One of the toughest assessments in the NFL is determining how good a hitter is. Does start blocking matter more than pressure rate? Are great linemen the ones who defend the quarterback? Will they be able to improve their teammates every week?
The expanded stats gave a more accurate estimate of how good an offensive lineman is and how valuable he is to the offensive system in which he operates. Ranking the best of the best offensive linemen is still tricky, based on grading left tackle vs. right tackle (a position that doesn’t get enough respect) and fullback vs. center.
The criteria for ranking the best offensive linemen in the game is simple – tackles fall into their own category, while inside linemen will have their own classification. Instead of ranking the top five players in each position in the line, we’ll group tackles and inside linemen into their own classifications, which will give a fair measure of all the tackles, defensemen, and centers in the league. If the correct tackle and center are in the top 10 respectively, that player is the elite in his position.
The final qualification for these ratings is how good a player was in 2021. We’ll use the success of the last few seasons to help weigh the rankings, but 2021 results are the key equation in the formula. This is a ranking of the best offensive linemen right now and is not entirely based on past or future performance.
Let’s take a look at the top 10 tackles and inside linemen in the NFL, starting with the strokes.
10. Jordan Mailata (Eagles)
Five years ago, Mailata didn’t even play football, but Eagles offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland made the former Australian rugby player a very good left tackle. Last year, he allowed just 18 presses and three sacks in 437 pass-blocking snaps and was a driving force in helping the Eagles become the league’s number one offensive player.
At 25, Mailata isn’t even close to reaching her prime or reaching her potential. The 6-8 pound 365 pound tackle could move up this list significantly in 2023.
9. Colton Miller (Raiders)
One of the worst tackles in the NFL four years ago, Miller was one of the best in the game. Miller allowed just five sacks and 32 presses in 689 interlocking snaps last season, playing all 17 games and earning first-team honors in all conferences.
While Miller may improve as a run-of-the-mill blocker, he backed up his breakout 2020 season with an even better record in 2021. The Raiders have the franchise’s left tackle in Miller, who isn’t even close to the player who gave up 16 sacks in his rookie. season (2018).
8. Ryan Ramczyk (Saints)
Ramczyk is still one of the best tackles on the right in the league, even though his performance was hampered last year by an ongoing knee injury. Last season, he allowed three sacks and 15 pressings in 339 interlocking snaps, a career-high 4.4% allowed per drop.
The former All-Pro is still great at blocking and should be healthy by 2022 after knee surgery. It wouldn’t be surprising if Ramczyk returns to All-Pro form this year.
7. Ronnie Stanley (Ravens)
An ankle injury limited Stanley to just one game in 2021, and his presence in the Ravens offensive line has been sorely missed. Stanley is one of the best left tackles in football when he is healthy, as he only allowed five presses and no sacks in his last full season (2019).
Stanley has been limited to seven games in the last two years, but he’s only 28 and played a huge role in Lamar Jackson’s MVP season. If Stanley is healthy, Jackson and the Ravens offense will be one of the best divisions in the NFL.
6. David Bakhtiari (Packers)
Bakhtiari only qualified for one regular season game in 2021 due to a knee injury, but he is still one of the best left tackles in the game. Before the injury, Bakhtiari had won three Pro Bowl tournaments in a row and had been an All-Pro two of his last three years.
Having played only 27 snaps in the regular season, Bakhtiari is not limited to the skill of the left tackle. The previous season, he allowed just one sack and eight pressings in 423 pass-blocking snaps.
5. Rushon Slater (Chargers)