The NFL's offensive line units are the unsung heroes in football.
They are the foundation of the best offenses in football. Without a great offensive line, there's a great chance your team is going to suffer.
In a league filled with superb athletes and domineering defensive fronts, these linemen use their intelligence and strong frames to keep their quarterbacks on their feet and to open up holes for their speedy running backs.
I've decided to unveil the cloth for these unknown stars in a big way.
Here is a power ranking of every NFL team's offensive line unit.
Starters- LT Levi Brown, LG Rex Hadnot, C Lyle Sendlein, RG Deuce Lutui, RT Jeremy Bridges
2010 Offensive Rankings- 32nd Rushing (86.8 YPG), 29th Passing (204 YPG) 31st Sacks Allowed (50)
The Arizona Cardinals offensive line was the "driving force" behind the team's complete offensive collapse in 2010.
The Cardinals had terrible quarterback play and a nonexistent running game to begin with. Combine that with allowing second most sacks in the NFL and you've got a recipe for disaster.
The team didn't address the offensive line in the draft. Barring a massive turnaround, Arizona goes into 2011 with the worst offensive line unit in football.
Starters- LT Gabe Carimi (projected), LG Chris Williams, C Olin Kreutz, RG Roberto Garza, RT J’Marcus Webb
2010 Offensive Rankings- 22nd Rushing (101 YPG), 28th Passing (188 YPG), 32nd Sacks Allowed (56)
The Chicago Bears have consistently had one of the league's worst offensive lines in recent history and 2010 was no different.
Chicago's inability to stop any team's pass rush has prevented talented arm Jay Cutler from getting into a groove, forcing bad throws. They gave up more sacks then any team in the NFL and the offense was one of the least productive in football.
First-round pick Gabe Carimi provides a glimmer of hope for the future, but Chicago is far away from being a respectable offensive line again.
Starters- LT Trent Williams, LG Korey Lichtensteiger, C Casey Rabach, RG Will Montgomery, RT Jammal Brown
2010 Offensive Rankings- 30th Rushing (91.8 YPG), 8th Passing (245 YPG), 28th Sacks Allowed (49)
Despite their attempts to improve via the NFL Draft and free agency, the Washington Redskins remain one of the league's worst in the trenches.
Mike Shanahan was forced to dial up more pass plays than he ever has as a coach last season because the team had the third worst in rushing offense in the NFL. This compounded into giving up 49 sacks in 2010.
Trent Williams will have to grow up quickly in 2011 to regroup this unit into one that honors the Redskins rich offensive line history.
These definitely aren't your father's "Hogs" that won Super Bowls in Washington.
Starters- LT Russell Okung, LG Chester Pitts, C Chris Spencer, RG Stacy Andrews, RT Sean Locklear
2010 Offensive Rankings- 31st Rushing (89 YPG), 19th Passing (209 YPG), 16th Sacks Allowed (34)
It's no surprise that the best rushing play for the Seattle Seahawks last season was Marshawn Lynch's playoff scramble, breaking eight tackles en route to the end zone.
That's because the Seahawks offensive line couldn't move anyone off of the ball in 2010. They did an average job protecting Matt Hasselbeck, but Pete Carroll and company couldn't effectively run the ball behind this brutal running blocking unit, finishing second to last in the league.
There is some quality talent in the lineup with veteran Stacy Andrews, Chester Pitts, and 2010 first-round draft pick Russell Okung. If they want to be better than 7-9 in 2011, this unit will desperately need to improve.
Starters- LT Joe Staley, LG Mike Iupati, C David Bass, RG Chilo Rachal, RT Anthony Davis
2010 Offensive Rankings- 18th Passing (210 YPG), 19th Rushing (103.6 YPG), 27th Sacks Allowed (44)
The San Francisco 49ers offensive line unit has a bright future, but the present state leaves a lot to be desired.
Starting two rookies in 2010, the 49ers allowed 44 sacks and were middle of the road in both the running and passing games. They don't have the luxury of solid quarterback play, so the fact that they allow so many sacks greatly hinders an already handcuffed offense.
