter Week 1 with 5 new starters – a positive considering the old bunch allowed a ridiculous 58 sacks. Sure, continuity might be an issue. But the arrival of new OC Bill Lazor should at least eliminate the offense’s element of predictability. QB Ryan Tannehill remains an upside fantasy backup, while the running game can only improve on last year’s disaster. 

27. Pittsburgh Steelers

2013 Run-blocking rank: 20th

2013 Pass-blocking rank: 14th

2014 Projected Starters: LT Kelvin Beachum, LG Ramon Foster, C Maurkice Pouncey, RG David DeCastro, RT Marcus Gilbert

Pittsburgh features one established star in Pouncey and a hopeful one in DeCastro. Pouncey tore his ACL early in Week 1 last September. He’s already made a full recovery, however. Descastro rebounded nicely after a knee injury derailed his 2012 season. PFF ranked former top guard prospect 14th among his position.

Beachum makes us a bit uneasy. He held his own in pass protection last year, but he lost too many battles in the run game. At an undersized 6’3, 304, that’s not a huge shocker.

Foster is a reliable veteran, while Gilbert still has some maturing to do. Despite enormous size, he struggled in the ground game last season.

Draft Sharks Bottom Line

This isn’t an ideal unit for RB Le’Veon Bell to run behind. They deserve some blame after the rookie rusher posted just 3.5 yards-per-carry mark last year. But the arrival of O-line guru Mike Munchak – plus the return of five 2013 Steelers – bodes well for their improvement. QB Ben Roethlisberger could seemingly play behind just 4 O-linemen … and still buy enough time to deliver balls downfield.

28. San Diego Chargers

2013 Run-blocking rank: 15th

2013 Pass-blocking rank: 26th

2014 Projected Starters: LT King Dunlap, LG Chad Rinehart, C Nick Hardwick, RG Jeromey Clary/Chris Watt, RT D.J. Fluker

Dunlap missed 5 games due to 3 separate concussions. PFF handed him favorable pass-blocking marks, but he was far from elite. The head injuries will certainly be worth monitoring for the behemoth blocker.

Rinehart struggled in 11 appearances last season, especially in run blocking. Clary held his own across the same number of games, but he’s recovering from hip and shoulder surgeries. A prohibitive salary means that Watt, a rookie 3rd rounder, could steal his starting spot. A 3-year starter, Watt’s regarded as a pro-ready option.

Fluker made 15 starts during his rookie campaign –11 at RT and 4 at LT. A massive bookend to Dunlap, Fluker showed flashes of solid play on the right side. As a 23-year-old with his physical skill set, we can reasonably expect some improvement entering Year 2.

Hardwick is the most experienced lineman. He’ll enter his 11th year in San Diego with his best ball behind him, though he’s still valuable as a veteran leader.

Draft Sharks Bottom Line

The Bolts covered up their lack of O-line talent by throwing shorter passes last year. We’ll see more of that this year. But it’s tough to see QB Philip Rivers repeating his 2013 success – same for RB Ryan Mathews. This group remains average beyond the tackle spots.

29. Indianapolis Colts

2013 Run-blocking rank: 23rd

2013 Pass-blocking rank: 25th

2014 Projected lineup: LT Anthony Castonzo, LG Jack Mewhort/Donald Thomas, C Khaled Holmes, RG Hugh Thornton/Lance Louis, RT Gosder Cherilus

The Colts failed to significantly upgrade a mediocre unit this offseason. Castonzo and Cherilus are 2 unheralded edge players who excel in pass blocking. Both players actually excelled in the run game last year, too.

Beyond them, it’s a treacherous bunch. Holmes played just 13 snaps at center last year and lacks ideal strength. Thomas is coming off a quad injury that kept him out of all but 2 games last year. It’s still a concern as we inch toward training camp.  Mewhort, a rookie 2nd round pick, carries a massive frame and might be the front-runner to start Week 1.

Per PFF, Thornton was among the NFL’s worst pass blocking guards in 2013. The Colts signed G Lance Louis as veteran competition. He carries risk himself, though, as he tore his ACL 2 seasons ago. Louis hasn’t appeared in a game since 2012.

Draft Sharks Bottom Line

Trent Richardson carries low-end RB2 appeal on volume alone. But if he plays like he did last year, this unit’s unlikely to bail him out. There’s simply not a single difference-making run blocker on the line. Meanwhile, QB Andrew Luck can take comfort in his terrific OT duo. He’s a sure-fire QB1 with a great shot at eclipsing his 570 pass attempts from 2013.

