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Offensive Line Review & Ratings: AFC Teams

John Tuvey
Updated August 16, 2013
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  TEAM MENU Ratings Summary Page
AFC North AFC South AFC East AFC West NFC North NFC South NFC East NFC West
Baltimore Houston Buffalo Denver Chicago Atlanta Dallas Arizona
Cincinnati Indianapolis Miami Kansas City Detroit Carolina New York St. Louis
Cleveland Jacksonville New England Oakland Green Bay New Orleans Philadelphia San Francisco
Pittsburgh Tennessee New York San Diego Minnesota Tampa Bay Washington Seattle

Baltimore Ravens

Year Sacks Allowed Sacked Rank RB Rush Yards Rush Yards Per Game Per Game Rush Rank Per Carry Average Per Carry Rank
2010 40 23 1,685 105.3 10 3.9 25
2011 33 12 1,851 115.7 4 4.5 11
2012 38 20 1,768 110.5 10 4.5 8

Year Left Tackle Left Guard Center Right Guard Right Tackle
2010 M.Oher B.Grubbs M.Birk M.Yanda J.Gaither
2011 M.Oher B.Grubbs* M.Birk M.Yanda* O.Cousins
2012 B.McKinnie B.Williams M.Birk M.Yanda* M.Oher
2013 B.McKinnie K.Osemele G.Gradkowski M.Yanda M.Oher
* Pro Bowler, (r) Rookie

UPDATE: Bryant McKinnie showed up for camp out of shape; so what's new? Marshall Yanda is still recovering from shoulder surgery and Gino Gradkowski has not yet officially claimed the starting center job from A.Q. Shipley, but for the most part this unit is right where it expected to be--and that's a good thing.

This unit gelled in the postseason, when rookie Kelechi Osemele slid from right tackle to left guard, Michael Oher once again abandon the blind side for the right side, and Bryant McKinnie played like the first-round pick he once was. Now the question is, can it all happen again? The lynchpin here is McKinnie, who when properly motivated can be one of the best left tackles in the game; when not motivated, his weight balloons and he focuses more on the party scene than the playbook. Baltimore has the depth to adapt if McKinnie relapses--some sort of shuffle involving Osemele, Oher, and Jah Reed--but they're definitely better when McKinnie is on. Marshall Yanda is a rock star at right guard; he and Osemele in the middle should help the Ravens transition from the Matt Birk era to the Gino Gradkowski era.

FANTASY SPIN
The key to Joe Flacco living up to his contract--okay, coming somewhat close to living up to his contract--is McKinnie. Oher is overmatched on the left side, but if McKinnie is on his game everything else lines up and Flacco has time to throw; for proof, see his postseason numbers. No one will miss Birk more than Ray Rice, as Birk and Yanda both finished among Pro Football Focus' top-ranked run blockers. Oher, on the other hand, graded out surprisingly poorly--bottom 20--in the ground game, meaning there's little margin for error for the transition to Gradkowski.

RUN BLOCKING: B
PASS BLOCKING: B
RETURNING REGULARS: 4
OVERALL GRADE: B

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Buffalo Bills

Year Sacks Allowed Sacked Rank RB Rush Yards Rush Yards Per Game Per Game Rush Rank Per Carry Average Per Carry Rank
2010 34 14 1,399 87.4 24 4.0 18
2011 23 1 1,603 100.2 16 5.1 2
2012 30 10 1,908 119.3 6 5.1 2

Year Left Tackle Left Guard Center Right Guard Right Tackle
2010 D.Bell A.Levitre G.Hangartner E.Wood C.Green
2011 D.Bell A.Levitre E.Wood K.Urbik E.Pears
2012 C.Hairston A.Levitre E.Wood K.Urbik E.Pears
2013 C.Glenn C.Brown E.Wood K.Urbik E.Pears
* Pro Bowler; (r) Rookie

UPDATE: Looks like Erik Pears will hold off Chris Hairston at right tackle and Colin Brown is winning the battle at left guard.

Losing guard Andy Levitre stings, but the Bills still return plenty of talent--plus, with the new scheme Doug Marrone is installing the Bills will need all the depth they can get to keep the pedal to the proverbial metal. Cordy Glenn emerged as a solid left tackle, pushing Chris Hairston to the right side where he'll compete with Erik Pears. Eric Wood locks down the middle, flanked by a pair of Pittsburgh castoffs--Kraig Urbik on the right side and Doug Legursky on the left. Sam Young and Colin Brown could push Legursky for playing time, but at minimum they'll give Marrone plenty of line depth when the big fellas start sucking wind in the no-huddle.

