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Thread: Rams have worst OL in Football, per Evan Silva

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    Rams have worst OL in Football, per Evan Silva

    Perennial Ram-Basher Evan Silva ranks the 32 NFL offensive lines. No prizes for guessing who he has at the bottom.

    Quote Originally Posted by Evan Silva
    * = returning starter

    1. Green Bay Packers

    LT: Marshall Newhouse*
    LG: T.J. Lang*
    C: Jeff Saturday
    RG: Josh Sitton*
    RT: Bryan Bulaga*

    Top reserves: OT Derek Sherrod, G/C Evan Dietrich-Smith, OT Chris Campbell, G/T Herbert Taylor, OT Andrew Datko.

    Overview: Gone are longtime starters Scott Wells and Chad Clifton, but there should be little to no performance drop-off among Green Bay's elite front five. Newhouse made 13 starts last season, and natural improvement is expected from a second-year starter who's yet to turn 24. Lang has developed into a rock-solid left guard, while Sitton and Bulaga form an All Pro-caliber right side. Saturday is 37 now, but centers tend to age well and he has. He's also an ideal scheme fit for Green Bay's zone-blocking system. The Packers don't lack depth, either. Sherrod was a 2011 first-round pick. Dietrich-Smith is versatile and benefited from three spot starts last season. Campbell is an athletic swing man. Rookie Datko may have been a top-32 pick if not for injuries.

    2. New England Patriots

    LT: Nate Solder*
    LG: Logan Mankins*
    C: Dan Connolly*
    RG: Brian Waters*
    RT: Sebastian Vollmer

    Top reserves: C Dan Koppen, OG Robert Gallery, T/G Marcus Cannon, G/C Ryan Wendell, C/G Nick McDonald, G/T Donald Thomas.

    Overview: In 2012, the Patriots will combat transition and adversity with sheer talent. Longtime left tackle Matt Light has retired, and Waters may do the same. Mankins tore his ACL in the playoffs, though he's tentatively due back for Week 1. New blindside starter Solder played over 1,000 snaps as a first-round rookie, holding up well. Vollmer, a top-60 pick in the 2009 draft, has flashed Pro Bowl ability when healthy. Cannon is a wildcard with terrific feet for a mammoth, 360-pound man. While New England's line boasts little continuity with plenty of question marks, this remains a top-five group in terms of skill level, and the bench is crawling with capable starters.

    3. Cincinnati Bengals

    LT: Andrew Whitworth*
    LG: Travelle Wharton
    C: Kyle Cook*
    RG: Kevin Zeitler
    RT: Andre Smith*

    Top reserves: OT Anthony Collins, G/T Clint Boling, OT Dennis Roland, OG Jacob Bell, OG Otis Hudson.

    Overview: Parting with longtime guards Bobbie Williams and Nate Livings, the Bengals have stayed true to form by replacing them with interior road graders Wharton and Zeitler. This is a power-blocking unit with impressive depth. Collins, Boling, Roland, and Bell have combined for 149 career starts, and only Bell (31) is over the age of 30. While this was already a top-five group in pass protection, the run blocking should improve in the post-Livings era. Offensive line play is a strength in Cincinnati, and if a starter goes down, the Bengals can replace him with a tested vet.

    4. Kansas City Chiefs

    LT: Branden Albert*
    LG: Ryan Lilja*
    C: Rodney Hudson
    RG: Jon Asamoah*
    RT: Eric Winston

    Top reserves: G/T Jeff Allen, OG Darryl Harris, OT Donald Stephenson, C Rob Bruggeman, OT David Mims.

    Overview: The Chiefs are gearing up to run one of the NFL's most smash-mouth attacks, and they have the trench talent to execute. Tackle play is an immediate strength with Albert emerging as perhaps the league's most underrated blindside blocker, and Winston joining the mix on the strong side. Asamoah is a nasty right guard whose run blocking will only improve as a second-year starter. Groomed behind Casey Wiegmann last season, Hudson is ready for prime time at center. Lilja and rookie Allen will duke it out at left guard. Depth is a concern beyond the top six linemen here, but this unit oozes potential and will likely prove to be a top-five grouping in '12.

    5. Carolina Panthers

    LT: Jordan Gross*
    LG: Amini Silatolu
    C: Ryan Kalil*
    RG: Geoff Hangartner*
    RT: Jeff Otah

    Top reserves: T/G Byron Bell*, OT Lee Ziemba, G/C Mike Pollak, T/G Garry Williams, T/G Bruce Campbell.

    Overview: Cam Newton's record-shattering rookie year might lead to you think otherwise, but Carolina's 2011 line strength was run blocking. The Panthers' 5.41 yards-per-rushing attempt average not only led the league, but was the second highest clip posted by any team in the last five years and third highest since 1997. Newton's running ability helped, but DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart both averaged well over five yards per tote. Carolina's front five got nastier with Silatolu's addition, and he could eventually flip positions with Hangartner to give the Panthers the meanest strong side of the line in the league. Carolina can take another step forward as a pass-blocking team if the light flips on in Otah's contract year. A dominant talent, Otah has appeared in just four games over the past two seasons. He says he's 100 percent healthy now.

