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NFL Offensive Line Rankings

Just as a departure for a bit from the Jets circus I wanted to go over offensive line rankings in pass protection with a focus on the players from the AFC East. These rankings are compiled from the raw data provided by Pro Football Focus but the analysis is my own. The rankings that PFF compiles are based on sacks and hurries/hits in which a pressure is given 75% the weight of a sack, which I think overstates the effect of a pressure on the outcome of a play. 

We can calculate the actual effect by looking at the performance of the average of the NFL QBs both under pressure and without pressure. Over the prior three years, the average pass plays success (meaning a dropback that results in a completion) with no pressure was 63.71%. When sacked the success rate is clearly 0%. Under pressure the success rate falls to 43.09%. Based on those numbers you can more or less say that a sack increases the rate of failure by about 175% while the pressure increases it by 56.8%. Applying that to each individual player we can determine the percentage increase in failed plays that they are responsible for by allowing pressures and sacks.

Ill put the top 5 at each position plus the rankings for each of the AFC East players so as not to infringe on the outstanding work PFF does in tracking the numbers.

Tackle



The average performance was 5.01% so anything below that is good and above that is bad. You have to wonder how much the improved play of Ryan Clady is due to wanting a new contract, how much is due to Peyton Manning, and how much is due to basic improvement. Last year Clady graded out below average but was also playing most of the season with Tim Tebow who has no pocket presence at all. In Manning he has arguably the smartest QB of all time. Joe Thomas is steady as they come and ranked number 2 last season while Matt Kalil has been every bit as good as advertised. Albert continues to be a top player and will get a big payday soon.

I was surprised to see D’Brickashaw Ferguson bounce back to a top 10 player. He was awful last season ranking 29th in the league after signing a big money extension.  That said his career history has been up a year down a year so I guess this was his up season. The same cant be said for Austin Howard who is the 6th worst in the NFL and graded out worse than Wayne Hunter did last season. For the most part the players in the East are all good, though the Dolphins may be worried about Jake Long long term. Though this is an improvement for him over last year, this will mark two years in a row where he is nowhere near the top 10 and with his pedigree will demand big dollars when his contract voids after this season. Jonathan Martin has struggled as a rookie. Sebastian Vollmer ranks at the second best right tackle in the game for New England and should get a nice new extension after this season.

One thing that I think needs to be discussed when looking at the position in general by teams is how to find better players on the right hand side of the line.  The failures on the left side, where supposedly they are matching up with the best rushers, is only 4.39% compared to 5.67% on the right side. Teams need to balance the performance because right now the opponents are causing more failures targeting the right tackles with their pass rushes.

Guard



The average at the position was 2.86% so again the AFC East grades out quite well. Rob Sims takes over the top spot after finishing 14th last season. Yanda was fourth last year and has solidified himself as one of the best in the league. Evans and Pinkston were both major movers from last season.
In the East I think the most surprising name was Slauson. The Jets are rotating Slauson with Vlad Ducasse, who did not have enough snaps to qualify. Running Ducasse’s stats though he remains terrible. His score of 4.58% would put him at the 52nd spot among the 56 I scored.  Whats the logic of the Ducasse move?  Who knows. He is not noticeable like he once was but the numbers are what they are and it isn’t good. Slauson has actually improved every season and this is a solid ranking if he can finish the season in this spot. Mankins is no longer a dominant player for New England and its been that way for three seasons now. He may be asked to take a pay cut. Brandon Moore has been a huge fall from grace. Last season Moore ranked 6th in the league and he has fallen to 33rd. When you consider his age it is likely something permanent.

Center



The average is only 1.85% at the position so it makes you wonder why teams overspend on the position. All things considered its money wasted. Mike Pouncey is has established himself very quickly as the best blocking center in the league after struggling a bit as a rookie in 2011. Considering the Dolphins poor guard play that’s exceptional.  Wisniewski has been a far superior center than he was a guard last season, which was his rookie year. Former Jet Robert Turner who has never been a starter before has found a home in St. Louis.

The Jets may need to begin to question what is going on with Nick Mangold. He may not be dealing well with injuries and if that is the case the Jets may need to hedge their best with him. He has a large cap hit next season which will be renegotiated downward but how much will be the question. Mangold is barely above average and last season was exactly the same grade. That’s a trend at this point. At his salary he has to be in the top 5 like he used to be. Eric Wood of the Bills has also fallen dramatically this year.

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