30. Oakland Raiders

2013 Run-blocking rank: 29th

2013 Pass-blocking rank: 24th

2014 Projected Starters: LT Donald Penn, LG Khalif Barnes, C Stefen Wisniewski, RG Austin Howard, RT Menelik Watson

The Raiders used free agency to fill 2 holes. Penn’s locked in on QB Matt Schaub’s blindside after signing a 2-year deal. He’s perhaps oversized for an OT, allowing speed rushers to give him fits. PFF gave Penn a negative pass-blocking grade last year, although he escaped the red as a run blocker.

Howard stabilized the Jets’ RT spot last year, but the Raiders are trying him on the inside. That affords Watson, a 2nd-year player, a chance to slide into his natural RT position. Watson flopped across 5 appearances last year, but he did show some progress late in the season.

Barnes is a career-long underachiever who shouldn’t be guaranteed a job. He flipped between tackle and guard last year and failed at both spots. Oakland at least has a reliable anchor. Wisniewski finished as PFF’s 10th ranked center.

Draft Sharks Bottom Line

We might avoid Oakland’s low upside passing game altogether. A timeshare figures to limit the value of RBs Maurice Jones-Drew and Darren McFadden, while a leaky O-line won’t help. This remains an unreliable unit.

31. Jacksonville Jaguars

2013 Run-blocking rank: 32nd

2013 Pass-blocking rank: 19th

2014 Projected lineup: LT Luke Joeckel, LG Zane Beadles, C Mike Brewster, RG Brandon Linder, RT Austin Pasztor

Joeckel will play the rest of his career with 2 wires and a plate inside the ankle he broke last October. He’s appeared in OTAs, albeit in a limited manner. The 2nd overall pick in last year’s draft has the overall skill set to take a huge leap forward. Health is the obvious key.

The Jags lured Beadles away from Denver with a lucrative free agent deal. With 62 starts, he becomes Jacksonville’s most experienced starter. There’s plenty of ability here, but consistency is something to watch.

Brewster, Linder and Pasztor don’t inspire much confidence. Brewster lacks ideal strength and hasn’t played a regular season game at center. Linder is a rookie 3rd rounder with the ability to play guard or tackle. He’s simply not a finished product, though.

Pasztor – who’s coming off shoulder surgery – posted solid pass-blocking marks. But he bombed in the run game. Perhaps most surprisingly, he recorded his best tape against Houston’s J.J. Watt. We’ll see if the 23-year-old can develop a well-rounded game.

Draft Sharks Bottom Line

New Jags RB Toby Gerhart won’t run behind a loaded bunch. Volume should support his fantasy cause, however. And the presence of massive TE Marcedes Lewis – a rock solid run-blocker – at least helps open holes on the edge. Invest in the Jags’ passing game at your own risk.

32. Carolina Panthers

2013 Run-blocking rank: 7th

2013 Pass-blocking rank: 11th

2014 Projected Lineup: LT Byron Bell, LG Amini Silatolu, C Ryan Kalil, RG Trai Turner/Chris Scott, RT Nate Chandler

Some O-lines stink. Others suck. And then … there’s the mess that Carolina will trout out.

We know that the game’s not played on paper. But the Panthers will need several players to step up this season.

There’s really only spot we’re comfy with – and that’s the anchor, Kalil. He excels as a run-blocker and holds his own in pass protection.

The tackle spots are a mess following the retirement of Jordan Gross. Carolina enters camp likely to start Bell and Chandler on the outside, but which spot they’ll occupy is a mystery. We slot Bell in as the LT as he played that position in college. Plus, Chandler simply doesn’t have the frame to protect the blindside of QB Cam Newton.

Silatolu tore his ACL in Week 5 of last season. He’s expected to be ready for camp, but it’s not uncommon for 315-pounders to struggle upon returning from a serious operation. Turner’s an intriguing rookie prospect with upside. Scott graded out poorly last year and has recently drawn criticism for his conditioning.

Draft Sharks Bottom Line

Besides a lousy WR corps, Newton also must deal with an unproven O-line. It’s a risky proposition for a franchise passer coming off ankle surgery. The lack of firepower up front only makes it easier to let your league mates invest in the untrustworthy 1-2 punch of DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. We’re only drafting them at a distinct discount. 

Kevin English Author Image
Kevin English, Senior Analyst
Kevin brings 15 years of experience as a fantasy analyst and mid-stakes competitor across various formats (redraft, best ball, dynasty, DFS). His work has been featured on The Mercury News, Rotoworld, and FantasyPros.
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