Washington up 4
The Commanders' offensive line certainly wasn't perfect in their Week 1 win against Jacksonville. The guards of Andrew Norwell and Trai Turner both had moments of struggle in pass protection. The other starting quality guard, Wes Schweitzer, injured his hamstring and will likely be unavailable for a few weeks. So, why is this group due for an upgrade in the rankings? Because of the stellar play from left tackle Charles Leno and center Chase Roullier. These two veterans and right tackle Sam Cosmi have taken a collective step up in their games. The group was especially effective picking up exotic blitzes. This line officially grades inside the top 10 of the rankings. Look for the Commanders' line to continue their improvement in Week 2 against a vulnerable Lions' defensive front seven.
Houston up 5
First-round rookie Kenyon Green didn't start the game against Indianapolis, as veteran Justin McCray had the honor. But the two split reps at left guard and Green visibly improved his play throughout the afternoon. By the end, Green ended up with the lion's share of the reps, taking 38 offensive plays to McCray's 32. This is good news for the Texans' front office, who appear to have hit big on the prospect from nearby Texas A&M. Nothing official has been announced but look for Green to get his first start this week against Denver. McCray can go back to his veteran backup role. In other news, center Justin Britt missed practice for personal reasons but is expected to be in the starting lineup. This Texans' line sits at 12th, just outside the top-10.
Atlanta up 4
The Falcons' offensive line had two new starters in the lineup last week against New Orleans, and the line looked much improved. At left guard, Jalen Mayfield was benched for Elijah Wilkinson. Mayfield has been a liability since he was given the starting position. Meanwhile, Wilkinson is a converted swing tackle with the athleticism and technique to keep this job for a while. At center, Drew Dalman took the job from Matt Hennessy. These two players had been rotating reps 1:1 for most of last season and this year's preseason. However, Dalman finally won the job and the effect has been positive. Wilkinson and Dalman had good games, opening running lanes and protecting quarterback Marcus Mariota. This line grades in the middle of the pack but is trending upward. This week will be a true test, as the Falcons fly across the country to face Aaron Donald and a motivated LA Rams' defensive front, coming off ten days' rest.
Miami up 5
Left tackle Terron Armstead has been held out of practice with a toe injury this week. Right tackle Austin Jackson was rolled up in the second quarter against New England and had to be replaced by Greg Little. The team signed Brandon Shell to their practice squad. Why is a team with such tackle issues climbing the rankings? Armstead has been limited in practice and the coaches have indicated that he should be able to play through it. As for Jackson, this player always had draft capital on his side, but after Jackson migrated from left tackle to left guard to right tackle, the model doesn't see much difference between him and Greg Little. A former second-round pick out of Ole Miss by Carolina, Little has always had elite athleticism (like Jackson). But Little has refined his technical shortcomings recently and had a great summer. In three seasons, Little has elevated his game to the point where he grades as a low-end starter. The rest of the line performed well last week, and they have a decent matchup this week against Baltimore.
Chicago up 4
The Bears' offensive line had a rough start to the game last week against San Francisco, giving up a ton of pressure to players like Nick Bosa. But as the game continued, this young group found its footing, especially in the running game. Rookie left tackle Braxton Jones has been washing players down in zone scheme while Larry Borom has been a sneakily lock-down performer at right tackle. Right guard is a 1:1 split between second-year player Teven Jenkins and veteran Lucas Patrick. Each one brings something different to the table, with Patrick providing better pass protection but Jenkins mauling in the run game. This Bears' line is still far from the top of the rankings, but they look better than many thought. This line was my dark horse pick for unexpected improvement this preseason, and their long, slow climb out of the basement has begun. They face a vulnerable Packers' defensive front seven this Sunday Night.
Seattle up 1
It's rare that a team drafts two rookie tackles and starts them immediately, but that's exactly what Seattle did this offseason. Everyone expected left tackle Charles Cross to be at least a solid pass protector, and the first-rounder from Mississippi State has mostly lived up to his draft status. What has been unexpected has been the emergence of third-round right tackle Abraham Lucas. Lucas has been leveling defenders all preseason, issuing knockdown blocks at every opportunity. He had a very good game on Monday Night against the Broncos' defensive front seven, and it will be interesting to see if he can continue his hot form in the division this week against a motivated 49ers defense. In other news, left guard Damien Lewis missed Week 1 with knee and ankle injuries (Phil Haynes started in his place). Lewis has practiced in full and is included in the rankings. The Seahawks' line still ranks low, 30th currently, but if Lucas continues his strong play, they will climb the charts in the next few weeks.
NY Giants up 1
This Giants' line had its share of struggles last week in their close win against the Titans. At left guard, Ben Bredeson and Joshua Ezeudu split snaps, and it's hard to determine which was better. Ezeudu, like most of the Giants' line, had real problems in pass protection but did well in run blocking. The coaches are still unsure who to start at several spots. The exception was left tackle Andrew Thomas, who looks to be fulfilling his potential as a former top-5 draft pick. Thomas reported to camp in excellent physical shape and has been building on last year's campaign, where he was quietly one of the better pass-blocking left tackles. Thomas has elite measurables and is well-regarded by front offices around the league. It's not a huge upgrade to the Giants' offensive line, ranked 31st, but they are no longer ranked last, and that's something.
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