2021 NFL Offensive Line Rankings, by Positional Unit

You’re currently viewing positional rankings from the 2021 season. For the 2022 season, please visit this article: 2022 NFL offensive line rankings, by positional unit.

As a new feature in the 2021 Sharp Football Preview Book, the Sharp Football Analysis team ranked positional units across the league for the 2021 season. The ranking guidelines were up to the specific voter with the only requirement that the focus is on the upcoming season only, not the future outlook.

With a combination of numbers, film, and projections, the rankings were averaged for quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers/tight ends, defensive front seven, defensive secondary, and head coach.

We’ll be running each position separately. On the offensive line, the entire unit was considered, not just the starters.

Quarterbacks | Wide Receivers/Tight Ends | Running Backs | Offensive Line | Front 7 | Secondary

2021 NFL Offensive Line Rankings, by Unit

32. Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers’ 32nd-ranked offensive line allowed its running backs to be contacted at or behind the line of scrimmage on 42% of their carries, the second-worst rate in the league. While they made some much-needed changes, the Steelers will be relying on unproven young linemen to replace C Maurkice Pouncey and LT Alejandro Villanueva.

31. New York Giants

A ton of assets have been spent on trying to upgrade the Giants’ offensive line but the results have yet to match. Last year’s sixth overall pick Andrew Thomas struggled on the left side while other rookie first-round tackles played well around the league. but there is hope development is on the way in Year 2.

30. Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals’ offensive line is the worst unit on the roster (tied with the front seven), which is why many were surprised they selected Ja’Marr Chase over OT Penei Sewell. Left tackle Jonah Williams needs to take a major step forward. In 2020, Williams ranked 73rd out of 80 qualified tackles in Sports Info Solutions’ Points Above Average metric.

29. Miami Dolphins

Four of the Dolphins’ five projected offensive line starters have been drafted by the team since 2019, so there’s plenty of young talent to develop. But the unit needs to take a step forward to help Tua Tagovailoa, especially LT Austin Jackson. Based on Sports Info Solutions’ Points Above Average metric, which works off the EPA framework, Jackson ranked 24th out of 31 qualified left tackles in 2020.

28. Carolina Panthers

Carolina’s worst unit is the offensive line. The decision to draft a first-round cornerback (Jaycee Horn) rather than an offensive lineman (Rashawn Slater) is still hard to understand. Attempting to protect Sam Darnold with this group appears to be a Jets-like mistake. 

27. Houston Texans

The offensive line looks like the best unit on the depth chart due to LT Laremy Tunsil. If RT Tytus Howard takes a step forward in his third year, this unit could potentially emerge as a legitimate strength. 

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26. Chicago Bears

The Bears’ offensive line appeared to take a nice step forward with the addition of rookie Teven Jenkins, but the post-draft release of LT Charles Leno erased any progress. The unit now likely opens the season with a rookie left tackle (Jenkins) and potentially a rookie right tackle (Larry Borom). 

25. Atlanta Falcons

The 25th-ranked offensive line will be replacing veterans Alex Mack and James Carpenter. Perhaps the young replacements will offer an upgrade in the long term, but there’s little reason to expect a significant leap forward this fall.

24. New York Jets

When opponents brought four or fewer pass rushers, Jets’ quarterbacks were pressured 36.1% of the time, the second-worst rate in the league. The left side of the line is in good shape with Mekhi Becton and rookie Alijah Vera-Tucker, but the overall unit is still a work in progress. 

23. Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars have some high-end talent on the offensive line, unfortunately, it’s all on the interior. Based on Sports Info Solutions’ Points Above Average metric, tackles Cam Robinson and Jawaan Taylor ranked 64th and 66th (out of 66) among offensive tackles. 

22. Las Vegas Raiders

The offensive line undoubtedly would have ranked higher last season, but an offseason fire sale gutted the unit. Without proven replacements stepping in for Rodney Hudson and Gabe Jackson, it’s tough to trust their line entering the season.

21. Minnesota Vikings

The offensive line is Minnesota’s lowest-ranked unit, though it could take a significant step forward with the addition of rookie LT Christian Darrisaw and OG Wyatt Davis. Darrisaw will start immediately and Davis is a strong candidate to win the right guard job. 

20. Denver Broncos

The offensive line remains mostly intact from a season ago, with Bobby Massie expected to step in at right tackle. Denver’s quarterbacks were pressured at the fifth-highest rate in 2020, so the lack of turnover isn’t necessarily a positive. 