    6. Tennessee Titans

    LT: Michael Roos*
    LG: Steve Hutchinson
    C: Eugene Amano*
    RG: Leroy Harris*
    RT: David Stewart*

    Top reserves: G/C Fernando Velasco, OT Mike Otto, T/G Troy Kropog, T/G Byron Stingily, C/G Kevin Matthews.

    Overview: While Tennessee's tackle play has been consistently outstanding and at times dominant, the interior line went sour over the past couple of seasons. The Titans shored up left guard with Hutchinson, who proved to have plenty left in the tank during a strong 2011 campaign in Minnesota. Harris has turned the corner on the other side, grading out last season as a top-15 NFL guard, according to Pro Football Focus. Amano will have to hold off Velasco in training camp. This line is elite in pass protection, and could emerge as the league's most well-rounded front five by taking a step forward in run blocking. Part of that will be up to running back Chris Johnson.

    7. Philadelphia Eagles

    LT: Demetress Bell
    LG: Evan Mathis*
    C: Jason Kelce*
    RG: Danny Watkins*
    RT: Todd Herremans*

    Top reserves: OT King Dunlap, C/G Steve Vallos, G/C Julian Vandervelde, G/C Mike Gibson, G/T Brandon Washington, OT Dennis Kelly.

    Overview: The Eagles might have pushed for this list's top five pre-Jason Peters injury, but they'll have to settle for top-seven billing. Replacement Bell is a terrific scheme fit for OL coach Howard Mudd, who emphasizes athleticism up front. Mathis, Watkins, and Kelce form one of the league's most promising interiors, and each is entering his first full offseason in Mudd's system. Mathis is already a premier NFL guard. Herremans, who protects southpaw Michael Vick's blind side, allowed just four sacks last season while playing all but seven snaps. In Dunlap, Vallos, and Gibson, the Eagles have 23 career starts on the bench, and in Washington they have a potential left guard of the future. If Philly flounders again this year, it shouldn't be due to the offensive line.

    8. Houston Texans

    LT: Duane Brown*
    LG: Wade Smith*
    C: Chris Myers*
    RG: Antoine Caldwell
    RT: Rashad Butler

    Top reserves: OT Derek Newton, G/T Andrew Gardner, OG Brandon Brooks, C Ben Jones, OG Shelley Smith.

    Overview: The Texans very arguably fielded the NFL's best offensive line in 2011, but it is undergoing significant transition. With right-side starters Mike Brisiel and Eric Winston moving on, Houston is banking on Butler (four career starts) and Caldwell (13) as in-house replacements. Myers and Smith are on the wrong side of 30, and Brown is entering a contract year. Gary Kubiak and Rick Dennison's tried-and-true scheme keeps Houston ranked relatively high on this list, but the zone-blocking system requires continuity, and there is reason to believe the Texans' front-five talent has fallen off. Starved for depth, Houston's reserves have combined for zero career starts.

    9. Baltimore Ravens

    LT: Bryant McKinnie*
    LG: Kelechi Osemele
    C: Matt Birk*
    RG: Marshal Yanda*
    RT: Michael Oher*

    Top reserves: T/G Jah Reid, OT Ramon Harewood, G/C Justin Boren, C/G Gino Gradkowski, OG Howard Barbieri.

    Overview: Baltimore's top reserves have zero combined NFL starts, but the starting five is among the most talented in football. There is also some feeling amongst league evaluators that outgoing LG Ben Grubbs was overrated and ultimately overpaid by New Orleans. At nearly 6-foot-6, 327 with 36-inch arms and 43 starts at Iowa State, Osemele could prove an upgrade on Grubbs sooner rather than later. The wildcards here are McKinnie and Oher. Both played capably enough last year to keep Joe Flacco protected consistently, but possess talent to perform with far more dominance. McKinnie should feel some urgency this season. Going on age 33, he's entering the last year of his deal and playing for what could potentially be his final NFL contract.

    10. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    LT: Donald Penn*
    LG: Carl Nicks
    C: Jeremy Zuttah*
    RG: Davin Joseph*
    RT: Jeremy Trueblood*

    Top reserves: G/C Ted Larsen, OT Demar Dotson, G/T Derek Hardman, OT Jamon Meredith, G/T Desmond Wynn.

    Overview: Meet the NFL's most expensive O-Line. Over the past three years, the Bucs have devoted an unprecedented $168 million in combined contracts to their five starters, including this offseason's Nicks ($47.5M) and Zuttah ($16.3M) deals. So far, the group has been overpaid. Nicks is the lone truly elite lineman, and he's yet to play a down for Tampa. There are reasons to believe this unit is destined for a big leap, though. New coach Greg Schiano is installing a run-heavy attack, and that philosophy plays to the strengths of this power-blocking group. Nicks' presence allows Zuttah to kick from left guard to center, turning last year's biggest negative into a positive. The addition of a running back with power and wiggle in first-round pick Doug Martin will naturally make the blocking look better. Though not quite as good as its price tag suggests, Tampa's offensive line was still a top 15 or 18 unit in 2011. It should be top ten in 2012.

