[Editor's note: This post was originally published on PFF.com on January 6, 2020]
The 2019 college football season is just two games away from its culmination, and as such, we take a look today at the best offensive line units from this season's action.
This year, offensive lines across college football were pivotal to some teams' triumphs, while other teams utilized strong play elsewhere to find their success. Taking into account the PFF grade for each player to play the majority of snaps at each position, along with each team’s positional rotation, strength of schedule and percentage of positively graded plays against negatively graded plays, here are the offensive line rankings for all 130 FBS teams from the 2019 season.
130. GEORGIA TECH YELLOW JACKETS
Highest-graded player: OG Mikey Minihan – 61.9 (181st)
It was a rebuilding year for Georgia Tech, as their offensive line had to adjust to pass-blocking more than they ever had with the triple-option of years past. The Yellow Jackets struggled mightily in the switch from a dominant run-first offense, and they gave up the nation's highest sack+hit rate, with 12.1% of their pressures ending up with the quarterback on the ground. They also lost 34.9% of their pass-blocking reps, by far the highest in the country, and the unit also had the nation's lowest pass-blocking efficiency rating as well as the 129th-ranked run-blocking grade.
129. FLORIDA STATE SEMINOLES
Highest-graded player: OG Dontae Lucas – 61.7 (185th)
Everybody knows that it was an ugly offensive year for FSU, and any layman who watched their games could say they knew the main culprit: the offensive line. The Seminoles' offensive line gave up the 11th-most pressures (136th), the fourth-most sacks, the fourth-most hits and the second-most combined sacks and hits this year. Their 10.5% sack+hit rate ranked fifth in the country, and their allowed pressure rate of 25.9% was the 20th-highest.
128. VANDERBILT COMMODORES
Highest-graded player: OT Devin Cochran – 68.3 (128th)
Vanderbilt's offensive line just couldn't pave the way in the run game, as they finished with the lowest run-blocking grade as a unit this season. Their pass protection wasn't much better either, as they ended the season ranked 122nd in pass-blocking grade after giving up pressure at the nation's 16th-highest rate.
127. AKRON ZIPS
Highest-graded player: OT Trevor Brown – 62.3 (200th)
The Zips' offensive line was a big problem area for Akron's chances this year, as they gave up a whopping 172 pressures in total. That is by far the most pressures given up by an offensive line, and that included giving up pressure on 33.1% of their snaps — the nation's second-highest percentage.
126. EAST CAROLINA PIRATES
Highest-graded player: OT D'Ante Smith – 71.0 (96th)
ECU's passing attack took the field for 492 dropbacks this season, just the 48th-most passing snaps. However, their offensive line allowed 141 total pressures, ranking as the seventh-most in the country in doing so. All told, they gave up pressure on 28.6% of their pass-blocking snaps, the nation's ninth-highest percentage.
125. UMASS MINUTEMEN
Highest-graded player: OT Larnel Coleman – 66.0 (163rd)
The UMass offensive line had just one position group rank inside the top 100 in both pass-blocking and run-blocking, and that was thanks in part to Coleman, who finished with the country's 97th-best run-blocking grade. It was an ugly year on offense for UMass, and the offensive line certainly didn't help.
124. OLD DOMINION MONARCHS
Highest-graded player: OT Nick Saldiveri – 68.5 (123rd)
Ranking just 116th in pass-blocking grade as a unit, the ODU offensive line was actually better in pass protection than they were in the run game, where they ranked 125th this season. Saldiveri had his moments throughout the year, but he was largely outdone by the interior of the offensive line, as ODU's guards and centers ranked 120th in overall grade.
123. NEVADA WOLF PACK
Highest-graded player: C Nathan Edwards – 60.6 (93rd)
Nevada dropped back to pass on 521 snaps this season, the 26th-most in the country. And while they graded inside the top 70 in terms of pass-blocking grade, they still allowed the 14th-most pressures as an offensive line. That was outdone, however, by their 127th-ranked run-blocking grade as a unit, as no position group graded higher than 52.6 in the run game.
