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The Value of Things: Ranking the AFC South Offensive Lines

Where do the Texans rank in the AFC South?

Carolina Panthers v Houston Texans Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

We make these statements in every one of these, but it always bears repeating. Ranking any individual position is next to impossible.

All of these things are interrelated and it can be difficult to separate out who does what. For our purposes here we can consider these rankings more entertainment and a get to know you for the other teams in the division. We spend so much time on our own squad that we don’t know what is going on with each team.

Obviously, coaching and strategy are very important as well. Top five play caller Tim Kelly is gone and gone with him is the game plan offense that has really only succeeded in one place. Jacksonville also has a new coaching staff. Will their offensive line play see dramatic improvement? We certainly hope so. Let’s take a look at some overall numbers.

Colts— 5901 yards (16), 5.6 YPP (16), 32 sacks (9), 5.8 SK% (13), 32.8 YPD (14)

Titans— 5822 yards (17), 5.1 YPP (21), 47 sacks (26), 8.1 SK% (27), 31.4 YPD (19)

Jaguars— 5191 yards (27), 5.0 YPP (25), 32 sacks (9), 5.0 SK% (8). 29.2 YPD (24)

Texans— 4727 yards (DAL), 4.7 YPP (31), 44 sacks (24), 7.5 SK% (24), 25.1 YPD (DAL)

Some of these are overall indictments of the offense. YPP stands for yards per play. YPD stand for yards per drive. Even the sacks and the sack percentage can be misleading. As we know, quarterbacks like Watson like to hold the ball while others get it out quicker. Some QBs have very little escapability. However, I think we begin to see a pretty clear picture here.

The main picture I see is that I have no earthly clue how the Colts didn’t win the division going away. Their unit was better every step of the way except for quarterback. I guess that’s what it all comes down to. At any rate, we will look at the projected starting linemen for each team with their run blocking and pass blocking grades for last season. We may even dive into prior seasons.

Indianapolis Colts

LT Matt Pryor— 74.8 Run, 75.2 Pass

LG Quenton Nelson— 70.4 Run, 62.0 Pass

C Ryan Kelly— 58.1 Run, 57.2 Pass

RG Danny Pinter— 78.3 Run, 46.0 Pass

RT Braden Smith— 86.0 Run, 70.8 Pass

If one were to average these scores across the board, the Colts would have a collective 73.5 run grade and a 62.2 pass grade. So, they are a really good run blocking unit and an average pass blocking unit. Nelson had overall grades of 87.5 and 91.2 in 2020 and 2019 respectively. He has been elite in the past, so maybe 2021 was just a down year for him. If he’s elite again this line is easily a top five NFL offensive line.

Tennessee Titans

LT Taylor Lewan— 64.0 Run, 70.2 Pass

LG Aaron Brewer— 62.6 Run, 48.7 Pass

C Ben Jones— 79.9 Run, 66.4 Pass

RG Nate Davis— 71.8 Run, 49.5 Pass

RT Dillon Radunz— 57.3 Run, 39.5 Pass

Okay, this line comes up with a 67.1 run grade and a 54.8 pass grade. That’s the worst pass grade in the division and considering the surrendered the most sacks that makes a lot of sense. Redunz was a second round pick in the 2021 draft. Whether he develops into a starting quality right tackle or not is obviously huge for this offense. Either way, it gives you a spot to attack in head to head matchups.

Jacksonville Jaguars

LT Cam Robinson— 52.5 Run, 76.6 Pass

LG Ben Bartch— 63.1 Run, 52.8 Pass

C Luke Fortner— Rookie (65th overall pick)

RG Brandon Scherff— 73.7 Run, 72.4 Pass

RT Jawaan Taylor— 42.8 Run, 72.1 Pass

Their overall run grade was 58.0 which is third in the division with the pass grade coming in at 68.5 which was the best in the division. A couple of interesting things, the first thing is that this is where our offensive line coach is coming from. Robinson looks like a clone of Tunsil and they just franchise tagged him. Why did they do this? Is he really a top ten tackle? PFF has him graded 48th, but this is why good teams are good teams and bad teams are always chasing them. The decision making is just awful at times.

Houston Texans

LT Laremy Tunsil— 45.0 Run, 75.2 Pass

LG Kenyon Green— Rookie (15th overall pick)

C Justin Britt— 70.5 Run, 53.7 pass

RG A.J. Cann— 53.7 Run, 32.6 pass

RT Tytus Howard— 42.5 Run, 70.1 Pass

The Texans overall grades are 52.8 in run blocking (DAL) and 57.9 in pass blocking which was third. However, they have a new left guard, a new right guard, and Howard moves from mostly left guard to right tackle. He had 62.1 and 59.4 overall grades the previous two seasons at right tackle. Cann had 69.0 and 55.3 grades the previous two seasons at guard. So, even if both hover around average (60.0) they will be considerably better than they were last season. Britt was also reasonably close to average his last two seasons as well. That leaves Green and Tunsil. Tunsil is a two time Pro Bowler in Houston while Green was the second best guard in the draft. Everyone keep their fingers crossed.

Final Power Rankings

Obviously, so much of this is dependent on the play callers and schemes the teams actually employ, but the Colts have the best line in the division. The numbers back that up and most scouts overwhelmingly agree. From there it’s a crapshoot. I like the Texans chances here. Their four regulars with experience were all average or better before 2021 and the rookie had very high college grades at guard. George Warhop brings a more physical style to the Texans. It sounds good, but everything in June sounds good.

He has been the Jaguars offensive line coach the last three seasons. In those three seasons he had the third rated line in the division in 2021, the fourth best line in 2020 (65.6) and the third best line in 2019 (64.6). Sure, there are all kinds of reasons why that could have happened that have nothing to do with him. They did have two different offensive systems and it’s impossible for Urban Meyer’s stink not to have rubbed off on everyone else, but numbers are numbers and these aren’t great. His numbers were better than what Houston produced collectively, so improvement is the key and seems very likely.