Sal's AFC East position battles: Offensive Line

June 26, 2019 - 9:04 am

The offensive line is the fourth position in my "AFC Position Battles" series. But it's easily the one that's had the most agreement on my Twitter replies so far, as far as ranking the AFC teams' units 1-4. And I don't disagree with the majority of those replies.

Here are my rankings of the groups in my latest installment of "AFC East Position Battles." You can click to tweet below to see a full roster for each team, as well as respond yourself:

1. Patriots

New England's offensive line took a couple of hits this off-season, but they still have enough talent and depth to be considered tops in this division. It may also simply because they have one of the best offensive line coaches in the league in Dante Scarnecchia. Left tackle Trent Brown signed a huge free-agent deal to bolt for the Raiders and swing tackle LaAdrian Waddle shuffled off to Buffalo. The Pats drafted Isaiah Wynn in the first round last year, but he missed the entire season with an achilles injury. They obviously still feel good enough about him replacing Brown on the left side. Other than that switch, the other four lineman have now been together as starters for several years, including David Andrews at center making the calls upfront. The Patriots depth took a hit with the departures and now it's a bit shaky, but overall this unit should still be solid and reliable up front.

2. Bills

The Bills are the exact opposite of the Patriots. Instead of only turning over one player and having four returning, they've gone the other direction and have only one returning starter with four other positions expected to be different. And they absolutely needed to do that after last year's struggles. Dion Dawkins should be the left tackle once again, but there will be some major battles going on for both guard spots and right tackle at training camp. The Bills elected to make Mitch Morse the highest paid center in the league during free agency in order to make sure they addressed and locked up that position. With Morse, Spencer Long, Quinton Spain, Waddle, Jon Feliciano, and Ty Nsekhe, the Bills not only turned over their talent in a positive direction, they also added a ton of experience to help out their young quarterback, Josh Allen. A total of 317 games played and 196 starts amongst the group. Then they added Cody Ford In the second round who should compete for the starting right tackle spot and even be able to play guard if they need him to. The Bills now have arguably the best depth in the division, as well as a ton of position flexibility all along the line.

3. Jets

The starters for the Jets are...... OK, especially looking at veterans like Brian Winters and Kelvin Beachum. They went into the off-season needing to address the unit and did a little tweaking, but not quite enough, because their depth is frightening for any fan in thinking about protecting QB Sam Darnold if there are any injuries to the starting five. Right tackle Brandon Shell suffered a knee injury at the end of last season, but looks like he's back to full-health. The team traded for two-time Pro Bowl guard Kelechi Osemele, but he missed five games last year and just turned 30. So, that could be a bit concerning. There was a lot of talk about the Jets signing one of the top free agent centers, Matt Paradis or Morse, but they really like Jonotthan Harrison in that spot. He started eight games last season. A lot at the backups, though, shows a lot of inexperience and question marks. Chuma Edoga may push for s starting job as a rookie. Tyler Jones is a rookie. Ben Braden, Jon Toth, and Jordan Morgan have never started an NFL game. Tom Compton and Brent Qvale are veterans and have 44 starts between them.

4. Dolphins

There's no secret the Dolphins are rebuilding this season. A look at the offensive line shows there's a lot of work still to be done. Laremy Tunsil is the entrenched starter at left tackle and a solid player there, and they like Jesse Davis at right guard. He started every game there last year. Center Daniel Kilgore landed on IR and missed 12 games last season. Left guard is up-in-the-air and rookie Michael Dieter could win the job. Jordan Mills was very inconsistent in Buffalo. He was signed well into free agent after not landing a job, but lined up as the starter at right tackle for most of the spring. It would be great if they had an upgrade for him, but as of right now, they don't, or at least aren't sure. That goes to show how thin the depth is. Zach Sterup has been on the roster the last couple years with only two starts under his belt. Jaryd Jones-Smith, Deion Calhoun, and Isaiah Prince are rookies. Michael Dunn hasn't played in an NFL game. Kyle Fuller is on his third team with only two total starts. In two years in Washington, Ryan Anderson never started a game. This unit will have its struggles this year, but Dolphins fans can hope the young guys get some experience and that they find some talented players from the group who can help going forward.

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