122. MIDDLE TENNESSEE BLUE RAIDERS
Highest-graded player: OT Robert Jones – 72.6 (83rd)
The Blue Raiders' offensive line had two strong areas of play — and that came at right and left tackle. After that, their guards ranked 127th in overall grade and their centers ranked 128th in overall grade, as they were three players short of finding themselves anywhere inside the top 100 in terms of PFF overall grade. Jones and Will Gilchrist were the only two bright spots on the offensive line.
121. SOUTH ALABAMA JAGUARS
Highest-graded player: C Brian Ankerson – 60.9 (91st)
The Jaguars had a few moments that made viewers say, “wow,” but the offensive line didn't feature in any of them. They ranked 117th in pass protection and 114th in the run game, as their highest-graded positional unit was their center play (67th in the run game), while every other positional group finished in the triple-digits.
120. ARKANSAS STATE RED WOLVES
Highest-graded player: OG Andre Harris Jr. – 67.8 (100th)
It's a great thing that Harris was as strong as he was in both pass protection and run blocking, because the rest of the Red Wolves' offensive line had their struggles this year. Harris had the nation's eighth-highest pass-blocking grade among all guards and surrendered just nine pressures on his 551 pass-blocking snaps this year. Unfortunately, the rest of the offensive line gave up 133 pressures, and that total of 142 is the fifth-most in the nation.
119. CINCINNATI BEARCATS
Highest-graded player: OG Morgan James – 66.1 (113th)
It's a good thing that Desmond Ridder could buy himself some time in the pocket on his own, because the Bearcats offensive line ranked just 127th in pass-blocking grade this season, which outdid their successful blocking in the run game. They allowed 16 sacks (21st-most) and 10 more hits, and they didn't have a single position group crack the top 100 in PFF overall grade.
118. MARYLAND TERRAPINS
Highest-graded player: C Ellis McKennie – 70.2 (35th)
The Terrapins struggled to keep their quarterbacks off the ground this season and allowed a sack or hit on 11.7% of their pass-blocking snaps, the second-highest rate in the country. They also allowed 130 pressures on just 420 pass-blocking snaps for a 30.9% pressure rate that ranked as the fourth-highest mark in the FBS. It's a good thing that their run-blocking grade ranked inside the top 100 at each position, otherwise they'd be much lower here.
117. NEW MEXICO STATE AGGIES
Highest-graded player: OT Brian Trujillo – 76.3 (55th)
You've got to be able to pass the ball if you want to have success, and you've got to be able to give your quarterback time to do so. The Aggies did not do such a thing this season and gave up 150 pressures, the third-most in the nation. They gave up those pressures 2.55 seconds after the snap on average — the 20th-fastest time in the FBS.
116. UTEP MINERS
Highest-graded player: OG Bobby Deharo – 70.1 (67th)
There were some strong moments in the run game from the UTEP guards and tackles, but they really missed consistency in 2019. Their pass-protection woes saw them give up a sack or hit on 8.4% of their snaps, the 19th-highest rate, as it was boom or bust with them in the passing game.
115. PURDUE BOILERMAKERS
Highest-graded player: C Sam Garvin – 72.6 (25th)
Purdue's offensive line struggled with pass protection this season, giving up the 10th-most pressures as a unit. However, that pales in comparison to their struggles in the run game. The team ranked just 124th in run-blocking grade as a unit, and their highest-graded run-blocker ranked just 84th in the country.
114. MICHIGAN STATE SPARTANS
Highest-graded player: OG Luke Campbell – 60.9 (202nd)
When you see that Michigan State's highest-graded offensive lineman is in the 200s in terms of rankings, you can understand just how bad it was for the team. As a unit, the Spartans didn't crack the top 100 in run-blocking, pass-blocking or overall grades this season, and their highest-graded unit overall came by way of their center play — checking in at 83rd overall.