FANTASY SPIN
Individually the Bills' o-line didn't grade out particularly well in run-blocking, yet they've topped five yards a carry in back-to-back seasons. Losing Levitre shouldn't ding C.J. Spiller's prospects, and if Marrone's scheme is successful in getting his big guys out in space they could actually be looking up. Pass protection remains solid, so long as Hairston stays on the right side, which bodes well for E.J. Manuel's development--and, in turn, the fantasy prospects of Stevie Johnson, Robert Woods, and the rest of the Buffalo passing game.

RUN BLOCKING: B
PASS BLOCKING:B
RETURNING REGULARS: 4
OVERALL GRADE: B

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Cincinnati Bengals

Year Sacks Allowed Sacked Rank RB Rush Yards Rush Yards Per Game Per Game Rush Rank Per Carry Average Per Carry Rank
2010 28 8 1,472 92.0 17 3.7 28
2011 25 4 1,547 96.7 21 3.8 28
2012 46 26 1,498 93.6 18 4.2 16

Year Left Tackle Left Guard Center Right Guard Right Tackle
2010 A.Whitworth N.Livings K.Cook B.Williams A.Smith
2011 A.Whitworth M.Jean-Gilles K.Cook B.Williams A.Smith
2012 A.Whitworth* C.Boling K.Cook K.Zeitler (r) A.Smith
2013 A.Whitworth C.Boling K.Cook K.Zeitler (r) A.Smith
* Pro Bowler, (r) Rookie

UPDATE: The release of Travelle Wharton solidified Clint Boling as the starter at left guard.

The advantage to enduring myriad injuries last season was that the Bengals found out they have an incredible amount of depth along the offensive line. Pro Bowler Andrew Whitworth is set at left tackle and second-year Kevin Zeitler has taken over at right guard, but there's potential competition at every other position. Kyle Cook or Trevor Robinson at center? Travelle Wharton or Clint Boling at left guard? Will Andre Smith show up to collect on his new contract, or will the Bengals go to the bullpen for Anthony Collins? And that's not even touching on some of the young talent the Bengals believe they unearthed during OTAs. It's always nice to have options.

FANTASY SPIN
You can attribute the jump in sacks to the aforementioned spate of injuries, but 46 sacks for a West Coast offense with this much talent along their offensive line is unforgiveable. The good news is, it can't get worse so it has to get better--and that means improved numbers for Andy Dalton, A.J. Green, and the rest of the Bengals' passing game. If Smith gets his act together the run blocking should continue to improve--and if Cincy was able to squeeze 4.2 yards per carry out of BenJarvus Green-Ellis-led backfield last year the addition of Giovani Bernard also points to an uptick in numbers.

RUN BLOCKING: B
PASS BLOCKING: B
RETURNING REGULARS: 5
OVERALL GRADE: B

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Cleveland Browns

Year Sacks Allowed Sacked Rank RB Rush Yards Rush Yards Per Game Per Game Rush Rank Per Carry Average Per Carry Rank
2010 36 17 1,359 84.9 25 4.0 19
2011 39 18 1,209 75.6 30 3.6 32
2012 36 15 1,305 81.6 25 3.8 27

Year Left Tackle Left Guard Center Right Guard Right Tackle
2010 J.Thomas* E.Steinbach A.Mack* F.Womack T.Pashos
2011 J.Thomas* E.Steinbach A.Mack S.Lauvao T.Pashos
2012 J.Thomas* J.Pinkston A.Mack S.Lauvao M.Schwartz (r)
2013 J.Thomas J.Greco A.Mack G. Gilkey (r) M.Schwartz
* Pro Bowler, (r) Rookie

UPDATE: Injuries continue to smack around the right guard position. Expected starter Shaun Lauvao had ankle surgery and will miss the start of the season; then, backup Jason Pinkston--who was working his way back from a blood clot in his lung--suffered a sprained ankle in the second preseason game. For now, seventh-round pick Garrett Gilkey is the starter.

There's plenty of talent assembled here, led by perennial Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas. Center Alex Mack and right tackle Mitchell Schwartz are set as well, but there will be a three-way battle for reps at guard between John Greco, Shawn Lauvao, and Jason Pinkston. Now the Browns need to find a way to turn that talent into offensive productivity; maybe the new system implemented by Rob Chudzinski and Norv Turner will help in that regard.

