The 6 Most Impactful Offensive Lines
Yesterday, we presented the data on O-line play and its correlation to fantasy production.
Today, we’re looking at which 2021 units we can trust — and which ones with the most to prove.
* Note: Players' Pro Football Focus ranks are based off a minimum of 100 pass-blocking or run-blocking snaps.
Production-Boosting Offensive Lines
2020 PFF run-blocking rank: 1st
2020 PFF pass-blocking rank: 1st
Projected starters: LT Jedrick Wills, LG Joel Bitonio, C J.C. Tretter, RG Wyatt Teller, RT Jack
Credit OL coach Bill Callahan for bringing this unit together over a virtual offseason.
Most impressively, he aided Wills’ transition from college RT to pro LT. His 79.4 PFF pass-blocking grade ranked 22nd among 95 qualifying OTs (and 2nd among rookies). The 10th overall selection,
With all 5 starters returning,
Los Angeles Chargers
2020 PFF run-blocking rank: 32nd
2020 PFF pass-blocking rank: 30th
Projected starters: LT Rashawn
L.A. wisely overhauled its O-line, opting for 4 new starters alongside Bulaga.
Feiler came over from Pittsburgh on a 3-year, $21 million deal with $14.5 million guaranteed. A 6’6, 330-pounder with nearly 2,700 career snaps, Feiler projects as a clear upgrade on Forrest Lamp (now a reserve in Buffalo).
Linsley joined the squad on an even pricier deal: 5 years, $62.5 million, with $25 million guaranteed. A 1st-time All-Pro last year, Linsley graded as a top-5 run and pass-blocker.
Aboushi enters year 8 on his 6th team. He’s never been able to retain a starting role over 16 games, so he may be on thin ice. Aboushi's 1-year deal netted just $1.6 million.
Bulaga, now 32, missed 6 games last year with back and foot injuries. When healthy, he's a starting-quality RT. But 2020 turned up his lowest run-blocking grade since 2017 and his lowest pass-blocking grade since 2012.
All in all, it’s a net positive for
2020 PFF run-blocking rank: 17th
2020 PFF pass-blocking rank: 16th
Projected starters: LT
So you know health is key here.
When together, this unit looks strong. We’ll keep an eye on the LT spot, where Mailata -- a pillar at 6'8, 346 pounds, and a rugby player until 2018 -- looks to hold off former 1st-rounder Andre Dillard. Dillard is behind after missing all of last season with a torn biceps.
Even if this unit struggles, it’s important to remember that HC Nick Sirianni’s offense plans to utilize more quick passing.
Interestingly, the Colts (where Sirianni worked as OC) and the Chargers (where new
With guys like
Production-Sapping Offensive Lines
2020 PFF run-blocking rank: 21st
2020 PFF pass-blocking rank: 27th
Projected starters: LT Jonah
Reiff, 32, remained a starting caliber player in 2020. But the former Viking and Lion will transition from LT to RT after playing on the right only once across 9 seasons (2016).
Carmen, a Round 3 rookie, projects along the interior after playing LT at Clemson. He’s huge at 6’5, 335 pounds, but he’s unlikely an impact player right away.
New York Giants
2020 PFF run-blocking rank: 23rd
2020 PFF pass-blocking rank: 32nd
Projected starters: LT Andrew
There’s nowhere to go but up on the pass-blocking side. In addition to the ugly PFF rank, the Giants ranked dead last in ESPN’s pass block win rate metric (46%). For comparison,
So it’s no wonder
Now, they’ll bank on returning youth for improvement, with all 5 starters at age 26 or younger. Getting more out of
If the offseason theme continues, we’ll see how Hernandez transitions to RG. He’s played all 2,618 snaps as a pro on the left side. A clean prospect coming out of UTEP, 2021 is something of a make-or-break season.
It's a tall task overall for first-time OL coach Rob Sale — the OC/OL coach at Louisiana Lafayette from 2018-2020. He’ll look for continuity after the team shuffled through a pair of OL coaches last fall (Marc Colombo/Dave DeGuglielmo).
One name not listed above: Nate Soldier. The long-time Patriot enters the 2021 season with 127 career starts. He missed all of 2020 as a COVID opt-out and struggled in 2019, making him a better fit as a reserve. The 33-year-old ranked 71st out of 87 OTs in PFF run-blocking grade; 53rd among 92 OTs in pass-blocking.
The hope is that Peart (6’7, 318 pounds with elite arm length) can take a step forward as a 2nd-year Round 3 pick.
Clearly, there’s a lot that needs to go right forwho may be limited come September.
2020 PFF run-blocking rank: 31st
2020 PFF pass-blocking rank: 4th
Projected starters: LT Chuks Okorafor, LG Kevin Dotson, C J.C. Hassenauer, RG Trai
Pittsburgh’s O-line won’t automatically bust because of inexperience. But there’s no doubt it’s the unit with the most to prove.
They’ve lost 4 veteran starters: Alejandro Villanueva, Matt Feiler, David DeCastro and Maurkice Pouncey. Okorafor is the only returner, and he’s making the tough transition from RT to LT.
Banner brings stunning size (6’8, 335 lbs.) but is coming off a Week 1 torn ACL. So he’s a 4th-year player with only 302 career snaps.
A fixture on Carolina’s O-line from 2015-2019,
Elsewhere, Hassenauer will be pushed by B.J. Finney and rookie Kendrick
It’s a lot to digest, especially with a 1st-year OL coach (Adrian Klemm) joining the squad. And it's certainly not an ideal situation for 39-year-old
As for320 projected touches would have ranked 3rd among RBs last season.
Honorable Mention: Carolina Panthers, Chicago Bears, Jacksonville Jaguars, Las Vegas Raiders, Miami Dolphins