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The 2007 Ultimate Extreme Offensive Line Preview Spectacular - NFC East
Michael Courter
July 30, 2007
AFC East AFC North AFC South AFC West NFC East NFC North NFC South NFC West Summary

Be it on the gridiron or in the world of fantasy football, the offensive line remains, the facilitator, the enabler, the critical piece, that allows their respective teams’ skill position glory hounds the opportunity to thrill crowds, make game-breaking plays, and win championships, both real and fantasy.  The O-line is the is the collective keys to the end zone kingdom, without it’s engine running properly, an offensive unit cannot reach destination end zone on time, or at all, making the thankless five man unit, even in the points-driven world of fantasy football, arguably the most critical piece of the equation.

The 2007 Ultimate Extreme Offensive line Spectacular will provide a breakdown of each team’s offensive line and let you know who’s improved, stayed the same, or possibly gotten worse from last season, and the reasons why, so that you can be armed with this knowledge heading into your draft, and rate your QB, RB and WR positions accordingly.  A numerical grade provided at the end of each team analysis will rate each line on a scale of one to ten, with one being the lowest (Texans O-line in David Carr’s rookie year) and 10 the high mark (KC Chiefs during Priest Holmes’ prime).

Dallas Cowboys

Year Sacks Allowed Sacked Rank Rush Yards Rush Yards Per Game Per Game Rush Rank Per Carry Average Per Carry Rank
2004 36 14 1769 110.6 20 3.9 24
2005 50 29 1861 116.3 13 3.6 25
2006 37 20 1936 121 13 4.1 14

Year Left Tackle Left Guard Center Right Guard Right Tackle Pro Bowlers
2004 F.Adams L.Allen T.Walter A.Gurode T.Tucker L. Allen F. Adams  
2005 F.Adams L.Allen A.Johnson M.Rivera R.Petitti L. Allen    
2006 F.Adams K.Kosier A.Gurode M.Rivera M.Colombo F.Adams  A.Gurode  
2007 F.Adams  K.Kosier A.Gurode L.Davis M.Colombo      

Equally adept  in both free agency maneuvers and the 2007 Draft,  the Cowboys have seemingly made all the right moves with regard to addressing their offensive line’s weaknesses from a year ago, as well as securing it’s core over the next several seasons.  Signing mammoth OG and Texas native Leonard Davis (6-6, 366) from the Cardinals to a seven year, $49.6 million contract allowed the team to rid themselves of longtime injury problem Marco Rivera and secure the right guard position for at least the next five seasons, and the re-signing of their own free agent offensive linemen, 2007 Pro Bowl reserve C Andre Gurode (six years, $30M) and RT Marc Colombo ( two years/$7M) puts two more qualified starters along their five man front.  With Pro Bowl tackle Flozell Adams experiencing increasing injury woes over the last couple of seasons and Marc Colombo being just serviceable at right tackle,  the Cowboys showed their hand in the 2007 Draft with the selection of OT James Marten (6-7, 303) from OL powerhouse Boston College in the third round (67th overall pick) and OT Doug Free (6-7, 318) from Northern Illinois, a former tight end with large hands and farmer’s strength, in the fourth round (122nd overall).

Dallas had hoped to use second year backup RT Pat McQuistan (6-6, 315) to push veteran incumbent Kyle Kosier for the starting left guard spot,  but due to minor knee surgery for LT Flozell Adams during this year’s mini-camp (he’s expected to be ready for the start of training camp), McQuistan will be taking reps only at left tackle until Adams is a full-go.  In a statement about his body of OL coaching work, assistant head coach Tony Sparano, a holdover from the Parcells’ regime, was retained by new coach Wade Phillips and will enter his fifth year in Dallas this season.

GRADE: 8.0 - The addition of Leonard Davis at right guard in combination with returning Pro Bowlers, Flozell Adams and Andre Gurode,  should boost last season’s No.4 ranked scoring offense, and improve their 13th overall rushing ranking in 2006 well into the top ten in 2007.  And depth is less of a concern with the versatile McQuistan and the two, young and talented OT draft picks, Marten and Free, in the rotation, giving Tony Romo the support he needs in this make-or-break year two for him as the quarterback of America’s Team.

