Which team has the best offensive line in the NFL?
As many fans know, one of the most important aspects of football at any level is the offensive line. When it comes to fantasy football, it often goes by the wayside but offensive lines can change the game for the better (or worse) for your fantasy teams.
With the 2021-2022 NFL season underway with preseason and the regular season in August and September, the offensive lines are set barring injury. This means we can rank each offensive line from one to 32.
Without further ado, here is my earnest attempt at ranking every NFL team’s offensive line, 1 through 32. To develop the rankings, I considered my own film study, our data here at FTN Data, and each team's depth chart top to bottom. Enjoy.
Here is my list of all 32 offensive lines in the NFL, ranked from 1st to 32nd. We start with the Cleveland Browns.
1. Cleveland Browns - Best offensive line in the NFL
After aggressively attacking the offensive line after the 2019 season, the Browns unit quickly rose to the top of the NFL. Offensive tackles Jack Conklin and Jedrick Wills were perfect complements to a beastly interior that arguably features three players who are all top-5 at their respective positions in Joel Bitonio, J.C. Tretter and Wyatt Teller. This OL group is absolutely nasty and fits the identity and scheme of the team perfectly. On top of returning all five starters for 2021, the Browns added James Hudson via the draft, potentially providing good depth at OT and IOL, thus making it easy for them to hold the top spot in my rankings heading into the season. On top of stellar pass-protection, the Browns can smack you on the ground using a multitude of run concepts to get the job done. Whether it be outside zone, inside zone, duo/gap, or counter/power the Browns have the versatility to keep defenses guessing.
Stat to know: Cleveland’s offense ranked second in time to pressure with a mark of 2.58 seconds.
2. New England Patriots offensive line ranks highly in 2021
That Patriots seemingly have good OL play in perpetuity. Even when they lose a top-notch player like Joe Thuney in free agency, they have a plan of succession in place and the unit stays healthy. Michael Onwenu, who played out of his mind as a rookie in 2020, is that guy for the upcoming season. The Patriots also got Trenton Brown back via trade, so he’ll slot in at RT. Brown played his best football in New England before signing a massive deal with the Raiders. The other three starters will be returning. This is an above-average unit in pass protection but arguably the best run-blocking squad in the game.
Stat to know: New England’s OL produced a league-leading 2.13 yards before contact on non-QB runs in 2020.
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers trend up in OL rankings for 2021
Continuity on the offensive line is arguably one of the most important factors in terms of year over year success. That is exactly what the Buccaneers are working with in 2021, the same exact starting five (in fact, the same exact starting 22 from the Super Bowl) they had in 2020. This unit features studs in Tristan Wirfs and Ali Marpet while also not really having a weakness to exploit. As the 2020 season went on, this unit just got better and better. The Bucs also proactively added some high-quality depth in the form of Robert Hainsey, a third-round pick from Notre Dame who can likely back up multiple positions.
4. Green Bay Packers offensive line ranks in top 5
The Packers are another team that seemingly has good-to-great offensive line play year over year despite constantly losing pieces in free agency. The Packers have a knack for drafting and developing guys and making them immediate impact players. This year, they lose one of the best centers in the league in Corey Linsley but hope second-round rookie Josh Myers can replace him effectively. Also, you can’t mention the Packers OL without talking about David Bakhtiari, arguably the league's best pass protector.
Stat to know: In 2020, the Packers OL produced the highest time to pressure per dropback with a mark of 2.67. They also produced the fourth-most yards before contact per carry (non-QB runs) with a mark of 1.92.
5. Kansas City Chiefs offensive line gets a boost in 2021
Unlike the Buccaneers, the Chiefs are not working with any sort of continuity along the offensive line — in fact, they will be starting five brand new players there. If you watched the Super Bowl, you understand why. The Chiefs obsessively pursued offensive line tweaks and upgrades all offseason long, which resulted in one of the best units in the league on paper. “On paper” is the huge caveat though, as we have never seen them play together. Still, on paper, the Chiefs have a top-five left side in LT Orlando Brown and LG Joe Thuney. They also roll into the season seven or eight players deep and will have the opportunity to shuffle things a bit to ensure they live up to the hype.
