Who’s the best? Looking at the NFL Offensive line rankings

Being the best at something is always a nice feeling, and something people, companies, and sports teams will all strive to achieve. For the average person, the way to achieve this could be through work, by winning an employee of the month award, or by making the most sales. For a company, they could make a larger profit than a rival organization, or win a huge new deal that will lead to a huge expansion in their industry.

For a sports team, the most obvious way to demonstrate being the best is by winning leagues and lifting trophies. The best teams get into a habit of winning, so it becomes second nature to them, meaning the nerves no longer get to them in the same way. Make winning a habit, and success will come much easier.

Look at soccer in Spain. For years, Barcelona was considered not only the best side in their league but also the entire world. They made winning look easy, and set records for the number of competitions they won.

In the world of Formula 1, we’ve seen the same sort of thing with Mercedes. They have dominated the sport for the best part of a decade, winning the constructors championship over and over, fending off their rivals with relative ease. It has actually caused many fans to stop watching, as the competitiveness in the sport just isn’t there anymore. Mercedes and their fans won’t mind too much though, as they will keep themselves warm at night with all the trophies they’ve won.

In the NFL, there was certainly a period where the New England Patriots were the best team around. Under Head coach Bill Belichick, they made it to the Super Bowl final on nine separate occasions, winning six of them. For anyone who is a fan of sports betting, the Patriots would certainly have been one of their NFL picks for any Super Bowl final, as they had so much success in winning these big games.

However, despite this dominance suggesting they were more than likely the best overall franchise in the NFL each year, certainly with the best coach, it is possible that other sides were actually better than the Patriots in certain areas. They have had a better defensive line, or wide receivers, or running backs, for example. The NFL is great in that sense, that you can separate different positions out, to see who has the best offensive line for example. That side might not go on to win the Super Bowl if they are deficient in other areas, but it will certainly prove they are strong in at least. Let’s have a look at who has had the best stats for their offensive lines in 2021.

The Browns lead the way in the 2020/21 campaign

As the year 2021 straddles two NFL seasons, let us first evaluate who was the best offensive line for last season. And to prove the point about the Super Bowl champions not necessarily finishing at the top of every chart, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers did not finish as the highest-ranked offensive line last season.

Right at the top of the charts was the Cleveland Browns. For many years the Browns were the laughing stock of the NFL, frequently coming dead last of the  AFC North. However, they have really improved things recently, especially in their offensive line. They ranked first in pass-blocking grade, and second in run-blocking grade. Their Center J.C. Tretter was already one of the best in his position in the entire league, but he improved again last season, posting an 81.0 overall grade.

Not far behind the Browns were Bill Belichick’s Patriots. They achieved 2,346 rushing yards, which is very impressive considering Tom Brady’s replacement Brian Lewerke was not up to much. Left tackle Isiah Wynn got an 82.6 overall grade, with the fifth-lowest percentage of negatively graded plays in a run game.

The Buccaneers were of course fairly highly rated, as their offensive line surrendered just 22 sacks in the whole of the season. Tristan Wirfs was in his rookie season, but acted like he’d been playing pro-ball for years, as he allowed only 24 pressures at right tackle for the whole season,

How is this season shaping up?

We are only three games into the new campaign, so we might not be able to draw too many conclusions from the stats just yet. But if we look at where certain sides have recruited in their offensive line, we can make a prediction on who might well finish at the top of the charts at the end of this season.

The Bucs have reinforced this area, drafting Notre Dame tackle Robert Hainsey to give them some flexibility in this area of the field. The Indianapolis Colts have added Eric Fisher, who will take the left tackle spot, which will surely be an improvement on the now-retired Anthony Castonzo.

The Patriots have re-acquired Trent Brown at right tackle, which will certainly make them stronger. Can the Browns do it again? They have hung on to all five of their starters from last season and added offensive tackle James Huson, so it could well be another strong year for Cleveland.

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Last modified: October 4, 2021

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