Offensive Line Rankings: Middle class (20-11)
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20. Miami Dolphins
- If you're trying to improve the performance of your young offensive line, bringing in a big-ticket left tackle like Terron Armstead is a great place to start. In last year's offensive line rankings, we wrote about the need for a veteran leader who could help mentor the Dolhpins' inexperienced group of blockers. That's especially true considering the draft capital they've invested in some of their young linemen like Austin Jackson (first round, 2020), Robert Hunt (second round, 2020), and Liam Eichenberg (second round, 2021).
- Armstead - who's missed 48 games during his nine years in the NFL - hasn't been the most durable player. At 31 years old, that could become more of a problem moving forward. Still, when you have the opportunity to secure a difference-making tackle, you take that risk every time.
- It's hard to deny the Dolphins' attack is about to make a major leap forward. That's thanks to the arrival of new head coach Mike McDaniel, the trade for an elite wideout in Tyreek Hill, the backfield additions - led by Chase Edmonds - and the development of young stars like Jaylen Waddle and Tua Tagovailoa. Now the franchise just needs an ascendant offensive line.
19. Green Bay Packers
|LT||David Bakhtiari (INJ)|
|RT||Elgton Jenkins (INJ)|
- The Packers are in a nightmare scenario where both tackles - David Bakhtiari and Elgton Jenkins - are at risk of missing the beginning of the season. Green Bay won't even provide a timetable for Bakhtiari's return after he played just one game in 2021 and underwent another knee surgery this offseason. Jenkins was activated off the PUP list following the team's first preseason game, but his status for Week 1 is unknown.
- If neither player is in the lineup for the season opener, the Packers would likely be starting Yosh Nijman at left tackle and Zach Tom or Royce Newman on the right side. Yikes!
- Over the years, we've seen Aaron Rodgers continue to produce regardless of his supporting cast. For example, his splits with and without Davante Adams aren't that different. While the loss of a superstar wideout will undoubtedly hurt the offense over the long haul, Rodgers could replicate some of that production by spreading the ball around more. Whether he can overcome it while also dealing with a depleted offensive line is another story. But Rodgers is normally up for the challenge.
18. New York Jets
- The Jets are dealing with knee injuries to former first-round tackle Mekhi Becton and quarterback Zach Wilson. While Becton has already been ruled out for the season, the team is hoping Wilson will be back in two-to-four weeks after surgery. It's a tough blow for an organization that's been loading up in an effort to make a playoff push with its young roster.
- To replace Becton, the team signed former All-Pro tackle Duane Brown. Though the 36-year-old isn't the same player he was at his peak, he can still offer the Jets an excellent stopgap option to aid in Wilson's development. The last thing New York wants is a porous line that disrupts its young passer's rhythm and stifles his growth by allowing constant pressure. George Fant had switched sides with Becton prior to the injury, but he'll move back to right tackle with Brown on the left.
- Fantasy managers should be watching this situation closely. There are several breakout candidates among New York's skill-position players, including receivers Elijah Moore and Garrett Wilson as well as running back Breece Hall. If Brown is an adequate injury replacement for Becton, Hall has the potential to be a top-15 fantasy back as a rookie.
17. New Orleans Saints
|LT||Trevor Penning (R)|
- The Saints moved quickly to draft Terron Armstead's replacement, using the 19th overall selection on 6-7, 321-pound menace Trevor Penning. The rookie has brought his own brand of physicality to training camp, which led to him getting sent home after fighting three consecutive days. The team's initial depth chart has James Hurst as the starting left tackle, but it's Penning's spot to lose.
- Elsewhere on the line, it's business as usual with the four other starters returning. Ryan Ramczyk is the only star in the bunch, with Erik McCoy still in the process of making a name for himself as a quality center. As long as Penning can give them average play in Year 1, the Saints shouldn't experience a massive dropoff. That's notable after they lost a player of Armstead's caliber.
- The key for this unit will be staying healthy after Ramczyk, McCoy, and Andrus Peat combined to miss 23 games last season. With questionable depth, this unit could fall apart quickly if it can't avoid the trainer's table this year.
16. Denver Broncos
|C||Lloyd Cushenberry III|
- The Broncos are returning four of five starters from a line that was a middle-of-the-pack unit a year ago. Garett Bolles has developed into a solid left tackle, and Dalton Risner is an above-average guard lining up next to him. Their stability helped youngsters Lloyd Cushenberry and Quinn Meinerz post solid seasons of their own last year.
- The lone new member of the starting five will come at right tackle, where Calvin Anderson is seeing the most practice reps with newcomers Billy Turner and Tom Compton on the active PUP list. The team also signed Cameron Fleming, perhaps as insurance in case Turner and Compton remain out. It's not an ideal situation on the right side, but with continuity elsewhere, the team should be able to rise above it.
