Fantasy information, fantasy Fantasy news, Fantasy articles, Fantasy rankings           Fantasy Football Info For Serious Players

Fantasy Football Information | Fantasy Football Articles | Fantasy Football News
Fantasy Football Links | Fantasy Football Updates | Fantasy Football Rankings
 Fantasy Football Forums | Fantasy Football Projections


Forums
News
Login / Signup  
Home  
Articles
•  Forecast  
•  Humor  
ē  Links  
ē  Players  
ē  Stats  
•  Tools  
ē  Updates  
 
Offensive Line Preview

  NFL Overall Run Pass       Change  
Rank Team Grade Block Block Depth Cohesion Exp from '04 Comments
1 Kansas City Chiefs A+ A+ A B A+ A+ same Best offensive line in football
2 Jacksonville Jaguars A A- B A A B+ better Young and improving
3 Baltimore Ravens A A B B B A better Awesome run blocking production
4 Pittsburgh Steelers A- A B C B B+ same Starters great, depth lacking
5 Cincinnati Bengals A- B A B B B+ same Much better than most realize
6 San Diego Chargers B+ B+ B A B B same Young and talented
7 New York Jets B B+ B C B C+ worse Good group, may miss McKenzie
8 Dallas Cowboys B+ A B- A B B+ better Adding talented G Rivera is huge
9 Denver Broncos B B B B B+ B+ same Always strong
10 Washington Redskins B B B B B B better Could be top-five unit if healthy
11 San Francisco 49ers B B C B+ B B better Youth, talent and depth
12 Philadelphia Eagles B B+ B C B B same Could be great if G Andrews is productive
13 Seattle Seahawks B B+ C+ A B B same Good talent but new starter at RT
14 St. Louis Rams B B C+ B B B+ same Solid line with great left tackle
15 Carolina Panthers B B B B C+ B better Adding guard Wahle is big boost
16 Houston Texans B B+ C A C+ C+ better Texans OL is becoming a force
17 Chicago Bears B B C+ A C+ A better Added two solid lineman
18 Minnesota Vikings B B C+ B B B same Talented C Birk hindered with hernia
19 New York Giants C+ B C C+ B B same Play ok as a unit
20 Cleveland Browns C+ B C B C- B better Not there yet but improving
21 New England Patriots C+ C+ B B C+ C+ worse Continue to lose valuable depth
22 New Orleans Saints C+ A C- B- C B better Should be amongst best run blockers
23 Buffalo Bills C+ B C B C B same Solid, but unspectacular
24 Oakland Raiders C+ B B B- C C+ same Young line could make noise by '06
25 Miami Dolphins C+ C+ C+ A- C- C+ better Great depth, improved coaching may help
26 Detroit Lions C+ B C C C+ C+ same Could get better as season wears on
27 Arizona Cardinals C+ B C D C B same Talent is there, need better production
28 Atlanta Falcons C B C- C+ C+ C+ worse Overachieved last season
29 Indianapolis Colts C C+ C D C C+ worse Lots of question marks
30 Tennessee Titans C C+ D C C+ B worse Entire team is falling apart
31 Green Bay Packers C C C+ C C B worse Lost both starting guards
32 Tampa Bay Buccaneers D D C- C- D C+ worse Already poor line lost quality depth

Arizona Cardinals
Overall Grade: C+

Run Block: C+

Pass Block: B

Depth: D

Cohesion: C

Experience: B

Change from í04: B


2004:
22nd in rushing (1,668 yards), 30th in YPC (3.5), 20th in sacks allowed (39), 14th in PA / Sack (13.7 PA / Sack)

New Additions: T/G Oliver Ross (Pittsburgh)

Key Losses: Anthony Clement

Projected Starting Lineup: C-Alex Stepanovich; G-Reggie Wells; G-Elton Brown [r] T-Oliver Ross; T-Leonard Davis

Key Backups:C Nick Leckey

As usual, this unit has loads of potential and as usual only time will tell whether they can measure up to that potential.Last year as a rookie, center Alex Stepanovich started all sixteen games and did a good job while learning on the fly.He is an aggressive, hard-nosed player who has great football savvy and will only get better with experience.His technique is already strong but it will get better and his footwork is good for his age.His athletic ability isnít tremendous but he has enough to get by and his power/bulk is marginal at best.He will anchor this unit for a long time to come.Leonard Davis is entering his fifth year with the Cardinals and he has bee a starter in each of his prior four seasons.He has unbelievable size at 6í6 and 380+ pounds but he could stand to lose 20 pounds and improve his quickness. His strength is exceptional and once he gets his hands on an opponent while run blocking, it is over for that defender.Ideally, he would slot in at the guard position but may have to use him at the tackle position. Newcomer Oliver Ross was brought in via free agent from the Steelers and heíll immediately slot in as a starting tackle for the team.He has great size and is an absolute bull when it comes to run blocking.Rookie guard Elton Brown, the Cardinals 4th round pick will likely get a chance to start right out of the gate.The Cardinals absolutely stole him in the fourth round as he should have gone no later than early in the 2nd round.He has awesome size and athleticism and should be able to step in and play at a high level right away. Reggie Wells will likely start at the other guard position.He is athletic, strong and started all 16 games last season.With improved technique he could develop into a very good starter.Former 1st round pick, LJ Shelton fell out of favor with the Cardinals and was released.

Bottom Line: The Cardinals have looked poised to have a top offensive line for years now but it never materialized.The line is in a state of flux this season but it could be much better for it as the season wears on.Oliver Ross appears to be a huge upgrade at the one tackle position and rookie guard Elton Brown should help to open holes for the running game.Leonard Davis has been a solid lineman throughout his career although he never became the elite player he was supposed to be.Overall, this has the making of a decent group out of the gate with the potential to grow significantly as the season wears on.If this group can gel, the running attack will thrive.


Atlanta Falcons
Overall Grade: C

Run Block: B

Pass Block: C-

Depth: C+

Cohesion: C+

Experience: C+

Change from í04: C-


2004:
1st in rushing (2,672 yards), 1st in YPC (5.1), 28th in sacks allowed (50), 31st in PA / Sack (7.9 PA / Sack)

New Additions: T Barry Stokes

Key Losses: G Roberto Garza; OL Coach Alex Gibbs

Projected Starting Lineup: C-Todd McClure; G-Martin Bibla; G-Kynan Forney; T-Todd Weiner; T-Kevin Shaffer

Key Backups: G Mookie Moore; G Matt Lehr; G/C/TE Eric Beverly; G Barry Stokes

The Falcons running attack was awesome a year ago despite only average talent at the position.The reason for the success was the presence of offensive line guru Alex Gibbs who helped turned this unit into one of the finest in the game.Gibbs has semi-retired this season and is simply a consultant for the team and he will be replaced by last seasonís tight end coach, Jeff Jagodzinski who will almost certainly be a big step down from the genius of Gibbs.The team will also feel the loss of Roberto Garza who started in fifteen of the games last season for the Falcons.At center, Todd McClure is entering his fifth season as the starter and he hasnít missed a start.He has good technique and football smarts but is undersized at only 286 pounds and struggles to move opponents off of the ball.He is a good player but will never be considered an elite one.Guard Kynan Forney has started games in each of his first four seasons in the league and hasnít missed a start in the past two seasons.He has nice size at 307 pounds and is very athletic.He is a better lineman than most folks realize and continues to get better each season.He doesnít have terrific power and isnít able to control the line of scrimmage on a consistent basis.He is probably the best lineman the Falcons have though and he is getting better with experience.He is as good of a 7th round pick as you can find.Guard Martin Bibla will get every chance to win the starting job this season, in this his fourth year with the club.He is an aggressive run blocker who has nice power but is limited athletically and doesnít play well in space.He will be in a battle with Matt Lehr, Mookie Moore and Eric Beverly for the right to be the starter but he is the most talented of those four.At tackle, another 7th round pick has found his way to the starting unit of the Falcons.Kevin Shaffer is undersized at only 290 pounds but goes hard on every play, is aggressive and has more power than his size indicates.He is very limited in pass blocking due to poor foot work and athleticism and he will never be more than a serviceable starter.T Todd Weiner has started all but one game over the past three seasons for the Falcons and has become a dependable bookend on this offensive line.He has good footwork and nice athleticism but doesnít have a lot of power and is only a decent run blocker.He has made improvements in each of the past three seasons though and will have another solid season in 2005.Newcomer Barry Stokes was brought over from the Giants to compete for a job on the starting unit at the tackle position.He brings both experience and tenacity to the field.

Bottom Line: This is an offensive line where the sum of its parts is much greater than the individual worth of each player. Still, you have to wonder how much of the success could be attributed to terrific coaching by retired guru Alex Gibbs. If Mookie Moore starts at guard over Martin Bibla, the starting unit will have three former 7th round picks starting which is almost unheard of.None of the players have Pro Bowl ability but get by with hard work and sound technique.Expect a dip from the awesome production from a year ago due to the loss of both Gibbs and guard Roberto Garza.


Baltimore Ravens
Overall Grade: A-

Run Block: A

Pass Block: B

Depth: B

Cohesion: B

Experience: A

Change from í04: A


2004:
7th in rushing (2,063 yards), 7th in YPC (4.2), 10th in sacks allowed (35), 19th in PA / Sack (13.3 PA / Sack)

New Additions: G Keydrick Vincent (Pittsburgh)

Key Losses: C Casey Rabach

Projected Starting Lineup: C-Mike Flynn; G-Edwin Mulitalo; G-Keydrick Vincent; T-Jonathon Ogden; T-Orlando Brown

Key Backups: T Tony Pashos; G Brian Rimph; C Jason Brown [r]; T Adam Terry [r]

The Ravens have a very strong offensive line.The strength of the line is clearly on the outside where one of the top offensive tackles in the NFL, Jonathon Ogden resides.He is a future resident of the Hall of Fame and could go down as one of the best players at his position in the history of the game.All success for this unit goes through him.On the other side is Orlando Brown who is very talented in his own right and has great size at 6í7 and 360 pounds and is still capable of dominating a game despite his age.His play has slipped somewhat though and he isnít as consistent as he once was.Having a huge pair of bookends such as the Ravens are blessed with is a tremendous luxury.Another huge positive in this unit is guard Edwin Mulitalo who is a monster of a man who destroys the players across from him with both his power and his aggression.He is one of the top guards in the game.The Ravens signed guard Keydrick Vincent from the Steelers during this offseason and heíll be a nice addition to this group.He is still learning his craft but is another player that is aggressive and will open holes for the running game. He is a great drive blocker. Finally Mike Flynn is a wonderful anchor to this group and adds both tenacity and experience to the middle of the line.The Ravens added two rookie linemen with the potential to be great via the draft.Both center Jason Brown and tackle Adam Terry have good size and in time should be valuable members of this starting unit.Expect Terry to step in and start as early as 2006 and Brown will offer great depth at both the center and guard position.

Bottom Line: The Ravens have one of the top offensive lines in football.Great size, aggressive players who explode off the ball to dominate their opponents and good experience are balanced throughout the starting five. Not only is the starting unit outstanding but with adding two talented rookies to the mix, the future is also very bright for the club.Jonathon Ogden and company will have a strong 2005 season and should pave the way for RB Jamal Lewis to reclaim his spot as one of the top running backs in the game.