New York Giants

Year Sacks Allowed Sacked Rank Rush Yards Rush Yards Per Game Per Game Rush Rank Per Carry Average Per Carry Rank
2004 52 31 1904 119 11 4.5 6
2005 28 8 2209 138.1 6 4.7 4
2006 25 7 2156 134.8 7 4.7 7

Year Left Tackle Left Guard Center Right Guard Right Tackle Pro Bowlers
2004 L.Petitgout J.Whittle S.O'Hara C.Snee D.Diehl      
2005 L.Petitgout D.Diehl S.O'Hara C.Snee K.McKenzie      
2006 L.Petitgout D.Diehl S.O'Hara C.Snee K.McKenzie      
2007 D.Diehl  R.Seubert S.O’Hara  C.Snee K.McKenzie      

 A pretty good unit returns from a 2006 season which saw the Giants rank in the middle of the pack in total offense (14th overall), but seventh in the NFL in rushing.  The right side of this line remains one of the better flanks in the league with massive, seven-year vet Kareem McKenzie (6-6, 327) anchoring the right tackle spot and highly-effective Chris Snee at guard.  Shaun O’Hara just re-upped with the Giants for five more years, solidifying the core of this unit for the next several seasons.  The biggest change for 2007 will take place at left tackle, where versatile fourth-year man David Diehl (6-5, 315) will move from left guard to take the place of longtime Giants LT Luke Petitgout (released; failed physical), whose history of back troubles combined with an untenable salary structure made him an easy cost-cutting target this off-season.  The organization believes Diehl is up for the challenge, and given Petitgout’s increasingly debilitated physical condition, should prove to be an upgrade at the position this season.  Salty, seven year veteran Rich Seubert, a starter from 2002 to 2003 before suffering a serious lower leg injury, is the favorite to takeover the left guard spot vacated by Diehl. 

New York added experienced Zach Piller (Titans) as insurance, should Seubert show any signs of faltering and OT Adam Koets (6-5, 298) was selected in the sixth round of the 2007 Draft to beef up the tackle depth behind Diehl and McKenzie.

GRADE: 7.0 - Tiki Barber’s retirement will hurt this unit’s performance.  He had the ability to find seams that would lead to long gains, making this group look better on paper than reality. It remains to be seen if the Brandon Jacobs-Reuben Droughns combo will be able to produce at a Tiki-type of level, and the primary offensive burden now shifts to shaky Eli Manning for the first time in his fledgling pro career.  Though the depth isn’t top shelf, the acquisition of Piller does safeguard against any potential relapse of Rich Seubert’s reconstructed leg.

Philadelphia Eagles

Year Sacks Allowed Sacked Rank Rush Yards Rush Yards Per Game Per Game Rush Rank Per Carry Average Per Carry Rank
2004 37 16 1639 102.4 24 4.4 10
2005 42 21 1432 89.5 28 3.9 19
2006 28 8 1984 124 11 4.8 5

Year Left Tackle Left Guard Center Right Guard Right Tackle Pro Bowlers
2004 T.Thomas J.Mayberry H.Fraley S.Andrews J.Runyan T. Thomas    
2005 T.Thomas A.Hicks H.Fraley S.Andrews J.Runyan      
2006 W.Thomas T.Herremans J.Jackson S.Andrews J.Runyan S. Andrews    
2007  W.Thomas T.Herremans J.Jackson  S.Andrews J.Runyan      

