Top Five Offensive Lines In The NFL
A look at the top five offensive line units going into the 2021 season.
Heading into the 2021 season, many offenses have been able to revamp their offensive line or retain everyone on their offensive line. Here’s a look at the top five offensive line units heading into the 2021 NFL season.
Honorable Mention: New Orleans Saints, New England Patriots, Green Bay Packers
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The defending Super Bowl Champions had a great offensive line last season and they return all five of their starters and added depth in the draft. Right tackle is the big position for the Bucs with Tristan Wirfs who had a very dominant rookie season. He allowed only one sack and three penalties. An argument can be made that Wirfs is the best right tackle in the league already.
On the interior, center Ryan Jensen plays with tenacity and a whole lot of piss and vinegar. He is awesome when he reaches the second level and will throw your teams best linebacker into the bleachers. Left guard Ali Marpet is a D3 product but is dominant. He allowed no sacks last season and is a force in the run game. While those three guys get the majority of the attention, tackle Donovan Smith and guard Alex Cappa are no scrubs. They’re key components for the Bucs success last year and in the upcoming season.
Tampa’s biggest addition on the offensive line was probably Robert Hainsey. Hainsey can play all five positions. He was a tackle at Notre Dame put has gotten some work at the center position as well. Look for him to plug and play if an injury occurs.
4. Kansas City Chiefs: You may think I’m crazy for putting the Chiefs at four after their offensive line play in the Super Bowl but, they completely gutted and rebuilt all five positions. The Chiefs return no starters from last season and they made an offseason splash. They went out and made a deal for Orland Brown Jr. from Baltimore to start at left tackle who is a mountain of a man.
Prior to that, they signed Kyle Long who just came out of retirement and is looking lean and mean. They also signed Joe Thuney who is a top five guard in the league. He only allowed two sacks last year in New England. At right tackle, Mike Remmers is the projected starter who is a solid journeyman player that was with Kansas City last season.
The center position will be a battle between recent signee Austin Blythe and rookie Creed Humphrey. I think that Humphrey wins and solidifies himself as a top fifteen center when the season ends. A big reason that they sit at four is because of the depth the Chiefs have. Lucas Niang, Trey Smith, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, and Nick Allegretti are all possible plug and play guys at multiple positions.
3. Baltimore Ravens: Baltimore lost their starting right tackle in Orlando Brown Jr. but he intended on holding out so it’s not a massive loss. They also made a splash in free agency like the Chiefs and added starters and lots of depth. The cornerstone of their offensive line is All Pro left tackle Ronnie Stanley. Stanley only had five penalties last year and allowed no sacks.
Baltimores best additions are at right tackle and right guard with the signings of Alejandro Villanueva who played for Pittsburgh last season and Kevin Zeitler who was a Giant last season. This veteran duo will hold down the right side of the Ravens line with ease.
For center, it looks like Bradley Bozeman will get the nod as the starter and rookie Ben Cleveland out of Georgia will be the starting left guard. The Ravens are super deep though if a guy goes down. Ben Bredson, Patrick Mekari, Ja’Wuan James, Ben Powers, and Andre Smith are guys that have experience and can be plug and play players if an injury occurs.
2. Indianapolis Colts: The Colts had a major offseason loss with left tackle Anthony Castanzo retiring. While this is a big loss, they were able to fill that hole with former number one pick and two time Pro Bowler, Eric Fisher. He signed a one year, eight million dollar deal. At the other tackle, Braden Smith is a young gun that plays at a high level. He allowed zero sacks last season.
Indianapolis is anchored by the leagues best offensive lineman, Quenton Nelson. Through three seasons, he has allowed three sacks. He plays angry and hits like a freight train. At the other guard position, they bring back Mark Glowinski who was their starter last season. Last season, the West Virginia alum allowed only two sacks with three penalties.
The second best offensive lineman in this unit is center Ryan Kelly. Since Kelly entered the league in 2016, he has only allowed four sacks and last season only had two penalties. For backups Indy has second year guard Danny Pinter who can play any interior position, rookie Will Fries, and Sam Tevi. The Colts starters are so dominant but their depth isn’t the strongest. If they all stay healthy then they will make a run at that number one spot.
1. Cleveland Browns: It’s weird seeing the Browns at number one in something but, their offensive line brings back all five starters from last season. There honestly is no weakness for Clevelands offensive line. At center, JC Tretter is coming off of a season where he only allowed on sack and four penalties.
The bookends of the offensive line showcases Jedrick Willis Jr. protecting Bakers blindside. The second year tackle out of Tuscaloosa allowed four sacks as a rookie in a pretty dominant division. He faced T.J. Watt, Bud Dupree, and Matt Judon and still held his own. The other tackle is Jack Conklin who only allowed two sacks. Last season he was new to the division after the Browns signed him from the Titans.
Guard maybe the best position for Cleveland and it’s easily the best combo in the league. Wyatt Teller broke through this past season making second team All Pro giving up just three sacks. The other guard is an absolute unit in Joel Bitonio who made his third, second team All Pro team last season.
On paper, it may not look like the Browns have great depth but Chris Hubbard stepped up big time against Pittsburgh in the playoffs when Jack Conklin went down and dominated Cam Heyward and T.J. Watt.