113. TENNESSEE VOLUNTEERS
Highest-graded player: OG Trey Smith – 77.7 (14th)
Without Smith, the Volunteers' overall grades plummet and look just downright awful on the offensive line. Collectively, they ranked 124th in pass-blocking grade and 76th in run-blocking grade, all but undoing a great season by Smith, who finished as the 14th highest-graded guard in the country.
112. COASTAL CAROLINA CHANTICLEERS
Highest-graded player: C Sam Thompson – 64.7 (66th)
They may have one of the better celebrations in the country (check the Game of Thrones celebration), but their offensive line was certainly not a cause for celebration this year. They ranked just 119th in pass-blocking grade as a unit, giving up 89 pressures on just 390 pass-blocking snaps. There was some hope in the ground game that saw Thompson lead them to the 56th-ranked run-blocking grade, but that was undone on the outside by their tackles.
111. DUKE BLUE DEVILS
Highest-graded player: C Jack Wohlabaugh – 67.2 (50th)
For a team that liked to pass as much as Duke, their 125th-ranked pass-blocking unit certainly hurt their chances. They ranked 69th in run-blocking as a unit, but they gave up pressure in the passing game an average of 2.29 seconds after the snap. That rate is the second-fastest among all offensive lines.
110. RUTGERS SCARLET KNIGHTS
Highest-graded player: C Michael Maietti – 62.5 (77th)
It's no doubt that the Rutgers offense struggled this season, and their offensive line was no help to that. They did, however, rank 79th in pass-blocking grade as a unit, as Maietti and the interior of the line each cracked the top 60 overall at center and guard. Still, their run-blocking was well below average and ranked just 105th in the nation.
109. UAB BLAZERS
Highest-graded player: OG Patrick Nuss – 63.0 (170th)
It wasn't pretty in the run game for the Blazers this season, but they did find themselves with a strong interior in terms of pass protection. They combined to allow just 90 pressures — though they were on only 385 pass-blocking snaps — as their allowed pressure rate ranked in the top 40.
108. NORTH TEXAS MEAN GREEN
Highest-graded player: OT Jacob Brammer – 69.4 (115th)
In a huge lapse this season, the Mean Green had the nation's lowest-graded center unit as a whole when it came to pass protection. The centers for North Texas finished with just a 19.2 pass-blocking grade, as they were ultimately the main culprit for many of the pressures endured by quarterback Mason Fine. However, Jacob Brammer had a decent season and helped the tackle duo rank inside the top 80 in pass-blocking grade.
107. OLE MISS REBELS
Highest-graded player: OT Alex Givens – 67.6 (144th)
Ole Miss' offensive line finished just 110th in overall grade as they didn't have the chops to hold up in the SEC in the passing or rushing game. They ranked just 108th in run-blocking as a unit, as their highest-graded position group was at guard, ranking 87th overall. They allowed a sack or hit on just 4.3% of their snaps but allowed 50 additional hurries to boot.
106. BAYLOR BEARS
Highest-graded player: OG Sam Tecklenburg – 65.9 (124th)
Baylor limited themselves to just the 34th-most pressures allowed despite staying in to pass protect for the 19th-most snaps. They struggled on the interior in the run game, but their tackles finished as the 66th-highest graded pass-blocking tackle duo in the country. Still, they ranked just 118th in the run game as a unit this season, and that's suboptimal.
105. WYOMING COWBOYS
Highest-graded player: OT Alonzo Velazquez – 67.8 (138th)
The Cowboys' offensive line had some decent run-blocking grades this season, but neither their tackles, guards or centers finished with a pass-blocking grade inside the top 80. Velazquez was their highest-graded lineman on the season, as he gave up just seven pressures on his 172 snaps yet only played nine games this year.
