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2012 Draft Prep: Setting the offensive lines

Senior Fantasy Writer
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For each of the last three seasons, I've taken up the task of grading starting linemen one by one and assigning a letter grade like the kind you see on a typical school report card, calculating the average and then rank them accordingly. The point of it is to give you an idea of which offensive lines are expected to be strong and which ones will be weak.

 
Team
GPA '12 Grade
1 Carolina Panthers 2.868 B
2 New Orleans Saints 2.86 B
3 New York Jets 2.8 B
4 New England Patriots 2.73 B
5 Philadelphia Eagles 2.66 B-
5 San Francisco 49ers 2.66 B-
7 Baltimore Ravens 2.6 B-
7 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2.6 B-
7 Tennessee Titans 2.6 B-
7 Cincinnati Bengals 2.6 B-
7 Pittsburgh Steelers 2.6 B-
12 Houston Texans 2.53 C+
12 Kansas City Chiefs 2.53 C+
14 Cleveland Browns 2.4 C+
14 Green Bay Packers 2.4 C+
14 Minnesota Vikings 2.4 C+
14 Atlanta Falcons 2.4 C+
14 Detroit Lions 2.396 C+
19 Miami Dolphins 2.33 C+
20 Jacksonville Jaguars 2.2 C
21 Dallas Cowboys 2.134 C
21 Buffalo Bills 2.134 C
23 Denver Broncos 2.0 C
23 San Diego Chargers 2.0 C
23 St. Louis Rams 2.0 C
23 Oakland Raiders 2.0 C
27 Washington Redskins 1.93 C-
27 Seattle Seahawks 1.93 C-
29 Arizona Cardinals 1.8 C-
30 New York Giants 1.6 C-
30 Indianapolis Colts 1.6 C-
32 Chicago Bears 1.4 D+

Over the last few seasons I came to the conclusion that the overwhelming majority of O-lines around the NFL effectively grade out similarly. Some were noticeably better than the rest, some were noticeably worse, but the majority were bunched together.

So in an effort to change that "bunching" I made some changes to my system. For instance, you'll find several instances where two linemen are graded for one spot. This might be because two guys are fighting for a job in camp or the starter isn't expected to make it through most of the season and the backup needs to be addressed. When you see two players listed in one spot, the expected starter is named to the left of the slash and the grade is a cumulative total for both men. Additionally, I was more aggressive in grading linemen this season, dishing out more D's than ever before (I even doled out an F). I also gave credit to O-lines that worked in the same system for multiple seasons with at least three returning starters.

Also, in an attempt to provide as accurate of a grade as possible, and to make sure I didn't provide a list of 32 teams with the exact same grade, I cross-referenced my notes with the 2011 evaluations at ProFootballFocus.com .

And after all of these measures were taken, the following conclusion was reached: the overwhelming majority of O-lines around the NFL effectively grade out similarly.

There's no sugar-coating this, no way to make the list more attractive without going against my notes (or ProFootballFocus' notes). Let's just put it this way: If we had to draft individual offensive linemen in Fantasy, we might end up reaching for the best ones.

You'll find all of the information about every offensive line below. Keep in mind that no rookie lineman is eligible for a grade higher than a B and there is no weighting for blind-side tackles or Pro Bowlers. A line is as strong as its weakest link.

The grades should provide some food for thought. Use this guide as a potential tiebreaker between quarterbacks and running backs throughout your draft. For instance, if you're debating between Carson Palmer and Andy Dalton, maybe Dalton has an edge because his O-line graded out better. Or if you're looking at the lesser of two evils between Donald Brown and James Starks, at least Starks' line has some continuity and a better grade.

