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Offensive Line Analysis 2008

Winning the battle at the line of scrimmage is where most of the touchdowns and yards that we cheer for and assign point values to come from. Evidence that a good line is more important than ever; eight offensive linemen were drafted in the first round this year.

The best players in the league at the skill positions can look like a worthless, wasted draft pick if their offensive line is overmatched, just ask Larry Johnson. As fantasy football owners, we rarely have the tools to rely upon to grade an offensive line although it is an extremely crucial part of the game when it comes to our rankings of skill players and selecting our draft picks. We hope that the information below can be used as a tool to help you manage your pre-season and assist you in making the best picks possible for a run at your championship in 2008. Good Luck.

DET | GB | HOU | IND | JAX | KC | MIA | MIN | NE | NO | NYG
NYJ | OAK | PHI | PIT | STL | SD | SF | SEA | TB | TEN | WAS

Giants O-Line

New England Patriots

Last Year's Performance: The Patriots had arguably the best offensive season in NFL history and the line was a big part of it. Their only blemish was a loss in Super Bowl 42 to the New York Giants where the line allowed 5 sacks in the game and could only generate 2.8 yards per rush on the ground. Only four teams allowed fewer sacks last season. It is hard to imagine they will duplicate their 2007 performance, but with Tom Brady behind center anything is possible.

Key Coaching Changes: None.

Key Line Changes: Although they finished the 2007 season with the #1 ranked offensive line there are some concerns with pass protection. They were dominated in Super Bowl 42 although not every week will they see the type of talent that the Giants boast on the other side of the ball.

Key Skill Player Changes: The Pats resigned Randy Moss in the off-season but lost WR Donte Stallworth to Cleveland. We are sure to see plenty of double and triple teams on Moss, but with the way Brady spreads the ball around, the loss of Stallworth should not be much of an impact.

2008 Outlook: With a now fully healthy Lawrence Maroney, look for the Patriots to incorporate the run more this season to take some pressure off of a line that was being used for constant pass protection last season. Even with Maroney’s health issues, the Patriots averaged 4.1ypc last year. Expect much of the same from this group that returns intact with three Pro-Bowlers that should dominate once again.

Dallas Cowboys

Last Year's Performance: Big on talent but short on depth, the Cowboys offensive line remained intact this off-season. They are returning three Pro Bowlers that helped Marion Barber earn a trip to Hawaii last season as well.

Key Coaching Changes: None.

Key Line Changes: The ‘Boys have locked up most of their starters and return intact.

Key Skill Player Changes: Although the Cowboys drafted speedster Felix Jones to replace the departed Julius Jones (Seattle), Barber should still see a bulk of the work.

2008 Outlook: Barring an injury to the offensive line, this team should remain as a favorite to reach the Super Bowl with one of the best lines in the league. With three starting Pro-Bowlers, look for good production out of the running game.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Last Year's Performance: Known as a running team, this group once again proved their dominance. Averaging 4.6 yards per carry, the Jags ran for nearly 2400 yards.

Key Coaching Changes: Greg Williams, Defensive Coordinator

Key Line Changes: After missing 8 games, Guard Chris Naeole was released. It looks as if the Jags will be replacing him with the talented back up tackle, Maurice Williams but keep an eye on this during camp. Guard play impacts the run game more than any position on the line. If Williams struggles, so will short passing plays, plays where the guards pull or quick-hitting runs up the middle. All of these plays will likely impact Maurice Jones Drew the most because he’s a quick-hitting back who can hide behind the linemen as a play develops.

Key Skill Player Changes: WR’s Jerry Porter and Troy Williamson take the place of Earnest Wilford who is now in Miami.

2008 Outlook: Simply stated, look for the Jags to do what they do best, run the ball. Although this group has no Pro-Bowlers, there are now weaknesses to speak of. This group should get it done once again with MJD getting more carries. If Williams struggles, this unit could take a few steps backwards as will the fantasy production of MJD and Fred Taylor.

Minnesota Vikings

Last Year's Performance: With arguably the best line in the NFL and the talented rookie RB, Adrian Peterson, this team led the league in rushing yards, yards per carry and touchdowns. Not often do you see an offense average over a half-yard better per carry (5.3) than the next best team (Philly had 4.7). Perennial Pro Bowlers Steve Hutchinson and Matt Birk, anchor this line and make everyone around them better.

Key Coaching Changes: None.

Key Line Changes: As long as left tackle Bryant McKinnie stays out of legal trouble, this line will return intact. If not, they lose a huge cog in pass protection. Teams will blitz at will in obvious passing situations if this happens.