Buffalo Bills
Overall Grade: C+

Run Block: B

Pass Block: C

Depth: B

Cohesion: C

Experience: B

Change from í04: C+


2004:
13th in rushing (1,874 yards), 22nd in YPC (3.9), 18th in sacks allowed (38), 21st in PA / Sack (12.1 PA / Sack)

New Additions: G/T Mike Gandy (Bears); G Bennie Anderson

Key Losses: T Jonas Jennings

Projected Starting Lineup: C-Trey Teague; G-Bennie Anderson; G-Chris Villarrial; T-Mike Gandy; T-Mike Williams

Key Backups: T Dylan McFarland; G Ben Sobieski; G Ross Tucker; C Raymond Preston [r]; G Justin Geisinger [r]

The Bills offensive line suffered a loss this offseason when tackle Jonas Jennings was stolen away by the San Francisco 49ers.The Bills didnít believe he was worth the $36 million, 7-year contract he was signed for but his departure is a big blow to an offensive line that was already average at best over the past couple of seasons.Huge tackle, Mike Williams needs to come into his own and become the elite player he was supposed to be coming out of college a few seasons ago.He has the size and ability to be dominant but has yet to put it all together on the field.The other starters have experience and should prove serviceable but it is clear that the catalyst of this group will be Williams.Mike Gandy, picked up in free agency from the Bears, will be in a dogfight with Dylan McFarland for the right to be the starting tackle opposite of Williams and offers depth in the interior of the line.This will be a battle to watch in training camp.Villarrial is an aggressive run blocker who will open holes for the running game to exploit and gives the group a mean streak.Ross Tucker is the classic overachiever with a lot of heart and hustle without a ton of natural ability.He will compete with newcomer Bennie Anderson, a free agent signing formerly of the Baltimore Ravens for the one guard position.Anderson is a huge presence in the middle of a line and should get the nod to start.He will help open gaping holes for the running game to exploit.Finally Trey Teague is a solid center anchoring the line.He isnít a top-tier player but he does a good job for the Bills.

Bottom Line: The Bills offensive line will be decent but has the potential to be much better if they can come together as a unit.This is the make or break year for Mike Williams and he will need to develop into the elite player he was supposed to be for this group to become a top unit.Look for the Bills to have some success running the ball but will need to make big improvements when it comes to protecting the quarterback.


Carolina Panthers
Overall Grade: B

Run Block: B-

Pass Block: B

Depth: B

Cohesion: C+

Experience: C+

Change from í04: A


2004:
28th in rushing (1,582 yards), 28th in YPC (3.7), 10th in sacks allowed (33), 9th in PA / Sack (16.2 PA / Sack)

New Additions: G Mike Wahle (Packers)

Key Losses: None

Projected Starting Lineup: C-Jeff Mitchell; G-Mike Wahle; G-Tutan Reyes; T-Travelle Wharton; T-Jordan Gross

Key Backups: T Todd Fordham; C Bruce Nelson; G Bill Ferrario; G Evan Mathis [r]; G Tupe Peko

The Panthers offensive line made giant strides in this offseason with the acquisition of guard Mike Wahle, formerly of the Green Bay Packers.He is one of the best guards in the game thanks to his solid athletic ability; good football smarts and above-average strength.He gets off the ball well and finishes his blocks to the whistle. Just his presence will make the team much stronger.Jeff Mitchell is an outstanding center who brings both experience and talent to the mix.He is an aggressive run-blocker who will finish all of his blocks to the whistle.†† He has sound technique, great athleticism and is in the prime of his career.Expect another outstanding campaign in 2005 as it doesnít appear he will be suspended due to his part in a steroid scandal. At left tackle, is the 3rd-year pro, Jordan Gross who has started every game in his first two NFL seasons.He has tremendous athletic ability, plays aggressive, smart football and has outstanding technique.He hasn't made the Pro Bowl as of yet but his time is coming.The right tackle slot will likely go to 2nd year player, Travelle Wharton who played in eleven games as a rookie and did a good job.He has good athleticism and decent size although he doesn't have the ideal tackle body.††† He could use more power and aggressiveness but he has a good upside and should get better with playing time.Finally at the guard position, it appears it is Tutan Reyes job to lose but he'll face competition from Bruce Nelson and Bill Ferrario.Reyes became a starter for the first time in 2004, starting in 12 games.He has good size but his power isn't quite where it needs to be and neither is his athletic ability.His upside is only as a serviceable starter and the team would love to find a better option.Draft pick Evan Mathis, from Alabama has good technique and is a tough lineman but needs to add bulk and power before heíll get the chance to start.He does have a nice upside though and will make the team.Look for him to battle for the starting guard position by 2006.

Bottom Line: Without newcomer guard Mike Wahle, this was a decent unit but with him they should have a strong season.There are three all-star caliber players among this group now in Wahle, center Jeff Mitchell and tackle Jordan Gross and the Panthers are in good hands going forward. Gross is becoming one of the top left tackles in all of football and he is still getting better.Expect nice production from this unit in 2005.


Chicago Bears
Overall Grade: B

Run Block: B

Pass Block: C+

Depth: A

Cohesion: C+

Experience: A

Change from í04: A


2004:
13th in rushing (1,874 yards), 22nd in YPC (3.9), 32nd in sacks allowed (366), 32nd in PA / Sack (7.1 PA / Sack)

New Additions: G Roberto Garza (Atlanta); T Fred Miller (Tennessee)

Key Losses: T Mike Gandy

Projected Starting Lineup: C-Olin Kreutz; G-Terrence Metcalf; G-Roberto Garza; T-John Tait; T-Fred Miller

Key Backups: T Marc Colombo; G Reuben Brown

Center Olin Kreutz is the best center in the NFL.He has awesome athleticism, great technique and has great footwork.His only weakness and it is only a minor ailment is that he doesnít have great bulk at only 292 pounds.However he plays bigger than his size would indicate and he is a great anchor to this line. On the outside, John Tait had a solid first season with the Bears in 2004 but didnít have the impact that he had enjoyed during his career with the Chiefs.Still, he is a talented player who has great size, nice football and good technique.He is capable of getting down the field to make a block and is also good in space.He should have a great season in 2005 as he grows more comfortable within the offense.The Bears brought over tackle Fred Miller to be a stabilizing influence on the outside.He has had a nice career and is a great run blocker thanks to his exceptional leg drive.He is a great effort guy and plays with a chip on his shoulder.He is only mediocre in the pass blocking department but has made improvements over the years.The Bears have four players capable of starting at the guard position and it will be a fierce training camp battle to see who emerges from the competition.The frontrunners are probably guard Terrence Metcalf who is a great run blocker and Roberto Garza who was brought over from the Falcons.Garza has great quickness and a nasty streak but lacks ideal size (under 300 lbs) and has had problems staying healthy.Donít be surprised to see either Reuben Brown find a way into the starting unit as he has both experience and natural ability.He has lost a step over the years but could still push to be the starter one last season.A player to watch is Marc Colombo who has the talent to be a top-tier player but hasnít been able to both stay healthy and put it all together on the field.He has great size and nice athleticism but needs to show better durability to get a sniff of the starting lineup.Expect to see him make a push to start by 2006.

Bottom Line: A couple of years ago, the Bears offensive line was considered one of the best in football and it appears inevitable that they will climb back up that ladder in 2005, at least when it comes to running the football.The Bears have veteran leadership in center Olin Kreutz, guard Reuben Brown, tackle John Tait and tackle Fred Miller; young talent in guard Terrence Metcalf and T Marc Colombo and have nice depth to call upon.If Terrence Metcalf can continue to grow as a player and cement his spot in the starting lineup and Miller can quickly feel comfortable within this scheme, the sky is the limit for the Bears running attack in 2005.


Cincinnati Bengals
Overall Grade: A-

Run Block: B

Pass Block: A

Depth: B

Cohesion: B

Experience: B+

Change from í04: B


2004:
17th in rushing (1,839 yards), 14th in YPC (4.2), 6th in sacks allowed (31), 8th in PA / Sack (17.3 PA / Sack)

New Additions: None

Key Losses: None

Projected Starting Lineup: C-Larry Moore; G-Bobby Williams; G-Eric Steinbach; T-Levi Jones; T-Willie Anderson

Key Backups: T-Stacy Andrews; G Alex Sulfsted; G Eric Ghiaciuc [r]; T Adam Kieft [r]

Left tackle Willie Anderson has been the rock of this entire organization over the past nine seasons and the two consecutive 8-8 seasons has given him a taste of what it means to win at the professional level.He is a tremendous run blocker who always plays with a chip on his shoulder.He sets the pace for the entire running game and continues to play at a high level.As good as Anderson has been throughout his career, his teammate Levi Jones on the other side of the line has really come into his own and is probably the best lineman on the team now.He has a great blend of size, talent and athleticism and can dominate his opposition at times throughout a game.He and Anderson are one of the best tackle combinations in the NFL today.The interior of the line features guard Eric Steinbach who probably played well enough last season to make the Pro Bowl but just missed out behind three great guards.He has excellent athletic ability and is great out in space.One of the best guards in the NFL when it comes to pulling and trapping and his presence within this unit allows a lot of freedom to put together different blocking schemes.He is very skilled at pass protection due to his quick feet and rarely gets beat.He will never be a dominant drive blocker but can hold his own at the point of attack. The other guard is Bobby Williams who was signed away from the Philadelphia Eagles last season and started all sixteen games for the Bengals.He has great size, decent athleticism and is an aggressive player on the field.His downfall has always appeared to be technique and he is still young enough to become a great player if he can improve it.Finally the center position looks to be manned by Larry Moore, who was a reserve guard/center for the team last season.He brings experience and great effort to the table but has limited mobility and talent and is clearly the weak link of the starting unit.Still he does a serviceable job and will hold his own with his determined, hard-nosed play.Stacy Andrews is a large offensive tackle who only played two seasons of college football.He is 6í7 and 345 pounds and could develop into a great lineman in another season or two.For now he will continue to learn behind two great tackles and will wait to replace Anderson down the road.

Bottom Line: This is a much better unit than most people are aware of.Three of the five linemen are Pro-Bowl caliber players (Anderson, Jones and Steinbach) and Williams has the ability to develop into one if he can improve his technique shortcomings.Overall, this is a unit that should continue to get better and better over the next couple of years and should help the offense become very strong this season and beyond.


Cleveland Browns
Overall Grade: C+

Run Block: B

Pass Block: C

Depth: B

Cohesion: C-

Experience: B

Change from í04: B


2004:
23rd in rushing (1,657 yards), 25th in YPC (3.8), 21st in sacks allowed (41), 27th in PA / Sack (10.7 PA / Sack)

New Additions: G Joe Andruzzi (New England); G Cosey Coleman (Tampa Bay)

Key Losses: T Damian Cook

Projected Starting Lineup: C-Jeff Faine; G-Joe Andruzzi; G-Cosey Coleman; T-Ross Verba; T-Ryan Tucker

Key Backups: C/G- Melvin Fowler; G Kelvin Garmon; T Kirk Chambers

There is a changing of the guard in Cleveland in more ways than one.A new head coach in Romeo Crennel, a new, much needed philosophy and two new proven offensive guards in Joe Andruzzi and Cosey Coleman, both of whom will have a major impact on the Brownsí offensive production this season.Coleman came over from the Buccaneers and is a very good drive-blocking offensive lineman who thrives if used in the right way.However his athletic ability is very limited and he isnít nearly as effective if asked to be mobile.Joe Andruzzi became a very good player over his career with the Patriots and plays with a lot of aggression.He is a very good run blocker who rarely loses a battle when exploding off of the ball.His pass protection skills however are limited at best and heíll never be considered a good pass protector.Both of the new players are both big upgrades over what the Browns have used in the guard positions over the past several years.Center Jeff Faine is a former 1st round pick who has displayed strong skills in each of his first two seasons when he was healthy.He has battled some injury woes and heíll need to become more durable to become the elite player he is growing into.He plays with both intelligence and has nice agility on the field.He should be the leader of this unit for a long time to come.Tackle Ryan Tucker is the type of player that every offensive line needs to thrive.He plays with a reckless abandon and is one of the most tenacious players at his position.He goes hard at his opponents for all sixty minutes and is a much better run blocker than a pass blocker.He doesnít have a lot of athleticism and it is his heart and aggressive play that have helped him become a solid lineman.The bookend on the other side is almost a mirror-image of Tucker.Ross Verba doesnít have much natural skill or athleticism but plays hard and brings tenacity to the table.He will never be confused as a top offensive tackle, but does a sound enough job to not hurt the team.He has done a good job with both the Green Bay Packers and the Browns.