Arizona Cardinals
Returning Starters: 3
LT LG C RG RT
Levi Brown Daryn Colledge Lyle Sendlein Adam Snyder B. Massie/J. Bridges
C+ C C D C-
Cumulative GPA: 1.8 (C-)
Atlanta Falcons
Returning Starters: 4
LT LG C RG RT
Sam Baker Justin Blalock Todd McClure Jameson Konz Tyson Clabo
D+ C B- C+ A-
Cumulative GPA: 2.4 (C+)
Baltimore Ravens
Returning Starters: 4
LT LG C RG RT
Bryant McKinnie Bobbie Williams Matt Birk Marshal Yanda Michael Oher
C- B B- B+ C+
Cumulative GPA: 2.6 (C+)
Buffalo Bills
Returning Starters: 4
LT LG C RG RT
C. Hairston/C. Glenn Andy Levitre Eric Wood Kraig Urbik Erik Pears
C B- C- C C+
Cumulative GPA: 2.134 (C)
Carolina Panthers
Returning Starters: 4
LT LG C RG RT
Jordan Gross A. Silatolu/M. Pollak Ryan Kalil Geoff Hangartner Byron Bell
A- C A- B+ C-
Cumulative GPA: 2.868 (B-)
Chicago Bears
Returning Starters: 4
LT LG C RG RT
J. Webb/C. Williams Chris Spencer Roberto Garza C. Rachal/L. Louis Gabe Carimi
D+ D+ C- D C-
Cumulative GPA: 1.4 (D+)
Cincinnati Bengals
Returning Starters: 3
LT LG C RG RT
Andrew Whitworth Travelle Wharton Kyle Cook Kevin Zeitler Andre Smith
A C- C+ B C
Cumulative GPA: 2.6 (C+)
Cleveland Browns
Returning Starters: 4
LT LG C RG RT
Joe Thomas Jason Pinkston Alex Mack Shawn Lauvao M. Schwartz/O. Cousins
A- C- B+ C- C-
Cumulative GPA: 2.4 (C+)
Dallas Cowboys
Returning Starters: 3
LT LG C RG RT
Tyron Smith Nate Livings Phil Costa Mackenzy Bernadeau Doug Free
B C C- C C
Cumulative GPA: 2.134 (C)
Denver Broncos
Returning Starters: 5
LT LG C RG RT
Ryan Clady Zane Beadles J.D. Walton/P. Blake Chris Kuper Orlando Franklin
B+ D+ D- C B-
Cumulative GPA: 2.0 (C)
Detroit Lions
Returning Starters: 5
LT LG C RG RT
Jeff Backus Rob Sims Dominic Raiola Stephen Peterman Gosder Cherilus
B- B- B C C-
Cumulative GPA: 2.4 (C+)
Green Bay Packers
Returning Starters: 3
LT LG C RG RT
Marshall Newhouse T.J. Lang Jeff Saturday Josh Sitton Bryan Bulaga
D+ B- B B- C+
Cumulative GPA: 2.4 (C+)
Houston Texans
Returning Starters: 3
LT LG C RG RT
Duane Brown Wade Smith Chris Myers B. Brooks/A. Caldwell Rashad Butler
B+ C+ A C- D+
Cumulative GPA: 2.532 (C+)
Indianapolis Colts
Returning Starters: 1
LT LG C RG RT
Anthony Castonzo J. Reitz/B. Ijalana Samson Satele Mike McGlynn Winston Justice
C D+ C D+ D+
Cumulative GPA: 1.6 (C-)
Jacksonville Jaguars
Returning Starters: 5
LT LG C RG RT
Eugene Monroe Will Rackley Brad Meester Uche Nwaneri Eben Britton
B+ D- B C C
Cumulative GPA: 2.2 (C)
Kansas City Chiefs
Returning Starters: 3
LT LG C RG RT
Branden Albert Ryan Lilja Rodney Hudson Jon Asamoah Eric Winston
B- B- C- C+ B+
Cumulative GPA: 2.53 (C+)
Miami Dolphins
Returning Starters: 3
LT LG C RG RT