    11. Pittsburgh Steelers

    LT: Marcus Gilbert*
    LG: Ramon Foster*
    C: Maurkice Pouncey*
    RG: David DeCastro
    RT: Willie Colon

    Top reserves: G/C Doug Legursky*, OT Mike Adams, OT Jonathan Scott, G/T Trai Essex, T/G Chris Scott.

    Overview: Beyond RG3 and Luck, perhaps no first-round pick represented a better match of player and team than David DeCastro to the Steelers. A plug-and-play starter, DeCastro will shore up a weak spot on Pittsburgh's line. And the Steelers have more options than they've had in awhile. Colon could kick to left guard if second-rounder Adams proves pro ready, with Gilbert staying at right tackle, his 2011 position. Pouncey has made the Pro Bowl in each of his first two years, earning All-Pro honors in the last. Seemingly an annual weakness, Pittsburgh's offensive line could suddenly become a 2012 strength. No position group improved more in this year's draft.

    12. New Orleans Saints

    LT: Jermon Bushrod*
    LG: Ben Grubbs
    C: Brian De La Puente*
    RG: Jahri Evans*
    RT: Zach Strief*

    Top reserves: OT Charles Brown, C/G Matt Tennant, G/C Eric Olsen, OG Andrew Tiller, OT Marcel Jones.

    Overview: The Saints are one of the league's great teams that gets away without elite left tackle play. Bushrod is just a league-average starter, but Football Outsiders still ranked New Orleans' offensive line third in the NFL in 2011 pass blocking and Pro Football Focus had it seventh. While Carl Nicks-to-Grubbs is a clear downgrade at weak-side guard -- particularly in run blocking -- throwing the football is the Saints' foundation, and they'll continue winging it endlessly in 2012. New Orleans ranks relatively low here because Evans is the lone returning starter with an elite body of work, but offensive line play won't be a stumbling block for the Saints this season.

    13. Buffalo Bills

    LT: Cordy Glenn
    LG: Andy Levitre*
    C: Eric Wood*
    RG: Chad Rinehart*
    RT: Erik Pears*

    Top reserves: OT Chris Hairston, OG Kraig Urbik*, OT Sam Young, OT Zebrie Sanders, OG Michael Jasper.

    Overview: The Bills' 2011 offensive line graded out as the NFL's top pass-protecting unit, according to both Pro Football Focus and Football Outsiders. Though no doubt assisted by Ryan Fitzpatrick's quick release, Buffalo allowed a league-low 23 sacks, which is another strong vote for the argument that elite left tackle play isn't necessarily a difference-making NFL quality. The Bills feel they improved on the left by stealing Glenn with the 41st pick in the draft, and bring back incumbent Hairston as a talented, tested backup. Similar players Urbik and Rinehart will vie for the right guard job. Wood is returning from a torn right ACL, but should be close to 100 percent by camp and has been a dominant center when healthy. While this group lacks household names, its combination of continuity, athleticism, and impressive scheming makes it quietly a top O-Line.

    14. New York Giants

    LT: William Beatty*
    LG: David Diehl*
    C: David Baas*
    RG: Chris Snee*
    RT: James Brewer

    Top reserves: G/C Kevin Boothe*, OT Sean Locklear, OG Mitch Petrus, G/C Jim Cordle, OT Brandon Mosley.

    Overview: The Giants' offensive line combined to miss 16 games in 2011, but Lombardi Trophies have a surefire way of suppressing durability concerns. It didn't hurt that the G-Men possessed such impressive depth and versatility. Boothe and Petrus stepped up as fill-ins, and Diehl wound up starting at both guard and tackle. This isn't the most talented front five and will hold multiple camp battles for starting jobs, but it is a resilient, experienced group bereft of egos. Even with stalwart right tackle Kareem McKenzie moving on, expect more of the same in 2012.

    15. Cleveland Browns

    LT: Joe Thomas*
    LG: Jason Pinkston*
    C: Alex Mack*
    RG: Shawn Lauvao*
    RT: Mitchell Schwartz

    Top reserves: T/G Oniel Cousins, OG John Greco, G/T Ryan Miller, OG Stanley Daniels, OG Dominic Alford.

    Overview: Perhaps no NFL team has poorer offensive line depth than Cleveland, but this is a promising young group with a chance at long-term continuity. All five starters are under the Browns' contractual control through 2013, and weak link Pinkston figures to make strides in his second year as a starter. Pinkston, Mack, Lauvao, and Schwartz are all scrappy mauler types with vast run-blocking potential. Thomas is arguably the best left tackle in the league. While a lack of depth knocks Cleveland's line down a few notches, No. 3 overall pick Trent Richardson shouldn't struggle for running lanes if the starters stay healthy. Brandon Weeden still needs some receivers.

