Risers & Fallers

Free Agency: Offensive Line Risers and Fallers

By Jared Smola 11:03am EDT 3/31/20


Why did Todd Gurley’s yards per carry sink from 4.9 in 2018 to 3.8 last year?

The easy answer is that balky knee. But the truth is that the Rams’ offensive line was a big factor in Gurley’s decline.

After losing G Rodger Saffold and C John Sullivan last offseason, Los Angeles sunk from 5.49 Adjusted Line Yards created to 4.27, according to Football Outsiders. That 1.22-yard drop was even bigger than Gurley’s decline in yards per carry.

But you didn’t hear much about L.A.’s offensive line last year. O-line play continues to go overlooked by fantasy football players — and remains an avenue where we can gain an edge.

With 2020 free agency just about in the books, let’s run through the offensive lines that look better and those that look worse heading into the new season.


Risers

Los Angeles Chargers

It feels like the Chargers’ offensive line has been a problem forever. They made real strides toward fixing that this offseason.

First, Los Angeles got the better end of the Russell Okung for Trai Turner trade. The 31-year-old Okung appears to be a player in decline. He missed 10 games last season and graded out poorly in the other 6, especially in run blocking. Turner, on the other hand, is smack dab in his prime at 26. He’s ranked middle of the pack in Pro Football Focus’ grades the past 2 seasons but turned in a pair of top-15 finishes between 2015 and 2017.

The Chargers then filled the hole left by Okung’s departure by signing OT Bryan Bulaga. The long-time Packer has remained effective into his 30s, ranking 21st and then 13th among OTs in PFF’s overall grades the last 2 years.

With Bulaga and Turner joining C Mike Pouncey, the Chargers are at least solid at 3 of the 5 offensive line spots.

Cleveland Browns

Poor offensive line play was a big reason this offense was a disappointment last year. The new front office made fixing that a priority in free agency, handing OT Jack Conklin a 3-year, $42 million deal that makes him the league’s 8th highest paid tackle in average annual salary.

The 25-year-old was a big part of Tennessee’s success last year, finishing 5th in Pro Football Focus’ run-blocking grades among 60 qualifying OTs. Conklin ranked a solid 31st in PFF’s pass-blocking grades and 12th overall.

He projects as a big upgrade at RT over 2019 starter Chris Hubbard, who finished 58th among those 60 qualifying OTs in PFF’s overall grades.


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