Mike Iupati and Anthony Davis look promising so far and the team has star running back Frank Gore to make up for lost ground. Things are looking up, but the 49ers have a long way to go.
Starters- LT Ryan Clady, LG Zane Beadles, C J.D. Walton, RG Chris Kuper, RT Ryan Harris
2010 Offensive Rankings- 26th Rushing (96.5 YPG), 7th Passing (252 YPG), 24th Sacks Allowed (40)
The Denver Broncos were one of the best passing teams in 2010, but porous pass protection and an inept running game were the fault of the offensive line.
They were bottom six in the league in rushing and allowed 40 sacks in 2010. Ryan Clady is one of the best left tackles in football, but after that there is not a lot of long-term potential.
If Tim Tebow eventually becomes the starting quarterback, it will be imperative to protect him as he scrambles in and out of the pocket.
Starters- LT Roger Saffold, LG Jacob Bell, C Josh Brown, RG Adam Goldberg, RT Jason Smith
2010 Offensive Rankings- 21st Passing (204 YPG), 25th Rushing (98.6 YPG), 15th Sacks Allowed (34)
Another team with young talent on the offensive line, the St. Louis Rams are slowly but surely finding their way in the trenches.
They were better than half of the NFL's teams in protecting the quarterback, but not even Steven Jackson could save them from finishing 25th in team rushing.
Jason Smith and Roger Saffold provide good long-term bookends for the unit, while veteran Josh Brown mans the middle for this young bunch.
Look for St. Louis to improve on this lower ranking for the foreseeable future.
Starters- LT Jordan Gross, LG Mackenzy Bernadeau, C Ryan Kalil, RG Geoff Schwartz, RT Garry Williams
2010 Offensive Rankings- 32nd Passing (143 YPG), 13th Rushing (115 YPG), 31st Sacks Allowed (50)
Hard to believe that a front-five with two All-Pros on the offensive line would be the same unit that gave up the second most sacks in football, but the Carolina Panthers are exactly that.
Jordan Gross is one fine left tackle and Ryan Kalil is one of the league's elite centers. But their awful protection of Jimmy Clausen and the myriad of quarterbacks playing for Carolina last season played a large role in the team's dead last ranking in overall offense.
They still have a quality running game and big names like Gross and Kalil will slow the bleeding until they can add some better pieces around the offense.
Starters- LT Jake Long, LG Richie Incognito, C Joe Burger, RG John Jerry, RT Lydon Murtha
2010 Offensive Rankings- 21st Rushing (102.7 YPG), 16th Passing (220 YPG), 22nd Sacks Allowed (38)
Jake Long is the best offensive lineman in football, but his Dolphins teammates in the trenches need to step up to improve in 2011.
Despite having former Pro-Bowlers at running backs in Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams, Miami was below average in rushing offense and sacks allowed in 2010. Long is rock-solid on the blind side, but the same can't be said for the rest of the group.
You have to wonder what this team would be like without Long in the lineup.
Starters- LT Jonathan Scott, LG Chris Kemoeatu, C Maurkice Pouncey, RG Ramon Foster, RT Flozell Adams
2010 Offensive Rankings- 14th Passing (225 YPG), 11th Rushing (120.3 YPG), 25th Sacks Allowed (43)
Some may be surprised at the Pittsburgh Steelers ranking on this list, but statistics and the potential of center Maurkice Pouncey tell a better story than you would guess for Steel City.
They were top-15 in both passing and rushing offense in 2010, while still allowing 43 sacks on QB Ben Roethlisberger.
This was a mangled unit at times during the season. But Pouncey was a Pro-Bowler in his rookie year, emerging as the leader of the line. Flozell Adams and Chris Kemoeatu have their flashes of good play as well.
They're nowhere near elite, but Pittsburgh's front-five is not as bad as they appear.