    16. Dallas Cowboys

    LT: Tyron Smith*
    LG: Nate Livings
    C: Phil Costa*
    RG: Mackenzy Bernadeau
    RT: Doug Free*

    Top reserves: G/C Bill Nagy, OT Jermey Parnell, OG David Arkin, C Kevin Kowalski, OG Ronald Leary.

    Overview: Flipping Smith and Free might give Dallas the league's top tackle pairing while catering to each player's best position. Lingering concerns exist on the interior, however, despite the all-told $30 million additions of Livings and Bernadeau. The feeling at Valley Ranch is that new OL coach Bill Callahan can get the most out of Livings and Bernadeau, the latter of whom couldn't start in Carolina last year. The former was a coaching staff favorite in Cincinnati, but consistently underachieved. Costa's bad snaps got the headlines in 2011, but he wasn't much of a blocker, either. Ultimately, the Cowboys have excellent tackles and major question marks up the middle.

    17. New York Jets

    LT: D'Brickashaw Ferguson*
    LG: Matt Slauson*
    C: Nick Mangold*
    RG: Brandon Moore*
    RT: Wayne Hunter*

    Top reserves: T/G Vladimir Ducasse, OG Caleb Schlauderaff, OT Austin Howard, T/G Dennis Landolt, G/T Robert T. Griffin.

    Overview: The Jets fielded the best offensive line in football during the 2009-10 seasons, but the unit has quickly devolved into much less of a strength. Right tackle is perhaps the most critical front-five position on a run-heavy team, and New York has gone from starting one of the league's top strong-side tackles (Damien Woody) to arguably the worst. Ferguson and Mangold remain among the NFL's elite, but Slauson is a replacement-level performer and Moore has lost his run-blocking fastball going on age 32 after major hip surgery. Depth is another big concern. Further complicating matters is New York's lack of a running back capable of creating yardage on his own. The Jets' line is suddenly league average at best, and it's not getting any better this year.

    18. Detroit Lions

    LT: Jeff Backus*
    LG: Rob Sims*
    C: Dominic Raiola*
    RG: Stephen Peterman*
    RT: Riley Reiff

    Top reserves: OT Gosder Cherilus*, OT Corey Hilliard, OT Jason Fox, G/C Dylan Gandy, OT Johnny Culbreath.

    Overview: All five starters return from a unit that finished third in Pro Football Focus' 2011 pass-blocking rankings and in Football Outsiders' top ten. The Lions don't run block nearly as well, but their offensive foundation is throwing the football. No team in the league fired off more pass attempts last season. The major concern on this line is age. Backus turns 35 in September and is showing signs of physical breakdown. Raiola is 33, and Peterman has aged more quickly than his 30 years suggest. Reiff does inject youth as a right-tackle upgrade on Cherilus. The Lions should squeeze one more efficient season out of this corps, but there is fall-off-the-cliff risk here.

    19. Jacksonville Jaguars

    LT: Eugene Monroe*
    LG: Will Rackley*
    C: Brad Meester*
    RG: Uche Nwaneri*
    RT: Eben Britton

    Top reserves: C/G Jason Spitz, OT Guy Whimper*, OT Cameron Bradfield, C/G John Estes, C Mike Brewster.

    Overview: Whimper was this unit's weak link last season as a 15-game starter. Though Whimper was re-signed in March, the Jaguars will demote him and turn to a hopefully-healthy Britton at right tackle. They'll also plan on major strides in 2011 third-round pick Rackley's second season. Monroe and Meester are the group's rocks at left tackle and center, respectively. While hardly an elite line, the Jags field an above-average group that has potential to improve by leaps and bounds with the reinstallation of Britton. Jacksonville has surrounded Blaine Gabbert with enough pass-catching and protecting talent that it's now up to Gabbert himself to right the ship.

    20. San Francisco *****

    LT: Joe Staley*
    LG: Mike Iupati*
    C: Jonathan Goodwin*
    RG: Joe Looney
    RT: Anthony Davis*

    Top reserves: T/G Alex Boone, OG Daniel Kilgore, G/T Mike Person, C Chase Beeler, T/G/C Jason Slowey.

    Overview: Coach Jim Harbaugh emphasized quality line play in his first year on the job, and succeeded by producing career-best seasons from Iupati and outgoing RG Adam Snyder. The ***** play power ball up front, leading the NFC in 2011 rushing attempts while fielding a line that averaged over 322 pounds per starter. They'll lose some girth if Boone or Looney emerges as Snyder's replacement, but the philosophy remains the same: Beat up the opponent at the line of scrimmage. The Niners don't have the most talented front five; Goodwin is a workmanlike center, Looney a fourth-round rookie, Boone a former undrafted free agent, and Davis a struggling former first-round pick. For such a run-heavy team, San Francisco also allows far too many quarterback hits. But the left-side pairing of Staley and Iupati is elite, and there is lots of potential on the right.

    21. Denver Broncos

    LT: Ryan Clady*
    LG: Zane Beadles*
    C: J.D. Walton*
    RG: Chris Kuper*
    RT: Orlando Franklin*

    Top reserves: OT Ryan Harris, OT Tony Hills, OG Manuel Ramirez, C/G Philip Blake, OT Adam Grant.