Despite a brutal 2020 season as a whole, the Lions had sneakily good offensive line play all season, especially from their LT through C positions, featuring Taylor Decker, Jonah Jackson and Frank Ragnow. Ragnow can make a case for being the top center in the NFL and just signed a long-term extension. With their first-round pick, the Lions also added the best OL prospect in some time in Penei Sewell, who slots in immediately at RT. The only real question for the Lions will be the RG spot where they will likely have a three-player competition. Tyrell Crosby is also an above-average swing tackle, giving the Lions very valuable depth.
7. Indianapolis Colts have one of the best OL in the NFL
Pancake central! The Colts OL is the definition of nasty with several guys who take pride in getting their man to the ground. Led by Quenton Nelson, the Colts front office has done an excellent job of building an offensive line that fits the scheme and attitude of the team. If this unit can make improvements in pass-pro this season they could end the year even higher on this list. The big question here is how fast Eric Fisher can return from his Achilles injury and how effective he will be. As of now, Sam Tevi likely won’t cut it at LT for the long haul.
Stat to know: The Colts OL generated 1.9 yards before contact per carry in 2020, fifth in the NFL.
8. New Orleans Saints offensive line to be put to the test
The Saints are an all-around good-to-great line. Most of their value is captured in being great at the most important aspect of offensive line play, pass protection on the edge. The Saints boast the likely top OT duo in the game with Terron Armstead (LT) and Ryan Ramczyk (RT). They are also very productive in the run game. All of that said, this line has some more meat on the bone if they can get a step forward from 2020 first-rounder Cesar Ruiz as well as slightly better play from Andrus Peat.
Stat to know: The Saints ranked third in the NFL in yards before contact per carry with a mark of 1.99 (non-QB runs).
The Football Team’s offensive line was perhaps one of the most improved units in 2020. They went from being poor in both pass protection and run-blocking to being arguably a top-10 unit in both. Despite the improvement, the Football Team chose not to settle and instead continued adding talent to the group. They signed freshly released Charles Leno — who is likely to take over the starting left-tackle job — traded for Ereck Flowers — who had a career year with the team back in 2019 — and spent the 51st pick in the draft on Samuel Cosmi — who could eventually start at offensive tackle. These guys join Brandon Scherff, who is still one of the best RGs in the league.
Stat to know: Washington generated 1.73 yards before contact per carry in 2020, which ranked ninth in the NFL.
10. San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers run-heavy, play-action-heavy approach has certainly helped this offensive line prosper and reach great heights. After almost multiple seasons off, Trent Williams proved he is still an elite player and might just be the best left tackle in the game. His presence alone elevates this unit quite a bit. The 49ers interior group dealt with injuries en masse last season, and as a result they added Alex Mack in free agency and Aaron Banks via the draft. If those additions lead to more consistency on the inside, look out.
11. Buffalo Bills
Most people’s idea of building an offensive line doesn’t look anything like the way the Bills did it. The team took a massively unconventional approach, throwing multiple low-cost darts at nearly every position along the line and relied on players to either return to their former standard — as was the case with Daryl Williams — or for players to develop and get better. The Bills OL unit is a great example of what a collection of five guys who are average to good can do. They don’t necessarily have a “stud” to hang their hat on, but they don’t have anyone getting whooped on a down-to-down basis either. They will return the whole unit in 2021.
Stat to know: The Bills averaged 2.47 seconds per dropback before giving up pressure, which ranked fifth in the NFL last season.
12. Arizona Cardinals
Arizona was sneakily one of the better pass-pro units in the NFL last season. After being utterly abysmal in 2019, they bounced back in a major way and got good play from their OT duo D.J. Humphries and Kelvin Beachum. Humphries, who had a breakout 2020 campaign, established himself as a dominant run blocker as well. The Cardinals upgraded their worst position along the line by trading for Rodney Hudson, who should still have some good football left in him.
Stat to know: Ranked top-10 in both time to pressure per dropback (2.45 seconds) and yards before contact per carry (1.97 yards).
13. Tennessee Titans offensive line looks to improve
The Titans offensive line did not play up to its ceiling last season, in large part due to a mess at offensive tackle, with Taylor Lewan missing most of the season, and Isaiah Wilson, who was slated to replace free agent departure Jack Conklin, missing essentially all of the season before being shipped out of town. I fully expect a comeback this year with the return of Lewan and the addition of second-round pick Dillon Radunz.
14. Seattle Seahawks
A good offensive line is not really something Russell Wilson has had to work with in his decade with the Seahawks. Well, that sort of started to change in 2020, and 2021 looks even better for the Seahawks with the addition of Gabe Jackson, a good-not-great player. The Seahawks have a very interesting blend of young players and veterans with Duane Brown still playing like a top tackle in the NFL. Brown might finally have some help.