Bottom Line: With two new starting guards, it may take away for this unit to come together, but once they do you can expect this unit to be much better than they have in the past.Centered by a future All-Pro in Jeff Faine, the players surrounding him are role players who have over-achieved but do it with aggressive play and the Browns running game should flourish in 2005.The depth is now solid with both Melvin Fowler and Kelvin Garmon having plenty of game experience.Both can fill in and do the job if called upon.


Dallas Cowboys
Overall Grade: B+

Run Block: A

Pass Block: B-

Depth: A

Cohesion: B

Experience: B+

Change from í04: A


2004:
20th in rushing (1,773 yards), 19th in YPC (4.0), 15th in sacks allowed (37), 14th in PA / Sack (14.0 PA / Sack)

New Additions: G Marko Rivera (Green Bay)

Key Losses: C Gennaro DiNapoli (cut)

Projected Starting Lineup: C-Al Johnson; G-Larry Allen; G-Marko Rivera; T-Flozell Adams; T-Kurt Vollers

Key Backups: T Jacob Rogers; C/G Andre Gurode; G Stephen Peterman; G Tyson Walter; T Rob Petitti [r]

The Cowboys have a lot of depth at the offensive lineman position.They have four young linemen in center Al Johnson; tackle Jacob Rogers and guards Andre Gurode, Stephen Peterman and Tyson Walter who will all be starters down the road. For now though, only Johnson looks to start at the beginning of the 2005 campaign.He has excellent strength, great technique and plays with a serious mean-streak.Even though last season was his first as a starter, he has already made a good impression and has a good career ahead of him. At the guard position, the Cowboys are set for both the present and the future.The starters this year will be perennial Pro Bowler Larry Allen who should be a first ballet Hall of Famer.He has definitely lost a lot of his skills over the years but he can still drive an opponent off of the ball.I wouldnít be surprised to see him replaced by 2006 though with Andre Gurode or Stephen Peterman who both have lots of talent and will need to play to get better.At the other guard position will be free agent acquisition Marko Rivera, whom the Cowboys picked up from the Packers.Rivera has been a great player over the years thanks to a tireless work ethic and his very aggressive play.He goes full out on every single play and makes life miserable for the defensive player lining up across from him.He isnít the most athletic guard in the league but makes up for it with sheer tenacity.His presence will make this unit much better.At the one tackle position is Flozell Adams who has really come into his own as one of the top few tackles in the entire NFL.He is ruthless in the running game, destroying his opponent across from him with superior size and strength.His weakness had always been pass protection due to his limited quickness but he has really turned the corner in that facet of his game and he is now considered a great all-around player.At the other tackle position, it should be Kurt Vollers again this season.He will never be a top tackle but has good size, plays hard on every snap and wonít make mistakes.He is a good fit when it comes to this unit and he should continue to get better with experience.

Bottom Line: The Cowboys have a great mix of proven veterans and young lineman full of potential. The starting five looks very strong and the team wonít miss a beat if somebody goes down to injury due to outstanding depth.Guard Larry Allen is on his last legs but with two young, talented players in reserve just waiting to see playing time, the Cowboys will be in good shape when Allen does falter.The starting five will be strong led by Allen, tackle Flozell Adams and guard Marko Rivera, who was brought in from Green Bay and is one of the finest guards in the game.Expect good things out of this unit in 2005 and great things down the road when youngsters such as tackle Jacob Rogers and guard Stephen Peterman get their chance to shine.


Denver Broncos
Overall Grade: B

Run Block: B

Pass Block: B+

Depth: C

Cohesion: B+

Experience: B+

Change from í04: C+


2004:
13th in rushing (2,333 yards), 8th in YPC (4.4), 3rd in sacks allowed (15), 3rd in PA / Sack (34.7 PA / Sack)

New Additions: G/T Anthony Clement (Arizona)

Key Losses: OL Dan Neil

Projected Starting Lineup: C-Tom Nalen; G-Ben Hamilton G-Cooper Carlisle; T-Matt Lepsis; T-George Foster

Key Backups: G Tyson Clabo; T Cornell Green; G/T Anthony Clement; G Chris Myers [r]

Center Tom Nalen has been a starter for the Broncos since the 1995 season and has only missed a handful of games. Nalen has 12 years of experience, great technique and has a ton of football intelligence.He is solid when it comes to both run blocking and pass blocking but you have to wonder whether age will catch up to him soon.Guard Ben Hamilton has started 48 consecutive games for the Broncos and has really come on as a force for the team.He is an undersized lineman weighing only 283 pounds but he is stronger than his size would indicate and can drive an opponent off the ball with the best of them.He is a tough player who gives his all on every play and is a force despite limited athletic prowess. Tackle Matt Lepsis is another longtime Bronco who has started 95 of the last 96 games. He is 31 years old now and that combined with limited size could mean he is on the down slope of his career.He was still effective last season though and should have another season or two as a legitimate lineman.It is his quickness and his technique that has made him the player he is.At the other tackle position is George Foster who is huge in stature and doesnít resemble the typical Bronco lineman.He has great size at 340 pounds but isnít as dominating as his size indicates he should be.He came into his own as a 1st year starter last season and should get better as he improves both his technique and his quickness.For the last starter slot, it will be a training camp battle between Tyson Clabo, Cooper Carlisle, PJ Alexander and Tim Stooper none of whom are worthy of starting at this time.Perhaps free agent acquisition, Anthony Clement with his awesome size and power will be able to slot in as the starting guard for the Broncos but he has been a disappointment thus far in his NFL career.

Bottom Line: Whenever you look at the individual parts of the Broncos offensive line, it is often difficult to determine why they have so much success.You can find fault with every starter and yet, year after year they find a way to get the job done.Good coaching has been the constant over the years and has resulted in good technique and excellent teamwork up front and that is the key to the Broncos success.Still, they have to be a little worried about the one guard position with nobody really leaping out as the next starter and their grade will dip a little as a result. No matter what though, this is a unit that knows how to get the job done.


Detroit Lions
Overall Grade: C+

Run Block: B

Pass Block: C

Depth: C

Cohesion: C+

Experience: C+

Change from í04: C


2004:
19th in rushing (1,777 yards), 22nd in YPC (4.4), 15th in sacks allowed (3t),16th in PA / Sack (13.6 PA / Sack)

New Additions: G Rick DeMulling; G Kyle Kosier

Key Losses: T Stockar McDougle; Matt Joyce

Projected Starting Lineup: C-Dominic Raiola; G-Rick DeMulling; G-Damien Woody; T-Jeff Backus; T-Kelly Butler

Key Backups: T Victor Rogers; G Kyle Kosier

The Lions may have a big hole at the tackle position with the free agency loss of Stockar McDougle to the Dolphins.He wasnít an elite player but his size and power on the outside will be tough to replace this season.The man who will attempt to replace him is 2nd-year player Kelly Butler, a 334-pound lineman who has lots of talent but is very green and needs work on both his technique and his foot speed.No matter if he does have talent, it is a little scary to go into a season looking to start a tackle with zero games experience.Only time will tell if he is up to the challenge or not. If Butler isnít up to the challenge, look for Victor Rogers, coming into his fourth season to get a shot at the job.He is aggressive with great size but is very limited athletically.Since 1999, Damien Woody has played in all but four games, sixteen of which with the Lions.The nice thing with Woody is that he is very experienced at both the guard and center positions and can cover either job if need be.He has great size and terrific mobility but doesnít play with a lot of aggression which limits his effectiveness at times.He is a very good lineman though and will continue to do a decent job.The other guard, Rick DeMulling is your classic overachiever.He doesnít have much athletic ability but makes up for it with heart and putting 100% into his play with every snap.He doesnít have enough bulk or power to dominate the line of scrimmage but his technique and initial pop enable to his do a solid job for the team.Center Dominic Raiola is an aggressive, hard working center that is getting better with each season.He plays hard on every snap, is tenacious in finishing off his blocks and hasnít missed a game since he won the starting job back in 2002.His lack of bulk can hurt him against larger nose tackles and he needs to improve his football smarts when it comes to recognizing blitz schemes.His upside is quite high though and heíll continue to do a nice job. Finally, the best player on this line is tackle Jeff Backus who has started every game in his first four NFL seasons.He has the mean streak that makes offensive lineman so much more effective, puts in 100% effort on every play and has good football smarts on the field.He is much stronger as a pass blocker than as a run blocker because of limited lower body strength that hinders his ability to move his opponent off of the line of scrimmage.Overall all, he is a good offensive tackle and has made improvements in each season.He has a chance to make the Pro Bowl at some point down the road.Brought over from the 49ers, Kyle Kosier will bring much needed depth to this group and is capable of starting when needed.He has superb technique but his athleticism is quite limited.

Bottom Line: The Lions have the potential to be a good offensive line but need to answer the huge question mark at the one tackle position with the loss of longtime starter Stockar McDougle to the Dolphins.If Kelly Butler can come into the starting unit and thrive, the grade for this offensive line would jump from a ĎC+í to a ĎBí but until he proves himself on the field, there is a possible weak link within this unit that defensive will try to exploit. Look for the other four members of this group who are all young enough to continue growing as football players to come together nicely in 2005 to become a tighter, more effective unit.Both Backus and Raiola are still improving and another season with both DeMulling and Woody together in this group will pay dividends. The Lions offensive line success all depends on the right tackle position this season and Butlerís ability to become an effective starter.


Green Bay Packers
Overall Grade: C

Run Block: C

Pass Block: C+

Depth: C

Cohesion: C

Experience: B

Change from í04: E


2004:
10th in rushing (1,908 yards), 11th in YPC (4.3), 1st in sacks allowed (14), 1st in PA / Sack (42.7 PA / Sack)

New Additions: T Adrian Klemm (New England); G Matt OíDwyer (Tampa Bay)

Key Losses: G Marko Rivera; G Mike Wahle

Projected Starting Lineup: C-Mike Flanagan; G-Adrian Klemm; G-Grey Ruegamer; T-Chad Clifton; T-Mark Tauscher

Key Backups: G Matt OíDwyer; T Kevin Barry; C Junius Coston [r]

The Packers offensive line was together for years and has been one of the top lines throughout the past several seasons.This year however they lost both starting guards in Marko Rivera and Mike Wahle who were both top five at their position in the entire NFL.Both players have started all of the last four seasons without missing a single start and the Packers will be hard pressed to replace both of these fine players in 2005. The Packers did bring in two linemen but neither is considered to be anywhere near the two departed players when it comes to talent and production.Guard Matt OíDwyer is at best a serviceable starter and a solid backup but does bring both experience and good technique to the mix.He will likely slot in as the backup though.Adrian Klemm has been a tackle throughout his five seasons with the Patriots but he will make the switch to guard this season. He has only started a handful of games in his NFL career and hasnít shown enough aggression or toughness to make an impact at the professional level.He has talent, good footwork and nice athleticism but he hasnít been able to translate that to production on the field and if he hasnít found the intestinal fortitude to make it after five seasons with a top team in the Patriots, what are his chances of finding it now?Donít be surprised if OíDwyer slots in as the starter and Klemm comes in off the bench.Guard Grey Ruegamer became a starter last season, starting 13 games at center when Mike Flanagan was injured after five years of being a journeyman backup.Unfortunately for the Packers, a journeyman backup is likely where his talent should slot him in a depth chart, not as a starting guard. His versatility of playing at both the guard and center position though is a nice luxury to have within a team but he simple doesnít have the athleticism or power to be a dominating offensive lineman and is best served coming off of the bench in a relief capacity.The Packers have two solid offensive tackle to backstop this unit in Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher but neither are considered elite players although Clifton has the talent to get there if he continues to make improvements.Clifton has great size, good technique and has grown as a player in each of his five seasons.He has good feet work and his only true liability is a lack of explosive power to really blow an opponent off of the ball.He is now the best lineman the Packers have and could become a Pro Bowl talent in time.Tauscher does a lot of things well but is limited athletically which will keep him from every being a top-tier tackle.He plays with heart, has good technique and gets the job done.He will never be an elite tackle but will continue to do an effective job for several years to come.At center, Flanagan is a good, experienced player who plays with heart and good technique but is 32 years old this season, is coming off of an injury and is on the down slope of his career.He isnít as strong as he once was but heíll do another solid job for the Packers in 2005.5th round draft choice, center Junius Coston has a chance to develop into a good pro in time.He has good size and quickness but is quite raw and will need time to develop.