Jake Long Richie Incognito Mike Pouncey Artis Hicks Jonathan Martin
A- C B D+ C-
Cumulative GPA: 2.33 (C+)
Minnesota Vikings
Returning Starters: 3
LT LG C RG RT
Matt Kalil J. Berger/C. Johnson John Sullivan Brandon Fusco Phil Loadholt
B C- B+ D+ B-
Cumulative GPA: 2.4 (C+)
New England Patriots
Returning Starters: TBD
LT LG C RG RT
Nate Solder L. Mankins/R. Gallery D. Connolly/D. Koppen Brian Waters S. Vollmer/M. Cannon
B- B+ C+ B C+
Cumulative GPA: 2.73 (B-)
New Orleans Saints
Returning Starters: 4
LT LG C RG RT
Jermon Bushrod Ben Grubbs Brian De La Puente Jahri Evans Charles Brown
B+ B+ C+ B+ C
Cumulative GPA: 2.86 (B-)
New York Giants
Returning Starters: 5
LT LG C RG RT
Will Beatty Kevin Boothe David Baas Chris Snee David Diehl
C D C- C+ D
Cumulative GPA: 1.6 (C-)
New York Jets
Returning Starters: 5
LT LG C RG RT
D'Brickashaw Ferguson Matt Slauson Nick Mangold Brandon Moore J. Otah/W. Hunter
B+ C A+ B D+
Cumulative GPA: 2.8 (B-)
Oakland Raiders
Returning Starters: 4
LT LG C RG RT
Jared Veldheer Cooper Carlisle Stefen Wisniewski Mike Brisiel Khalif Barnes
B- D+ C B- D+
Cumulative GPA: 2.0 (C)
Philadelphia Eagles
Returning Starters: 3
LT LG C RG RT
Demetress Bell Evan Mathis Jason Kelce Danny Watkins Todd Herremans
C+ A+ C+ D+ B
Cumulative GPA: 2.66 (B-)
Pittsburgh Steelers
Returning Starters: 3
LT LG C RG RT
Mike Adams Willie Colon Maurkice Pouncey David DeCastro M. Gilbert/M. Starks
C- B- B+ B C+
Cumulative GPA: 2.6 (C+)
San Diego Chargers
Returning Starters: 5
LT LG C RG RT
Jared Gaither Tyronne Green Nick Hardwick Louis Vasquez J. Clary/M. Henderson
B+ D B C D-
Cumulative GPA: 2.0 (C)
Seattle Seahawks
Returning Starters: 4
LT LG C RG RT
Russell Okung Paul McQuistan Max Unger J. Moffitt/D. Lutui Breno Giacomini
C C- B+ D C-
Cumulative GPA: 1.93 (C-)
San Francisco 49ers
Returning Starters: 4
LT LG C RG RT
Joe Staley Mike Iupati Jonathan Goodwin Alex Boone Anthony Davis
B+ A C+ C C-
Cumulative GPA: 2.66 (B-)
St. Louis Rams
Returning Starters: 3
LT LG C RG RT
Rodger Saffold B. Mattison/R. Watkins Scott Wells Harvey Dahl Jason Smith
C- F A- B+ D+
Cumulative GPA: 2.0 (C)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Returning Starters: 4
LT LG C RG RT
Donald Penn Carl Nicks Jeremy Zuttah Davin Joseph Jeremy Trueblood
B A+ C+ C+ D
Cumulative GPA: 2.6 (B-)
Tennessee Titans
Returning Starters: 4
LT LG C RG RT
Michael Roos Steve Hutchinson Eugene Amano Leroy Harris David Stewart
B+ A- D+ C B-
Cumulative GPA: 2.6 (B-)
Washington Redskins
Returning Starters: 5
LT LG C RG RT
Trent Williams Kory Lichtensteiger Will Montgomery Chris Chester Jammal Brown
C+ B- C C- D
Cumulative GPA: 1.93 (C-)