Starters- LT Joe Thomas, LG Eric Steinbach, C Alex Mack, RG Floyd Womack, RT John St. Clair
2010 Offensive Rankings- 20th Rushing (102.9 YPG), 29th Passing (187 YPG), 17th Sacks Allowed (36)
The Cleveland Browns boast two Pro-Bowl players on the offensive line in Joe Thomas and Alex Mack. Still, the rest of the group is mediocre and the Browns put up mediocre offensive numbers in 2010.
Colt McCoy is a developing quarterback who showed flashes of great play in his rookie season. As long as Cleveland has Joe Thomas on the blind side, they will be able to move the football and protect the quarterback with some effectiveness.
Still, the Browns have some room for improvement in the running game if they want to compete in the AFC North.
Starters- LT Chad Clifton, LG Daryn Colledge, C Scott Wells, RG Josh Sitton, RT Bryan Bulaga
2010 Offensive Rankings- 5th Passing (258 YPG), 24th Rushing (100 YPG), 19th Sacks Allowed (38)
The Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers have some great individuals on the offensive line, but the unit as a whole could be a lot better.
All-Pro Chad Clifton leads the group on the blind side, while young players like Bryan Bulaga and Josh Sitton continue to develop into very good players on the right side.
They allowed 38 sacks in 2010, a number that will need to improve to keep superstar QB Aaron Rodgers on his feet for 2011.
Starters- LT Andrew Whitworth, LG Nate Livings, C Kyle Cook, RG Bobbie Williams, RT Dennis Roland
2010 Offensive Rankings- 13th Passing (235 YPG), 27th Rushing (95.1 YPG), 8th Sacks Allowed (28)
The Cincinnati Bengals are dreadful in the running game, but their ability to protect the quarterback keep the Bengals in a lot of games in 2010.
The disappointment of 2009 first-round pick Andre Smith as given room for other players like Andrew Whitworth and Dennis Roland to prove they can play for Cincinnati. They were in the top-ten in sacks allowed last season, allowing Carson Palmer to have one of his best statistical season.
Still, the running game was awful last season largely because of the offensive line.
Starters- LT Michael Oher, LG Ben Grubbs, C Matt Birk, RG Chris Chester, RT Marshall Yanda
2010 Offensive Rankings- 14th Rushing (114.4 YPG), 20th Passing (208 YPG), 23rd Sacks Allowed (40)
On paper, the Baltimore Ravens have one of the best offensive lines in football. But their middling offensive statistics and 23rd ranking in sacks allowed tell a much different story for the Ravens.
Center Matt Birk anchors this unit with Ben Grubbs and movie star Michael Oher manning the left side. They open up a lot of doors for running back Ray Rice, but they need to improve on protecting Joe Flacco from being sacked 40 times again next season.
Oher has some impressive potential. If the other players continue to improve, Baltimore will fly up the offensive line rankings in NFL.
Starters- LT Demetrius Bell, LG Andy Levitre, C Eric Wood, RG Chad Reinhart, RT Mansfield Wrotto
2010 Offensive Rankings- 18th Rushing (107.5 YPG), 24th Passing (175 YPG), 14th Sacks Allowed (34)
You've probably never heard of anyone on the Buffalo Bills offensive line, but they're better-than-expected play in 2010 allowed Ryan Fitzpatrick to open up the Bills offense and win football games.
They were in the top-half of the league in sacks allowed and helped the team average over 100 yards per game on the ground.
Center Eric Wood is getting better every year and with some quality running backs behind them, Buffalo can become one of the better running teams in football.
Starters- LT Jared Veldheer, LG Robert Gallery, C Samson Satele, RG Cooper Carlisle, RT Langston Walker
2010 Offensive Rankings- 23rd Passing (199 YPG), 2nd Rushing (155.9 YPG), 26th Sacks Allowed (44)
The Oakland Raiders franchise is a true dichotomy, and the offensive line is no different.
They paved the way for Darren McFadden and company to finish second in the NFL in rushing yardage. At the same time, they were one of the worst units at protecting the quarterback, allowing 44 sacks in 2010.