FANTASY SPIN
Trent Richardson didn't give the ground game much of a boost last year; perhaps the combination of a new scheme and improvement from all parties involved will push the Cleveland ground game back north of four yards a carry. At least there's room for upward mobility. Similar factors should conspire to help Brandon Weeden and the passing game as well, though if this unit was giving up mid-30s sacks with short WCO drops that number is bound to climb with the deeper drops of Norv's vertical passing game.

RUN BLOCKING: C-
PASS BLOCKING: C
RETURNING REGULARS: 5
OVERALL GRADE: C

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Denver Broncos

Year Sacks Allowed Sacked Rank RB Rush Yards Rush Yards Per Game Per Game Rush Rank Per Carry Average Per Carry Rank
2010 40 23 1,175 73.4 31 3.6 29
2011 42 23 1,901 118.8 3 4.6 5
2012 21 2 1,825 114.1 8 4.1 19

Year Left Tackle Left Guard Center Right Guard Right Tackle
2010 R.Clady Z.Beadles (r) R.Hochstein C.Kuper R.Harris
2011 R.Clady* Z.Beadles J.Walton C.Kuper O.Franklin (r)
2012 R.Clady* Z.Beadles* J.Walton C.Kuper O.Franklin
2013 R.Clady Z.Beadles R.Lilja L.Vazquez O.Franklin
* Pro Bowler; (r) Rookie

UPDATE: The Broncos can't catch a break at center. JD Walton is already hurt, and backup plan Dan Koppen tore his ACL and will miss the season. Denver lured Ryan Lilja out of retirement to snap to Peyton Manning, with Manny Ramirez as the backup plan.

How did Denver cut its sacks in half with essentially the same offensive line? Two words: Peyton Manning. And everybody is back for another go-around this season, though things may not be as settled as they seem. Center JD Walton, who missed most of 2012 with an ankle injury, is already on the shelf for at least half of the upcoming season; that meant another call to the veteran Koppen. Pro Bowl tackle Ryan Clady has shoulder and contract issues, but all indications are he'll be back in plenty of time to keep Manning's jersey clean. Zane Beadles joined Clady in Hawaii, and the Broncos believe they've not only upgraded with the acquisition of right guard Louis Vazquez, they weakened division rival San Diego in the process. Finally, the return of legendary o-line coach Alex Gibbs to Denver can only help this unit across the board.

FANTASY SPIN
While the 21 sacks was the second-most Manning has suffered in the past decade, it's certainly an acceptable number when you look at the resulting productivity of the Denver passing game. Individually there aren't any rock star run blockers, but in the zone system they don't need to be. Opening the same holes they did last season should serve the Montee Ball-led backfield committee just fine.

RUN BLOCKING: C+
PASS BLOCKING: B+
RETURNING REGULARS: 4
OVERALL GRADE: B

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Houston Texans

Year Sacks Allowed Sacked Rank RB Rush Yards Rush Yards Per Game Per Game Rush Rank Per Carry Average Per Carry Rank
2010 32 12 2,024 126.5 3 5.1 1
2011 33 12 2,357 147.3 1 4.6 1
2012 28 7 2,065 129.1 5 4.3 13

Year Left Tackle Left Guard Center Right Guard Right Tackle
2010 D.Brown K.Studdard C.Myers A.Caldwell E.Winston
2011 D.Brown W.Smith C.Myers* M.Brisiel E.Winston
2012 D.Brown* W.Smith* C.Myers* A.Caldwell R.Butler
2013 D.Brown W.Smith C.Myers B.Brooks D.Newton
* Pro Bowler, (r) Rookie

UPDATE: Pro Bowl guard Wade Smith is out indefinitely following arthroscopic knee surgery. Ben Jones, projected to start on the right side but beat out by Brandon Brooks, fills in for Smith. It's not ideal, but it's depth and continuity that should help the Texans sally forth without missing a beat.

From center to left tackle the Texans are more than solid, with Chris Myers, Wade Smith, and Duane Brown all representing Houston in the Pro Bowl. The right side, on the other hand, is a work in progress. Second-year players Ben Jones and Brandon Brooks will battle for right guard duties while Derek Newton looks to hold off rookie Brennan Williams at right tackle. The competition can only help, and with everyone back from last year it shouldn't be difficult for this unit to sync up and continue to provide Houston with some of the most consistent o-line play in the league.

