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Offensive Lines

Updated Offensive Line Rankings

Tampa, Green Bay deal with injured stars

Checking in on the offensive lines around the league, two of the very best are facing significant questions at the start of training camp. One situation just cropped up yesterday, while one has been brewing for a while.

Bucs center Ryan Jensen (pictured), who's started every game for the team the last four seasons and went to the Pro Bowl a year ago, was carted off the field yesterday with a knee injury. There's no official word reported, but the early consensus seems to be Bad. If it's a season-ender, that's a big worry inside. The Bucs were already replacing last year's guards, retired Ali Marpet and free agent departure Alex Cappa. That's potentially three new starters in the interior, with one proven option (Shaq Mason, acquired from New England) and two unknowns (youngsters Aaron Stinnie and Robert Hainsey, who we're penciling in to replace Jensen). The Bucs still have maybe the league's best pair of tackles, but interior blocking looks suspect.

In Green Bay, David Bakhtiari is one of the game's best left tackles, or was when he was last playing. That was in 2020, except for a one-game cameo late last year, coming off a torn ACL. He apparently had a setback with the injury (or it's a new one); either way he's not practicing now, and underwent another knee surgery in the offseason. The guy who filled in for him last year, Elgton Jenkins, is also coming off a torn ACL and not certain to be available in Week 1. Fourth-rounder Zach Tom might be next man up, so that's an unknown commodity. A little early to write off Bakhtiari without more information, but his availability is in doubt.

Other news and notes since the magazine came out:

  • The Jets have pulled the plug on Mekhi Becton at left tackle. He's being moved to right tackle, with veteran George Fant the starter on the left. This is not a seismic change, after Fant started most of the season there (and played well) a year ago. But it's an acceptance on the part of the team that Becton has disappointed, since being selected two picks ahead of All-Pro Tristan Wirfs. Making the move this early in camp can be viewed as a plus, giving Becton a chance to settle in. Maybe he emerges as the next Lane Johnson (though probably not). But at least those tackle positions are established early in the preseason, giving a sense of what the line will look like once the real games start.

  • We talked a little about Orlando Brown in last week's Update. The Kansas City tackle doesn't want to play under the franchise tag and hasn't reported to camp. The team doesn't have an option to sign him to a long-term deal at this point, so he'll either play under the tag or (far less likely) be moved. The guess is he'll show up at some point before the start of the season, but there's some uncertainty there. It'd be a steep downgrade to a replacement (perhaps Geron Christian).

  • Not only might the Patriots be messing with the running back depth chart, they're apparently considering swapping tackles. Trent Brown has been working on the left side, and Isaiah Wynn on the right. Both are good players; presumably New England thinks this will make the entire line better (unless they're just screwing with us and will switch them back next week).

  • Alex Mack officially retired for San Francisco, leaving them with either Jake Brendel or perhaps guard Daniel Brunskill at center. Brendel was a backup last season, and is very much an unknown, a blow to this line. He was working at center at OTAs, but it's early; they could still go with Brunskill, or pursue a veteran option. Either way, a downgrade from Mack.

  • The Bears signed veteran Riley Reiff, and he'll likely play left tackle. That's a really quick hook for Teven Jenkins, the 2021 second-rounder who will likely start on the right. It's an upgrade for Chicago's line (but not enough to get them out of the cellar).

Updated offensive line rankings are below; a colorful table of player ratings for projected starters can be seen at our Facebook page.

2Kansas City
3LA Chargers
5Tampa Bay
7New Orleans
9Green Bay
12NY Jets
13New England
16San Francisco
23LA Rams
29NY Giants
30Las Vegas

--Andy Richardson

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