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Offensive line play remains one of the most underrated pieces of the NFL puzzle. Relatively few people go in-depth on the subject even though it massively impacts game outcomes.

I specialize in evaluating trench play. The primary factors I use to arrive at these rankings are my game-film evaluations of each individual offensive lineman, 2023 performance as a unit, age, experience, continuity, and coaching.

Most teams are evaluated with built-in expectations of variance that could bump them up or down a tier depending on how training camp plays out with regard to injuries, position battles, and chemistry.

This list was made based more on how each unit projects in pass protection than run blocking. There will also be updates weekly throughout the season with a midseason update reworking the entire list with new summaries for each team.

 

Offensive line coaches are in parentheses.

 

Tier 1 — Elite Offensive Lines

 

1. Lions (Hank Fraley)

LT  Taylor Decker
LG  Graham Glasgow
C   Frank Ragnow
RG   Kevin Zeitler
RT   Penei Sewell

Notes: The Lions are coming off of a dominant season as an offensive line unit with right tackle Penei Sewell reaching All-Pro status that landed him the richest deal in league history for an offensive lineman at just 23 years old. Complementing Sewell is another All-Pro, Frank Ragnow, at center with a solid starter in Taylor Decker at left tackle. Last year’s left guard, Jonah Jackson, left this offseason via free agency to the Rams, but Detroit was able to replace him in-house with last year’s predominant starter at right guard and versatile swing piece, Graham Glasgow. While Glasgow doesn’t offer as much explosiveness and athletic ability as Jackson, he is a solid ‘B’ level starter who will provide functional play. This lateral move for Glasgow led to the signing of savvy veteran Kevin Zeitler who, despite being at the end of his career, should be counted on to at least provide what Glasgow did last season in 2024.

With as good of a trio as there is in the NFL at center, each tackle spot, and two proven, functional or better veterans operating inside a shrewd, OL-friendly scheme, this unit is as good as it gets entering the season.

 

Tier 2 — Very Good Offensive Lines

 

2. Eagles (Jeff Stoutland)

LT   Jordan Mailata
LG   Landon Dickerson
 Cam Jurgens
RG   Tyler Steen/Mekhi Becton
RT   Lane Johnson

Notes: The Eagles lost future Hall-of-Fame center Jason Kelce to retirement this offseason, but they have a solid plan in place to replace him with Cam Jurgens, who Kelce himself vouched for in the pre-draft process leading up to his selection in 2022. With probably the top trio in the NFL around Jurgens in Jordan Mailata, Landon Dickerson, and Lane Johnson, this foursome forms a strong foundation for the 2024 season. The primary reason for keeping them outside of Tier 1 for now is the uncertainty around right guard with a pending camp battle between last year’s third-round pick Tyler Steen and free-agent signing Mekhi Becton. Between Steen starting just one game as a rookie and Becton never playing right guard, this position poses a significant question mark. Chances are Coach Stoutland will groom one of them into at least a functional starter with Jurgens’ skill set maximized at center, so forecasting Philly’s line this high isn’t as bold as it may initially seem.

 

3. Browns (Andy Dickerson)

LT   Jedrick Wills Jr.
LG   Joel Bitonio
C   Ethan Pocic
RG   Wyatt Teller
RT   Jack Conklin

Notes: While the Browns did lose one of the league’s premier line coaches in Bill Callahan to the Titans this offseason, the pieces of a top unit remain in place with all five of their starters returning, including an elite guard duo with Joel Bitonio and Wyatt Teller with standout rookie Dawand Jones now serving as arguably the best backup tackle in football. It also helps having a returning head coach in Kevin Stefanski, who also calls plays, ensuring at least some level of consistency in the system to allow this unit to start fast.

 

4. Chiefs (Andy Heck)

LT   Wanya Morris/Kingsley Suamataia (R)
LG   Joe Thuney
C   Creed Humphrey
RG   Trey Smith
RT   Jawaan Taylor

Notes: The Chiefs’ line will continue to be spearheaded by the league’s best interior trio operating inside an Andy Reid system that masterfully builds in schematic help for the tackles in pass protection to help mitigate their weak spots while QB Patrick Mahomes takes care of the rest. The team got shaky play out of Jawaan Taylor after spending big on him in free agency last year, but he did at least settle down as the year went on, and chances are he will be incrementally better in Year 2. They also improved their talent at left tackle by drafting Kingsley Suamataia in the second round. Suamataia will compete with last year’s third-round pick, Wanya Morris, for the job, which should result in at least serviceable play.

 

5. Colts (Tony Sparano Jr.)

LT   Bernhard Raimann
LG   Quenton Nelson
C   Ryan Kelly
RG   Will Fries
RT   Braden Smith

Notes: The Colts are returning all five starters inside one of the league’s most OL-friendly schemes predicated off of a balanced run-pass split with extensive RPOs and play-action that take heat off of the blockers in pass protection. Quenton Nelson remains an elite starter, Ryan Kelly a top-five center, and Braden Smith a solid starting right tackle, but it is recent draft picks Bernhard Raimann, Will Fries, and their development that stand out most. Raimann and Fries both were solid starters last season with flashes of more, and considering each were picked in Rounds 3 (Raimann) and 7 (Fries), the Colts have been able to utilize smart drafting to find a really nice balance of veterans and youth to cement their status as one of the top units in the league for the foreseeable future.

 

Tier 3 — Solid Offensive Lines

 

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