Stat to know: The Seahawks average time to pressure per dropback was 2.55 seconds, the third-best mark in the NFL.
Dallas was absolutely gutted by injuries last season and as a result performed miserably for most of the year. This is not the first time we have heard this story with the Cowboys either. That said, this is still a unit that features absolute studs in LT Tyron Smith and RG Zack Martin and also has solid players in RT La’el Collins and C Tyler Biadasz. With the addition of Ty Nsekhe — perhaps the best reserve tackle in the NFL — the Cowboys also went a long way in providing themselves insurance in case the injury bug strikes again. This unit could easily return to elite status if they can stay healthy.
16. Philadelphia Eagles OL is top-tier when healthy
Assuming the Eagles line stays healthy this year, it has a chance to be a phenomenal unit. From center to right tackle the Eagles have studs in each spot with Jason Kelce, Brandon Brooks and Lane Johnson. The two big questions will be the development of left tackle Andre Dillard, who missed all of the 2020 season, and how rookie second-rounder Landon Dickerson fits in. If Dickerson is good out of the gate the Eagles could make the case for best interior OL in the league.
Stat to know: Including QB runs, the Eagles ranked second in yards before contact per carry with a mark of 2.0.
Anytime you lose an elite player like Orlando Brown, there is a chance for significant regression. That said, there is a serious reason for optimism. The return of Ronnie Stanley from injury is huge, plus Brown’s replacement Alejandro Villanueva might not be close to Brown's level, but he is an above-average player. The Ravens also added veteran Kevin Zeitler, who slots in as an improvement at right guard.
Stat to know: Ranked second in yards before contact per carry on non-QB runs (2.04) and first if you include QB runs (2.38).
18. Los Angeles Rams
While the Rams unit did take a major step back toward the good after a dreadful 2019 season, there are question marks here. The Rams lost starting center Austin Blythe to the Chiefs, and stud left tackle Andrew Whitworth is another year older, now 39. On paper, this unit is still strong, but it is certainly a candidate to regress as a whole. If they land somewhere between their 2019 and 2020 performances, I would expect them to end the season further down this list by a considerable margin.
19. Los Angeles Chargers
The Kansas City Chiefs were not the only team in the AFC West to completely overhaul its offensive line. On paper, this might actually be the most improved unit in the league with the addition of stud Corey Linsley, first-round pick Rashawn Slater and versatile guard/tackle Matt Feiler, who will all join Bryan Bulaga, the only likely 2020 starter returning, to form potentially the best unit the Chargers have had in years.
20. Atlanta Falcons
Growing pains due to a youth movement has definitely been the story of the past two seasons in Atlanta after selecting two OL in the first round in 2019. While those guys have taken some steps forward, the Falcons could quite possibly be again in a situation where they are starting two rookies in Jalen Mayfield and Drew Dalman. The positive outlook here is that if it works, four-fifth of the Falcons OL will be young and under contract and would certainly look to be a building block for the new regime.
21. Minnesota Vikings offensive line will need to improve in 2021
The Vikings have not been shy about trying to improve their offensive line over the past five years. Whether signing big-time free agents or spending Day 1/2 picks on offensive linemen, they have chucked resources at what has been their biggest weakness for a while. Unfortunately for them, it hasn’t worked out as well as they would hope. However, Christian Darrisaw is my favorite pick they have made on the OL in some time. While there are certainly question marks about Darrisaw’s ability on true pass-sets coming from the play action- and RPO-heavy Virginia Tech offense, there probably isn’t a better landing spot for him than the Vikings who will get the most out of him as a run-blocker and protect him a bit as he develops his pass-pro technique with their enormous play action usage. Wyatt Davis could also compete for the left guard job in Year One — if he wins, all five of the Vikings starters will be 25 years old or younger. Definitely a chance to climb the list here.
22. Denver Broncos offensive line
The Broncos were just OK in both pass-blocking and run-blocking last season but dealt with the growing pains of young players Dalton Risner and Lloyd Cushenberry in the starting lineup. The potential of this group is there though and assuming those guys take even a modest step forward, the Broncos unit, led by Garett Boles, should be pretty good and at least a unit that won’t tank the offense.