    Overview: This group's continuity is impressive considering its youth. The average age of Denver's front five will be 26 when the season starts, with Kuper (29) as the elder statesman. Concerns include Kuper's multiple offseason surgeries for a broken left fibula, Walton's inability to hold the point of attack, and a systemic overhaul. Whereas the foundation of last year's success was running the ball, Denver will become a pass-first club with Peyton Manning at the controls. Manning has a long, documented history of single-handedly improving his own pass protection, but this unit may be one of the obstacles he'll be forced to overcome in order to regain past form.

    22. Miami Dolphins

    LT: Jake Long*
    LG: Richie Incognito*
    C: Mike Pouncey*
    RG: Artis Hicks
    RT: Jonathan Martin

    Top reserves: OT Lydon Murtha, G/T John Jerry, C/G/T Ryan Cook, T/G Nate Garner, OT Will Barker.

    Overview: The Dolphins are administering a dramatic philosophical change under rookie coach Joe Philbin. Newly a zone-running team, Miami is moving away from the power-blocking identity that brought them Long and Jerry as early-round draft picks, and Incognito as a free agent investment. While Long and Pouncey are good enough football players to succeed in any system, the rest of this group will likely experience initial chemistry woes. Martin is playing right tackle for the first time in his life. Incognito has always been a man-blocker. 33-year-old journeyman Hicks looks like the early favorite to start at right guard just because he's a veteran of the scheme. Look for plenty of 2012 bumps in the road as the Dolphins' offensive line takes time to find its bearings.

    23. Minnesota Vikings

    LT: Matt Kalil
    LG: Charlie Johnson*
    C: John Sullivan*
    RG: Geoff Schwartz
    RT: Phil Loadholt*

    Top reserves: G/C Brandon Fusco, OT Patrick Brown, G/C Joe Berger, G/T Jose Valdez, OG Chris DeGeare, OT DeMarcus Love.

    Overview: While Pro Football Focus graded Minnesota's O-Line 16th in pass blocking last season, Football Outsiders had it dead last in the NFL. My eyes told me the latter was more accurate. Though losing LG Steve Hutchinson hurts, GM Rick Spielman took steps to fix his front five by signing underrated Schwartz on the cheap and drafting Kalil over Morris Claiborne. Johnson's best position is left guard, so ultimately the Vikings improved at three positions. Already one of the league's premier hole-clearing lines, this group should at least give Christian Ponder a fighter's chance in pass protection. All in all, it has potential to be far better than this ranking.

    24. San Diego Chargers

    LT: Jared Gaither
    LG: Tyronne Green
    C: Nick Hardwick*
    RG: Louis Vasquez*
    RT: Jeromey Clary*

    Top reserves: OT Mario Henderson, T/G Brandyn Dombrowski, G/T Steve Schilling, C Colin Baxter, C David Molk.

    Overview: Marcus McNeill's shot back and Kris Dielman's abrupt if understandable early retirement leave this group in heavy transition on Philip Rivers' blind side. Gaither has talent to fortify left tackle, but comes with medical concerns of his own and the track record of a chronic underachiever. Green failed to beat out the underwhelming Vasquez for a starting job last training camp, then struggled mightily when forced to start eight games down the stretch. If Wayne Hunter is the AFC's worst right tackle, then Clary is a close second. Hardwick and Gaither can make this offensive line formidable at the two most critical positions, but otherwise it's clearly not a strength.

    25. Seattle Seahawks

    LT: Russell Okung*
    LG: Lemuel Jeanpierre
    C: Max Unger*
    RG: John Moffitt*
    RT: Breno Giacomini

    Top reserves: T/G James Carpenter*, T/G Paul McQuistan, T/G Frank Omiyale, G/T Allen Barbre, OG Deuce Lutui.

    Overview: Position coach Tom Cable's zone scheme produced a dominant rushing attack during last season's second half, but Seattle has a long way to go to reach its full line potential. Okung has missed 10 games during his first two seasons, while Moffitt and Carpenter are both coming off major knee injuries. After missing virtually all of 2010 with a toe injury, Unger returned for an uneven 2011 campaign. Giacomini and Jeanpierre would be backups on a good team, but they're on track to open the season as Seahawks starters. While this group is capable of taking a big step forward in 2012, it currently grades out as subpar due primarily to health concerns.

    26. Washington Redskins

    LT: Trent Williams*
    LG: Kory Lichtensteiger
    C: Will Montgomery*
    RG: Chris Chester*
    RT: Jammal Brown*

    Top reserves: OG Maurice Hurt*, T/G Tyler Polumbus, C/G Erik Cook, OG Josh LeRibeus, G/C Adam Gettis.