Not a single 2007 Draft pick or free agent acquisition was made with regard to the offensive line by the Eagles this past off-season.  Why? Because, quite simply, this current group is one of the elite units in the NFL, if not the best.  All five starters return from last year’s No. 2 ranked offense in the NFL, which allowed only 28 sacks in 2006, the lowest amount by an Eagles offensive line since 1981.  They are massive and athletic across the board, with Thomas (6-7, 335), Herremans (6-6, 321), Jackson (6-4, 330), Andrews (6-4, 335) and Runyan (6-7, 330), comprising the biggest starting five in the league for a second consecutive season.  Left tackle William Thomas is a three-time Pro Bowl selection with and eye on the Hall of Fame and a goal of playing in the NFL for 20 seasons.  Right tackle Jon Runyan is the ironman of this group since 2000, starting 160 consecutive regular season games, ranking third amongst all active NFL players entering the 2007 season.  Left guard Todd Herremans ably filled in at left tackle in 2005 when William Thomas went on injured reserve, so fulfilling the left guard duties next to the Pro Bowler has been a snap, and right guard Shawn Andrews made his first Pro Bowl last season.  Former undrafted free agent Jamaal Jackson uprooted longtime starting center Hank Fraley last season, forcing the veteran to exit to Cleveland and giving the Eagles another oversized piece to their offensive interior.

And the Eagles have shrewdly built up their offensive line depth the last few years as well, with 2006 second round pick OT Winston Justice (6-6, 320) out of the University of Southern California and OG Max Jean-Gilles (6-3, 358), a 2006 fourth round selection out of Georgia, maintaining the large and athletic theme that starts with their top five.

GRADE: 9.0 - Juan Castillo, entering his tenth year as the Eagles offensive line coach, does an equally impressive job with the high draft picks (Jermain Mayberry, William Thomas and Shawn Andrews all made their first Pro Bowl with Castillo’s guidance), as well as the undrafted free agent projects (Jamaal Jackson, Hank Fraley, Artis Hicks, Bubba Miller and Steve Edwards were all former rookie free agents who became starters under Castillo’s watch).  Superior coaching combined with talent, size, durability and depth make this group one of the league’s best OL units.

Washington Redskins

Year Sacks Allowed Sacked Rank Rush Yards Rush Yards Per Game Per Game Rush Rank Per Carry Average Per Carry Rank
2004 38 19 1765 110.3 21 3.7 28
2005 31 12 2183 136.4 7 4.2 9
2006 19 3 2216 138.5 4 4.5 8

Year Left Tackle Left Guard Center Right Guard Right Tackle Pro Bowlers
2004 C.Samuels D.Dockery L.Friedman R.Thomas K.Jones      
2005 C.Samuels D.Dockery C.Rabach R.Thomas J.Jansen C. Samuels    
2006 C.Samuels D.Dockery C.Rabach R.Thomas J.Jansen C. Samuels    
2007 C.Samuels  T.Wade C.Rabach R.Thomas J.Jansen      

While being handcuffed by sub par quarterback play and a carousel of various running backs, the Redskins offensive line produced a stellar performance in 2006, allowing only 19 sacks from a whopping 489 pass attempts and grinding out 4.5 yards per carry on the ground.  This unit, led by Pro Bowl LT Chris Samuels, is a gritty, hard-nosed bunch that played through numerous difficult injuries to maintain continuity through the 16 week schedule.  Six-year man Casey Rabach is more than adequate at center and Randy Thomas and Jon Jansen, when healthy, are as a good a veteran right side in the league.  The big question mark will be Todd Wade (6-8, 314) taking over for highly-regarded Derrick Dockery, who left for a big money deal from the Buffalo Bills this past off-season.  Thanks to the Redskins superior depth, comprised mainly of  G/C Mike Pucillo, T Jason Fabini, G Will Whitticker and C/G Taylor Whitley, all of whom have started at guard at one point in their NFL career, the Redskins felt comfortable taking the chance with Wade and saving some cap room by letting Dockery walk.

GRADE: 7.5 - If eight-year veterans Randy Thomas and Jon Jansen can defy the odds with another relatively healthy campaign, expect this unit to be buoyed by improving third year QB Jason Campbell, and continue to perform at a high level in 2007.  The O-line is also aided by recently-formed two-headed ground attack that has starter Clinton Portis having to make room for impressive understudy Ladell Betts.

AFC East AFC North AFC South AFC West NFC East NFC North NFC South NFC West Summary

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