23. Miami Dolphins offensive line
The Brian Flores-led Dolphins have been in relentless pursuit of offensive linemen who can play, and it finally looks like they are starting to get somewhere. By every discernable data point, the Dolphins were close to a middle-of-the-pack unit last season despite starting three rookies for a majority of the year. While last year's first-round rookie Austin Jackson didn’t play as well as they had hoped, second-rounder Robert Hunt was a stud early on. With the addition of Liam Eichenberg in this year's draft, Hunt could potentially slide to guard and they in turn upgrade two positions yet again. This is definitely a unit to keep an eye on; if things go well, it has top-15 potential.
24. Carolina Panthers offensive line
In 2020, the Panthers probably got the most out of a unit that on paper looks to be a major weakness. Their moderate success/improvement last year was mostly seen in pass-protection and was yet another example of having at least five average guys without one or more glaring weaknesses. The Panthers didn’t do much in free agency but did add three rookies that I like in Brady Christensen, Deonte Brown and David Moore. While those guys might not play much this year, they are reasonable depth options who could develop into starters down the road. Either way, for this team to take a step forward they will have to get better in the run game.
Stat to know: Ranked dead last in yards before contact per carry on non-QB runs (1.02).
With Andrew Norwell, Brandon Linder and A.J. Cann, the Jaguars have actually had a very formidable interior offensive line the past few years, especially when it comes to protecting the passer. The offensive tackle position remains the biggest question mark here, presumably leading the Jaguars to grab Walker Little in the second round of this year's draft. Little should be able to compete for one of the starting tackle jobs and at worst provide better depth than years past.
26. Las Vegas Raiders offensive line
It was a surprise when the Jon Gruden/Mike Mayock regime blew up what many considered to be a good offensive line in the offseason. If you look at how the unit performed in the run game, however, you can start to convince yourself that at minimum, some type of change was needed. That change may simply have been getting healthy, with Richie Incognito and Trenton Brown missing most of the season. The Raiders opted for cutting cost and bringing in some new bodies, including first-rounder Alex Leatherwood, an athletic freak and should help in the run game as the right tackle. Leatherwood has a long way to go as far as his pass-pro chops though, and the Raiders may get marginally better in the run game at the sacrifice of pass protection.
27. Chicago Bears O-Line
While Teven Jenkins was one of my favorite prospects in this draft class, losing both starting offensive tackles isn’t a good look for a team that already struggled. The release of Charles Leno made little sense to me. Ultimately though, this unit's success or failure will likely be determined by what they get out of the right side of the line.
Stat to know: Bears ranked bottom third in both average time to pressure (2.25 seconds) and yards before contact on non-QB runs (1.27).
28. Houston Texans
Landing a bottom-five ranking here is a tough look for a team that has a star left tackle in Laremy Tunsil, but this is just a microcosm of the Texans as a whole right now. The Texans weren’t really able to address the offensive line this offseason in any major way and outside of Tunsil will be counting on major developments from youngsters Max Scharping and Tytus Howard to see any type of improvement.
29. Cincinnati Bengals
Certainly a candidate for most improved offensive line with the addition of vet Riley Reiff and rookie Jackson Carman, the Bengals OL still has a long way to go. Overall, the Bengals struggled in both pass pro and run-blocking.
30. New York Jets offensive line
The Jets have to prove it on the field before they climb the list a ton, but it's easy to look at Mekhi Becton and Alijah Vera-Tucker and be enthused about where this is headed. Still, the right side of the line is a mess and will likely keep this unit as a bottom-tier group for at least this upcoming season.
31. New York Giants offensive line
By all accounts, the Giants made the wrong pick when they selected Andrew Thomas over Jedrick WillsMekhi Becton and Tristan Wirfs in the 2020 NFL Draft. We are only a year into each of their respective careers, but not only were the only three significantly better in Year One, Thomas was an unmitigated disaster. His wonky pass-pro technique got abused in his rookie campaign as he gave up double-digit sacks in the process. The rest of the Giants OL left a lot to be desired as well and with no upgrades this offseason, it's hard to see a path to improvement outside of accelerated development from Thomas.
Stat to know: Ranked 28th in time to pressure per dropback (2.24 seconds).
32. Pittsburgh Steelers
This will probably come as a shock to many as the Steelers having a good offensive line has been almost as consistent as having to pay taxes each year. In 2020, the Steelers OL was poor in just about every facet of the game, and the team didn’t do much to negate losing two starters in the offseason.
Stat to know: The Steelers ranked bottom-five in both time to pressure per dropback (2.17 seconds) and yards before contact per carry (1.29).