104. SOUTH CAROLINA GAMECOCKS
Highest-graded player: C Donell Stanley – 66.7 (55th)
When the Gamecocks' offensive line gave up pressures, they gave them up quickly. The ranked fifth in terms of fastest average pressure given up at just 2.42 seconds, as they allowed 88 total pressures on their 514 snaps. They ranked just 102nd in pass-blocking grade but that was a slight improvement on their 105th-ranked run-blocking grade this season.
103. TEXAS STATE BOBCATS
Highest-graded player: OT Aaron Brewer – 82.8 (21st)
Brewer was solid this season, but the rest of the Bobcats' offensive line really struggled, ultimately ending the campaign with the 114th-ranked pass-blocking grade and the 84th-ranked run-blocking grade. Brewer himself gave up just three combined sacks and hits on his 496 snaps in pass protection.
102. SAN JOSE STATE SPARTANS
Highest-graded player: OT Jack Snyder – 77.0 (53rd)
Snyder anchored the Spartans' offensive line by helping their tackle group finish with the 59th-ranked run-blocking tackle duo this season. Still, that was about all they did, as they ranked outside the top 100 in nearly every other category as a unit.
101. SYRACUSE ORANGE
Highest-graded player: OG Evan Adams – 64.0 (156th)
Syracuse's offensive line really struggled to move the line of scrimmage in the run game. On their 513 pass-blocking snaps, however, they allowed a pressure on 23.0% of their snaps, which is not as bad as it could have been given their 107th overall grade in the run game.
100. MIAMI (FL.) HURRICANES
Highest-graded player: OT DJ Scaife Jr. – 68.0 (135th)
The Hurricanes may have seen their highest-graded player on the offensive line finish at tackle, but how bad they were opposite Scaife is put into perspective when you realize they ranked just 110th overall as a unit on the outside and 110th in pass-blocking grade. They allowed the eighth-most pressures as a group (140) this season.
99. KENT STATE GOLDEN FLASHES
Highest-graded player: OG Julian Sams – 67.1 (109th)
Undone by their reps in pass protection, the Golden Flashes struggled to protect their quarterback to the tune of 107 total pressures allowed on their 467 pass-blocking snaps. They did rank 88th in run-blocking grade, but that was largely outweighed by their struggles to keep a clean pocket.
98. COLORADO STATE RAMS
Highest-graded player: OT Barry Wesley – 77.2 (50th)
If it weren't for their prowess in pass protection — most notably from their tackles, who ranked 33rd in pass-blocking grade — you'd be hard-pressed to see the Rams cracking the top 100 here. Each position group outside of their tackles fell outside the top 100 in overall grade, and they even had the third-lowest run-blocking grade among center groups in the country.
97. GEORGIA SOUTHERN EAGLES
Highest-graded player: OT Drew Wilson – 70.2 (103rd)
Running just the third-fewest amount of passing plays, the Eagles' bread and butter was their hybrid option attack this year, yet their offensive line ranked just 95th in run-blocking grade. Their tackles were their shining stars, ranking 57th in run-blocking grade while their guards and centers couldn't crack the top 100.
96. TULSA GOLDEN HURRICANE
Highest-graded player: OG Chris Paul – 68.9 (80th)
Tulsa's offensive line could hardly crack the top 100 in run- and pass-blocking grades this season, capping out at 95th and 86th, respectively. Their highest-ranked unit came from their guards, who finished 59th in pass protection but faltered down to 96th in the run game as they were hot and cold all year long.
95. SOUTHERN MISS GOLDEN EAGLES
Highest-graded player: OT Drake Dorbeck – 82.5 (23rd)
A much better unit in pass protection, the Southern Miss offensive line was anchored by Drake Dorbeck, who earned the 26th-best grade among tackles in pass protection. Still, that was as high as they ranked anywhere else, and their line as a unit finished 110th in run-blocking grade.