Bottom Line: The Packers organization has been blessed with outstanding offensive line play throughout the past several seasons but that production is going to take a huge dive in 2005 with the loss of two top-tier guards in Marko Rivera and Mike Wahle.Not only is the lineís continuity destroyed with the loss but the players brought in to replace the two quality starters are nowhere near as talented.The Packers offensive line play will suffer a large drop off in 2005 and it will likely affect both the passing and rushing games.You canít lose players like Rivera and Wahle and not pay for it.


Houston Texans
Overall Grade: B

Run Block: B+

Pass Block: C

Depth A

Cohesion: C+

Experience: C+

Change from í04: B+


2004:
12th in rushing (1,882 yards), 22nd in YPC (3.9), 26th in sacks allowed (49), 29th in PA / Sack (9.6 PA / Sack)

New Additions: T Victor Riley (New Orleans)

Key Losses: None

Projected Starting Lineup: C-Steve McKinney; G-Chester Pitts; G-Fred Weary; T-Seth Wand; T-Todd Wade

Key Backups: G Zach Wiegert; C/G Todd Washington; T Victor Riley; G Milford Brown; C Drew Hodgdon [r]

The leader of the Texans offensive line is center Steve McKinney, a former guard who made the move to center when he became a Texan back in 2002.He has excellent technique and is intelligent on the field which helps to overcome his shortcomings with power/leg strength.He is a better pass protector than a run blocker but does a decent job of maintaining his blocks on running plays.Guard Zach Wiegert is already in his tenth NFL season and has become to show his age.It appears that Fred Weary; a former 3rd round pick will finally get his chance to start with the Texans, allowing Wiegert to become a valuable reserve for the unit.Weary, who started twelve games as a rookie in 2002, has good size and surprising quickness that helps him pull and trap with success.He will never be considered a dominant force in the running game but does a decent job of holding his blocks and is always working to improve his skills. He has good lateral movement which enables him to do a good job in pass protection.Chester Pitts can start at either guard or tackle but it appears that he will slide inside to the guard position this season.He has started every game over the past three seasons for the Texans and has grown as a player in each of those seasons.He has great size at 330 pounds and is a relentless drive blocker that punishes the defensive player across from him.He has a jarring first hit and is the best lineman the Texans have when it comes to running the football.His pass blocking skills though are below par and he was too often abused when lined up outside as a tackle.He really does suit being a guard and should have his finest season to date.Tackle Todd Wade is a great run blocker who plays with an edge on every play.He has good technique and can overwhelm his opponents at the point of attack.His downfall is mediocre pass protection thanks to limited mobility and athleticism but he is still an above average lineman.Finally the other tackle position will likely go to Seth Wand who has great size and agility.His strength doesnít quite measure up to his size but he has the potential to become a very good lineman in future seasons if he continues to improve at his craft. Wand will be pushed for the job by free agent acquisition Victor Riley who came over from the Saints.

Bottom Line: This offensive line is progressing nicely and could be considered a top-twelve unit by season end. Great size, good run blocking ability and youthful enthusiasm abound within this unit. This group will never excel in pass protection but should be able to open gaping holes for the running game to exploit.If young players Pitts, Weary and Wand can continue to grow as players, the sky is the limit for the Texans in 2005 and beyond.


Indianapolis Colts
Overall Grade: C

Run Block: C

Pass Block: C+

Depth: D

Cohesion: C

Experience: C+

Change from í04: C-


2004:
15th in rushing (1,852 yards), 11th in YPC (4.3), 1st in sacks allowed (14), 1st in PA / Sack (37.6 PA / Sack)

New Additions: None

Key Losses: Rick DeMulling

Projected Starting Lineup: C-Jeff Saturday; G-Ryan Lilja G-Jake Scott; T-Tarik Glenn; T-Ryan Diem

Key Backups: Makoa Freitas; ; G Dylan Gandy [r]

The Colts offensive line success starts at the center position with Jeff Saturday.The gifted 6th year pro has developed into one of the top few centers in the game today thanks to his wonderful technique and good agility.He isnít a big lineman (under 300 pounds) but plays with intelligence, rarely is caught out of position and does a sound job of reading the defenses before the ball is snapped, helping to make adjustments on the fly.He doesnít have much power and wonít move opponents back but he uses technique to help open holes for the running game.The other top lineman the Colts have is Tarik Glenn.He has become one of the top ten tackles in football.He was a Pro Bowl starter this past season and has really developed into a force at the left tackle position.He has great size, good athleticism and can dominate the player across from him.He excels in both the running and passing games and should continue to play at a high level for another several seasons.At the right tackle position will be Ryan Diem once again in 2005 although he seems better suited at times to line up inside.He is a great run blocker and overwhelms his opponent at times with great power and intensity.However he occasionally flounders in pass protection on the outside of the line and his lack of athletic prowess becomes all too noticeable.If a quarterback with less awareness than Peyton Manning dropped back to pass, Diem would be exposed as a below-average pass protector.One thing you may see happen in 2005 is Diem to slide inside to guard and 2nd-year player Jake Scott sliding outside.Scott, at 280 pounds does not have the bulk to do an effective job as an offensive guard and it is unlikely heíll start the season at that position.If Diem is kept outside, Ryan Lilja may very well start at guard for the Colts.His upside is limited but he is serviceable in both the running and passing game and has a little more bulk/strength than Scott.

Bottom Line: This unit consists of two exceptional players and then a few question marks. With the loss of veteran guard Rick DeMulling, the combination of Diem, Scott and Lilja hardly inspire with their potential for greatness.Both Saturday and Glenn will keep this unit together and having a weapon such as Manning will mask any problems that may develop but overall, even with DeMulling this is just a decent group that doesnít have a huge upside.Without DeMulling, expect Manning to face more pressure and the running game to be a little less effective in 2005.


Jacksonville Jaguars
Overall Grade: A

Run Block: A-

Pass Block: B

Depth: A

Cohesion: A

Experience: B+

Change from í04: A


2004:
16th in rushing (1,850 yards), 17th in YPC (3.9), 9th in sacks allowed (32), 10th in PA / Sack (16.0 PA / Sack)

New Additions: T Khalif Barnes [r]

Key Losses: None

Projected Starting Lineup: C-Brad Meester; G-Vince Manuwai; G-Chris Naeole; T-Mike Pearson; T-Maurice Williams

Key Backups: T/G Mike Compton; G Brett Romberg; T Ephraim Salaam; T Khalif Barnes [r]

This is a very good unit that is getting better each season.At the tackle positions, the Jaguars are blessed with two young, talented linemen.Maurice Williams is now into his 4th season and has developed into a top five offensive tackle.He is strong, has good mobility and plays with a mean streak.He never takes a play off and will often hustle down the field to try and make a block 20+ yards from the line of scrimmage.He plays with hustle and enthusiasm and should continue to get stronger.He isnít as gifted when it comes to pass protection but he holds his own.On the other side, Pearson has some of the attributes needed to be a top tier talent.He has great athleticism and exceptional quickness for a 6í7 offensive lineman.His great quickness helps him in pass blocking but he can be overpowered by a strong bull rush which leads us to his problem.He simply doesnít have the strength, nor bulk to become an elite player and too often during games, he simply doesnít play tough enough.He needs to work on both his strength and tenacity to reach the next level.For now though he is a decent blocker with potential to improve.Guard Vince Manuwai is heading into his third season and is already a top-ten guard in the NFL.He has excellent strength and surprising quickness for a big man.He has exceptional balance and rarely loses a battle.He will be a Pro Bowler soon and once he reaches that point, heíll stay there for a long time to come.On the other side, what you see is what you get when it comes to Chris Naeole.A powerful man who is durable and plays hard on every down, Naeole would be an elite lineman if he had more athletic prowess. His limited mobility is very noticeable when out in space and he is at his best when it comes to straight drive blocking.He is good at driving an opponent off of the ball. Finally at the center position is Brad Meester who has also developed into a top ten player at his position.He has great technique, plays with his head and comes off the ball hard.He isnít a huge lineman at barely 300 pounds and can be overwhelmed at times by a giant nose-tackle.Meester continues to grow as a player every year and could also get a sniff of a Pro Bowl or two in the next several years. The Jaguars found themselves a player via the draft in Khalif Barnes from Washington.He has had durability problems but could grow into an elite player at the NFL level.He has great size and ability and will push Pearson for a starting job in 2006.

Bottom Line: The Jaguars offensive line is almost certainly a top-five group already and has the youth necessary to continue growing and improving over the next couple of seasons.The starting five all have talent and are hungry to continue growing as players.Center Brad Meester, guard Vince Manuwai and tackle Maurice Williams all have Pro Bowl talent and tackle Mike Pearson has the potential to play much better than he currently does.Even when it comes to the depth department, the Jaguars are set with three strong players plus a talented rookie capable of coming off of the bench and making a strong impact.The Jaguars are an improving football team and it all starts upfront with this group of five talented players. The Jaguars offensive philosophy will be more aggressive this season which should make it easier for the offensive line to operate. The sky is the limit in 2005.


Kansas City Chiefs
Overall Grade: A

Run Block: A+

Pass Block: A

Depth B

Cohesion: A+

Experience: A+

Change from í04: A


2004:
5th in rushing (2,289 yards), 3rd in YPC (4.6), 9th in sacks allowed (32), 7th in PA / Sack (17.5 PA / Sack)

New Additions: None

Key Losses: None

Projected Starting Lineup: C-Casey Wiegmann; G-Brian Waters; G-Will Shields; T-William Roaf; T-John Welbourn

Key Backups: T/G Chris Bober; T Jordan Black; T Will Svitek [r]

The Chiefs awesome offensive line play over the past several years starts with the best guard in the game today, Will Shields who will turn 34 years old this season but hasnít slowed down whatsoever.You have to think at some point soon he will begin to show his age but he has defied time so far and should have another strong season in 2005.He does everything well and only age can derail what has been a remarkable career.On the other side of the ball, Brian Waters has become a very good player despite going undrafted in 1999 and has already bucked the odds by not only making it as a starting lineman but thriving in the role.He has started 54 games in a row and made the Pro Bowl last season alongside of Shields thanks to his size, quickness and tenacity.He isnít a bulldozer out there but uses technique and athleticism to do a great job.The third offensive lineman to make the Pro Bowl from this group was tackle William Roaf, a 13-year vet who continues to play excellent football on a weekly basis.Roaf has started 48 straight games for the Chiefs but he will be turning 35 years old this year and his career will be winding down soon.It is his wonderful technique that has made him the elite player he has been throughout his long career.Welbourn was signed a year ago to step in and contribute as a starting tackle and he didnít disappoint.He was injured though and missed six games but he was a solid presence on the field in his ten games.He is aggressive and moves his feet well but doesnít drive off the ball that well.He is a good fit in this offense.The last starter in this group is ten-year veteran center Casey Wiegmann who has started 63 of the 64 games since he came from the Bears.He is on the cusp of being the fourth player from this exceptional group to make the Pro Bowl.He isnít big for the position at only 285 pounds but his technique is so solid that he very rarely gets beat on the field.He is an outstanding player anchoring the middle of this line.

Bottom Line: There is no doubt which team is blessed with the best offensive line in football and that is the Kansas City Chiefs.This unit has talent, depth, great technique, experience and tenacity and has dominated their opposition for years.When RB Priest Holmes went down with injury and the Chiefs didnít miss a beat using two different running backs, it was clear that it is the offensive line that is the key to the Chiefs overall offensive success.The only concern is that three of the five players are getting a little long in the tooth but they should have another year or two left in them.Expect another outstanding season from this gifted group.