Key Skill Player Changes: Common sense tells us that the running game will be impacted by the loss of fullback Tony Richardson. But the super talented Adrian Peterson doesn’t need much room to run and is predicting a 2000-yard season. The addition of burner WR Bernard Berrian should help stretch the field. With similar line play, the play action game should be an excellent weapon for the Vikings which Berrian and Rice as the beneficiaries.

2008 Outlook: The addition of DL Jared Allen gives the Vikings an immediate impact player on defense that they lacked last season. QB Tavaris Jackson seems to be improving and will have a new weapon in Berrian. But everyone knows that this team will rely heavily on the O-line and the confident Peterson if they are to get to the playoffs and beyond. Teams will stack against the run until Jackson gets better, but Huchinson and Birk should be able to open holes anyway.

San Diego Chargers

Last Year's Performance: Ranking in the top ten in sacks allowed and yards per carry, it is difficult to say that this line is still maturing. But running back LaDanian Tomlinson had another great season and always gives credit to his line.

Key Coaching Changes: None.

Key Line Changes: None.

Key Skill Player Changes: The Chargers lost back up running back Michael “Burner” Turner to free agency, but barring an injury to the Tomlinson; this should not be much of an impact. The Bolts also cut aging full back Lorenzo Neal and will be replaced with Andrew Pinnock, but they also drafted the versatile Jacob Hester out of LSU to replace Neal and Turner. Darren Sproles is also a nice quick-hitting back capable of making the most out of a little space.

2008 Outlook: After winning 25 games over the past two seasons, this team enters 2008 as a favorite once again to win the Super Bowl. We all know what Tomlinson is capable of as long as his line keeps progressing. It is difficult to say what the impact of losing Turner and Neal will be, but this team lives and dies with LT. If former All-Pro center Nick Hardwick can return from offseason foot surgery, this line should once again help LT produce great numbers. The question will be if Phillip Rivers’ lack of mobility coming off ACL surgery will allow opposing defenses to have a more effective game plan to rush the passer.

Green Bay Packers

Last Year's Performance: This line made a name for themselves last season with the emergence of running back Ryan Grant. LT Chad Clifton made his first Pro Bowl protecting now retired Brett Favre.

Key Coaching Changes: None.

Key Line Changes: The Pack drafted G Josh Sitton in the fourth round and T Breno Giacomini in the 5th, but both are projects and do not expect to see time playing this season.

Key Skill Player Changes: Future Hall of Fame QB Brett Favre was lost to retirement, but whispers have kept the possibility of his return alive. TE Bubba Franks is now in New York.

2008 Outlook: This is a young group that developed quicker than even the Packers expected. Just two years ago Favre was getting pounded and the running game was ineffective. This group has some confidence now, but will have its hands full protecting Aaron Rodgers if Favre’s understudy doesn’t show he was a good study. Expect a more conservative offense, relying heavily on the run and Ryan Grant until Rodgers shows he is a capable replacement.

Indianapolis Colts

Last Year's Performance: With the retirement of Tarik Glenn, young tackle Tony Ugoh stepped in and proved a capable replacement. Once again this group showed that its first priority is keeping Peyton Manning upright, but they made great improvement in the run-blocking department over 2006, which should mean good things for RB Joseph Addai.

Key Coaching Changes: None. Howard Mudd is one of the great line coaches in the NFL.

Key Line Changes: The team chose to keep tackle Ryan Lilja over Jack Scott who signed with Tennessee. The age of C Jeff Saturday is an obvious concern, forcing the Colts to use three draft picks on the position including their first pick, second rounder Mike Pollak.

Key Skill Player Changes: RB Dominic Rhodes was brought back in from Oakland and will serve as back up to the emerging Addai. Combined with legal trouble WR Marvin Harrison looks as if his role will diminish due to his age.

2008 Outlook: Not much should change here as long as Saturday can stay healthy. Rhodes should be able to mesh well with his old system, which will mean less of a drop off in ground production and pass protection when Addai is out of the game. WR Reggie Wayne should pick up right where Harrison left off. The quick arm of Manning should make this another successful season for this line.

Cleveland Browns

Last Year's Performance: The Browns were the surprise team in 2008 and the immediate impact of offensive rookie of the year runner up, T Joe Thomas and G Eric Steinbach was apparent. This group helped re-launch the career of RB Jamal Lewis and kept QB Derek Anderson on his feet, only being sacked 14 times in 15 starts.