FANTASY SPIN
While Arian Foster is plenty talented, he's still the beneficiary of Houston's efficient zone blocking system. All that means for fantasy owners is that Ben Tate is a must-handcuff, for if some terrible twist of fate should befall Foster Tate will step in and not miss a beat. Matt Schaub should once again have more than enough time to work downfield; the good news is that this year there might actually be someone besides Andre Johnson stepping up as a beneficiary. DeAndre Hopkins, we're looking at you.

RUN BLOCKING:B+
PASS BLOCKING: B
RETURNING REGULARS: 5
OVERALL GRADE: B+

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Indianapolis Colts

Year Sacks Allowed Sacked Rank RB Rush Yards Rush Yards Per Game Per Game Rush Rank Per Carry Average Per Carry Rank
2010 16 1 1,459 91.2 19 3.9 22
2011 35 15 1,455 90.9 24 4.1 23
2012 41 23 1,373 85.8 22 3.8 25

Year Left Tackle Left Guard Center Right Guard Right Tackle
2010 C.Johnson T.Ugoh J.Saturday* M.Pollak R.Diem
2011 A.Castonzo (r) J.McClendon J.Saturday M.Pollak R.Diem
2012 A.Castonzo J.Linkenbach S.Satele M.McGlynn W.Justice
2013 A.Castonzo D.Thomas S.Satele M.McGlynn G.Cherilus
* Pro Bowler, (r) Rookie

UPDATE: Chuck Pagano likes what he sees from his offensive line and said the goal is to cut last year's sack total in half. Given that Pep Hamilton's offense incorporates more tight ends and shorter throws, that's not as far-fetched as it may seem.

After patching together Andrew Luck's protection from spare parts and leftovers last season, the Colts got aggressive in free agency and brought in Gosder Cherilus from Detroit and Donald Thomas from New England. They'll team with holdovers Anthony Castanzo, Samson Satele, and Mike McGlynn. Cherilus was finally living up to his first-round status last season in Detroit; he and Castanzo give Indy bookend first-round tackles and should keep Luck upright for the forseeable future.

FANTASY SPIN
Cherilus, Thomas, and new OC Pep Hamilton's shorter drops and quicker throws should help trim those sack numbers and keep Luck from being hit as frequently as last season; the three returning Colts (Castanzo, Satele, McGlynn) surrendered a combined 20 sacks, 30 QB hits, and 80 hurries. The only negative might be fewer deep balls for TY Hilton. Ahmad Bradshaw will certainly find the going tougher in Indy, though with the additions of Cherilus and Thomas four of the five projected starters registered positive scores in run blocking according to Pro Football Focus.

RUN BLOCKING: C-
PASS BLOCKING: C
RETURNING REGULARS: 3
OVERALL GRADE: C-

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Year Sacks Allowed Sacked Rank RB Rush Yards Rush Yards Per Game Per Game Rush Rank Per Carry Average Per Carry Rank
2010 38 19 1,946 121.6 5 4.6 6
2011 44 25 1,838 114.9 5 4.3 16
2012 50 30 1,139 71.2 31 3.9 23

Year Left Tackle Left Guard Center Right Guard Right Tackle
2010 E.Monroe K.Forney B.Meester U.Nwaneri E.Britton
2011 E.Monroe J.Spitz B.Meester U.Nwaneri E.Britton
2012 E.Monroe W.Rackley B.Meester U.Nwaneri E.Britton
2013 E.Monroe W.Rackley B.Meester U.Nwaneri L.Joeckel (r)
* Pro Bowler, (r) Rookie

UPDATE: Luke Joeckel has lived up to his draft status and solidifies this line-- good news for both Maurice Jones-Drew and the passing game regardless of who wins the quarterback battle.

if Eugene Monroe was the only bright spot in this unit last year, and after the Jags made Luke Joeckel the second overall pick in the 2013 draft he's now a short-timer at left tackle. For this season, however, it's likely that Monroe remains on the left side while Joeckel breaks into the league on the right side. If guards Will Rackley and Uche Nwaneri are healthy--Rackley missed all of last season while Nwaneri played hurt for most of 2012--they'll provide a serviceable guard tandem. Center Brad Meester's play is on the decline, but right now there's no better option on the roster.

FANTASY SPIN
More definitive reads in Jedd Fisch's new offense and the addition of Joeckel should help turn those sack numbers around, which would also lead to a big step forward in Blaine Gabbert's development--and ultimately more production from Cecil Shorts and Justin Blackmon. You can attribute the dramatic drop-off in ground-game numbers in large part to the absence of Maurice Jones-Drew last year; according to Football Outsiders' adjusted line yards stat the Jacksonville line was making room but the backs weren't taking advantage. MJD's health and attitude following last year's holdout suggest those numbers won't return to 2010-2011 levels, but the addition of Joeckel should help them climb at least somewhat.

