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NFL Offensive Linemen Rankings for 2022

Trent Williams, San Francisco 49ers

San Francisco 49ers left tackle Trent Williams isn't just the best offensive lineman in the NFL, he's one of the top players overall, regardless of position.

Offensive linemen in the NFL don't get near the same amount of attention or credit compared to quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, or even tight ends when it comes to the success a team has on offense, but their importance should not be overlooked.

Take the Cincinnati Bengals, for example. They made a surprising run to Super Bowl LVI behind the play of second-year quarterback Joe Burrow. Cincinnati did this even though Burrow was sacked a league-leading 51 times during the regular season (he played in 16 of the 17 games). He went down 19 more times in the playoffs (four games), including a record nine in the Wild Card Round win over Tennessee, as well as seven in the 23-20 Super Bowl loss to the Los Angeles Rams. Pass protection and pressure played a huge role in the Rams outlasting the Bengals in that game, so it's no surprise that the front office made upgrading the offensive line their main priority this offseason.

The Bengals have rebuilt their offensive line for the 2022 season, signing tackle La'el Collins, center Ted Karras, and guard Alex Cappa in free agency. All three are among the top 20 at their respective positions entering the 2022 season, according to Athlon Sports, with Collins and Karras ranking in the top 10. While it remains to be seen if the changes will result in a repeat Super Sunday appearance for Cincinnati, you at least have to give the team credit for attempting to fix an obvious weakness and giving their young franchise quarterback some much-needed support up front.

Strong support is key to extending the life of a franchise quarterback, just ask Tom Brady. The soon-to-be 45-year-old announced his retirement a few days before the Super Bowl only to change his mind 40 days later. One of the reasons for the reversal probably was a solid offensive line that's anchored by four top-10 blockers, including tackles Tristan Wirfs (No. 2) and Donovan Smith (No. 7). Tampa Bay also made re-signing center Ryan Jensen (No. 10) a priority, and addressed the surprising retirement of Pro Bowl guard Ali Marpet (No. 4 last year) by acquiring Shaq Mason (No. 3 this year) from New England just a few days after Brady announced he was returning. The Buccaneers lost Cappa in free agency to the Bengals, but otherwise have ensured that Brady will be protected by guys that have shown they can get the job done and that he trusts.

Athlon's player rankings are just one of the features that appear in the 2022 Pro Football magazine.

2022 NFL Positional Rankings: QB I RB I WR I TE I OL I DL I LB I DB I Top 50

2022 NFL Tackle Rankings

1. Trent Williams, San Francisco 49ers

Williams is simply the greatest offensive lineman in the game, and if you are a connoisseur of line play, studying his film is pure pleasure. Hall of Fame offensive linemen tip their caps to him. The 49ers’ rushing attack was one of the behemoths in the league, and the 33-year-old left tackle was the catalyst to spring most of those runs to the edge. Williams is also a towering pass blocker. Rarely has he allowed a sack in his career, and in 2021, he allowed only 16 total pressures out of 508 pass-blocking opportunities.

2. Tristan Wirfs, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The right tackle for the Buccaneers walked onto the field as a rookie in 2020 and kept quarterback Tom Brady clean. The former Iowa Hawkeye was even better in 2021 and was able to play stable, substantial football. Wirfs doesn’t miss time and battles through injuries even when he is dinged up. That speaks volumes of his character but also sends a message to his teammates and management. Wirfs has impressive athletic ability for a man his size, moves laterally with bounce and works to accomplish every block.

3. Tyron Smith, Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys were the only offense to rank in the top 10 in total passing and rushing yards in 2021, and Smith was the No. 1 reason why. Though not as spry as he once was, Smith can still move the defender off the line of scrimmage. He is outstanding blocking in space and still has enough bend in his hips to dig the attacker out of the hole. In 460 dropbacks last season, the long-armed space-eater allowed only 11 pressures.