Clearly, this team is geared around running the football. With a big commitment to improving pass protection, they could become one of the most complete lines in all of football.
Starters- LT Jeff Backus, LG Rob Sims, C Dominic Raiola, RG Stephen Petermen, RT Corey Hilliard
2010 Offensive Rankings- 23rd Rushing (100.8 YPG), 12th Passing (238 YPG), 6th Sacks Allowed (27)
The Detroit Lions front-five spearheaded the team's turnaround on offense in 2010, allowing the sixth fewest sacks in the NFL.
They still need to run the ball more effectively, but the Lions showed a vast improvement in pass protection, helping back-up QB Shaun Hill lead the offense.
Matt Stafford needs to be healthy in 2011 for Detroit to take the next step. If the Lions continue to improve on their relative 2010 success in the trenches, the offensive line can ensure Stafford's health.
Starters- LT Eugene Monroe, LG Vince Manuwai, C Brad Meester, RG Uche Nwaneri, RT Jordan Black
2010 Offensive Rankings- 3rd Rushing (149.7 YPG), 27th Passing (192 YPG), 20th Sacks Allowed (38)
Maurice Jones-Drew's Jacksonville Jaguars owe a great deal of thanks to their offensive line unit, who directed the NFL's third best running offense.
That being said, the Jaguars 38 sacks allowed is an aspect that the front-five needs to fix to support the transition to first-round pick at QB, Blaine Gabbert.
Eugene Monroe and Brad Meester are the leaders of this motley crew. If the Jaguars want to win the AFC South, it will be behind the legs of Maurice Jones-Drew and the driving force of the offensive line.
Starters- LT Bryant McKinnie, LG Chris DeGeare, C John O’Sullivan, RG Steve Hutchinson, RT Phil Loadholt
2010 Offensive Rankings- 26th Passing (194 YPG), 10th Rushing (121.4 YPG), 18th Sacks Allowed (36)
The Minnesota Vikings offensive line certainly regressed in the 2010 season. Behind poor quarterback play and injuries within the unit, the Vikings gave up 36 sacks and had depressing scoring numbers.
Despite these struggles, the team still ranked top-ten in team rushing. They have one of the most imposing units in football when healthy. Steve Hutchinson is one of the best guards of all time, and Bryant McKinnie is still imposing his will on defensive ends.
They have plenty of talent to rebound in 2011.
Starters- LT Michael Roos, LG Leroy Harris, C Fernando Velasco, RG Jake Scott, RT Bill Stewart
2010 Offensive Rankings- 25th Passing (194 YPG), 17th Rushing (107.9 YPG), 7th Sacks Allowed (27)
Michael Roos and the Tennessee Titans' offensive line units remain one of the better ones in the NFL.
Chris Johnson has plenty of holes to run through and whoever plays quarterback in 2011 will have the comfort of the league's seventh best pass protection unit.
This is largely the same group that helped Chris Johnson rush for over 2,000 yards in 2009 and they will need to continue their quality play as the team reigns in the Jake Locker era in 2011.
Starters- LT Marcus McNeill, LG Kris Dielman, C Nick Hardwick, RG Louis Vasquez, RT Jeromey Clarey
2010 Rankings- 15th Rushing (113.1), 2nd Passing (282), 21st Sacks Allowed (38)
Some may feel that this is a high ranking for the San Diego Chargers offensive line. But any team with Marcus McNeill at left tackle and Nick Hardwick in the middle at center has to feel pretty good about their offensive line.
Their average rushing numbers have more to do with the play calling of Norv Turner and disappointing production of Ryan Matthews. And the team's 38 sacks allowed are skewed because the Chargers were constantly trailing in football games for the better part of 2010.
McNeill is going to be ready at the start of the 2011, unlike last season. He and Hardwick are Pro-Bowl players and will anchor the O-Line for one of the league's premier offenses.
