Everyone notices when the stars have big games. But remember that every big rushing, passing or receiving game was set up by an offensive line opening holes or giving a quarterback time to throw. So which lines are the best in the NFL?
Scouts Inc. has ranked all 32 units in the league, and the resurgent Browns lead the way, boasting impressive depth and a left tackle who might be the best lineman in the NFL. Here's how the top 10 shakes down.
1. Cleveland Browns
While most NFL teams have about four linemen who are truly starting-caliber, the Browns have seven or eight. They not only are deep but also have arguably the best left side in the NFL (LG Eric Steinbach and LT Joe Thomas). Entering his second season, Thomas is talented enough to potentially be recognized as the best lineman in the game before the end of the 2008 season. He is a great athlete, has ideal size (6-foot-6, 313 pounds) and the passion to bury his opponent. As a rookie, he wasn't overwhelmed by the speed and size of the game at this level, and now he's had an entire offseason to properly prepare. Meanwhile, Steinbach is tall for a guard (6-6) and lacks ideal bulk, but he is very quick, smart and athletic. He consistently gets under the pads of his opponents, works hard to finish and is tremendous in space. The rest of the group isn't too shabby and made QB Derek Anderson look exceptional last year. The pass protection is impeccable. Ryan Tucker will miss time to start the season, but Cleveland shouldn't miss a beat in his absence. Center Hank Fraley is a tough guy in the middle of the line and does a fine job making the line calls. After a great season in 2007, this group will be even better in 2008.