94. PITTSBURGH PANTHERS
Highest-graded player: C Jimmy Morrissey – 72.4 (28th)
Pitt's offensive line improved as you traveled inward, as their tackles ranked just 126th overall, their guards 66th overall and Morrissey at center helped them rank 26th in overall grade. Morrissey allowed just 10 pressures — all of which were hurries — as he kept a clean sheet in sacks and hits allowed this year.
93. NEBRASKA CORNHUSKERS
Highest-graded player: OT Brenden Jaimes – 72.5 (84th)
Nebraska's offensive line did a good job of limiting the number of times their quarterback was put on the ground, as they combined to allow the 27th-fewest sacks and hits. They ranked 60th in pass-blocking grade as a unit but were undone by the fact that they ranked 113th in the run game.
92. FLORIDA GATORS
Highest-graded player: OT Stone Forsythe – 70.4 (98th)
No unit on the Gators offensive line ranked higher than 85th overall, and their struggles in pass protection saw them give up 116 pressures that included 40 combined sacks and hits, the 16th-most allowed. Their run blocking wasn't much better either, as they ranked just 93rd as a group in that facet.
91. RICE OWLS
Highest-graded player: OG Nick Leverett – 68.0 (92nd)
Though they struggled to find much consistency, the Owls' offensive line had some positives in pass protection, but those were marred by the fact that they gave up 14 sacks and another 10 hits, giving up pressure on 22.3% of their reps in pass protection.
90. USF BULLS
Highest-graded player: OT Donovan Jennings – 66.1 (160th)
The Bulls' guard duo were certainly the stars of the show on the offensive line, ranking in the top 50 in pass-blocking grade and run-blocking grade among all guards. However, as a unit, they allowed the 25th-most pressures in pass protection across the board despite playing only the 89th-most pass-blocking snaps.
89. ARIZONA STATE SUN DEVILS
Highest-graded player: OT Steven Miller – 70.0 (107th)
Arizona State's offensive line certainly didn't do much to help their true freshman signal-caller, ranking 80th overall in pass protection. And if it weren't for some minor successes in the run game from the interior of their line, they'd find themselves even lower on this list.
88. MIAMI (OH.) REDHAWKS
Highest-graded player: OT Tommy Doyle – 73.3 (77th)
The MAC Champion RedHawks were a much better unit in pass protection than they were on the ground, ranking 76th in pass-blocking grade compared to outside the top 100 in run-blocking grade. Still, Doyle on the outside was a viable contender for the All-MAC team this season, as he helped lead the way to a top-third ranked pass-blocking duo at tackle.
87. INDIANA HOOSIERS
Highest-graded player: OG Simon Stepaniak – 68.6 (85th)
There wasn't much to write home about for the Indiana offensive line, contrary to their success on offense this season. It was their one lapsing area of play in an otherwise great season offensively, as they allowed the 41st-most pressures as a unit despite playing just the 46th-most pass-blocking snaps.
86. KANSAS JAYHAWKS
Highest-graded player: OG Chris Hughes – 70.1 (67th)
There were some big holes on the Kansas offensive line this season, most notably at center, but their tackles and guards had some moments in the sun. Hughes finished with a much better grade in pass protection (58th) than he did on the ground while their tackle group ranked 68th in pass-blocking compared to just 82nd in the run game.
85. STANFORD CARDINAL
Highest-graded player: C Drew Dalman – 74.8 (17th)
Without the play of Dalman in the middle, the Stanford line would find themselves even lower than they do now. Dalman helped the Cardinal reach the 13th-ranked run-blocking grade and 17th-ranked overall grade at center, and despite having a potential NFLer on the outside in Walker Little, their tackles and guards couldn't crack the top 90 overall.
84. VIRGINIA TECH HOKIES
Highest-graded player: OT Christian Darrisaw – 79.1 (45th)
The Hokies' offensive line was good in pass protection but subpar in the run game this year, as they ranked 62nd in pass-blocking grade but just 94th on the ground. Darrisaw was solid for Tech, as he finished with impressive 75.4-plus grades in both pass and run blocking this season.