RUN BLOCKING: B-
PASS BLOCKING: C-
RETURNING REGULARS: 4
OVERALL GRADE: C

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Kansas City Chiefs

Year Sacks Allowed Sacked Rank RB Rush Yards Rush Yards Per Game Per Game Rush Rank Per Carry Average Per Carry Rank
2010 32 12 2,416 151.0 1 4.8 3
2011 34 14 1,209 75.6 30 3.7 31
2012 40 22 2,099 131.2 2 4.8 4

Year Left Tackle Left Guard Center Right Guard Right Tackle
2010 B.Albert B.Waters R.Niswanger R.Lilja R.O'Callaghan
2011 B.Albert R.Lilja C.Wiegmann J.Asamoah B.Richardson
2012 B.Albert R.Lilja R.Hudson J.Asamoah E.Winston
2013 B.Albert J.Allen R.Hudson J.Asamoah E.Fisher (r)
* Pro Bowler; (r) Rookie

UPDATE:The Chiefs line has looked good through the early preseason, even surviving a scare when top pick Eric Fisher left the first preseason game to have his hand X-rayed. For this year, at least, Andy Reid has a pair of solid bookend tackles to keep his passer upright.

The Chiefs kept Branden Albert for at least another year and still drafted Eric Fisher, giving them an embarassment of riches at offensive tackle--and when you throw as much as Andy Reid likes to throw, having quality tackles is a must. The interior of the line is coming together as well; now they'll need to buy into the new system and start producing tangible results. Young guards Jon Asamoah and Jeff Allen will be pushed by Geoff Schwartz, and the Chiefs could still lure veteran Ryan Lilja back for another season as well.

FANTASY SPIN
The vast majority of those impressive rushing numbers are due to Jamaal Charles, with little thanks to the offensive line. The new system and the addition of Fisher certainly can't hurt, so if last year was a baseline all the preseason hype surrounding Charles is warranted. Fisher and Albert should also help keep pressure off of Alex Smith and allow him to get off the high volume of passes Reid's offense calls for. Lots of attempts and a clean pocket should spell solid numbers for Smith and the KC passing game, with Dwayne Bowe the primary beneficiary.

RUN BLOCKING: B-
PASS BLOCKING: B-
RETURNING REGULARS: 4
OVERALL GRADE: B-

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Miami Dolphins

Year Sacks Allowed Sacked Rank RB Rush Yards Rush Yards Per Game Per Game Rush Rank Per Carry Average Per Carry Rank
2010 38 19 1,469 91.8 18 3.8 27
2011 52 30 1,785 111.6 8 4.3 15
2012 37 18 1,574 98.4 15 4.1 17

Year Left Tackle Left Guard Center Right Guard Right Tackle
2010 J.Long D.Thomas J.Grove R.Incognito V.Carey
2011 J.Long* R.Incognito M.Pouncey (r) V.Carey M.Colombo
2012 J.Long R.Incognito* M.Pouncey A.Hicks J.Martin (r)
2013 J.Martin R.Incognito M.Pouncey J.Samuda T.Clabo
* Pro Bowler; (r) Rookie

UPDATE: With John Jerry sidelined following a knee scope and Nate Garner suffering a shoulder injury, Josh Samuda will be Miami's right guard. And that's the least of Miami's concerns about a line that has struggled through the early going in training camp.

The Dolphins let oft-injured former first-round pick Jake Long walk in the offseason, moving another former first-rounder in Jonathan Martin from right side to left. That Martin allowed a league-worst 47 hurries playing most of the season on the right side should cause plenty of consternation given that he'll be charged with protecting Ryan Tannehill's blind side. There's plenty of nasty on this line with Pro Bowler Ritchie Incognito and free agent acquisition Tyson Clabo, and Mike Pouncey locks down the middle. John Jerry will be pushed at right guard by Lance Louis once he recovers from his knee injury.

FANTASY SPIN
Individually this is a group with plenty of promise and only a few holes; if they're able to gel quickly the Dolphins could deliver on the promise many see in this offense. How Martin handles the transition to the left side--he played there in college, so it's not unfamiliar to him--will go a long way towards determining whether or not Tannehill has time to find Mike Wallace down the field. Lamar Miller and the running game will get a little bump from the addition of Clabo, but Martin and Jerry will need to step up their run blocking for him to live up to his lofty preseason hype.