Miami Dolphins
Overall Grade: C+

Run Block: C+

Pass Block: C+

Depth A-

Cohesion: C-

Experience: C+

Change from í04: B


2004:
31st in rushing (1,339 yards), 32nd in YPC (3.5), 29th in sacks allowed (52), 25th PA / Sack (11.3 PA / Sack)

New Additions: T Stockar McDougle (Detroit); OG Damion Cook (Cleveland)

Key Losses: None

Projected Starting Lineup: C-Seth McKinney; G-Jeno James; G-Rex Hadnot; T-Damion McIntosh; T-Stockar McDougle

Key Backups: T Wade Smith; G/T Vernon Carey; T John St Clair; G Damion Cook; T Anthony Alabi [r]

The Dolphins offensive line woes last season were well documented but the unit was very inexperienced and had no cohesion whatsoever early in the season.As the campaign wore on, the group did make strides towards respectability and have the potential to be much better in 2005.The keys to this unit making big strides in 2005 is the healthy return of Damion McIntosh, a gifted left tackle who managed to start 13 games a year ago despite playing with pain, improved play from their first round selection of a year ago, G/T Vernon Carey who is big and tenacious but struggled to see playing time as a rookie and finally new right offensive tackle Stockar McDougle assimilation into this unit.All five projected starters are over 300 pounds and should be able to open holes for the running attack.The most intriguing battle to keep an eye on during training camp will be at the guard position where incumbent Rex Hadnot may find himself in a dogfight for playing time against second-year lineman Carey who is big, agile and talented.Moving Carey into the interior of the line will be possible if McIntosh can indeed stay healthy. If the Dolphins can find a way to put Carey on the field with both McIntosh and McDougle at one time, this unit will be very much improved in 2005.Third-year center Seth McKinney is a smart player who does his best on every play but he isnít a tremendous run blocker and would benefit by having the bulk and talent of both Carey and Jeno James on either side of him.McKinney should be considered average at best but does have the potential to grow as a player.†† McDougle has never justified his first-round selection but he has grown as a player, can dominate his opponent across from him in the running game thanks to great lower body strength and gets off the ball quite well for a big man.He isnít an elite offensive lineman but is certainly an upgrade for the Dolphins and will help this group to get better.

Bottom Line: The Dolphins offensive line will be much better this season after a disastrous 2004 campaign that should go down as one of the worst performances by a line in the last ten seasons.The group was very inexperienced last year but have the talent to become a very strong group as this season wears on.If left tackle Damion McIntosh can return to form after missing all of last season, he will bring both tenacity and experience which are both needed.Second-year lineman Vernon Carey has the talent to become an elite player with experience and should find a starting spot this year with his ability to play both inside and outside.This unit is deep with nine players with significant experience capable of stepping in at a momentís notice. Add to this the signing of talented offensive line coach Hudson Houck and this could be a surprisingly solid group. Donít be surprised to see this unit become a top fifteen line by season end.


Minnesota Vikings
Overall Grade: B

Run Block: B

Pass Block: C+

Depth: B

Cohesion: B

Experience: B

Change from í04: B


2004:
18th in rushing (1,823 yards), 2nd in YPC (4.7), 25th in sacks allowed (46), 22nd in PA / Sack (12.0 PA / Sack)

New Additions: None

Key Losses: None

Projected Starting Lineup: C-Matt Birk; G-David Dixon; G-Chris Liwienski; T-Bryant McKinnie; T-Mike Rosenfels

Key Backups: T Nat Dorsey; G Shannon Snell; T Adam Goldberg; T Marcus Johnson [r]

The Vikings have one of the finest centers in the NFL in Matt Birk anchoring this unit.Birk, who played with collegiate career with Harvard has a great mix of athleticism and intelligence and has good power.He missed a few games a year ago which hurt the production of this unit but hadnít missed a game in four seasons prior to that.However, he is still fighting hernia ailments which could affect his play and he is even considering retirement thanks to the pain.Here is an blurb from our News BloggerÖ

Apr 19, 2005, 09:23
Vikings - Hernias Threaten C Birk's Future
Bob Sansevere, St. Paul Pioneer Press -
[Full Article]

After undergoing two surgeries during the 2004 season ó one in the preseason, one in midseason ó C Matt Birk had hoped he was done with hernias. But this offseason, there was pain, a familiar pain. Birk had it checked out. He learned he had another sports hernia on his right side along with what he described as "a full-blown hernia'' on his left side. And now, he wonders about his future.

At guard, 36-year old David Dixon has really slowed down in the past two years and is currently a free agent that may not be back in 2005.If he isnít brought back, 2nd-year player Nat Dorsey will likely slide into the starting guard slot.He is a huge man at 6í7 and 322 pounds†† He is better suited to the tackle position but the Vikings are weak at the backup guard position with only Shannon Snell and Anthony Herrera, both undrafted free agents from a year ago available at this time.The Vikings would be well-served to bring Dixon back for one last season as Dorsey needs a lot of work on his technique.Dorsey did start several games at tackle a year ago and did a serviceable job.At the other guard position, Liwienski will never be considered an elite lineman but he has started 64 consecutive games for the Vikings.He plays with heart, determination and has nice power.He does a workmanlike job in the middle of the line.Tackle Bryant McKinnie is coming into his own as one of the finest tackles in football.He has awesome size at 6í8 and 335 pounds, has awesome power and can dominate his opponents in the running game. He simply owns the line of scrimmage and is continuing to improve on a yearly basis. He could find his way to the Pro Bowl in 2005. Tackle Mike Rosenfels missed all but two games last year after starting all sixteen games for the Vikings in 2003.He has good size at 6í7 and 318 pounds, is very aggressive and has solid technique. His downside is limited athleticism and footwork and he isnít a great pass blocker.2nd round pick, Marcus Johnson has great size and good footwork.He should push for a starting job by 2006, if not sooner.He has a large upside.

Bottom Line: The Vikings rushing attack should be outstanding with these five starters who are all gifted run blockers. However there are red flags such as Birkís hernia ailments and the questionable return of Dixon at guard.If Dixon comes back for another season and Birk can play, the starting five is in good shape with lots of experience but if that doesnít occur, it isnít clear who will step in and the overall play of this group will slip.If healthy, the Vikings will likely run the ball both more often and more effective this season.McKinnie will have a Pro-Bowl caliber season and the Vikings rushing game could finish in the top ten after a disappointing 18th last season.


New England Patriots
Overall Grade: C+

Run Block: C+

Pass Block: B

Depth: B

Cohesion: C+

Experience: C+

Change from í04: C


2004:
7th in rushing (2,134 yards), 18th in YPC (4.1), 5th in sacks allowed (26), 6th PA / Sack (18.7 PA / Sack)

New Additions: None

Key Losses: G Joe Andruzzi (Cleveland); T Adrian Klemm (Green Bay)

Projected Starting Lineup: C-Dan Koppen; G-Russ Hochstein; G-Steve Neal; T-Tom Ashworth; T-Matt Light

Key Backups: G Billy Yates; T Lance Nimmo; G Logan Mankins [r]; G Nick Kaczur [r]

The Patriots offensive line has played much better than the talent level indicated it should over the past couple of seasons.It all starts in the middle with center Dan Koppen who does a good job despite being tremendously gifted when it comes to athletic prowess.He makes up for it with smart play and good technique but will never be confused with the elite centers in the game.Right tackle Tom Ashworth is another player who is intelligent and has sound technique but he doesnít have much strength and wonít overpower his opponents.He had a very solid 2004 season and should be just as strong in 2005.Continuing along the same theme, Russ Hochstein should earn the starting spot in 2005 and is your classic overachiever.He wonít wow you with his athletic ability but has nice technique and gets the job done.Steve Neal was a former collegiate wrestler and has learned the professional game on the fly.He is athletic but doesnít have the power you look for in an offensive guard.Still it looks like he will get the chance to start in 2005.Left tackle Matt Light is probably the best offensive lineman remaining on the Patriots but even he isnít a top-tier player.The reason for the Patriots success up front over the last few years has been intelligence, technique and good coaching as individual the five starting lineman arenít that special.The Patriots drafted two offensive line prospects but neither are considered canít miss prospects and only time will tell if they can make the jump to the pros.Logan Mankins was taken in round one which was a reach but he does have talent and the ability to slot both inside at guard and outside at tackle. He works hard, plays with a mean streak and will get a chance to start by 2006, if not earlier.Nick Kaczur also plays hard and has enough talent to start at the NFL level.He will likely take a season or two to make an impact.

Bottom Line: The Patriots offensive line is a great example that good coaching and intelligence can do wonders on a football field.Still you have to wonder how long it will take until losing lineman such as Damian Woody in 2004 and Joe Andruzzi this season will have an effect on this group.Expect a drop of production from this unit that really isnít as strong as its reputation would indicate and it will take the rookie lineman awhile to come into their own.


New Orleans Saints
Overall Grade: C+

Run Block: A

Pass Block: C-

Depth: B-

Cohesion: C

Experience: B

Change from í04: A


2004:
27th in rushing (1,606 yards), 19th in YPC (4.0), 21st in sacks allowed (41), 20th in PA / Sack (13.2 PA / Sack)

New Additions: G Jermane Mayberry (Philadelphia); T Jammal Brown (rookie Ė Oklahoma)

Key Losses: T Victor Riley

Projected Starting Lineup: C-LeCharles Bentley; G-Montrae Holland; G-Jermane Mayberry; T- Jammal Brown [r]; T-Wayne Gandy

Key Backups: G Jamar Nesbit; G Kendyl Jacox; T Ben Archibald; T-Jon Stinchcomb

The Saints offensive line will look much different in the upcoming season.First of all, they added veteran guard Jermane Mayberry from the Philadelphia Eagles.He will add both power and toughness to a unit that badly needed both.However his athletic ability is limited and will not be getting better with age.He will come out hard on every play and can wear down the opponents across from him.Via the draft, the Saints added right tackle Jammal Brown with the 14th pick.He has good technique, footwork and tenacity and he continues to add both power and size to his resume.He should immediately slot in as a starter and add more toughness to this group.He can be a great run blocker right out of the gate.Both of the above players will help this unit play better than a year ago.Tackle Wayne Gandy is the opposite of Mayberry.He is athletic, has great football and is a better pass blocker than a run blocker.He has only missed one game in the previous ten seasons and is extremely reliable.He is 34 years old and will be slowing down soon but he still is playing well enough to be a serviceable starter.At center, LeCharles Bentley continues to grow as a player.He has started in all but five of his first 48 games in the NFL and has become a fixture in the middle for the Saints.He has everything you need in a center and could develop into a Pro Bowl center in the next season or two.He has good size, quickness and athleticism and is always aggressive in run blocking.His pass blocking and on field intelligence both need to continue growing but the Saints are in good shape at the center slot.Guard Kendyl Jacox has become a serviceable lineman who has started in 40 of the past 48 games for the Saints.He has great size and power and is much stronger in the running game than the passing game.He is being pushed hard by Montrae Holland who has a great chance at being the starter in 2005.The Depth is decent and Jon Stinchcomb is capable of coming off of the bench and doing a serviceable job.

Bottom Line: The Saints have the making of a really nice offensive line with the additions of Mayberry and Brown.There is nice experience littered throughout this group and this unit should be able to open running lanes for Deuce McAllister and the running game to exploit.The weakness amongst this starting five is pass blocking due to limited athletic prowess and quickness but if the Saints continue to suffer through mediocrity or worse, it won't be the fault of these blue-collar workers.