4. Rashawn Slater, Los Angeles Chargers

Slater made Chargers general manager Tom Telesco look like a genius after Telesco selected the Northwestern blocker with the 13th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. Slater will always be compared to Penei Sewell, whom the Detroit Lions picked seventh overall, but Slater came out of the box hot in 2021 and turned a team weakness into a strength. Coming out of college, Slater was acknowledged as a skilled pass blocker, but his ability to climb to the second level and seal linebackers will open up the Chargers’ offense for years to come.

5. Jordan Mailata, Philadelphia Eagles

The former rugby giant who spent his first two NFL seasons mostly on the inactive list or injured reserve has figured out the game and become one of its gems. With his massive size (6'8", 365 pounds), Mailata blocks out the sun like he blocks out defenders. Once Mailata gets his heavy hands on the pass rusher, he wins. Blessed with natural power and strength, Mailata can hold his position even when he loses his technique.

6. La’el Collins, Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals needed offensive line help after allowing opponents to hammer quarterback Joe Burrow throughout the playoffs. They found a more than capable protector in Collins. Though the former LSU blocker started only 10 games for the Cowboys in 2021, he allowed just two sacks on the season and helped lead the way for the ninth-best rushing attack and third-best passing game in the NFL.

7. Donovan Smith, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Smith is one bad dude and is worth his weight in gold. While Tom Brady helps any offensive line with his quick release, Smith uses his power and toughness to block defenders into submission. His ability to kick-set quickly, shadow the rusher and maintain premium balance is his trademark. The Buccaneers led the NFL in passing with 5,229 net yards, and Smith has every right to hang his hat on the fact he held up the GOAT’s blind side like a boss.

8. Lane Johnson, Philadelphia Eagles

In 821 snaps last season, Johnson did not give up a sack, mixing brawn with grace. He understands when to short-set the defender, then long-stick and make the rusher run the corner. Johnson is a master of mixing up his blocking techniques to keep pass rushers from ever getting a feel for his sets. As a run blocker, the former fourth overall pick can secure inside hands off the snap and turn the defender out of the hole.

9. David Bakhtiari, Green Bay Packers

Though he has been hurt in recent years, missing four games in 2020 and 16 in 2021, when on the field, Bakhtiari is still dominant in both the run and the pass game. He is a technician who understands hand placement and leverage. He can drop his hips on the defender, seal the edge and hold the point of attack. He allows his linemates the ability to line up according to their strengths instead of the entire unit moving around.

10. Ronnie Stanley, Baltimore Ravens

The former Notre Dame earth mover is a difference-maker from his left tackle position. His ability to play left tackle allowed the Ravens to move Orlando Brown Jr. to the Chiefs and actually stay strong at the position. Given Stanley’s massive contract he signed in 2020 (five years, $98.8 million), he will have a home at left tackle for the foreseeable future.

11. Kolton Miller, Las Vegas Raiders
12. Terron Armstead, Miami Dolphins
13. Dion Dawkins, Buffalo Bills
14. Brian O’Neill, Minnesota Vikings
15. Ryan Ramczyk, New Orleans Saints
16. Garett Bolles, Denver Broncos
17. Laremy Tunsil, Houston Texans
18. D.J. Humphries, Arizona Cardinals
19. Braden Smith, Indianapolis Colts
20. Orlando Brown Jr., Kansas City Chiefs

2022 NFL Guard Rankings

1. Zack Martin, Dallas Cowboys

When the Dallas Cowboys drafted Martin with pick 16 in the 2014 NFL Draft, not even Jerry Jones could have envisioned the Hall of Fame career the Notre Dame road-grader would have. The nine-year veteran is the premier guard in the NFL. Martin played 1,101 snaps in 2021 and was rarely beaten in the run or pass game. He gave up only one sack, and even that one was questionable. The Cowboys are top eight in the run game and passing attack and that starts with Martin’s superior play.

2. Joel Bitonio, Cleveland Browns

Bitonio is a smashmouth run-blocker who becomes a dancing bear in pass protection. He has been one of the most consistent trench monsters in the NFL since he entered the league in 2014 as a second-round pick. Bitonio hasn’t missed a game since 2016 and is the main cog for the Browns’ power-running attack. He plays with outstanding bend, hip flexion and hand placement. The Browns have one of the best interior tridents in the NFL, and Bitonio leads the way.

