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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-)

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter @CBSFantasyFB . You can also follow Dave at @daverichard and on Facebook .

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Player News
Earl Thomas on bad shoulder: 'I'll still play fearless'
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(8:50 pm ET) Seahawks safety Earl Thomas, who dislocated his shoulder in the NFC Championship Game, could remain limited in practice this week ahead of the Super Bowl, reports the Seattle Times. But he said he won't be thinking about the injury against the Patriots.

"When I come alive nothing is limited,’’ he said. “I’ll still play fearless, throw my body around, and let whatever happens, happens.’’

Thomas did allow that he might have to rely more on his teammates.

“My mindset is I have an opportunity to really trust my teammates,’’ he said. “This is the first game I’m going to have to trust them because of my injury. So I really, really, really trust my teammates, and that’s what I’m banking on, my teammates doing what they need to do and I need to come through myself.’’

It's unclear if Thomas will need offseason surgery.

The Seahawks are 1-point underdogs after opening as 2.5-point favorites.


Colts QB Matt Hasselbeck pondering retirement
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(8:17 pm ET) Colts backup quarterback Matt Hasselbeck told ESPN.com he's not sure if he'll retire or return for a 17th season. Hasselbeck, 39, appeared in four games this season and played well, posting a 102.6 passer rating.

He's set to hit unrestricted free agency.


Colts expected to part ways with center A.Q. Shipley
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(8:11 pm ET) Colts center A.Q. Shipley is headed for unrestricted free agency, and the team is expected to let him go, reports ESPN.com. 

"Shipley went from starting in Week 1 to losing his starting job, to being inactive, to being the third-string center," the report said. "All without any explanation from coach Chuck Pagano or anybody in the front office."

Shipley, 28, has played in 45 career games, starting 19.


Report: Dolphins aim to re-sign TE Charles Clay
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(6:57 pm ET) The Dolphins have privately indicated they want to re-sign impending free agent tight end Charles Clay and will make him an offer in coming weeks, reports the Miami Herald. Clay caught 58 passes for 605 yards and three touchdowns in 14 games this season.

Miami also is high on Clay's backup, Dion Sims, who's signed through 2016, the paper said.


Browns extremely thin -- and short -- at wide receiver
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(6:19 pm ET) With wideout Josh Gordon facing a one-year suspension, the Browns are dangerously thin at receiver entering 2015. ESPN.com notes the Browns have two returning slot receivers in Andrew Hawkins and Taylor Gabriel and "an undersized situational receiver" in 5-10 Travis Benjamin.

Miles Austin is scheduled for unrestricted free agency after catching 47 passes for 568 yards and two touchdowns in 12 games. Tight end Jordan Cameron also is set to be an unrestricted free agent.

Hawkins, a 5-7, 180-pounder, led the team with 63 grabs for 824 yards, with two touchdowns. Cleveland failed to add a wideout in last year's draft but almost certainly must address the position in the 2015 draft.


Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas to practice this week
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(5:43 pm ET) Seahawks coach Pete Carroll told SiriusXM NFL Radio that cornerback Richard Sherman (elbow) and safety Earl Thomas (shoulder) will practice this week and should be "good to go" for the Super Bowl. Both got hurt in the NFC Championship Game.

Seattle is a 1-point underdog to the Patriots after opening as a 2.5-point favorite.


New optimism regarding Justin Blackmon's potential return
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(4:48 pm ET) A lot of people inside the NFL are optimistic Jaguars receiver Justin Blackmon is "overcoming his issues" and will be back in the league in 2015, reports Fox Sports. Blackmon got suspended in November 2013 following his third violation of the league's substance-abuse policy.

He checked into a treatment facility last September. General manager Dave Caldwell said recently he hopes Blackmon wins reinstatement, but is not counting on it.


Reports: Josh Gordon tests positive again, facing 1-year ban
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(3:55 pm ET) Browns wideout Josh Gordon tested positive for alcohol and "now will be subject to a one-year banishment," sources told ESPN's Adam Schefter. Gordon was suspended for the first 10 games this season for a repeat violation of the league's drug policy.

Pro Football Talk reports that because of Gordon's past DUI, alcohol was one of the substances for which he was being tested. The website said a one-year suspension is likely a "done deal."

The Browns also suspended Gordon for missing a Saturday walkthrough before the regular-season finale, and CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora reported then the Browns might be ready to part ways with the ultra-talented 23-year-old.

The Browns released the following statement regarding the news: 

"Clearly we are very disappointed to hear the latest report regarding Josh. At this point, due to the confidential nature of the NFL’s substance abuse policy, we have not been made aware by the league of a failed test. We are in the process of gathering more information and will provide further comment at the appropriate time."


Report: Jordan Cameron expected to leave via free agency
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(3:14 pm ET) Browns tight end Jordan Cameron is set to become an unrestricted free agent, and ESPNCleveland.com does not expect him to re-sign with Cleveland. A concussion and shoulder injury limited Cameron to 10 games this season.

The 26-year-old caught 24 passes for 424 yards and two touchdowns after a breakout 2013 season in which he made 80 grabs for 917 yards and seven scores.


Pats C Bryan Stork showing 'no noticeable signs of injury'
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(1:53 pm ET) Patriots starting center Bryan Stork, who missed the AFC title game with a knee injury, practiced Sunday and "continues to show no noticeable signs of injury," reports ESPN.com. The rookie is on track to play in the Super Bowl.

New England is a 1-point favorite over Seattle after opening as a 2.5-point underdog.


 
 
 
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