RUN BLOCKING: C-
PASS BLOCKING: C-
RETURNING REGULARS: 4
OVERALL GRADE: C-

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New England Patriots

Year Sacks Allowed Sacked Rank RB Rush Yards Rush Yards Per Game Per Game Rush Rank Per Carry Average Per Carry Rank
2010 25 4 1,828 114.3 7 4.5 7
2011 32 9 1,573 98.3 17 4.2 21
2012 27 5 2,091 130.7 3 4.3 12

Year Left Tackle Left Guard Center Right Guard Right Tackle
2010 M.Light* L.Mankins* D.Koppen S.Neal S.Vollmer
2011 M.Light L.Mankins* D.Koppen D.Connolly S.Vollmer
2012 N.Solder L.Mankins* D.Koppen D.Connolly S.Vollmer
2013 N.Solder L.Mankins R.Wendell D.Connolly S.Vollmer
* Pro Bowler; (r) Rookie

UPDATE: No news is good news as everything hums along swimmingly in New England.

Individually or collectively, this unit receives high marks across the board. Tackles Nate Solder and Sebastian Volmer and center Ryan Wendell all graded out among the top 20 offensive linemen in the league according to Pro Football Focus, and Logan Mankins made another trip to the Pro Bowl. As you might expect, that amalgamation of talent helped the Patriots to top-five ranks in both sacks allowed and rushing yards per game. Dan Connolly is as close to a weak link as this unit has, and he'll be pushed by Marcus Cannon to keep his job.

FANTASY SPIN
Tom Brady's receiving corps may be gutted, but his top-notch line will give him plenty of time while he waits for the newbies to work themselves open--good news for the fantasy prospects of not only Danny Amendola but also Julian Edelman and Aaron Dobson.Cannon unseating Connolly, the only projected starter who graded out negatively in run blocking according to Pro Football Focus, would be a positive development for Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen.

RUN BLOCKING: A-
PASS BLOCKING: A-
RETURNING REGULARS: 5
OVERALL GRADE: A-

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New York Jets

Year Sacks Allowed Sacked Rank RB Rush Yards Rush Yards Per Game Per Game Rush Rank Per Carry Average Per Carry Rank
2010 28 8 1,926 120.4 6 4.2 13
2011 40 20 1,533 95.8 22 3.9 27
2012 47 27 1,710 106.9 12 4.0 20

Year Left Tackle Left Guard Center Right Guard Right Tackle
2010 D.Ferguson* V.Ducasse (r) N.Mangold B.Moore D.Woody
2011 D.Ferguson* M.Slauson N.Mangold* B.Moore* W.Hunter
2012 D.Ferguson M.Slauson N.Mangold B.Moore W.Hunter
2013 D.Ferguson W.Colon N.Mangold S.Peterman A.Howard
* Pro Bowler; (r) Rookie

UPDATE: Rookie Brian Winters has yet to unseat Stephen Peterman at right guard, and the rest of the Jets' o-line has looked shaky through the early going.

You know about perennial Pro Bowlers Nick Mangold and D'Brickashaw Ferguson; now the Jets need to fill in the rest of the blanks. Austin Howard took over from Wayne Hunter last year and looks to have right tackle locked down; he was shaky in pass protection but solid in the ground game, a familar refrain for Jets' o-line candidates. Willie Colon should be a serviceable replacement for the departed Matt Slauson at left guard, while rookie Brian Winters and veteran Stephen Peterman will battle for the right guard slot Vlad Ducasse has been unable to hold onto. This unit is a poster child for the Football Outsider stat "adjusted line yards": the Jets ranked fourth in the league in that stat but 29th in open field yards, a clear indicator that the bulk of Gang Green's rushing yardage was due to the line play and not Shonn Greene.

FANTASY SPIN
A West Coast offense shouldn't be giving up 40-plus sacks in back-to-back seasons, not with a stud like Ferguson on the blind side... but then again "butt fumble" shouldn't be part of our lexicon; welcome to the world of Mark Sanchez. But fantasy owners aren't looking to the Jets' passing game for help; the running game, on the other hand, looks poised to deliver solid numbers for Chris Ivory if he can stay healthy--and Bilal Powell or Joe McKnight if he can't.