19. Tennessee Titans

The Isaiah Wilson embarrassment has left the Titans with a glaring hole at right tackle. However, if rookie Dillon Radunz can win that job and immediately produce, this unit could take a noticeable step forward. 

18. Seattle Seahawks

The offensive line has been a liability for the majority of Wilson’s time in Seattle. Duane Brown has been a steady left tackle and Brandon Shell offered a nice upgrade on the right side last season. This year’s addition of Gabe Jackson will hopefully provide more stability on the interior line, pushing the unit closer to respectability. 

17. Washington Football Team

The offensive line lacks a star, but it also appears to lack a weak link, which is arguably more important. This could be a surprisingly strong group after the additions of Charles Leno and rookie Sam Cosmi

16. Buffalo Bills

The offensive line ranks in the middle of the pack, but an area that must improve is the run blocking. In 2020, Bills running backs were contacted at or behind the line of scrimmage on 43% of their carries, the worst rate in the league. Based on this stat, perhaps we undervalued the running backs, who would certainly look more impressive with better blocking. 

15. Los Angeles Chargers

This was one of the worst offensive lines in 2020, but center Corey Linsley and rookie left tackle Rashawn Slater, could offer massive upgrades. If Slater immediately lives up to expectations, our rank for this unit may actually be too low. 

14. Philadelphia Eagles

Philly’s offensive line is its top-ranked unit, but with three projected starters aged 31 or older, the risk of significant decline exists.

13. Arizona Cardinals

D.J. Humphries and Kelvin Beachum emerged as one of the best LT/RT duos in the game last season and anchor our 13th-ranked offensive line. 

12. San Francisco 49ers

Trent Williams buoys an otherwise unimpressive offensive line, though the addition of veteran center Alex Mack may help. In 2020, when opponents blitzed with five or more pass rushers, 49ers quarterbacks were pressured on 46.2% of their snaps, the eighth-highest rate. 

11. Detroit Lions

The strength of this roster is the offensive line, which is a good place to start a rebuilding project. Taylor Decker and rookie Penei Sewell should give  Jared Goff excellent protection on the outside and Frank Ragnow anchors a steady interior line. 

10. Los Angeles Rams

The offensive line returns four of five starters, led by 39-year-old Andrew Whitworth, who continues to perform at a high level. Center Brian Allen, who started nine games in 2019, should take over at center, giving them quality experience at every position. 

9. Green Bay Packers

The Packers’ offensive line lands in our top 10, but only actually received one top-10 vote (second overall). Though the line has been strong in recent years, the loss of center Corey Linsley leaves a major question mark in the middle. 

8. Indianapolis Colts

Our ranking of the Colts offensive line reflects hope for a return to health for Quenton Nelson and confidence in Eric Fisher’s ability to replace Anthony Castonzo at left tackle. However, if Fisher is still affected by his season-ending Achilles injury and Nelson’s recovery timeline is extended, this unit could be in some trouble. 

7. Baltimore Ravens

The offensive line has been a strength in recent years, though there has been a significant shakeup this offseason. Left tackle Ronnie Stanley will likely be the only starter returning to his position from a season ago, though center Bradley Bozeman (played guard in 2020) also returns. 

6. Kansas City Chiefs

The offensive line ranking might be surprising considering they’ll be inserting four new starters, but the combination of experience and depth is impressive. The projected starters have a combined 335 career starts, and the depth includes Laurent Duvernay-Tardif (57 career starts) and second-round pick Creed Humphrey.

5. New England Patriots

The offensive line is the highest-ranked unit, other than head coach, which may allow the backfield to produce at a higher level than its ranking. In 2020, Patriots running backs picked up at least two yards before contact on 51% of their carries, the third-highest rate in the league.

4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

It’s tough to separate  Tom Brady’s ability to get rid of the ball quickly from the offensive line’s production, but the line certainly deserves some credit for Brady only facing pressure on 24.9% of his dropbacks (third-lowest).

3. Dallas Cowboys

Ranking the offensive line was somewhat difficult due to last year’s injuries but, when healthy, there’s little doubt this unit belongs among the best. Even with last year’s injuries, Cowboys quarterbacks were pressured on just 32.6% of dropbacks (ranked 13th). 

2. New Orleans Saints

Our second-ranked offensive line greatly benefits from the stability of the unit, as all five starters return. 

1. Cleveland Browns

The Browns’ offensive line was also a unanimous number-one selection. There isn’t a weak link on the line and the depth only got better with the addition of fourth-round rookie James Hudson.

Ranking each NFL Unit for 2021:

Quarterbacks | Wide Receivers/Tight Ends | Running Backs | Offensive Line | Front 7 | Secondary

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