Ranking NFL’s top 15 offensive lines heading into
2018 – (Yardbarker)
More so than any other position outside of quarterback, a team’s ability to throw out an elite offensive line has led to success throughout the NFL.
From the Los Angeles Chargers, Indianapolis Colts and Oakland Raiders exhausting a ton of capital on this position to other teams that have lucked out to an extent, we check in on the top-15 offensive lines heading into the 2018 NFL season.
1. Los Angeles Chargers
Los Angeles offensive tackle Russell Okung leads the charge.
Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
With that said, we can’t take anything away from a group spearheaded by veteran left tackle Russell Okung and a group of youngsters, including Dan Feeney and Forrest Lamp. Last season saw Rivers sacked a grand total of 18 times on 593 dropbacks. It represented the lowest sack rate in the league. Meanwhile, Pro Bowl running back Melvin Gordon tallied nearly 1,600 total yards out of the backfield. Now that the Chargers have added three-time Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey, this unit heads into the 2018 season as the NFL’s best.
Dak Prescott has enjoyed the luxury of being protected by Zack Martin.
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Don’t expect this to be the case again in 2018. Smith is apparently 100 percent healthy and ready to return to his rightful place as the game’s best left tackle. Dallas just handed guard Zack Martin the largest contract for a player at his position in NFL history. Meanwhile, Travis Frederick and La’el Collins continue to act as reinforcements. Adding former Texas left tackle Connor Williams in the second round of April’s draft will also help in 2018.
Apr 26, 2018; Arlington, TX, USA; Kolton Miller (UCLA) with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell after being selected as the number fifteen overall pick to the Oakland Raiders in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft at AT&T Stadium.
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Anchored by Penn, the Raiders’ offensive line has yielded an average of 18 sacks of Derek Carr over the past two seasons. It hasn’t come without a huge investment elsewhere, as guards Kelechi Osemele and Gabe Jackson are among the highest paid at their position — accounting for a combined cap hit of $21 million this coming season. It’s this type of focus on the offensive line that has the Raiders heading into the 2018 season with one of the best units in the game.
November 26, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) celebrates with offensive tackle Terron Armstead (72) after running back Alvin Kamara (41) scores a touchdown against the Los Angeles Rams during the first half at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Certainly, the retirement of veteran offensive lineman Zach Strief will hurt. But New Orleans still has the bodies along this unit to dominate in 2018. That starts with all-everything left tackle Terron Armstead and extends to the interior of the line with Andrus Peat and Larry Warford.
Sep 24, 2017; London, United Kingdom; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles (5) prepares to take the snap from center Brandon Linder (65) during a NFL International Series game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Wembley Stadium. The Jaguars defeated the Ravens 44-7.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Helping matters here is the fact that Jacksonville has one of the best centers in the game, the recently extended Brandon Linder. It also doled out what was then the largest contract in the history of the league for a guard, signing Andrew Norwell from Carolina to a five-year, $66.5 million deal. This unit is going to be a force to reckon with in 2018. That’s for sure.
Oct 22, 2017; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) makes a call at the line by tackle Alejandro Villanueva (78) in the first quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals at Heinz Field.
Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports
Outside of Villanueva, the likes of Maurkice Pouncey and David DeCastro continue to open up holes for all-everything running back Le’Veon Bell. They’re the primary reasons he’s been able to put up 3,830 total yards over the past two seasons. Realistically, he wouldn’t have come close to being this productive without the big men up front.
Los Angeles offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth (77) is one of many big free agents the Rams have been able to lure.
Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports
More to the point. The big men up front played a huge role in Todd Gurley’s ascension from enigmatic running back to NFL Offensive Player of the Year last season. If it weren’t for this unit, there’s no way Gurley would have come close to the near 2,100 total yards and 19 scores he put up last season.
The Eagles’ Super Bowl-winning offensive line can be even stronger in 2018 if Jason Peters can stay healthy.
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
While Philadelphia’s offensive line did yield 36 sacks last season, that came with Peters missing nine games to injury. The reliance on an overmatched Halapoulivaati Vaitai didn’t help matters there. Look for an even better performance from a healthy Eagles offensive line in 2018.
Aug 26, 2017; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons center Alex Mack (51) and offensive guard Andy Levitre (67) and tackle Jake Matthews (70) and tackle Ryan Schraeder (73) talk on the sideline in the fourth quarter of their game against the Arizona Cardinals at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports
These two figures have anchored an offensive line that’s seen the immobile Matt Ryan sacked just 30 times over the past two seasons. More importantly, this unit has continued to open up holes for Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman on the ground. Each of those two backs are averaging well north of five yards per touch over the past two seasons.
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
With Ryan Tannehill now under center and Frank Gore set to take on the starting running back duties in South Beach, we fully expect this offensive line to perform even better this coming season.
Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley has anchored a unit that allowed just 27 sacks in nearly 600 drop backs.
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
Baltimore’s rushing attack also surprised behind this improved unit. Fresh off being waived by Seattle after just one season, young running back Alex Collins tallied nearly 1,200 total yards while averaging 4.6 yards per attempt. That’s a testament to just how good the Ravens’ offensive line performed in 2017. It only promises to get better this coming season.
The Giants swiped Nate Solder from New England earlier this spring.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Given the Giants spent the second overall pick on Saquon Barkley, it makes sense that they would invest cash and draft capital to help the young running back. It promises to help the Giants’ offense improve after a disastrous 2017 campaign.
May 30, 2018; Santa Clara, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers tackle Mike McGlinchey (69) warms up during the organized team activities training event at the SAP Performance Facility in Levi’s Stadium.
Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports
San Francisco realized this during the offseason, adding three potential new starters to the offensive line. That included handing a Pro Bowl caliber center in Weston Richburg a rich contract while signing guard Jonathan Cooper away from Dallas. San Francisco then added rookie first-round pick Mike McGlinchey to replace the recently traded Trent Brown at right tackle. Already boasting an elite left tackle in Joe Staley, this unit promises to improve leaps and bounds in 2018.
Jun 13, 2017; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts offensive tackle Anthony Castonzo (74) practices during the Indianapolis Colts Minicamp at Indiana Farm Bureau Center.
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
With incumbent starters Ryan Kelly, Jack Mewhort and Anthony Castonzo having already proved themselves to be pretty darn good, it would not be a surprise to see Indy boast one of the best offensive lines in front of Luck this coming season. That’s a job well done by GM Chris Ballard.
Dec 10, 2017; Glendale, AZ, USA; Tennessee Titans offensive tackle Taylor Lewan (77) against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium.
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Either way, the talent is here for this unit to dominate in front of the dynamic running back tandem of Derrick Henry and Dion Lewis. Teaming up with Lewan, right tackle Jack Conklin has helped form one of the best book end duos in the game. It should be fun to watch moving forward.
Read the Yardbarker article:
#SAINTSNEWS #SAINTS #YARDBARKER