RUN BLOCKING: B
PASS BLOCKING: C-
RETURNING REGULARS: 5
OVERALL GRADE: C+

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Oakland Raiders

Year Sacks Allowed Sacked Rank RB Rush Yards Rush Yards Per Game Per Game Rush Rank Per Carry Average Per Carry Rank
2010 44 26 1,967 122.9 4 4.7 5
2011 25 4 1,833 114.6 6 4.5 9
2012 27 5 1,221 76.3 29 3.8 24

Year Left Tackle Left Guard Center Right Guard Right Tackle
2010 M.Henderson R.Gallery S.Satele C.Carlisle K.Barnes
2011 J.Veldheer S.Heyer S.Satele S.Wisniewski (r) J.Barksdale (r)
2012 J.Veldheer C.Carlisle S.Wisniewski M.Brisiel K.Barnes
2013 A.Barron L.Nix S.Wisniewski M.Brisiel K.Barnes
* Pro Bowler; (r) Rookie

UPDATE: The Raiders suffered a crushing blow when Jared Veldheer suffered a torn triceps. He'll miss at least three months and quite possibly the full season. Alex Barron, a former first-round pick who has disappointed at multiple stops over the past eight seasons, is running at left tackle for Oakland. Meanwhile Lucas Nix has swapped sides and Mike Brisiel reclaimed his starting spot on the right side. Rookie Melenik Watson has yet to unseat Khald Barnes at right tackle.

The Raiders have been surprisingly effective in protecting the passer, ranking in the top five in fewest sacks allowed each of the past two seasons, and with Jared Veldheer continuing to lock down the blind side that trend should continue in 2013. With Greg Knapp's zone blocking scheme a complete disaster last year the Raiders are returning to the familiar power blocking scheme that proved effective the previous two seasons. That could mean changes along the line, as last year's starters Mike Brisiel and Tony Bergstrom were better ZBS fits while Lucas Nix is more of a mauler. Second-round pick Menelik Watson will push veteran Khalid Barnes at right tackle, taking over at some point during the season--perhaps as early as Week 1.

FANTASY SPIN
The only people happier about Oakland's return to the power blocking scheme than Darren McFadden are Darren McFadden's fantasy owners. Mix in the appropriate personnel changes along with the scheme switch and McFadden could return to top five numbers--if, of course, he manages to stay healthy. So long as those same personnel changes don't shake up the Raiders' pass protection mojo, Matt Flynn should have a relatively pressure-free pocket to work from--good news for the potential production of Rod Streater, Jacoby Ford, and Denarius Moore.

RUN BLOCKING: C+
PASS BLOCKING: C
RETURNING REGULARS: 3
OVERALL GRADE: C

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Pittsburgh Steelers

Year

Sacks Allowed Sacked Rank RB Rush Yards Rush Yards Per Game Per Game Rush Rank Per Carry Average Per Carry Rank
2010 43 25 1,648 103.0 13 3.9 21
2011 42 16 1,728 108 11 4.5 10
2012 37 18 1,373 85.8 21 3.7 28

Year Left Tackle Left Guard Center Right Guard Right Tackle
2010 M.Starks C.Kemoeatu J.Hartwig M.Pouncey (r) F.Adams
2011 J.Scott C.Kemoeatu M.Pouncey* R.Foster W.Colon
2012 M.Adams (r) W.Colon M.Pouncey* D.DeCastro (r) M.Gilbert
2013 M.Gilbert R.Foster M.Pouncey D.DeCastro M.Adams
* Pro Bowler, (r) Rookie

UPDATE: Mike Adams and Marcus Gilbert have flipped back to last year's setup with Adams on the blind side. With plenty of experience and familiarity, the Steelers have actually looked pretty good thus far this preseason--reason for optimism here.

With the departures of veterans like Willie Colon, Doug Legursky, and Max Starks this will be an extremely young unit--four starters 25 or younger. But the old guys weren't exactly standing out, so why not go young and see what happens? Tackles Marcus Gilbert and Mike Adams swap sides, which is good new for Ben Roethlisberger's spleen as Adams was a turnstile on the left side. Guard David DeCastro underwhelmed as a rookie but has bulked up and should deliver better results the second time around. Maurkice Pouncey locks down the center of the line, while veteran Ramon Foster is a placeholder at left guard.