- This will be one of the better offensive lines Russell Wilson has played behind. After the Seahawks failed to properly invest in his protection up front, he'll join a Broncos team capable of keeping its new franchise quarterback clean. It's another reason why Wilson made our list of seven players who'll lead you to a fantasy title this year.
15. San Francisco 49ers
|RG||Spencer Burford (R)|
- One of the biggest questions about the 49ers' roster heading into the 2022 season is the state of their interior offensive line. While All-Pro Trent Williams continues to be one of the most dominant tackles in the game, and fifth-year right tackle Mike McGlinchey is back from the torn quad that cost him nine games last season, the center and guard spots don't inspire as much confidence.
- The good news has been the emergence of fourth-round rookie Spencer Burford, who's manned the right guard spot throughout camp. On the other side, 2021 second-rounder Aaron Banks is stepping into the lineup. He should benefit from playing next to an established star like Williams.
- If the line can coalesce between the tackles, it'll go a long way toward helping Trey Lance reach his full potential in his first year as the starting quarterback. San Francisco is a team with Super Bowl aspirations, and as we've seen, Lance will be judged harshly when he falters. While his fantasy stats will be buoyed by rushing production, there'll still be real-life hurdles he'll have to climb as he attempts to make good on the investment the 49ers made to trade up and get him.
14. Los Angeles Rams
- It's impossible to look at the Rams' offensive line depth chart and not feel like something is missing. The retirement of longtime left tackle Andrew Whitworth leaves a void that'll be hard for to fill - not just for his replacement, Joe Noteboom, but for the line as a whole.
- The defending Super Bowl champions are also in the hunt for a new right guard after Austin Corbett signed with the Panthers in free agency. While we initially projected rookie third-rounder Logan Bruss to handle that role, the early word out of camp from Sean McVay suggests fourth-year man Coleman Shelton has the inside track on capturing that job.
- With Matthew Stafford dealing with an elbow issue that's limiting his throwing reps this offseason, there'll be even more importance placed on protecting him. With two new starters on the line, it's another possible - albeit minor - red flag for his fantasy value. We have Stafford outside our top-12 fantasy QBs this season.
13. Buffalo Bills
- During the Bills' Brandon Beane/Sean McDermott era, the organization has made a habit of finding value on the free-agent market - especially when it comes to fielding a veteran offensive line. Signing a mauling, run-blocking guard like Rodger Saffold - even in his 13th NFL season - and placing him between established players like Dion Dawkins and Mitch Morse gives Buffalo an outstanding wall on the left side.
- Injuries have led to limited practice time for the projected starting five, but we're still a month away from the season kicking off. That's crucial for someone like Spencer Brown, who was listed behind David Quessenberry on the team's first depth chart. While both tackles are capable of handling the job, 2021 third-rounder Brown offers a higher ceiling.
- On paper, this unit looks as strong as what the team fielded last year when it allowed 27 sacks - second fewest in the league. The Bills will go as far as Josh Allen can take them. Behind this line, he might finally get them to the Super Bowl.
12. Baltimore Ravens
|LT||Ronnie Stanley (INJ)|
|C||Tyler Linderbaum (R) (INJ)|
- Injuries might be the only thing holding the Ravens back from a spot inside our top 10. It begins with former All-Pro tackle Ronnie Stanley, who's been limited to just seven appearances over the last two years. He's currently on the active PUP list recovering from a severe ankle injury, but John Harbaugh remains optimistic he'll be back for Week 1.
- If Stanley can't suit up at the start of the season, he'll be replaced by veteran Ja'Wuan James, who hasn't played an NFL game since 2019. James would either step in at left tackle or slide to the right side, making way for Morgan Moses.
- Even first-round rookie center Tyler Linderbaum has been sidelined recently with leg issues that are expected to keep him out a couple of weeks. That's on top of injuries to skill-position players like J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards, who are both rehabbing from torn ACLs suffered prior to last season. If the Ravens can get back to full strength, they'll be a formidable contender in the AFC.
11. Cincinnati Bengals
- The Bengals' front office had one job this offseason: upgrade the offensive line. To its credit, it delivered exactly what this roster needed by acquiring an entirely new right side of the line: La'El Collins, Alex Cappa, and Ted Karras. All three players graded out inside the top 20 at their positions on Pro Football Focus last year, though Karras played guard.
- They'll join forces with a solid but unspectacular left tackle in Jonah Williams, leaving 2021 second-round pick Jackson Carman as the only weak link. Hopefully, he'll fine-tune his game from Year 1 to Year 2.
- Normally, a team that comes as close to winning the Lombardi Trophy as the Bengals did suffers the dreaded Super Bowl hangover. However, Cincy appears poised to pick up where it left off. With the obvious improvements on the line, Joe Burrow and the offense could be even more dangerous in 2022.
INJ - Injury that may affect Week 1 availability
R - Rookie
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