Ranking the AFC East offensive lines: Where do Tyron Smith and the NY Jets rank?

After years of ineptitude, the Jets' ranking may surprise some fans
Tyron Smith
Tyron Smith / Cooper Neill/GettyImages

Ask any football coach and they'll tell you that games are won and lost in the trenches. Being able to impose your will on the opposition, protect the QB, buy time for the receivers to get open, and pave running lanes for a star running back are all vital aspects of winning football that start with the big guys up front.

Often overlooked by fans, the offensive line is what makes the offense go. It allows for the acrobatic catches and the thrilling rushes that result in chunk plays down the field.

Offensive line play is also the biggest personification of complementary football, or said differently the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. Without all five linemen working together in concert, plays are regularly blown up, drives stalled, and catastrophes occur.

In recent memory, those catastrophic failures of the offensive line are what have been etched in NY Jets fans' memory banks. From injuries to underperformance over the last two seasons, the offensive line has grounded the offense before it could even take off.

But with a completely overhauled unit, there's optimism that will change in 2024. As we've done now with the quarterbacks, running backs, receivers, and tight ends, we're going to evaluate the AFC East offensive line units and where the Jets stack up.

4. The New England Patriots

The starters (from left to right): Chukwuma Okorafor, Cole Strange, Jake Andrews, Sidy Sow, and Mike Onwenu. The reserves: Caedan Wallace, Nick Leverett, David Andrews, Layden Robinson, and Vederian Lowe.

The Patriots have a quality player in the mix here with key free agent resignee Mike Onwenu whose versatility playing both guard and tackle positions over the last few seasons has been a huge boon. He'll look to anchor the line from the right tackle position moving forward.

Cole Strange's selection in the first round of the 2022 draft raised some eyebrows, as Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay's reaction went viral. Strange has been okay so far in his career, but his 64.6 Pro Football Focus grade is nothing to write home about.

Center is a battle between Jake Andrews and David Andrews. David Andrews has been an above-average starter for many years but is coming off the worst pass-blocking season of his career. As a result, 2023 fourth-round pick Jake Andrews is currently listed as the starter.

At guard, Sidy Sow, another 2023 fourth-round pick, showed promise as a run blocker while also struggling as a pass blocker. Last season he allowed 27 pressures on 486 pass blocking snaps.

Rounding out the group is left tackle Chukwuma Okorafor who comes over from the Pittsburgh Steelers. Okorafor lost his starting job last season and has been just average as a starter overall throughout his six-year career.

Outside of possibly center, there's no real notable depth behind the starters either which makes sustaining an injury or suffering from poor performance that much more devastating to the team.

Overall, there's some potential to be better with a young interior trio and a stud in Onwenu, but until that plays out on the field this group can't rank any higher.

3. The Miami Dolphins

The starters (from left to right): Terron Armstead, Isaiah Wynn, Aaron Brewer, Robert Jones, and Austin Jackson. The reserves: Patrick Paul, Lester Cotton, Liam Eichenberg, Jack Driscoll, and Kendall Lamm.

The headliner here is five-time Pro Bowler Terron Armstead who, when healthy, is one of the best left tackles in the game. The issue for Armstead is just that, however. Since landing in Miami he's played 23 out of a possible 34 games and has never started every game in a single season.

The interior of the Dolphins' line took a big hit with star guard Robert Hunt defecting to Carolina on a massive $100 million deal. Center Connor Williams also remains a free agent after a stellar 2023 campaign ended with a devastating knee injury.

Instead, Miami now fields the interior trio of Isaiah Wynn, Aaron Brewer, and Robert Jones. Wynn has experience playing tackle at a decent level, but last season in limited action as a guard put up an atrocious 47.8 grade according to Pro Football Focus. In particular, he struggled mightily as a run blocker.

Free agent addition Aaron Brewer is an interesting player. Across his first four seasons with the Tennessee Titans, he failed to establish himself serving mostly as a swing interior lineman. Last season, he was given the opportunity to start at center and played well as a run blocker while struggling against the pass rush allowing 34 pressures and six sacks.

Robert Jones is another young player looking to step into a full-time role. Having not played more than 449 snaps in a season in his three years thus far, he hasn't put together a performance that's better than average yet.

Rounding out the starting lineup is Austin Jackson, a former first-round pick who looked like a bust during his first three seasons. 2023 saw him post a PFF grade of 68.4, a slightly above-average mark that's been the best in his career thus far.

As for depth, Patrick Paul is an interesting developmental tackle drafted in the second round. The rookie has incredible length standing at six-foot-seven and surprising athleticism for a player of his size. Raw in his technique, he'll be an interesting developmental piece.

On the flipside, Kendall Lamm is an experienced veteran swing tackle who's been able to step in a provide an acceptable level of play over the past several years.