FANTASY SPIN
So long as Big Ben is the quarterback, Pittsburgh's sack numbers will never look good; he holds on to the ball so long that it's inevitable he takes a beating. Unless and until that beating leads to a significant injury, however, nothing else should change with the Pittsburgh passing game. The rushing attack tailed off dramatically last year, but a bigger DeCastro and mauling tackles Adams and Gilbert should make room for the Steelers' RBBC likely headed up by Le'Veon Bell

RUN BLOCKING: C+
PASS BLOCKING: C-
RETURNING REGULARS: 4
OVERALL GRADE: C

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San Diego Chargers

Year Sacks Allowed Sacked Rank RB Rush Yards Rush Yards Per Game Per Game Rush Rank Per Carry Average Per Carry Rank
2010 38 19 1,751 109.4 9 4.2 16
2011 30 8 1,772 110.8 10 4.4 12
2012 49 29 1,395 87.2 20 3.7 29

Year Left Tackle Left Guard Center Right Guard Right Tackle
2010 M.McNeill K.Dielman* N.Hardwick L.Vasquez J.Clary
2011 M.McNeill K.Dielman N.Hardwick L.Vasquez J.Clary
2012 J.Gaither T.Green N.Hardwick L.Vasquez J.Clary
2013 K.Dunlap C.Rinehart N.Hardwick J.Clary D.Fluker (r)
* Pro Bowler; (r) Rookie

UPDATE: King Dunlap looks to have won the battle with Max Starks at left tackle. Still, the Chargers' new-look line has struggled mightily this preseason, culminating with Philip Rivers spiking the ball in frustration following yet another sack in the second preseason game. Things are definitely not looking up in San Diego.

With left tackle Jared Gaither injured--again--the Chargers had no choice but to protect Philip Rivers' blind side with undrafted rookie Michael Harris; the results were predictably awful. San Diego signed Max Starks and King Dunlap to compete for the left tackle job, and while neither is anything special it's at least an upgrade over last season. Eventually first-round pick D.J. Fluker will be a Pro Bowl guard, but right now he's needed at right tackle. Veteran center Nick Hardwick is the only player to return at the same position, but he's clearly on the downslope of his career.

FANTASY SPIN
Aside from Fluker the pieces aren't particularly talented, and they'll likely require time to gel. Still, the sack totals should go down, allowing Rivers time to throw down the field to Danario Alexander, Vincent Brown, and Malcom Floyd. Aside from Fluker's considerable potential there's not much reason to be optimistic about the run-blocking prospects, either; bank on Ryan Mathews at your own risk.

RUN BLOCKING: C-
PASS BLOCKING: C-
RETURNING REGULARS: 2
OVERALL GRADE: C-

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Tennessee Titans

Year Sacks Allowed Sacked Rank RB Rush Yards Rush Yards Per Game Per Game Rush Rank Per Carry Average Per Carry Rank
2010 27 6 1,604 100.3 14 4.4 10
2011 24 2 1,300 81.3 27 3.8 29
2012 39 21 1,325 82.8 24 4.2 15

Year Left Tackle Left Guard Center Right Guard Right Tackle
2010 M.Roos L.Harris E.Amano J.Scott D.Stewart
2011 M.Roos L.Harris E.Amano J.Scott D.Stewart
2012 M.Roos S.Hutchinson F.Velasco L.Harris D.Stewart
2013 M.Roos A.Levitre R.Turner C.Warmack (r) D.Stewart
* Pro Bowler, (r) Rookie

UPDATE: Rob Turner started the first preseason game at center, but it's still a battle with last year's starter Fernando Velasco as well as Chris Spencer and rookie Brian Schwenke in the mix. The rest of the Tennessee o-line has looked good, springing Chris Johnson for a 58-yard touchdown run and even paving the way for Shonn Greene to score from 19-yards out. This unit should be the strength of the team.

The Titans already have bookend tackles Michael Roos and Dave Stewart in place, and in the offseason they added free agent guard Andy Levitre and spent a top-10 draft pick on Chance Warmack. That much talent, studying under a pair of elite former linemen in Mike Munchak and Bruce Mathews... good things are bound to happen. While this group grades out individually as very successful in pass protection, as a team the Titans took a big step backwards last season. The ground game bounced back after a down 2011, and the influx of guard talent sets up both areas for improvement. Veteran center Fernando Velasco returns, but he's likely a placeholder until rookie Brian Schwenke is ready to move in.

FANTASY SPIN
Jake Locker and the Titans' passing game should benefit from a return to form from this unit; if, as expected, the sack numbers trend down then the productivity of Kenny Britt, Kendall Wright, and the rest of the receiving corps should trend up. Warmack could be Chris Johnson's new best friend; his arrival should help Tennessee's run blocking return to top-10 status.

RUN BLOCKING: B
PASS BLOCKING: B
RETURNING REGULARS: 3
OVERALL GRADE: B

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