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2020 AFC North Positional Rankings: Offensive Line

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NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

As the dog days of the NFL offseason continue to settle in, each team’s roster is pretty much set with free agency and the draft in the rear view mirror. Therefore, it’s an opportune time to detox with our annual positional rankings for the AFC North.

After knocking out each of the skill position groups, which you can find via the links below, we’ll now shift focus to each team’s offensive line. Between the Ravens, Steelers and Browns, the AFC North could potentially field three top-tier offensive line units in 2020, with the Bengals bringing up the rear.

Links:

Additionally, you can find last year’s rankings here. Check out the listing below, vote on the corresponding poll and join in on the conversation!


1) Baltimore Ravens

Starters: Ronnie Stanley, Bradley Bozeman, Matt Skura, D.J. Fluker, Orlando Brown Jr.

Depth Chart: Ben Powers, Patrick Mekari, Ben Bredeson, Tyre Phillips, Andre Smith

The biggest loss the Ravens suffered this offseason was the departure of Marshal Yanda, who opted to hang up the cleats after a long and esteemed career. Yanda was key to the team’s success in 2019 and his absence will be felt this upcoming season.

Still, despite losing Yanda, the Ravens project to have a strong overall group headlined by arguably the best tackle duo in the NFL. Ronnie Stanley emerged as an elite left tackle last season, surrending just six pressures all season and earning a first-team All-Pro selection.

Additionally, Stanley did not allow a sack and was flagged only four times. He was PFF’s highest-graded pass protector in the entire league. Across from him is Orlando Brown Jr., who had a breakout season in his own right and earned a Pro Bowl nod, too.

There are questions at each of the three interior spots, but the Ravens have several candidates to fill starting roles and multiple versatile players. As it currently stands, Bradley Bozeman is expected to retain his starting spot at left guard and veteran D.J. Fluker, who was signed in free agency, is the favorite to replace Yanda at right guard.

At center, the Ravens are hoping Matt Skura returns to full health and can pick up where he left off in 2019 before getting injured. If not, Patrick Mekari or Bozeman could start in the middle, as well as rookie Ben Bredeson.

Poll

Where would you rank the Ravens OL in the AFC North?

This poll is closed

  • 78%
    First
    (315 votes)
  • 18%
    Second
    (76 votes)
  • 1%
    Third
    (8 votes)
  • 0%
    Fourth
    (4 votes)
403 votes total Vote Now

2) Pittsburgh Steelers

Starters: Alejandro Villanueva, Stefen Wisniewski, Maurkice Pouncey, David DeCastro, Matt Feiler

Depth Chart: Kevin Dotson, Chukwuma Okafor, Zach Banner

Pittsburgh’s offensive line took a bit of a step back in 2019. They were once again one of the better pass-protecting units in the league but struggled to create lanes and holes in the run game. It’s fair to question how much of this, though, was a product of injuries to starters at quarterback, running back and wide receiver.

Nevertheless, the Steelers’ five-man front remains one of the more consistent groups in the league and with Ben Roethlisberger back in the fold, their job should be easier in 2020 - especially if James Conner can stay healthy, too.

Three out of Pittsburgh’s five starters received a grade higher than 70.0 from PFF last season, with Maurkice Pouncey and Stefen Wisniewski. The latter graded out with a 68.2 mark, though, and Pouncey was selected to the Pro Bowl.

Each of the team’s starters, with the exception of Matt Feiler (27 years old), are on the wrong side of 30. Behind them, they have two youngsters in Kevin Dotson and Chukwuma Okafor, the former of which they selected in the fourth round of this year’s draft.

Poll

Where would you rank the Steelers OL in the AFC North?

This poll is closed

  • 16%
    First
    (46 votes)
  • 53%
    Second
    (153 votes)
  • 27%
    Third
    (79 votes)
  • 3%
    Fourth
    (9 votes)
287 votes total Vote Now

3) Cleveland Browns

Starters: Jedrick Wills Jr., Joel Bitonio, JC Tretter, Wyatt Teller, Jack Conklin

Depth Chart: Chris Hubbard, Nick Harris, Drew Forbes, Kendall Lamm

Last year, the Browns’ offensive line was good against the run but not so great in pass protection, as their poor tackle play reared its head on numerous occasions. Thus, they made upgrading these spots a priority in the offseason.

Cleveland signed Jack Conklin in free agency and drafted Alabama’s Jedrick Wills Jr. with the 10th overall selection in Round 1. Conklin isn’t the best pass-blocker but has been stout in run blocking throughout his career. Both Conklin and Wills are natural right tackles, but the Browns are banking on their first-round pick sliding over to the blindside in Year 1.

On the interior, the Browns are returning all three starters from 2019. Joel Bitonio and JC Tretter were solid last season but the glaring weakness of the three was Wyatt Teller, who struggled in attempting to replace Kevin Zeitler at right guard.

Teller’s PFF grade of 56.7 was less than ideal, but playing next to Conklin should help mask some of his deficincies.

In the draft, the Browns took a late-round flier on Nick Harris out of Washington. Harris projects to be the primary backup center with Drew Forbes, Kendall Lamm and Chris Hubbard on hand to provide depth, also.

Poll

Where would you rank the Browns OL in the AFC North?

This poll is closed

  • 7%
    First
    (19 votes)
  • 24%
    Second
    (66 votes)
  • 57%
    Third
    (154 votes)
  • 10%
    Fourth
    (27 votes)
266 votes total Vote Now

4) Cincinnati Bengals

Starters: Jonah Williams, Michael Jordan, Trey Hopkins, Xavier Su’a-Filo, Bobby Hart

Depth Chart: Isaiah Prince, Billy Price, Fred Johnson, O’Shea Dugas

The Bengals feel like a fairly distant fourth here. Last year’s offensive line was putrid, to say the least, and it didn’t help that 2018 first-round pick Jonah Williams missed the entirety of his rookie campaign after suffering a torn ACL in training camp.

Williams was projected to be a plug-and-play, high-end starter last season and that shouldn’t change in 2020, assuming he’s fully recovered. Other than Williams, though, there isn’t too much to be excited about from this bunch.

Returning veterans Trey Hopkins, Xavier Su’a-Filo and Bobby Hart struggled last season, as did Michael Jordan. Jordan was thrust into a large role as a rookie and was evidently overmatched, mustering a PFF grade of just 43.7.

Hart could potentially cede his starting spot to Fred Johnson, who is entering his sophomore campaign. For Joe Burrow’s sake, hopefully some continued continuity and the emergence of Jonah Williams helps this core improve.

Poll

Where would you rank the Bengals OL in the AFC North?

This poll is closed

  • 2%
    First
    (6 votes)
  • 1%
    Second
    (4 votes)
  • 5%
    Third
    (13 votes)
  • 90%
    Fourth
    (224 votes)
247 votes total Vote Now