Outside of Armstead, there are a lot of questions with this group, but also a lot of youth with the potential to grow. Time will tell if they can jell and become an above-average unit. The biggest thing that separates them from New England is the depth at the tackle position.

2. The Buffalo Bills

The starters (from left to right): Dion Dawkins, David Edwards, Connor McGovern, O'Cyrus Torrence, and Spencer Brown. The reserves: Ryan Van Demark, Alec Anderson, Sedrick Van Pran-Granger, Kevin Jarvis, and La'el Collins.

Jets nemesis Dion Dawkins leads this group and he's amongst the upper echelon of tackles in the league. With the requisite nastiness to thrive in the trenches, Dawkins has been named to three straight Pro Bowls while performing well in both phases of the offense.

A three-year starter earlier in his career for the Rams, David Edwards had played to an average level in that role, before moving on to more of a reserve role with Buffalo. Last season as a reserve, he played well in albeit 148 snaps. The Bills will look to the 27-year-old to continue to ascend.

At center, stalwart Mitch Morse is gone replaced by (the other) Connor McGovern. McGovern has played guard throughout most of his career, so we'll have to see how he adapts to his new position. For his career, he's been a better pass blocker than run blocker, so perhaps the position change will allow him to lean into his strengths.

O'Cyrus Torrence struggled last season as a rookie, giving up a whopping 40 pressures while failing to consistently make an impact in the run game. As a second-round pick, there is talent there and Torrence came out of Florida with a reputation for having a nasty streak. The Bills will look for him to put it all together in year two.

Jets fans may know Spencer Brown from watching former Jet Bryce Huff repeatedly beat him like a drum over the past couple of seasons. Brown had struggled in the first few years of his career but was actually a little above average last season. Time will tell if he's on an upward trajectory or if that was just a mirage.

La'el Collins is a wild card. He had been a quality tackle for a number of years before suffering a devastating knee injury in December 2022 that caused him to miss the entire 2023 season. What he can be at this juncture is anyone's guess.

On the interior, rookie Sedrick Van Pran-Granger is an intriguing developmental piece. A natural center, many believe he has the talent to develop into a starter despite being a fifth-round pick.

1. The New York Jets

The starters (from left to right): Tyron Smith, John Simpson, Joe Tippmann, Alijah Vera-Tucker, and Morgan Moses. The reserves: Olu Fashanu, Xavier Newman, Wes Schweitzer, Max Mitchell, and Carter Warren.

After two horrid years and entering the offseason needing three new starters, it's a surprise to see the Jets at the top of this ranking, but the quality of this group merits this placement as general manager Joe Douglas has assembled a unit that ranks near the top of the entire league.

Tyron Smith is the anchor. A five-time All-Pro and eight-time Pro Bowler, Smith is among the league's very best left tackles when healthy. The health piece is the caveat with Smith who hasn't played a full season since 2015. The Jets are hoping they can get something similar to last year's 13 games out of him and will be ecstatic if they do.

John Simpson might be the most intriguing member of the line. Known for his nasty streak, penchant for penalties, and overall mediocre performance he hasn't lived up to expectations so far, but at 26 years old there's still hope he'll realize his potential. At least, he provides the nasty identity that all great lines need.

As a rookie last season, Joe Tippmann had some ups and downs while playing both right guard and center. He performed better as the year went on and was better as a run blocker than a pass protector. Still, his pedigree and encouraging flashes should make even the most pessimistic Jets fan optimistic about his potential.

After a promising rookie season, Alijah Vera-Tucker has lost the better part of two seasons to injuries. in the process of showing off his incredible versatility. To date, he's played four of the five offensive line positions in his career.

The Jets hope to not have to move him again and have him penciled in as a road grater at right guard where he is one of the best run-blockers in the league. If he can stay healthy and improve as a pass protector he will be a superstar guard and foundational piece for the line for years to come.

Morgan Moses has been a rock-solid right tackle throughout his career. The change to a gap power scheme suits him well and he'll look to prove that the Jets shouldn't have let him walk after the 2021 season.

Rookie first-round draft pick Olu Fashanu is perhaps the most talented No. 3 tackle in the league. A polished pass blocker he'll be Tyron Smith's cady and should see a decent amount of action in 2024, especially if the Jets lock up a playoff spot early.

Veteran Wes Schweitzer is the interior swing man. He brings 62 games of starting experience and the ability to play at an average or above level at each of the three interior positions which makes him a valuable depth piece.

After so many years of poor offensive line play and devastating injuries, it feels weird to rank the Jets this high, but this truly is representative of the talent they've assembled. Even the depth is better than in recent years as well, which should allow them to weather an injury storm within reason.

The talent level on display here simply makes this an easy decision as the Jets are far and away the best offensive line unit in the AFC East.