Checking in on the league's offensive lines since the magazine, there have been a few developments, but relatively little in the way of major injuries or surprises. The Bucs, Browns, Packers and Saints look like they have the league's best offensive lines. The Steelers, Panthers and Giants look worst.
Those teams atop the rankings have average to elite linemen across the board, and is part of why most of those teams' offenses should be among the best in the league this year. Lone exception is the Saints, only because of the uncertainty at both quarterback and wide receiver. But it won't be the line that holds them back.
Some of the developments since our magazine came out:
The Panthers traded Greg Little to Miami. Little was the team's second-round pick in 2019 and ideally would have been their long-term solution at left tackle, so giving him away for a seventh-rounder is what you call throwing in the towel quickly. Miami is hoping a change of scenery pays off, but they've tried a few reclamation projects lately without success. Carolina will meanwhile be starting a disturbing number of other teams' cast-offs, a negative for Sam Darnold and company. (They've got third-round tackle Brady Christensen as a possibility, but he's expected to open as a backup.) Should be a healthy number of dumpoff passes for Christian McCaffrey, as per usual.
Left guard Quenton Nelson underwent foot surgery for the Colts, but all indications are he'll be ready for the start of the season. They'll need him, with a significant question mark at left tackle -- Eric Fisher coming off an Achilles injury and not ready for the start of the season. It will instead be someone from a trio of Julie'n Davenport, Sam Tevi or Will Holden, none of whom the team actually wants to start. Davenport started the exhibition opener, but Holden and Tevi actually played more snaps; they're sorting things out. That hole is the reason the Colts slot outside our top-5 lines; they're strong everywhere else.
Giants guard Zach Fulton retired. Lesser player, but the options to start at guard instead across from Will Hernandez aren't promising. Should be either Kenny Wiggins, who started the first exhibition, or Shane Lemieux in that spot, neither of whom should be considered a strength.
Kansas City has remade its offensive line. The sure things are Orlando Brown and Joe Thuney on the left side. Less certain are a couple of rookies and a second-year player currently slated to start at three other spots: Creed Humphrey, Trey Smith and Lucas Niang. Guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif broke a bone in his hand; he's expected to be ready for Week 1, but initial depth chart indicates he'll back up Smith (a sixth-rounder). If second-rounder Humphrey isn't ready, the team has former Ram Austin Blythe as a backup plan at center. Some moving parts, and we're putting a conservative grade on them for now. The team has veteran options to fall back on if the youngsters aren't ready, but not players anyone wants to see protecting Patrick Mahomes.
The Steelers released David DeCastro. The move was injury-related, but he was Pittsburgh's best remaining lineman, so it's a blow. They signed Trai Turner, who's been a quality guard but is now with his third team in as many seasons; injuries have been a factor for him, too. Pittsburgh's line is going to be a problem.
Teven Jenkins, projected to start at left tackle for Chicago, has undergone back surgery. It'll be Jason Peters filling in, possibly for the entire season, but Peters isn't what he was in his prime. Chicago's projected right tackle, Germain Ifedi, is on the PUP list, though the hope is he'll be ready for Week 1.
Current offensive line rankings are below. A colorful table showing all 160 projected starters will be posted to our Facebook page this afternoon.
|OFFENSIVE LINE RANKINGS|