New York Giants
Overall Grade: C+

Run Block: B

Pass Block: C

Depth: C+

Cohesion: B

Experience: B

Change from í04: C+


2004:
11th in rushing (1,904 yards), 5th in YPC (4.5), 30th in sacks allowed (52), 30th in PA / Sack (9.1 PA / Sack)

New Additions: T Kareem McKenzie (New York Jets), T Bob Whitfield

Key Losses: T Barry Stokes

Projected Starting Lineup: C-Shaun OíHara; G-David Diehl; G-Chris Snee; T-Luke Petitgout; T-Kareem McKenzie

Key Backups: T Brandon Winey; G Jason Whittle, T Bob Whitfield

The cornerstone of this unit is longtime Giant Luke Petitgout who has started at tackle for the Giants since 1999.He has great athleticism, decent strength and size and has a great feel for the game.He is technically sound and is one of the most underrated offensive lineman in the NFL.Guard David Diehl has started all 32 games since being drafted in 2003. He has good quickness and plays hard but needs to improve both his technique and his strength to become a great lineman. He is progressing nicely though and should be a fixture for the Giants for years to come.Chris Snee started eleven games at guard last season as a rookie which enabled him to make big strides in his first season.He is very aggressive, goes hard on every snap and has a great explosion when the ball is snapped.He is going to continue growing as a player and should develop into a top-tier guard.Center Shaun OíHara is a smart player with wonderful technique but doesnít have a lot of size or power. He has the mobility to get around nicely on the field and only has problems against big, powerful nose tackles.He is a good anchor to this unit.Finally the Giants added tackle Kareem McKenzie for the Jets this season and he was a great acquisition.He is a big man who plays with a true mean streak, wanting to inflict pain on his opponent every chance he gets.He is a powerful run blocker, punishing the player across from him and heíll give his all on every play.His athletic ability is limited and he isnít good in space and has had conditioning problems in the past.He is a big upgrade over what the Giants had in the past though and heíll make this unit much stronger. The team wasnít able to add a rookie lineman via the draft and their lack of depth is noticeable.

Bottom Line: The Giants have a very solid offensive line.Young players David Diehl and Chris Snee are coming into their own and adding a veteran presence in Kareem McKenzie will help make this unit quite strong.There will still be a learning curve for the young players but the future looks very bright indeed.The big trouble spot is lack of depth which the team will need to address in the near future.


New York Jets
Overall Grade: B

Run Block: B+

Pass Block: B

Depth: C

Cohesion: B

Experience: C+

Change from í04: C+


2004:
3rd in rushing (2,338 yards), 4th in YPC (4.5), 7th in sacks allowed (31), 13th in PA / Sack (14.1 PA / Sack)

New Additions: None

Key Losses: T Kareem McKenzie

Projected Starting Lineup: C-Kevin Mawae; G-Brandon Moore; G-Pete Kendall; T-Jason Fabini; T-Adrian Jones

Key Backups: T Marko Cavka; C/G Jonathon Goodwin; T Charles Thomas

The Jets offensive line has a good blend of both young and experienced players and had great success a year ago.With the loss of veteran tackle Kareem McKenzie, it will be important for second-year tackle Adrian Jones to immediately step into this starting unit and play well in order for the Jets to continue the high level of play of a season ago.Veteran center Kevin Mawae, an eleven-year veteran is one of the top centers in the game today.He is a great anchor to the middle of the offensive line and always gives his best on every play. His age is a bit of a concern but he is still at the top of his game and should be alright for another season or two.Both guard Pete Kendall and tackle Jason Fabini have a combined fifteen years of NFL experience and have a great veteran presence in this group.The two young guns in this unit are guard Brandon Moore, who is aggressive and plays with an edge to his game and tackle Adrian Jones who didnít start a game as a rookie last season.Jones also plays with an edge to him and wonít back down from anybody on a football field but he will need to prove he can keep that edge at the NFL level.Both he and Moore could stand to put on a little more bulk as both are on the south side of 300 pounds.

Bottom Line: The Jets offensive line was super in 2004, helping the Jets dominate opposition with a power running game.The team will miss veteran tackle Kareem McKenzie but hope that gifted second-year player Adrian Jones can fill his shoes.The running game will likely drop somewhat in 2005 as Jones and Moore continue to learn the professional game but having three talented veterans surrounding them will help the Jets offensive line remain a force.


Oakland Raiders
Overall Grade: C+

Run Block: B

Pass Block: B

Depth: B-

Cohesion: C

Experience: C

Change from í04: B+


2004:
32nd in rushing (1,295 yards), 22nd in YPC (3.9), 6th in sacks allowed (30), 5th in PA / Sack (19.4 PA / Sack)

New Additions: None

Key Losses: G Ron Stone

Projected Starting Lineup: C-Jake Grove; G-Brad Badger; G- Langston Walker; T-Barry Sims; T-Robert Gallery

Key Backups: G Chad Slaughter; C Adam Treu

There are three possible starting lineups for the Raiders this season.They could leave Barry Sims outside at tackle, start veteran Brad Badger at guard and leave huge Langston Walker, a former 2nd round pick back in 2002 coming off the bench as a valuable reserve or as a guard inside.Or they could slide Sims back inside to guard, start Walker outside at tackle and have Badger as the top reserve.Finally they could slide Jake Grove over to his natural position at center and slide Brad Badger into his spot at the guard position. Option # 2 or option # 3 are the ones most likely to happen as Walker should be ready to remain a starter from this point on and Grove has a much higher upside than current center Adam Treu.However the Raiders may allow Treu to start for at least another season, giving Grove time to start as a guard for now.Treu is an average player who doesnít really have the skills to be a fulltime starter but plays with heart on every play and has decent technique.Sims is an aggressive lineman who goes hard on every play.He holds his own at left tackle but really doesnít have the ideal mobility or strength needed to be great at that position.He is better suited to sliding inside to the guard position where he can be a mauler and use his aggression to his advantage. Langston Walker as amazing size at 6í8 and 346 pounds but isnít as strong as his size indicates he should be.However being so large means he usually controls the line of scrimmage no matter what.He has surprising quickness and mobility and has a chance to become a very good lineman if he can continue to make improvements in both his technique and strength areas.2nd year tackle Robert Gallery will be a star in this league.He has great size, wonderful athletic ability (was a former tight end) and plays with a nasty streak on every down.He went through some growing pains as a rookie but he is going to be great within the next year or two.Grove is the 2nd player from last seasonís draft who started his share of games last year. He also plays tenacious football on every snap and really gets after the player across from him.He is relentless in his blocking and will give his all on every single snap.He is the future center of this unit but it is unclear at this point whether heíll start at center or guard once again in 2005.

Bottom Line: The Raiders offensive line experienced some growing pains with two rookies in the starting lineup a year ago but they will be better for it this season and definitely down the road.Both Robert Gallery and Jake Grove made giant strides as rookies last season and should be much more comfortable this season.Tackle Langston Walker is another young player who is getter better and should be given the chance to start in 2005 and Barry Sims gives the team veteran leadership and a player who can slide in at both guard and tackle, depending on where heís needed.This unit is still a year away from possibly being a great team but for now you can expect some improvements as they continue to train their young talent.


Philadelphia Eagles
Overall Grade: B

Run Block: B

Pass Block: B

Depth: C

Cohesion: C+

Experience: B

Change from í04: B


2004:
24th in rushing (1,639 yards), 8th in YPC (4.4), 15th in sacks allowed (37), 12th in PA / Sack (14.8 PA / Sack)

New Additions: None

Key Losses: G Jermaine Mayberry

Projected Starting Lineup: C-Hank Fraley; G-Artis Hicks; G-Shawn Andrews; T-Jon Runyan; T-Tra Thomas

Key Backups: C Alonzo Ephraim; G Steve Sciullo; G Jamaal Jackson; T Todd Herremans [r]; T Scott Young [r]; T Calvin Armstrong [r]

The Eagles offensive line has been strong for many seasons but the loss of guard Jermaine Mayberry to the New Orleans Saints could create a little havoc to start the season but the Eagles could be better for it by seasonís end.Both of the tackles, Jon Runyan and Tra Thomas have been long-time starters for the Eagles.Both have great size at 330+ pounds and are tough, hard nosed players.†† Thomas has surprising quickness for a big man and has improved his technique every season in the league.On the other side, Runyan gets by with a strong work ethic and a nasty attitude.He does whatever it takes on every play.Both will continue to be excellent bookends for the club.Thomas has been named to the Pro Bowl and is still improving on a yearly basis.Fraley has started 63 of the past 64 games for the Eagles at the center position and while not considered an elite talent, has done a very nice job for the club.He is overpowering but has solid technique and gives his all on every play.He does a good job as the leader of this group.Lineman Artis Hicks is a versatile player who was the first player off the bench cover either the guard or tackle positions last season.When rookie Shawn Andrews broke his arm during the first game of the season, Hicks stepped in and the team didnít miss a beat.He has a good mix of size and quickness plus his technique is continuing to improve. Andrews was on his way to an outstanding rookie campaign but broke his arm in game one.He was awesome throughout training camp and the preseason and it is only a matter of time before he is considered one of the top guards in the game.He had a problem with his weight in college and he allegedly weighed close to 400 pounds in 2003 but the team trainers and doctors have helped him to stabilize his weight problems and he should stay on top of it for the rest of his career. He has great power and very nice quickness for a huge man but needs to improve both his technique and footwork to become an elite lineman.Last season during camp, he was able to overwhelm the opponent across from him on many occasions. The Eagles added three rookie linemen but the only one who really appears capable of becoming a serviceable starter in the NFL is the sixth round pick, Calvin Armstrong who was expected to go much earlier.He has great size but needs to get stronger before heíll be an effective pro lineman.His upside is strong though.

Bottom Line: If guard Artis Hicks can continue to make improvements (he should thanks to a strong work-ethic), and if 2nd-year guard Shawn Andrews can rebound from the broken arm he suffered as a rookie to become the dominant force he appears capable of developing into, the sky is the limit for this unit.The two veteran tackles are wonderful bookends and do a good job in both the passing and rushing games.How well this group plays simply depends on how quickly Andrews can become the man on the inside of this line.Expect a small learning curve and then strong play from this group throughout the last half of the season.


Pittsburgh Steelers
Overall Grade: A-

Run Block: A

Pass Block: B

Depth: C

Cohesion: B

Experience: B

Change from í04: A


2004:
2nd in rushing (2,464 yards), 19th in YPC (3.9), 14th in sacks allowed (36), 28th in PA / Sack (9.9 PA / Sack)

New Additions: None

Key Losses: T Oliver Ross; G Keydrick Vincent

Projected Starting Lineup: C-Jeff Hartings; G-Alan Faneca; G-Kendall Simmons; T-Marvel Smith; T-Max Starks

Key Backups: T-Josh Burr; C-Ben Claxton; T Trai Essex [r]; G Chris Kemoeatu [r]

The Steelers were an exceptional offensive line in 2004 but will have to replace two starters from a year ago.Both guard Keydrick Vincent and tackle Oliver Ross were important parts of the unit last year who have signed elsewhere in 2005.However the reason they allowed the two veteran players to depart is the two young linemen ready to step in and make an impact for this squad.Tackle Max Starts was a 3rd round draft choice last season who has excellent size at 6í7 and 340 pounds.His sheer size makes it difficult for the defender across from him but he needs to become more aggressive in order to become a great lineman at the NFL level. He should still be at least as effective as Oliver Ross was a year ago.The other newcomer to this unit is guard Kendall Simmons, the former # 1 draft pick who started thirty games in his first two seasons and then missed the entire 2004 campaign.He has excellent quickness for a 319-pound man and has shown flashes of brilliance thus far in his career.If he continues to make progress throughout the season he could be considered one of the top guards in football at the end of the year.Alan Faneca is already one of the best guards in the NFL.He was a first round pick back in 1998 and has been a fixture on the Steelers line ever since.He explodes off the line with great intensity, always finishes his blocks and goes hard on every play.He is an incredible run blocker and has made great strides when it comes to pass blocking.He is clearly the best player up front for the Steelers. Tackle Marvel Smith is another high draft pick (2nd-round pick) who is coming into his own.Smith has great size, comes off the ball with intensity and has become a much better player over the last couple of seasons.He goes hard on every play and his long arms enable him to be a very good pass protector.He could become a top-tier tackle if he continues to grow and improve and made the Pro Bowl last season as an injury replacement.Finally center Jeff Hartings is another former 1st round pick who has been a fixture up front for the Steelers and does everything the team asks of him.He has only missed four games over his four seasons with the Steelers organization and is an aggressive player who finishes every block.He is the perfect player to start at center within this unit.The rookie to watch isnít the 3rd round pick (Trai Essex) but rather the 6th round pick (Chris Kemoeatu from Utah).He has had both durability and character issues on the field but has great bulk and power and could be a great run blocker at the NFL level with some hard work.He has a better chance to become a starter than Essex, who was a reach in the 3rd round.

