2011 NFL Draft: Which 5 Teams Are in Dire Need of an Offensive Lineman?
Some could argue the fact that without a good offensive line, you can't have a good quarterback or a good team.
Think about it—plays start behind center with the quarterback, and if he isn't given enough protection, then the play will end with either a sack or a dead ball.
David Carr's first few years as a Houston Texan were miserable and unproductive. Why? He was constantly getting sacked and didn't have the opportunity to show off his true potential.
It's a lot easier for a running back to work with a less than average O-line—all he needs is one hole and he's gone.
Either way, a talented and young offensive line can help any team produce positive yardage and make a team a winning one.
Let's take a look at the five offensive lines that allowed the fewest sacks last season: New York Giants, Indianapolis Colts, Atlanta Falcons, New England Patriots and New Orleans Saints. All of those teams have some of the better quarterbacks in the league.
This is because they have time to develop the offense and don't have to rush themselves. Rushing leads to mistakes, and mistakes lead to turnovers. In some instances, turnovers lead to losses.
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Whether it was Derek Anderson, Richard Bartel or John Skelton last season, the Cards O-line allowed 50 sacks.
The thing is they have talent on the left side of the ball. Tackle Levi Brown and guard Alan Faneca are both big, bruising offensive linemen. If they can upgrade their stock on the right side and add some insurance on the left (Faneca is aging), then they could be in good shape.
Also, a good run-blocking guard or tackle should be taken in the draft. Arizona was dead last in rushing yards last season.
Could that be because of the offensive line?
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This team had all sorts of problems last season—mostly offensive ones, though. They have one of the best running back tandems in the NFL and finished within the top 15 for rushing yards per game last season—even with a mediocre offensive line.
However, they let 93 defensive ends blow past them to the quarterback, sacking them 50 times out of the 93.
With the first overall pick in the draft, the Panthers should obviously look to upgrade at a position that has more talent in the draft and more value. A tackle or guard or even center must be taken with their next pick if they want to bounce back from their two-win season.
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The worst line in the NFL last season, Da Bears let their quarterback get sacked 56 times last season—a league-leading stat.
Their problem? Each lineman will get moved around throughout the season, not being able to find his niche. Age is also against them, as their most valued lineman, Olin Kreutz, is going on his 13th of NFL play.
Jay Cutler went down many a time and was one of the best rushing quarterbacks in the league simply because he was not allotted enough time to produce to play he wanted to.
Who knows—the NFC Championship Game could have gone a lot differently if Cutler wasn't forced to leave the game.
San Francisco 49ers
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Big Anthony Davis anchors this line, but he wasn't big enough to stop the 44 sacks that they let up last season. Forty-four sacks, along with the quarterback being hit 95 times, isn't the formula that can lead to a successful offense.
The 49ers are another team that has other positions that needed to be tended to in the draft as well, but taking a O-lineman in the first round wouldn't be such a bad option.
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Their offensive line causes problems in all aspects of the offensive game.
They allowed 46 sacks, let the QB get hit a league-high 110 times and allowed 58 negative-yard rushes.
So what's their problem? The right side of their line consists of older, more experienced players, but at the same time they're losing that edge they had when they were younger.
On the left side, the blind side, are the younger, less experienced players who are prone to making mistakes. They've shown so far that they've made plenty of mistakes.