    Overview: This is another group that could have benefited from continuity that is so vital for zone-blocking teams. Williams (6), Lichtensteiger (11), and Brown (4) combined to miss 21 games due to injury and suspension last season. Though a system fit for the Shanahans' scheme, Chester's game lacks requisite power for right guard. Lichtensteiger, considered a solid starter when healthy, is now coming back from ACL and MCL surgery. Hurt and Cook gained valuable spot-starting experience due to the injuries in front of them, but this year's priority needs simply to be staying healthy. If the Redskins somehow find durability on the line, this could shoot from a bottom-seven unit to the middle of the pack. Robert Griffin III should definitely make it look better.

    27. Oakland Raiders

    LT: Jared Veldheer*
    LG: Cooper Carlisle*
    C: Stefen Wisniewski*
    RG: Mike Brisiel
    RT: Khalif Barnes*

    Top reserves: T/G Joseph Barksdale, G/T Tony Bergstrom, OG Zach Hurd, T/G Ed Wang, C/G Alex Parsons.

    Overview: Another team in offensive renovation, the Raiders have done away with former coach Hue Jackson's power-blocking scheme in favor of new OC Greg Knapp's zone system. This unit had better be ready to run block. In nine years as a coordinator, Knapp's offenses have finished in the league's top five in rushing attempts seven times. Veldheer and Wisniewski are athletic enough for the new scheme, and Brisiel has 47 starts in it. Carlisle has history as a zone-blocking guard. Oakland's problematic position projects to be right tackle, where the Raiders lack compelling alternatives to power blocker Barnes. Barksdale possesses heavy feet, and Oakland doesn't have a single reserve with starting experience. This unit looks solid from left tackle to right guard, but the fifth spot is a potentially large trouble area and there's no fallback option in place.

    28. Atlanta Falcons

    LT: Sam Baker
    LG: Justin Blalock*
    C: Todd McClure*
    RG: Peter Konz
    RT: Tyson Clabo*

    Top reserves: OT Will Svitek*, G/C Joe Hawley*, OG Mike Johnson, G/T Garrett Reynolds, OG Vince Manuwai, OT Lamar Holmes.

    Overview: Line play was Atlanta's Achilles' heel last year, on both sides of the ball. Needs drafter GM Thomas Dimitroff devoted his first two picks to offensive linemen, his third to a lane-clearing lead blocker, and fourth to a defensive end. While Konz may shore up right guard, some of last year's problems remain. In addition to battling a chronic back injury, Baker has struggled mightily to protect Matt Ryan, and 2011 late-season replacement Svitek wasn't a whole lot better. McClure has a bad knee and turned 35 in February. Blalock and Clabo are strong starters, and the Falcons don't lack for experienced depth, but this is no better than a below-average line.

    29. Chicago Bears

    LT: J'Marcus Webb*
    LG: Chris Williams*
    C: Roberto Garza*
    RG: Lance Louis*
    RT: Gabe Carimi

    Top reserves: C/G Chris Spencer*, G/C Edwin Williams, OG Chilo Rachal, G/T Mansfield Wrotto, T/G James Brown.

    Overview: Chicago has allowed more sacks than any team in football over the past two seasons, but rookie GM Phil Emery is staying the course. Emery didn't use a single 2012 draft pick on an offensive lineman, counting on internal improvement from OC Mike Tice's unit. The Bears return all five starters from a group that surrendered 49 sacks in 2011 to rank fifth in the league, while finishing 31st in Pro Football Focus' pass-block rankings and 24th per Football Outsiders. Four of the starters will be 27 or younger when the season kicks off, so there is some reason for optimism. We just can't rank the Bears' offensive line high because it's played so poorly and continually brings back the same guys. The run blocking hasn't been very good, either.

    30. Arizona Cardinals

    LT: Levi Brown*
    LG: Daryn Colledge*
    C: Lyle Sendlein*
    RG: Adam Snyder
    RT: Jeremy Bridges

    Top reserves: OT D'Anthony Batiste, OG Senio Kelemete, OT Bobby Massie, C Ryan Bartholomew, T/G Nate Potter.

    Overview: Arizona fielded one of the league's poorest pass blocking lines last year, and there's little reason to believe it will be any better this season. New right guard Snyder's strength has never been pass protection, and journeyman Bridges couldn't beat out Brandon Keith for the starting right tackle job in 2011 camp. Keith is currently on the street. Massie had a big name before the draft because Mel Kiper talked him up, but he's a raw, developmental project who wasn't nearly as highly regarded inside the league. Kelemete is converting from college left tackle to guard. While the Cardinals will trot out impressive offensive weaponry this season, OL coach Russ Grimm may have to work some serious magic to keep the club's quarterback(s) upright.

    31. Indianapolis Colts

    LT: Anthony Castonzo*
    LG: Ben Ijalana
    C: Samson Satele
    RG: Mike McGlynn
    RT: Winston Justice

    Top reserves: T/G Jeff Linkenbach*, G/T Joe Reitz*, T/G Mike Tepper, OG Seth Olsen, OT Steven Baker.