Bottom Line: Not many organizations can lose two starters from the offensive line and actually look just as strong or stronger heading into a new season but the Steelers do.The five linemen all have exceptional ability and the mix between proven veterans and young players is perfect.Not only is this group one of the best in the NFL, but they have the potential to remain so for a long time into the future.Look for the younger players such as Starks, Simmons and Smith to continue showing improvement throughout the season.The only potential trouble spot is the questionable depth behind the starting five, with no proven players coming off of the bench but as long as the starting five can stay healthy; this will be a dominating group.


San Diego Chargers
Overall Grade: B+

Run Block: B

Pass Block: B+

Depth: A

Cohesion: B

Experience: B

Change from í04: B


2004:
6th in rushing (2,185 yards), 14th in YPC (4.2), 4th in sacks allowed (20), 4th in PA / Sack (22.5 PA / Sack)

New Additions: None

Key Losses: None

Projected Starting Lineup: C-Nick Hardwick; G-Toniu Fonoti; G-Mike Goff; T-Roman Oben; T-Courtney Van Buren

Key Backups: G Bob Hallen; T Shane Olivea; T Leander Jordan; T Wesley Britt [r]; G Wes Sims [r]

Nobody expected the Chargers offensive to be as strong as they were last season and much of the credit can go to the offensive lineman who really came together and played well as a unit.The leader of this group is veteran guard Mike Goff who came in last season and became a force for the club.He brings experience and extremely physical play to the table and is your classic mauler at the guard position. He is very strong and will try to overpower his opponent across from him which is good because his athletic ability is limited at best.Guard Toniu Fonoti really came into his own last season.He is a giant of a man at 350+ pounds but needs to make sure his weight doesnít get up too high or it affects his play on the field.He is a relentless drive blocker and is likely already one of the top run-blocking guards in the entire NFL.He plays with an edge and can blow his opponents off the ball on a consistent basis.While his pass blocking skills are limited, he did make some progress in that area a season ago and should continue to improve in that department.He doesnít have the athletic ability to ever be a great at pass protection but he wonít be a liability any more.He has a shot to see some Pro Bowls in the future if he continues to improve.A training camp battle to watch is for the starting right tackle position where Courtney Van Buren and Shane Olivea will be in a dogfight for the position. Olivea was a 7th round pick last year who stepped in, started all sixteen games for the Chargers and was a dominating presence in the running attack.He has great balance and was tenacious throughout the season.Van Buren has unbelievable size at 6í6 and 350 pounds and has good strength and surprising quickness.What has held him back from becoming a great tackle is both his shoddy technique and his questionable durability.Whoever has the best training camp will be the starter.At center, Nick Hardwick, a 3rd round pick from last year stepped in as the starting center and played in all but two games.He has great quickness and size and has a remarkable rookie season in 2004 for a player who was thought of as a developmental prospect.He will anchor this group for a long time to come.Roman Oben is the veteran of the line and a great pass blocker due to his great footwork and athleticism.He has begun to slow down after nine seasons but brings both leadership and experience to this young group. The Chargers found themselves a steal in the fifth round when they selected Wesley Britt of Alabama.He has great size, is tenacious and could develop into a great pro if he can improve his durability and continue to add size to his 6í8 frame.He should have been taken two rounds before he was.Fellow rookie Wes Sims from Oklahoma also has a chance to stick around and have a nice pro career.He has good size and strength and will compete for a job within two seasons.

Bottom Line: The Chargers offensive line was the biggest surprise of the 2004 season.The preseason last year was riddled with questions with only two starting spots appearing locked up.Two rookies started out of the gate last season in center Nick Hardwick and tackle Shane Olivea and both did an outstanding job.Guard Toniu Fonoti rediscovered his skills that made him a dominating rookie back in 2002 and improve his pass protection skills.He now appears to be a future Pro Bowler. Mike Goff and Roman Oben arenít elite linemen but they bring both experience and leadership to the table and the team added two talented rookie linemen late in the draft.This unit is aggressive, plays with an edge and appears to have a wonderful future ahead of them.


San Francisco 49ers
Overall Grade: B

Run Block: B

Pass Block: C

Depth: B+

Cohesion: B

Experience: B

Change from í04: A


2004:
30th in rushing (1,449 yards), 30th in YPC (3.5), 29th in sacks allowed (52), 26th in PA / Sack (10.8 PA / Sack)

New Additions: T Jonas Jennings (Buffalo)

Key Losses: None

Projected Starting Lineup: C-Jeremy Newberry; G-Eric Heitmann; G-Justin Smiley; T-Jonas Jennings; T-Kwame Harris

Key Backups: T Scott Gragg; G Scott Peters; G Adam Snyder [r]; C David Baas [r]

While the 49ers are going through a rebuilding phase, there is reason for optimism when it comes to the offensive line.Jeremy Newberry missed all of last season with injury but is one of the best centers in the game when healthy and the unit will be much better with him back in 2005.He has great power and is aggressive in his run blocking.He can knocked defenders off the ball with consistency and although his athleticism isnít great, he has enough quickness and foot speed to compliment his strength and intelligence nicely.He is a great anchor and will remain so for the next several years but has to come back from more surgery on his right knee.With the free agent acquisition of Jonas Jennings, formerly of the Bills, the 49ers are blessed with two talented, young tackles.Jennings has good size, plays aggressive hard-nosed football and has great technique that should continue to get even better.He isnít a great athlete but he is a huge upgrade for the 49ers at the one tackle slot.Kwame Harris was a 1st round pick in 2003 who has yet to realize his awesome potential.He has started only 12 games over the past two seasons and the club needs him to make significant improvements in 2005.He has good athleticism, great size and enough power to move defenders off of the line of scrimmage.He still needs to work on his technique which has improved but still has flaws and his footwork.Expect him to be a much better player this year.Eric Heitmann played with Harris while at Stanford and has been a surprise as a former 7th round pick by becoming a solid interior lineman.Heíll never be an elite player but he has terrific heart and work ethic and enough power and agility to do a decent job at the guard position.2nd year guard, Justin Smiley gets an opportunity to start this season.Smiley has excellent strength and athleticism, started 9 games as a rookie last year and has a good upside. The 49ers added two talented rookie linemen in Adam Snyder and David Baas.Baas, from Michigan looks like a future stud at the center position with his great size, agility and intelligence and heíll get a chance to contribute right away.Adam Snyder isnít as strong of a prospect but certainly has the ability to stick around as valuable depth and could become a starting guard over time.

May 21, 2005, 07:04
49ers - C Newberry Will Need More Surgery
Greg Beacham, Associated Press -
[Full Article]

C Jeremy Newberry of the San Francisco 49ers will need more surgery on his troublesome right knee. Newberry played in mini-camp and was eager to put last year's injury-plagued season behind him. The surgery will require 8-10 weeks of recovery.

Bottom Line: The 49ers look to have a solid offensive line this season and there is a possibility of greatness down the road.Center Jeremy Newberry is the leader of this unit and with young players such as tackles Jonas Jennings and Kwame Harris, guards Justin Smiley and Eric Heitmann getting better with experience and a rookie lineman in David Baas who could develop into a star player; the pieces are in place for the 49ers offensive line to develop into a great unit for a long time to come.Expect Harris, Jennings and Smiley to get better as the season goes on and they get used to working with one another.Take heart 49er fans as the offensive line gives you something to get excited about for the future.


Seattle Seahawks
Overall Grade: B

Run Block: B+

Pass Block: C+

Depth: A

Cohesion: B

Experience: B

Change from í04: B


2004:
8th in rushing (2,095 yards), 4th in YPC (4.5), 12th in sacks allowed (34), 11th in PA / Sack (15.6 PA / Sack)

New Additions: None

Key Losses: T Chris Terry

Projected Starting Lineup: C-Robbie Tobeck; G-Steve Hutchinson; G-Floyd Womack; T-Walter Jones; T-Wayne Hunter

Key Backups: C Joey Hollenbeck; G Jerry Wunsch; T Sean Locklear; T Ray Willis [r]; C Chris Spencer [r]

The Seahawks offensive line has been terrific over the past few seasons and should be solid again in 2005.However the team released veteran tackle Chris Terry and the organization may miss the veteran who started 80 games over the last six seasons.Walter Jones is one of the finest offensive tackles in the NFL.He has great size, good athleticism and sound technique. He has played in 122 of his 128 games as a professional and is the cornerstone of this unit.The only question mark is how heíll play now that he has finally signed the big multi-year contract after spending the past couple of seasons as the Franchise Player with a one-year contract at a time.Will he come out with the same passion and intensity as he had over the past few years?He should be just fine as the Seahawks want to put the 2004 late-season collapse behind them.Center Robbie Tobeck brings a lot of experience to the table with him now entering his 12th season in the NFL.He has started 64 straight games for the Seahawks and was always blessed with tremendous athleticism.However much of his quickness has eroded over the past few years and he now gets by with good technique and intelligence.He was never known for his strength and if anything, that has dipped somewhat in the past couple of seasons.He is simply a serviceable veteran who brings leadership at this point.Floyd Womack has one of the best NFL nicknames ĎPork Chopí and has been a starter at times throughout his four year career.He has great size and power and can destroy an opponent with his run blocking skills.However his mobility is limited as is his athletic ability and heíll never be much more than a straight-ahead bulldozer who struggles when it comes to pass blocking and blocking in space. He will be in a battle with Wayne Hunter, a 3rd round pick in 2003 for the right to start at right tackle. Hunter has a lot going for him with great power and intensity but he is still learning his craft and could very well spend one more season as a backup for the club. The team is set at the guard positions with Steve Hutchinson who is one of the finest guards in football and veteran leader Chris Gray who has started 80 straight games for the club.Hutchinson has a mean-streak, goes hard on every play and has a great mix of size, power and quickness.He made the Pro Bowl in each of the last two seasons and is just now entering the prime of his career. Gray will be 35-years old this season but he brings both stability and experience to this group and he should have another season or two as a legitimate starter left in him. 1st round pick, center Chris Spencer is a very talented player who could compete for playing time immediately as a guard or center.He has quick feet, great mobility and could become a top player within a couple of seasons.Look for him to push Tobeck for the starting center job this season and he will almost certainly start in 2006.Another rookie, tackle Ray Willis will push Wayne Hunter hard for the starting tackle position.He is more talented than Hunter and could emerge as the guy right out of the gate this season.

Bottom Line: The Seahawks are blessed with two legitimate stars in Walter Jones at tackle and Steve Hutchinson at guard.Both are among the best at their positions in the NFL and anchor this group.However there are some big question marks along the starting five. Will Jones continue to play at an elite level after finally earning his huge, multi-year contract? Robbie Tobeck has been a rock at the center position but is 35 years old and has begun to slow down.Wayne Hunter will likely start the season at tackle but hasnít started a single game at the NFL level and is still an unknown. Pork Chop Womack is great at drive blocking but is very limited in every other aspect of the game due to his marginal athleticism.Can rookies Chris Spencer and Ray Willis claim starting spots this season?This unit will be good and it has awesome potential down the road, but there are simply too many variables to believe this unit can be great in 2005.