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Player News
Eagles LB Brandon Graham could be on verge of breakout year
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(9:29 am ET) Eagles linebacker Brandon Graham feels the optimism of a guy coming off his best season.

"I'm feeling the best I've ever felt," he told the team website.

It's no wonder. He recorded career-highs in tackles (36), tackles for losses (13 1/2), assists (11) and sacks (5.5) in 2014. He earned significant playing time in a rotation at that position. And with Trent Cole off to Indianapolis, those reps could increase this year.

Graham has toiled feverishly to improve his game and adapt to a new defensive system. The result was a new four-year contract with the team.

"I understand the game and the league and what it takes to get it done here," he said. "I think I've grown up. I'm serious about being a great player. I want to be the best."


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The Giants had applied the franchise tag to Pierre-Paul this offseason, but the player has not yet signed it, technically leaving him not under contract with the team. The Giants move to yank the longer deal is a bit of gamesmanship, since according to Rapoport, Pierre-Paul was not going to sign the $60 million deal anyway. 


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by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
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Hunter, who has not played in the NFL since 2012, did spend three years with the Jets under new Bills coach Rex Ryan from 2009-2011. 

Hunter's deal is reportedly worth $870,000.


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by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(7/6/2015) Running back Khiry Robinson is a fan favorite with the Saints, but the third-year pro, who once was viewed as a breakout candidate for the team, may find his role squeezed by the presence of Mark Ingram and C.J. Spiller, per ESPN.com. 

Robinson dealt with a broken arm last season, which limited him to 12 carries and 32 yards over the final 10 weeks of the year. The Saints then re-upped with Ingram and brought in Spiller to replace Pierre Thomas, meaning Robinson will have to fight hard in training camp to establish a role. 

"I just gotta keep working," Robinson said. "It's all love in the backfield. We all work together, try to help each other. So I think it's a good thing we've got a full backfield again. So if anybody goes down, we've got another player right up there to do the same thing."


Report: Giants Jason Pierre-Paul hurt in fireworks accident
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
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The paper reports that the injury is not considered career-threatening, but that varying accounts of what happened have been reported. The Giants have not confirmed nor denied the incident. 

The Giants applied the franchise tag to Pierre-Paul this offseason, but the 26-year-old has not yet signed it as he seeks a long-term deal, meaning that he technically is not under contract. 

Pierre-Paul had 53 tackles and 12 1/2 sacks last year for New York. 


Report: Torn pectoral sidelines Vikings CB Josh Robinson
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(7/4/2015) The Vikings secondary took a hit last month when cornerback Josh Robinson sustained a partially torn pectoral muscle, a league source has told ESPN.

The nickel back played in 690 snaps last season and was expected to battle several others for playing time. The injury could sideline him from training camp and land him on the PUP list.


Report: Packers' Andrew Quarless arrested on gun charges
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(7/4/2015) Packers tight end Andrew Quarless was arrested for firing a gun twice in Miami on Saturday, per the Miami New Times.

Quarless was involved in a fight at South Beach and fired the gun into the ground. 


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by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
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The Titans were 24th in the league in yards after the catch last season, but with Mariota under center that can all change.

“If you have an accurate quarterback, it allows us to get more yards after that catch,” wide receiver Harry Douglas said. “And that’s one thing that makes a receiver dynamic -- first being able to catch the ball and then being able to do some things with it after you catch it. I feel like [to this point] Marcus has done everything he needs to do to get the ball to his receivers.”


Saints RB Khiry Robinson doesn't feel he's on outside looking in
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(7/3/2015) Saints running back Khiry Robinson might be the least known of his backfield counterparts, but he doesn't feel like the off man out, per ESPN.com.

Robinson knows the team is heavily invested in the likes of Mark Ingram and C.J. Spiller, but he's still confident he can thrive in whatever role the Saints put him in.

“I’m the type of person, I’m gonna get what I get and do what I do with it. So whether it’s 20 carries or one carry, I’m gonna do the best of my ability every play,” Robinson said.

Robinson has shown flashes of success during his three years in the league. Injuries played a key role against him last season, which can ultimately put him as the third back on the depth chart. He will use the offseason to continue to improve and challenge his counterparts for playing time.

“I just gotta keep working,” Robinson. “It’s all love in the backfield. We all work together, try to help each other. So I think it’s a good thing we’ve got a full backfield again. So if anybody goes down, we’ve got another player right up there to do the same thing.”


Browns OL Michael Bowie itching to compete for starting spot
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(7/3/2015) Browns offensive lineman Michael Bowie is not required to report to training camp until the end of July. But never mind that - he's heading out after the last Independence Day firework explodes in the sky.

Bowie is itching to get started. He missed all of last season due to a shoulder injury after starting for Seattle on its Super Bowl title team in 2013. He is seeking to stay in tip-top shape in an attempt to land a starting spot on a Cleveland line that is the strength of the team.

"It's up to them to decide who is the best five," Bowie told the team website. "All I can do is take care of my business. Hopefully I can get a shot. That's what I'm working for."

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