    Overview: Rebuilding the Colts will be a long process, but rookie GM Ryan Grigson used the free agency and trade markets to fortify Andrew Luck's starting line. Right tackle Justice cost Grigson only a sixth-round swap, while McGlynn and Satele were reasonably priced free agent pickups. Castonzo and Ijalana are talented, if inherited prospects drafted by the outgoing Polians in last year's first and second rounds. They're both also coming off offseason surgeries, Ijalana for a left ACL tear and Castonzo for ligament damage in his ankle. While talent is not this group's major downfall, it lacks any hint of continuity and is ultimately a patchwork unit with poor depth.

    32. St. Louis Rams

    LT: Rodger Saffold*
    LG: Robert Turner
    C: Scott Wells
    RG: Harvey Dahl*
    RT: Jason Smith


    Top reserves: OT Quinn Ojinnaka, C/G Bryan Mattison, OT Kevin Hughes, G/T Rokevious Watkins, C Tim Barnes.

    Overview: Investing two top-33 picks as well as over $53 million in contracts to Dahl and outgoing C Jason Brown over the past four offseasons hasn't come close to paying dividends in St. Louis. Brown was cut in March. Smith has been a complete bust. Saffold is playing out of position at left tackle and is better suited for the right side. Dahl was the Rams' best lineman in 2011, but his nastiness didn't rub off on teammates. The depth is among the poorest in football. The only 2012 draft pick used on an offensive lineman produced Watkins, who will convert from tackle to guard. Left guard is wide open for competition and lacks candidates that would inspire any kind of confidence. The Rams added some quality football players this offseason, but their offensive line remains the NFL's worst until proven otherwise. It's a big concern for Sam Bradford.


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    Re: Rams have worst OL in Football, per Evan Silva

    Well, thats rather insulting, but partially true. Our depth is TERRIBLE. If one guy goes down on our line (probably going to happen) they're all going down, and our offense is once again dysfunctional. I say we go out and sign some quality depth.. Marcus McNeill would be a nice backup option at LT and a nice swing tackle if healthy.


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    Re: Rams have worst OL in Football, per Evan Silva

    Quote Originally Posted by sosa39rams View Post
    Well, thats rather insulting, but partially true.
    I agree. Smith and Saffold are still big questions, Turner has started 2 games in his NFL career and is coming off a broken ankle that kept him out of the entire 2011 season. Wells and Dahl are rock solid, but the line has a lot to prove.

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    Re: Rams have worst OL in Football, per Evan Silva

    Well, its hard to argue with Mr. Silva here (who, ironically, is a well known Rams fan). Our line didn't look too hot last year, although I think a lot of that had to do with McDaniels system. I hope I never hear the term "stress the defense" again. I don't think any defense was too stressed about going up against Brandon Gibson and the gang.

    I liked the Wells signing and I am hoping the new coaching staff can work some magic with our young tackles, but this is still a group that does not inspire a ton of confidence. I still have no clue who is going to start at left guard but I doubt it will be Robert Turner. And when you look at that list of "top reserves" its pretty frightening. Who the heck are those guys? Its a good thing we have a bunch of top draft picks in the next couple years because I have a feeling we're going to need them to fix this unit.

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    Re: Rams have worst OL in Football, per Evan Silva

    What would you expect? We were plain horrible last year. Wins and fundamentally sound football matter. We deserve this ranking until RAMS prove otherwise..........

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    Re: Rams have worst OL in Football, per Evan Silva

    I would have been surprised if any team was below the Rams quite frankly.

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    Re: Rams have worst OL in Football, per Evan Silva

    I absolutely love fisher and our off season moves. I understand we had too many holes to fill all at once. I understand Rome wasnt built in a day.

    However, i continue to have major concerns over the Rams offensive line. Sure, as the thread earlier this week pointed out, play calling can help to a degree. But to me, the fact remains that our two starting tackles are both coming off season ending injuries, both are still very young players, smith has been hurt multiple times and has shown flashes and no real consistency, saffold struggled to perform last year at the level he performed at his rookie year and we have no depth at the position. We have an excellent center now which should help and i still like dahl a lot, but we are wide open at the other guard spot. In short, three of the five offensive line positions are question marks and our depth is highly suspect.

    As i have said before, all the weapons in the world won't help sammy if he is flat on his ass and in bad down and distance situations because the offensive line can't open holes for jackson. I think our year will depend more on the performance of the offensive line than anything else. IF we start getting injured in that area, it could be another very long year because even if healthy, we have a ton of improving to do.

    I truly don't understand anyone who isn't concerned our offensive line, and i am one of the bigger optimists on this board.

    Ramming speed to all

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    Re: Rams have worst OL in Football, per Evan Silva

    He's not wrong.

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    Re: Rams have worst OL in Football, per Evan Silva

    When you're 30th in sack percentage, 31st in net passing yards per attempt, and 20th in rush yards per attempt, you're going to be ranked pretty low on the O-line scale.

    What I'm surprised at is the relatively high rankings of the Jags and the whiners. Both are bringing back the same basic line and neither of them performed well. In fact, if one were to make an argument for a line worse than the Rams, an argument could be made for both the Jags and the whiners.
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

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    Re: Rams have worst OL in Football, per Evan Silva

    There are so many offensive variables that go into grading the O-line.
    I just don't see how anyone could rank the O-Lines unless wins and losses or maybe points scored weigh heavily in the rankings?