Starters- LT Jason Peters, LG Todd Herremans, C Mike McGlynn, RG Nick Cole, RT Winston Justice
2010 Offensive Rankings- 5th Rushing (145.3 YPG), 9th Passing (244 YPG), 29th Sacks Allowed (49)
The Philadelphia Eagles can light up the scoreboard, thanks in part to their quality offensive line play.
Jason Peters paves the way for LeSean McCoy and Michael Vick's fifth best rushing attack. You have to take the team's 49 sacks allowed with a grain of salt though. Because Vick scrambles so much, many of the sacks allowed are a result of him and not poor protection.
Make no mistake: this is one of the more complete offensive lines in the NFL.
Starters- LT Doug Free, LG Kyle Kosier, C Andre Gurode, RG Leonard Davis, RT Marc Colombo, Reserve- Tyron Smith
2010 Offensive Rankings- 6th Passing (253 YPG), 16th Rushing (111.6 YPG), 11th Sacks Allowed (31)
Say what you want about the Cowboys' 2010 season, but the offense was not the problem in Dallas.
They were eleventh in the league in sacks allowed, anchored by the Pro-Bowl play of center Andre Gurode. Doug Free is one of the most underrated offensive linemen in the NFL and the team just drafted USC's Tyron Smith to help shoulder the load for some of the older players.
This is a better-than-you'd-think unit statistically with some great cogs to build around for the future.
Starters- LT Donald Penn, LG Ted Larsen, C Jeremy Zuttah, RG Derek Hardman, RT Jeremy Trueblood
2010 Offensive Rankings- 8th Rushing (125 YPG), 17th Passing (210 YPG), 10th Sacks Allowed (30)
Donald Penn and the Tampa Buccaneers starting offensive line did a fantastic job turning around the young Buccaneers in 2010.
Their stellar play helped the team discover undrafted free agent LeGarrette Blount, a 1,000 yard rusher. Josh Freeman was sacked merely 30 times in 2010, top-ten in the league.
Penn is a rising star at the left tackle position and the unit as a whole is one of the best collections of young talent on the offensive line in football.
Starters- LT Charlie Johnson, LG Kyle DeVan, C Jeff Saturday, RG Mike Pollack, RT Ryan Diem
2010 Offensive Rankings- 1st Passing (288 YPG), 29th Rushing (92.7 YPG), 1st Sacks Allowed (16)
The Indianapolis Colts offensive line has one job and one job only: keep Peyton Manning off the ground.
They do this job marvelously as Manning is the least sacked quarterback in the NFL. Jeff Saturday is a staple at the center position and Charlie Johnson and Mike Pollack are among the best young players at their position.
Their poor rushing numbers are more a result of the Colts' style of offense, and Manning's propensity for audibles, then the fault of the offensive line.
The Colts need this offensive line to continue their pass protection if they want to have a chance at another Super Bowl trophy.
Starters- LT Duane Brown, LG Wade Smith, C Chris Meyers, RG Antoine Caldwell, RT Eric Winston
2010 Offensive Rankings- 7th Rushing (127.6 YPG), 4th Passing (259 YPG), 12th Sacks Allowed (32)
Arian Foster's breakout 2010 season was spearheaded by the Houston Texans front-five.
Duane Brown and company are one of the most balanced groups in the NFL. They are a top-12 team in sacks allowed, and top-ten in rushing offense. Without them, it's doubtful that Arian Foster would've gotten a chance to prove himself in 2010.
They may be the most unsung offensive line in football, but not on this list.
Starters- LT Branden Albert, LG Brian Waters, C Casey Wiegemann, RG Ryan Lilja, RT Ryan O’Callaghan
2010 Offensive Rankings- 30th Passing (180 YPG), 1st Rushing (164.2 YPG), 13th Sacks Allowed (32)
The Kansas City Chiefs weren't supposed to be much in 2010. But thanks to great offensive line play, the Chiefs had the league's best rushing offense and for the most part kept Matt Cassel off of the ground.
