- Pat Yasinskas, ESPN Staff Writer
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Check out this post that ranks the NFL’s offensive lines from No. 1 to No. 32.
The fine folks at Pro Football Focus put a lot of effort into this and I don’t dispute their rankings. But I am a bit surprised at where some of the NFC South offensive lines were ranked.
The New Orleans Saints came in at No. 3 in the league. If that ranking came in any of the last few seasons, I wouldn’t be that surprised. But my impression is that New Orleans’ offensive line play has slipped a bit this season, partly due to the departure of guard Carl Nicks and partly due to a series of injuries at right tackle.
The Atlanta Falcons are No. 16, which sounds about right. The Falcons brought in a new offensive line coach (Pat Hill) and also became more of a passing team. The run blocking hasn’t been great, but left tackle Sam Baker finally has played up to expectations.
I’m mildly surprised the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are ranked as low (No. 22) as they are. The Bucs are without injured Pro Bowl guards Nicks and Davin Joseph and have had to adjust their line multiple times. That line has played well enough for Doug Martin to rush for more than 1,000 yards and has given Josh Freeman enough time to connect on some downfield throws. Tampa Bay's offensive line clearly has overachieved.
The Carolina Panthers came in at No. 29. Like the Bucs, the Panthers have had some significant injuries on their offensive line. Unlike the Bucs, the next guys up haven’t been able to deliver positive results.