    If our O-line was so horrible how do explain Steven Jackson's 1145 yards rushing on 260 attempts. Which by the way is an average of 4.4 yards per carry. Not to shabby if you ask me. Take it a step further and compare those stats to the other running backs in the NFL.

    I know that we had the lowest scoring offense in the NFL but was it all the O-lines fault? How about a new offensive system that our boys never seemed to grasp. A new offense that asked the QB to hold the ball longer. WR's that generally couldn't get open no matter how long the O-line held up.

    Again I'm not sold on this O-line rankings stuff.

    GO RAMS!

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    What a coincidence... Silva ranked last on my list of football writers.

    Seriously... given that the Rams will have two new starters on the OL, merely saying "they were bad last year so they'll be bad this year" is pretty pointless.
    Last edited by AvengerRam; -05-08-2012 at 08:59 AM.
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    Re: Rams have worst OL in Football, per Evan Silva

    Last year was last year...

    I was concerned but that was before Fisher and his new staff came to town.
    We really improved the O -line with the addition of Wells this year and last year adding Harvey Dahl.

    LG - I was never a big Bell fan of Bell at 6-5 304 LBS I thought he was just to small and got handled way too often. Fisher has always found his linemen late in the draft not sure he did it again with Rokevious Watkins 6-4 330 LBS. At least we are getting bigger up front. Maybe we add a LG during camp cuts, finding a guard is not impossible... Depth does look scary.

    Saffold should find his form from his rookie year.

    He has been noticed enough that he was a starter protecting fellow rookie quarterback Sam Bradford from the beginning. He gave up just two sacks in his first year, helped the Rams improve to 7-9, and earned All-Rookie honors from The Sporting News.
    Smith is going to be the key IMO for the line to play much better... the new regime needs to get it out of him.

    For his part, veteran line coach Boudreau would like to see a more relaxed, patient Smith on the field. Boudreau can't control Smith's health. He can't coach any future concussions away. But he can improve Smith's technique and his play.

    "He's a big athletic guy," Boudreau said. "What we're trying to do with him is we're going to try to change his technique a little bit. He's so intense in everything he does. He does everything in a hurry.

    "I'm trying to show him some patience. And trying to get him to use his hands more than leaning into blocks. Just trying to slow him down. Trying to make the game slower by using good technique as opposed to going out and killing every guy you play.

    "Because when he goes out there, if he hits (the defender), he hits him. But if he misses, it's a dead shot on the quarterback. So we're trying to get him to think a little bit more about his balance and his base, and where he is at the collision point. And not always try to go out and try to knock a guy out. Just block a guy. Don't knock him out."

    The lunging, over-aggressive action by Smith to obliterate the guy in front of him gets Smith off-balance and gives the defender a free path to the quarterback. To illustrate the point, Boudreau has broken out tape of former Rams great Orlando Pace. Pace would set up in his pass-blocking stance, wait for the pass-rusher to get to him, and then lock-on. At that point it was over for the defender; he had no chance.

    In post-practice remarks after Wednesday's minicamp practice, Fisher made it clear that Rodger Saffold was his left tackle and Smith was his right tackle.

    Boudreau later elaborated on why Smith is best suited for the right side: "Jason is a powerful guy. You put him next to Harvey (Dahl) and you get the double-team combinations in your runs. A little more physical there. We're trying to put the guys in the best position for them to succeed.


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    Re: Rams have worst OL in Football, per Evan Silva

    Im still a little worried about the tackle spot to be honest. I look at Saffold and Smith out on edges, and can't help but get the impression, that opposing DE's will be licking their chops in anticipation. Thankfully, the new scheme will be a lot more tackle friendly. However, Id still like to see some veteran OL help added as insurance, both at the guard, and tackle spots.
    It seems like Fisher believes he has something to work with in Jason Smith. I only hope Smith can prove me wrong.?
    Last edited by GROUND DOG 39; -05-08-2012 at 12:15 PM.

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    Re: Rams have worst OL in Football, per Evan Silva

    Lately, I have read more and more from Silva and I really don't think he writes high quality stuff....

    With that said, the Rams aren't going to be graded very high, and I rather be at the bottom and work our way up....I think the Rams will be fine barring injury..

    Silva obviously tries to hard when he says Saffold should be a right tackle....

    idk...just win baby

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    Re: Rams have worst OL in Football, per Evan Silva

    His 2011 ranking had the group at #16.

    "A young unit on the rise. No member of St. Louis' first-team line is over 30, and their average age is 27.2 with most of the experience on the interior. Saffold is still just 23. Dahl was a huge addition, upgrading on journeyman Adam Goldberg and bringing physicality to a group that is relatively soft otherwise. Bringing back Bell, an excellent pass-protecting guard, at a reduced rate was another plus for quarterback Sam Bradford. Smith hasn't met expectations, but the Rams aren't giving up on the former No. 2 overall pick. Versatile G/T Goldberg (58 career starts) returns as the top backup."

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