Notes on some offensive lines and a couple of spots to look at:
The Giants offensive line produced the fifth-worst overall grade in the league the last two years and they ranked in the bottom eight in both pass blocking and run blocking. LT Nate Solder will return and his time with the Giants hasn’t been good. Daniel Jones ranked a league-worst in completion percentage under pressure and held on to the ball way too long a lot of times. He converted on only 34% of attempts under pressure. The Giants Oline is going to get tested right out the gate: vs Broncos Week 1, vs Washington Week 2, at New Orleans Week 4, and vs the Rams in Week 6. The Broncos are 1 point favorites and CG Tech on the lookahead lines opened Washington -3 at home, New Orleans -5 at home and the Rams -3.5 in New York. This is going to be a tough test right away for the Giants.
The Steelers have three new starters up front and they come into this season with the most question marks on the line that they’ve had in years. Maurkice Pouncey retired and he was their glue piece at Center for years. The five projected starters have a combined 92 career starts at the positions they will play this year with Trai Turner accounting for 89 of them and playing his first year with Pittsburgh. The Bills front 7 in Week 1 will definitely give them some problems.
The Chargers revamped their offensive line when they drafted Rashawn Slater in the first round this year. Slater has been very impressive in camp – a lot of reports say he’s been handling Joey Bosa in one-on-one’s consistently and that’s obviously big. The Chargers finished 31st in the league in pass block win rate in 2020. In spite of this, Justin Herbert still ranked 4th in the league in yards per attempt under pressure. If the Chargers can provide a clean pocket for Herbert, their offense should be even better than last year. Chargers opened -4 at home on MNF Week 4 vs the Raiders who have a lot of holes in the secondary. The Chargers also opened +7 at Kansas City Week 3 and KC has had problems stopping the run the last few years.
The Bears will start the season with two new tackles. Charles Leno left after spending 7 years in Chicago and Bobby Massie signed with the Broncos after 5 years with the Bears. Germain Ifiedi is projected to start at RT in two weeks against the LA Rams – he was just activated from the PUP list on August 23. 39-year old Jason Peters signed with the Bears on Monday and is now slated to start at LT after an injury riddled last two seasons with the Eagles. Aaron Donald and the Rams ranked 2 in the league in sacks last season with 51 in total and are going to pressure them a lot. If Andy Dalton is the starter Week 1, he’s going to have a long night on Sunday Night Football. The Browns in Week 3 are also going to pressure them a bunch with Jadeveon Clowney now playing opposite Myles Garrett.
The Raiders moved on from three starters on the offensive line this season. They traded away Rodney Hudson and Trent Brown and drafted Alex Leatherwood at #17 in the 2021 draft. Leatherwood was considered a reach at 17 by many – he was an excellent run blocker but average pass protector at Alabama as a starter the last two seasons. This unit could gel at some point during the season but they are going to struggle against Baltimore and Pittsburgh’s front 7’s in the first two weeks of the season.
Next article: 3 fade spots early in September