3. Shaq Mason, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Mason doesn’t pass the eye test in terms of the height/weight narrative. But Mason has been proving people wrong his entire life. What Mason lacks in height (6'1"), he makes up for in tenacity, lower body strength and hip snap on contact. Mason has been a steady force in the middle of the New England Patriots’ line for the past seven years. He now takes his game to Tampa Bay to reunite with his old teammate, quarterback Tom Brady.

4. Quenton Nelson, Indianapolis Colts

Nelson’s foot injury lingered all season and hampered his play. That will not be the case entering the 2022 season. Though the Colts have one of the most powerful rushing attacks in the league, the unit is simply more effective with a healthy Nelson leading the way. Nelson will come into the season with a chip on his shoulder and something to prove. All the interior defenders on the Colts’ schedule should take notice.

5. Joe Thuney, Kansas City Chiefs

One of the biggest free-agent signings in 2021, Thuney going from the New England Patriots to the Chiefs was a brilliant move by general manager Brett Veach and head coach Andy Reid. Thuney simply doesn’t miss games, and he’s a textbook technician who understands blocking angles, sets up his blocks before the snap and then moves defenders with their own momentum.

6. Chris Lindstrom, Atlanta Falcons

The former first-rounder from Boston College has upgraded his game every year and has started every Falcons game the past two seasons. Lindstrom played a total of 1,034 snaps in 2021 and didn’t allow a sack. He played at an All-Pro/Pro Bowl level yet was not recognized. That should change in 2022.

7. Elgton Jenkins, Green Bay Packers

Jenkins uses his long arms to extend initially on the defender but then has the lateral quickness and strength to kick-slide parallel to the line of scrimmage to cut off the rusher. Jenkins played only eight games last season, and though the unit held its own, quarterback Aaron Rodgers is safer with him in the lineup. A healthy Jenkins should be back to Pro Bowl-caliber play at guard or tackle in 2022.

8. Matt Feiler, Los Angeles Chargers

Feiler made his way from a tryout player for the Houston Texans to a practice-squad guy for the Steelers to one of the top guards in the NFL. Feiler will never be mistaken for a graceful player, but he has extremely strong hands, mighty leg drive and always works to control his blocks.

9. Wyatt Teller, Cleveland Browns

Nick Chubb (No. 3 RB) and Kareem Hunt (No. 25) both will benefit greatly from Teller’s skills. One of the most effective run-blockers in the game, Teller has produced back-to-back seasons of excellence in terms of creating wide-open running lanes. An earth mover as a run blocker, Teller can take his man and move him against his will out of the hole, winning with intensity, horsepower and an ability to block to the echo of the whistle.

10. Kevin Zeitler, Baltimore Ravens

The 11-year warrior is on his fourth NFL team, and all he does is battle on every snap. Last season, the former Wisconsin Badger put his hand in the dirt for 1,221 snaps and gave up only one sack. But where Zeitler really makes his money is as a run blocker in the run-heavy Ravens offense. Zeitler can play power versus power or still has enough juice in the tank to play in space.

11. Brandon Scherff, Jacksonville Jaguars
12. Connor Williams, Miami Dolphins
13. Laken Tomlinson, New York Jets
14. James Daniels, Pittsburgh Steelers
15. Jonah Jackson, Detroit Lions
16. Quinton Spain, Free Agent
17. Alex Cappa, Cincinnati Bengals
18. Mike Onwenu, New England Patriots
19. Rodger Saffold III, Buffalo Bills
20. Ezra Cleveland, Minnesota Vikings

2022 Center Rankings

1. Creed Humphrey, Kansas City Chiefs

The second-round selection from Oklahoma jumped right into the starting lineup for the Chiefs last season and became the No. 1 pivot player in the league. The young buck didn’t miss a snap, logging 1,184 and allowing only one sack. What the sack number doesn’t say is how dominant Creed was in the run game. With his high-end foot quickness and knee flexion, Humphrey is smooth when pulling or climbing to the second level to achieve his blocks.