Future Hall-of-Famer Brian Waters really rallied this group together to make the Chiefs season on offense a huge success. Jamaal Charles had an All-Pro season behind this group.
Time will tell whether or not they can repeat on their success in 2011, as this is one of the older units in the NFL. But they have a great blend of experience and toughness, and there's no question they're among the league's best at full strength.
Starters- LT Sam Baker, LG Justin Blalock, C Todd McClure, RG Harvey Dahl, RT Tyson Clabo
2010 Offensive Rankings- 12th Rushing (118.2 YPG), 15th Passing (223 YPG), 3rd Sacks Allowed (23)
Tyson Clabo and the Atlanta Falcons offensive line are an extremely balanced and elite group of players.
Matt Ryan was sacked merely 23 times in 2010, third best in the NFL. They have propelled Michael Turner's career in Atlanta and given Matt Ryan the time he needed to blossom into the franchise quarterback they drafted.
Clabo is a Pro-Bowler and the rest of the unit is rock-solid. They are only getting better as the team looks primed for a playoff run in 2011.
Starters- LT Jermond Bushrod. LG Carl Nicks, C Jonathan Goodwin, RG Jahri Evans, RT Jonathan Stinchbomb
2010 Offensive Rankings- 28th Rushing (94.7 YPG), 3rd Passing (278 YPG), 5th Sacks Allowed (26)
Behind the two best offensive guards in the NFL in Carl Nicks and Jahri Evans, the New Orleans Saints boast one of the top-tier units in the league.
Drew Brees only went down 26 times last season and the pass protection allows Brees to play field general to one of the game's elite passing offenses.
They don't have the gaudy rushing numbers that most of the great offensive lines have, but that's largely to due injuries at running back and Sean Payton's play calling.
They don't need them to prove their one of the most dominant offensive lines going into 2011.
Starters- LT D’Brickashaw Ferguson, LG Matt Slauson, C Nick Mangold, RG Brandon Moore, RT Damien Woody
2010 Offensive Rankings- 22nd Passing (203 YPG), 4th Rushing (148.4 YPG), 9th Sacks Allowed (28)
With three Pro-Bowlers in the starting lineup, it's easy to see why the New York Jets have the most talented offensive line in the league.
Nick Mangold is probably the best center in football, and D'Brickashaw Ferguson and Damien Woody are not too far behind at their respective positions.
Rex Ryan's Jets have done a great job running the football behind this group the past two seasons and that trend will likely continue in 2011.
You could make an argument for them as the best group in football.
Starters- LT Matt Light, LG Logan Mankins, C Dan Koeppen, RG Dan Connolly, RT Sebastian Vollmer
2010 Offensive Rankings- 9th Rushing (123.1 YPG), 11th Passing (240 YPG), 4th Sacks Allowed (25)
New England Patriots QB Tom Brady wouldn't be where he is today without the fabulous offensive line group he has in New England.
This group does everything really well. They are in the top of the league in every offensive category, including top-five in sacks allowed on the aforementioned Brady.
Logan Mankins and Matt Light are some of the toughest lineman in the game and Sebastian Vollmer and Dan Koeppen are getting closer and closer to the same elite status.
Their protection is the foundation of the Patriots' explosive offense, creating an impenetrable wall for all NFL defenses.
Starters: LT David Diehl, LG Rich Seubert, C Shaun O’Hara, RG Chris Snee, RT Kareem Mackenzie
2010 Offensive Rankings: 6th Rushing (137.5 YPG); 10th Passing (243 YPG); 2nd Sacks Allowed (16)
The New York Giants have the best offensive line in football because they are elite in every criteria for judging.
All five of the starters for New York are among the top players at their positions. They are the most complete unit in the NFL. They gave up the fewest sacks, led the sixth-best rushing offense, and started almost every game together as a unit in 2010.
Their consistency, domination, and versatile strengths make them the all-around best group in football. It's a close call with a few other teams, but the Giants continue to be the gold standard in the NFL for offensive linemen.