FanShot

2012 Offensive Line Rankings

4

From a weakness to possibly THE #1 strength. As our OLine goes, so too does this season. Pioli talked big game about addressing the OLine, and backed up his words 10-fold. ----- 4. Kansas City Chiefs LT: Branden Albert* LG: Ryan Lilja* C: Rodney Hudson RG: Jon Asamoah* RT: Eric Winston Top reserves: G/T Jeff Allen, OG Darryl Harris, OT Donald Stephenson, C Rob Bruggeman, OT David Mims. Overview: The Chiefs are gearing up to run one of the NFL's most smash-mouth attacks, and they have the trench talent to execute. Tackle play is an immediate strength with Albert emerging as perhaps the league's most underrated blindside blocker, and Winston joining the mix on the strong side. Asamoah is a nasty right guard whose run blocking will only improve as a second-year starter. Groomed behind Casey Wiegmann last season, Hudson is ready for prime time at center. Lilja and rookie Allen will duke it out at left guard. Depth is a concern beyond the top six linemen here, but this unit oozes potential and will likely prove to be a top-five grouping in '12. ----- 21. Denver Broncos LT: Ryan Clady* LG: Zane Beadles* C: J.D. Walton* RG: Chris Kuper* RT: Orlando Franklin* Top reserves: OT Ryan Harris, OT Tony Hills, OG Manuel Ramirez, C/G Philip Blake, OT Adam Grant. Overview: This group's continuity is impressive considering its youth. The average age of Denver's front five will be 26 when the season starts, with Kuper (29) as the elder statesman. Concerns include Kuper's multiple offseason surgeries for a broken left fibula, Walton's inability to hold the point of attack, and a systemic overhaul. Whereas the foundation of last year's success was running the ball, Denver will become a pass-first club with Peyton Manning at the controls. Manning has a long, documented history of single-handedly improving his own pass protection, but this unit may be one of the obstacles he'll be forced to overcome in order to regain past form. ----- 24. San Diego Chargers LT: Jared Gaither LG: Tyronne Green C: Nick Hardwick* RG: Louis Vasquez* RT: Jeromey Clary* Top reserves: OT Mario Henderson, T/G Brandyn Dombrowski, G/T Steve Schilling, C Colin Baxter, C David Molk. Overview: Marcus McNeill's shot back and Kris Dielman's abrupt if understandable early retirement leave this group in heavy transition on Philip Rivers' blind side. Gaither has talent to fortify left tackle, but comes with medical concerns of his own and the track record of a chronic underachiever. Green failed to beat out the underwhelming Vasquez for a starting job last training camp, then struggled mightily when forced to start eight games down the stretch. If Wayne Hunter is the AFC's worst right tackle, then Clary is a close second. Hardwick and Gaither can make this offensive line formidable at the two most critical positions, but otherwise it's clearly not a strength.

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