2. Corey Linsley, Los Angeles Chargers

Linsley was a mega free-agent signing (five years for $62.5 million) for the Chargers, and his ability to lead the offensive line, make blocking calls and keep quarterback Justin Herbert upright doesn’t show up in statistics. But those factors make his contract an invaluable deal. Then throw in how dominant Linsley’s play was in 2021, and he looks like a steal. Always one of the better in-space blockers, Linsley really stepped up his pass-blocking sets. In 1,076 snaps played last year, the former Ohio State Buckeye did not allow a sack.

3. Jason Kelce, Philadelphia Eagles

In his 10 seasons played, Kelce didn’t miss a start in eight of them and has started every game for the Eagles the past six seasons. Undersized for the position (6'3", 295 pounds), the former Cincinnati Bearcat puts on weekly clinics on how to snap, engage, drop his weight and roll his hips to sustain and win. Watching Kelce pull around the end and pick off a linebacker or safety in space will be used on training videos for years to come.

4. Chase Roullier, Washington Commanders

The sixth-round pick in 2017 has started 61 games in his career and established his place in the NFL hierarchy in 2020. Roullier started and produced well in all 16 games and was coming into his own last year before his season was cut short because of a broken left leg. Roullier, who had started 35 straight games before going on injured reserve, is a steady leader who understands all the blocking schemes.

5. JC Tretter, Free Agent

The former Cornell star didn’t miss a game in his four seasons with the Browns, and that stability helped create the best interior unit in the game. Tretter wins using his uncanny ability to snap and in the same motion get his off-hand quickly in contact with the defender. This allows the wily vet to then slide his feet to secure his spot, drop his weight and anchor the point of attack. Tretter is a leader of men and is all backbone and guts, even if he remained unsigned at press time.

6. Ryan Kelly, Indianapolis Colts

Kelly was legit as always as a run blocker in 2021 and found ways to make holes for the best running back in the NFL, Jonathan Taylor. The Colts, led by the former Alabama Crimson Tide offensive lineman, finished second in the NFL in rushing with 2,540 yards. The entire blocking unit knows they must improve as pass protectors, and that starts with Kelly, the leader of the group.

7. Ted Karras, Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals, even as the AFC champions in 2021, revamped their entire offensive line in order to protect franchise quarterback Joe Burrow. One of the main acquisitions was signing Karras away from AFC rival New England on a three-year, $18 million deal. Holding the important role of helping Burrow diagnose blitzes and calling out blocking schemes is right in Karras’ wheelhouse. The 2022 season is set up to be his best as a professional.

8. David Andrews, New England Patriots

Andrews has had an understated career with the Patriots, but his versatility has been his calling card. He understands the position, checks and stunt pickups as well as any other pivot in the game today. The former Georgia Bulldog doesn’t look to be slowing down anytime soon, and with a new contract under his belt, he will lead the way for Mac Jones and Co. again in 2022.

9. Ben Jones, Tennessee Titans

Jones has produced year after year, opening holes for some of the greatest rushing attacks in recent memory. From 2012 through the 2021 season, Jones has missed only one regular-season game and didn’t miss a snap in 2021. Jones is tenacious, nasty and finishes every block as if that will be the last play he ever suits up.

10. Ryan Jensen, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

A better run blocker than pass protector, Jensen is a high-end starter and allows quarterback Tom Brady the ability to handle blitz checks while Jensen gets the rest of the offensive line untracked. His recent contract to stay a Buccaneer keeps the play-to-the-whistle battler locked into Tampa for the next three years.

11. Rodney Hudson, Arizona Cardinals
12. Frank Ragnow, Detroit Lions
13. Bradley Bozeman, Carolina Panthers
14. Matt Hennessy, Atlanta Falcons
15. Mitch Morse, Buffalo Bills
16. Brian Allen, Los Angeles Rams
17. Alex Mack, retired*
18. Connor McGovern, New York Jets
19. Erik McCoy, New Orleans Saints
20. Tyler Linderbaum (R), Baltimore Ravens

*Note: This list was compiled before Alex Mack, a 13-year veteran and seven-time Pro Bowler who played for San Francisco last season, announced his retirement on June 3.