St. Louis Rams
Overall Grade: B

Run Block: B

Pass Block: C+

Depth: B

Cohesion: B

Experience: B+

Change from í04: B


2004:
25th in rushing (1,624 yards), 11th in YPC (4.3), 26th in sacks allowed (50), 23rd in PA / Sack (11.6 PA / Sack)

New Additions: G Rex Tucker (Chicago)

Key Losses: None

Projected Starting Lineup: C-Andy McCollum; G-Adam Timmerman; G-Rex Tucker; T-Orlando Pace; T-Alex Barren [r]

Key Backups: T Grant Williams; G Scott Tercero; G Blane Saipaia, C Richie Incognito [r]; G Claude Terrell [r]

The Rams have one of the finest offensive linemen to have played the game in Orlando Pace who just agreed to a $52 million dollar contract this season. He has a perfect blend of size, power and athletic ability and has been a fixture in the Pro Bowl since entering the league.He is as good as it gets.After Pace though, the rest of this unit is rather pedestrian.Center Andy McCollum brings experience, intelligence and leadership to the table but he is 35 years old this season and is on the down slope of his career.He has started 80 consecutive games and has been very durable throughout his long career. He was never gifted athletically and he has lost a step or two with age.However his football savvy and experience should allow him to start for another season or two before Father Time catches up to him. At one guard position is Adam Timmerman who has been a fixture on this offensive line for six seasons in which time he started all but one game.He will be 34 years old this season and like McCollum is beginning to see his skills erode.†† However Timmerman continues to play at a high level thanks to his tenacity and strong effort on every play. He is much better as a run blocker at this point due to his very limited mobility and foot work.The other guard spot looks to be a battle between 3rd year player, Scott Tercero, who has started only four games in his career and Rex Tucker, a free agent signing from the Bears. Tercero doesnít have great power and at barely 300 pounds doesnít have much bulk.However he has good foot work and athleticism which helps him when it comes to both trapping and pulling and could grow into a good lineman with experience.Rex Tucker was plagued by injuries with the Bears but is perhaps more talented than either Saipaia or Tercero and could earn the starting nod this season as well.He did a good job while healthy in Chicago.Kyle Turley wonít make the Rams in 2005 as an offensive lineman due to injuries so rookie Alex Barren will have an excellent shot at starting out of the gate. He has good athleticism and potential but didnít really live up to his potential in college.. If he doesnít win the job, expect Grant Williams, who started 11 games a year ago and brings lots of experience to the table to get the nod..He has good size and power but is limited when it comes to athleticism and his quickness leaves much to be desired.Rookie lineman Richie Incognito is one of the more interesting draft picks of the 2005 season.He probably has as much talent as any other center or guard in the draft and is one of the most tenacious players I have ever watched on the field but he is plagued with big character issues that scared most teams away from him.If the Rams can straighten him out, he could emerge as a Pro Bowl player.

Bottom Line: The Rams have an elite lineman in Orlando Pace; two veteran linemen in Andy McCollum and Adam Timmerman who were once outstanding but are beginning to feel the effect of aging and two question marks at the right tackle and left guard positions.Assuming both McCollum and Timmerman still have another season or two in them, the overall success of this group may come down to how effectively the right tackle and left guard position are filled.Those two slots will be filled by two of the following four players: Scott Tercero, Blane Saipaia, Grant Williams and newcomer Rex Tucker who came over as a free agent from the Bears.All three have distinct weaknesses and positives that they bring to the table and at this point it is anybodyís guess which two will win starting jobs. Any offensive line with a player of Paceís talents will do a good job but it doesnít appear this unit is capable of great things in 2005.


Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Overall Grade: D

Run Block: D

Pass Block: C-

Depth: C-

Cohesion: D

Experience: C+

Change from í04: D


2004:
29th in rushing (1,489 yards), 25th in YPC (3.8), 24th in sacks allowed (44), 23rd n PA / Sack (11.6 PA / Sack)

New Additions: None

Key Losses: G Matt OíDwyer; G Cosey Coleman

Projected Starting Lineup: C-John Wade; G-Matt Stinchcomb; G-Jeb Terry; T-Derrick Deese; T-Kenyatta Walker

Key Backups: G Mitch White; C Sean Mahan; T Chris Colmer [r]; G Dan Buenning [r]

The Buccaneers offensive line needs some work.They ranked in the bottom third of each of the four categories last season and so far this offseason have lost veteran lineman without adding anybody of note.At the tackle position, both Derrick Deese and Kenyatta Walker are of average talent although Walker is young and has a big upside. Walker is a former 1st round pick who has good athleticism and power but has to improve both his durability and his technique.He has missed games in each of the last three seasons and needs to stay healthy to help the Buccaneers out.He clearly has the most upside of any of the Buccaneers lineman.At the other tackle slot, Deese is in his 14th season and will be 35 years old this year.His skills have decreased to the point where he really is better suited to be a strong veteran backup than a starter at this point.He has good technique but has always been undersized and that doesnít help him in the twilight of his career.He may split time or even be replaced by fellow lineman Todd Steussie who is also going to be 35 years old this season.Steussie is a tough, bigger tackle and he may start, allowing Deese to perhaps move into the guard position where there is a need.At center, John Wade is simply a serviceable player who has had big problems staying healthy and on the field throughout his career.He has started all 16 games in just three of his seven seasons.At guard, Matt Stinchcomb came over from the Raiders last year and started all 16 games for the Buccaneers.He has made strides and has good athleticism and technique.He probably is the best lineman on the club at this time but his power leaves much to be desired and he is more of a finesse player than a physical one.On the other side, it appears that Jeb Terry will get the call.He didnít start a game last year but with the loss of two guards from a year ago, he will likely get the nod to start in 2005.He has good size and athleticism but needs some refinement in technique and footwork and will have to learn on the fly this season.Rookie tackle Chris Colmer is a tough player with lots of heart but battles injury woes throughout his collegiate career.He could develop into a starter but only if he can stay healthy.Fellow rookie guard Dan Buenning also has good heart with a mean streak but has weak athletic ability which will hinder his potential.

Bottom Line: This unit shapes up as one of the weakest in the NFL.Veteran tackles Derrick Deese and Todd Steussie are past their prime, young talent such as Kenyatta Walker and Matt Stinchcomb have never developed as anticipated and a green sophomore (Jeb Terry) looks to be the starting guard in 2005.Walker is the longest serving veteran for the Buccaneers and he is entering only his fifth season with the club.The other four starters have started a total of 56 games for the Buccaneers.If young players Terry, Stinchcomb and Walker can make improvements, there is hope that this unit will come together but at this time it appears to be a pretty significant weakness for the club.


Tennessee Titans
Overall Grade: C

Run Block: C+

Pass Block: D

Depth: C

Cohesion: C+

Experience: B

Change from í04: D


2004:
14th in rushing (1,871 yards), 4th in YPC (4.5), 22nd in sacks allowed (44), 18th in PA / Sack (13.4 PA / Sack)

New Additions: None

Key Losses: T Fred Miller

Projected Starting Lineup: C-Justin Hartwig; G-Benji Olsen; G-Zach Piller; T-Brad Hopkins; T-Todd Williams

Key Backups: G Jacob Bell; T Matt Martin; T Michael Roos [r]; T David Stewart [r]

The starting right tackle for the last five seasons, Fred Miller who started 80 consecutive games for the Titans was signed away by the Bears this off season, leaving a big hole on the outside of the line.Tackle Brad Hopkins has been an elite tackle throughout his long professional career but he is beginning to slow down.He missed five games due to injury last season and he will be 35 years old this September.His agility and strength arenít what they once were and he can be exposed by quick pass rushers flying off of the edge. His biggest attribute left is experience and he should be able to hold his own for another couple of seasons.His days as a top-level tackle are gone though and they will not return.Guard Benji Olsen has developed into a pretty good player. He is a great drive blocker but isnít the same player in space due to limited quickness and mobility.He is tenacious and plays with an edge on every play.He is the teamís best lineman now and has improved every season as a pro.On the other side, Zach Piller gives the Titans two gifted guards at the top of their game.He has great size at 6í5 and 321 pounds, is also very tenacious and drives hard off of the ball.His athletic ability is also limited and he is much better run blocking than he is in pass protection.If veteran Jason Matthews is resigned, he will be the starting tackle but he is undersized and slowing down after 11 seasons in the NFL.If he doesnít come back, Todd Williams will be stepping into the role.Williams was a 7th round pick who has great size at 6í5 and 330 pounds but is lazy, hasnít been durable and needs to really improve his technique to become a solid starter.He has great strength but his agility is below par.Center Justin Hartwig is alright in the middle and has good technique.He is another lineman though that is better at run blocking than pass blocking due to poor footwork and limited athletic ability. Rookie lineman Michael Roos has great size and athleticism but is very raw and may need a couple of seasons before he is ready to see the field.He has the potential to be outstanding in time though.Fellow rookie David Stewart doesnít have as high of an upside as his fellow rookie teammate but he is more seasoned and could see playing time ahead of Roos.He could be a serviceable NFL lineman.I wouldnít be surprised to see Stewart win the starting job this season at the tackle position against the below-par Williams.

Bottom Line: As a run-blocking unit, the Titans are quite good.The best word to describe this starting five is ĎMaulersí as they all play hard and are better at driving off the ball than playing in space or pass protecting.Tackle Brad Hopkins is slowing down after a long, successful career and he was clearly the best lineman in this bunch. Losing starting tackle Fred Miller and not finding a replacement will definitely hurt the starting unit as Todd Williams isnít near ready to step in as the starter. This group will continue to find some success in opening holes but the quarterbacks will be running for their lives once again in 2005.The hope for the future is strong with two tackles likely to be starters by 2007.


Washington Redskins
Overall Grade: B

Run Block: B+

Pass Block: B

Depth: B

Cohesion: B-

Experience: C+

Change from í04: B


2004:
25th in rushing (1,624 yards), 25th in YPC (3.8), 18th in sacks allowed (38), 17th in PA / Sack (13.5 PA / Sack)

New Additions: C Casey Rabach (Baltimore)

Key Losses: None

Projected Starting Lineup: C-Casey Rabach; G-Derrick Dockery; G-Randy Thomas; T-Chris Samuels T-Jon Jansen

Key Backups: C Cory Raymer; C Lennie Friedman; G Josh Warner, G/T Ray Brown

The big battle to watch will be at the center position with three players vying for the starting position.Casey Rabach, Cory Raymer and Lennie Friedman will all be given a chance to win the job but the favorite is probably Casey Rabach who came over from the Ravens this season and has the most talent.Both tackles Chris Samuels and Jon Jansen are still relatively young and could develop into top tackles in the next couple of seasons.Samuels should be a perennial Pro Bowler within the next season or two thanks to his strength, quickness and footwork.His only downfall at this point in his career has been the nagging injuries that have affected his play on the field.If he can shake the injury bug, he has a chance to be great.Jansen is coming off of a season ending injury (ruptured Achilles) and will need to come back 100% healthy if the Redskins offensive woes from last year are to become distant memories.Jansen is an aggressive player who thrives in driving off of the ball.He is a much better run blocker than a pass blocker due to his tenacious play.If he is healthy, RB Clinton Portis and the entire running game will be more efficient.Guard Randy Thomas has been very durable in his career, is a mean-spirited player that explodes out of the blocks and goes non-stop on every play.He has good footwork and quickness and could become a top-tier guard with a little better technique.Finally at the other guard position is Derrick Dockery who is a mountain of a man and is beginning to come into his own.His tremendous power and surprisingly quick feet will continue to propel him along with his technique and ability to maintain blocks improve.He has a great work ethic and is a very effective pass blocker. Donít be surprised to see him become an All Pro by 2006.

Bottom Line: When healthy, the starting five offensive linemen for the Redskins have an opportunity to be outstanding in their production.Both guards and tackle positions are locked up leaving only one real battle for training camp between three players at the center position.Incumbent Cory Raymer will have his hands full in a battle with newcomer Casey Rabach and Lennie Friedman.Rabach will be given every chance to win that job. Look for a much stronger offensive season from the Redskins in 2005 and it will all start up front with the hogs.If injuries strike again in 2005 tithe Redskins still donít have the depth to effectively cover them.

Forums |  News | Login / Signup | Contact Us