1. New York Jets
Projected Starter: Nick Mangold
Perhaps the most valuable player to the Jets’ offensive line is center Nick Mangold. Taking it a step further, Mangold is securely the league’s best center, in my opinion. He is by far the most affective run blocking center in football, and could arguably challenge for the title of best run blocking lineman, period.
2. Miami Dolphins
Projected Starter: Jake Grove/Joe Berger
There may be a position battle currently brewing at the position, but make no mistake, it has nothing to do with poor, or even average play from Jake Grove. What is becoming obvious with this front office and coaching staff though, is that they don’t tolerate injuries, especially on the O-line. After signing a 5-year, $30 million deal last offseason, Grove didn’t disappoint on the field, and played a huge role in finally enabling Miami to have success running the ball between the tackles and out of base formations, something they struggled with in 08′. But the problem was, he missed four games to injury and forfeited his starting job to Joe Berger for the final two games of the season. Berger wasn’t quite as productive as Grove, but the drop off wasn’t too steep either. Also, Berger was a less expensive acquisition last offseason, signing a 3-year deal worth a little under $3 million, which isn’t much more than minimum salary. Meaning, if Berger can beat out Grove in camp, the front office could possibly look into cutting ties with Grove, either before the season starts or next offseason, in order to save some cash. Regardless though, both Grove and Berger have the ability to provide the Dolphins with solid play at center.
3. New England Patriots
Projected Starter: Dan Koppen
While Koppen doesn’t rival the status of a Nick Mangold or even a Jake Grove, he is a decent center who ranks in at around the middle of the pack in the entire league. Koppen is an above average run blocker, and is average in pass protection. Unlike the Dolphins’ Grove though, Koppen is a good example of durability, as he has only missed one game in the last four seasons.
4. Buffalo Bills
Projected Starter: Geoff Hangartner
Noticing a trend here? Yes, the Bills offensive line is as bad as advertised, and now they are three for three in last place rankings along the O-line. Starting center Geoff Hangartner, isn’t horrible at opening up holes for the Bills’ backs to work with, but it was his pass protection that was victimized heavily a year ago. Defensive tackles, and especially nose tackles, aren’t known for providing much of a pass rush, but they got the best of Hangartner all season long. He gave up 3 sacks, 2 quarterback hits, and a league worse, 16 quarterback pressures in 09′.