Key Coaching Changes: None.

Key Line Changes: Former Miami center turned right guard, Rex Hadnot, was brought in to compete with starter Ryan Tucker and could very well win the job.

Key Skill Player Changes: The acquisition of speedster WR Donte Stallworth should open up this offense even more.

2008 Outlook: With some success now under their belt, look for this group to have the confidence to continue what they started last season. As long as RB Jamal Lewis doesn’t show signs of age and wear, he should have every opportunity to repeat his success from last season and the left side of the line with Thomas and Steinbach is where it starts. The potential issue is whether defenses have figured out Anderson. If they throw schemes at the surprise-Pro Bowl QB that rattle him, he may take more time in the pocket than any line can effectively handle. We’ll find out quickly if Anderson’s difficulties in Hawaii had anything to do with anything other than rust.

New York Giants

Last Year's Performance: Anchoring the ship on the ride to the Super Bowl, this group did a fantastic job in both run and pass blocking. While there are no Pro-Bowlers in this group, they gel together to get the job done. If you look at how well the combo of Brandon Jacobs, Derrick Ward, and Ahmad Bradshaw performed, you know what I’m saying is true.

Key Coaching Changes: None.

Key Line Changes: This group returns intact.

Key Skill Player Changes: The only loss coming on the defensive side of the ball with the retirement of Michael Strahan, but Justin Tuck is a playmaker who many speculated would give Strahan a run for his money if the veteran came back.

2008 Outlook: This young but experienced group should be fine for years to come. With confidence high after a Super Bowl win; expect this team to continue performing at high level.

Denver Broncos

Last Year's Performance: While this group overall had a decent 2007, averaging 4.6 YPG for the running game, they did surrender over 30 sacks, but that also had to do with youth at the QB and WR positions.

Key Coaching Changes: None.

Key Line Changes: Denver chose to revamp this line sending starting center Chris Myers to the Texans and losing LT Matt Lepsis to retirement, the Broncos spent their first round pick in the draft on highly touted Ryan Clady out of Boise State. Clady will step in immediately and should be a perfect fit for the Broncos scheme. Casey Wiegmann was signed from KC to take over at center. 4th round pick Kory Lichtensteiger was signed to take over for aging center Tom Nalen, although Nalen should be in the lineup at least one more season.

Key Skill Player Changes: The disappointing WR Javon Walker is now in Oakland licking his wounds from another injury and from a night out in Vegas. With veteran Rod Smith retiring, the Broncos brought in WR’s Keary Colbert, Samie Parker and Darrell Jackson. They also used a second round pick on burner Edie Royal, but he will mainly be viewed as a kick returner.

2008 Outlook: Perennially the Broncos line, mostly due to the questionable scheme by Coach Rat, ends up near the top of the league. At 37 Tom Nalen can’t have much left in the tank and fourth round pick could be filling in as early as mid-season. Expect much of the same this season pending Clady arrives as advertised. Don’t look for Denver to do much better than where I rank them, because it’s a best case scenario.

Cincinnati Bengals

Last Year's Performance: Once again the Bengals imploded from the inside out. An offense that seems to be loaded with talent and depth underachieved with its “me-first” attitude. One bright spot was the offensive line only giving up 17 sacks, second best in the league, although the loss of Eric Steinbach was apparent in the running attack.

Key Coaching Changes: Mike Zimmer, defensive coordinator was brought in from Atlanta.

Key Line Changes: None

Key Skill Player Changes: A team loaded at WR took a hit when they were forced to release the talented Chris Henry for multiple off field incidents. It also remains to be seen if Pro Bowler Chad Johnson will remain with the team after expressing this off-season that he would like to be traded. Odds are in the Bengals favor that Johnson will report to camp and be a good soldier. TE Ben Utecht arrives from the Colts.

2008 Outlook: Carson Palmer is one of the premier quarterbacks in the game. The line did a great job keeping him on his feet, but they must find a way to get Rudi Johnson back on track or this team will remain a talented, but mediocre unit. The return of starting tackle, Willie Anderson is a step in the right direction. The loss of Chris Henry does make the passing game more predictable unless Ben Utecht can demonstrate he’s a viable threat in the passing game.

New Orleans Saints

Last Year's Performance: This group was a two-sided coin last season. The Saints attempted the most passes last season all while allowing the least sacks in the NFL, but the injury to RB Duece McAllister and later to Reggie Bush, kept them near the bottom of the league in run blocking.

Key Coaching Changes: None.

Key Line Changes: Center Jeff Faine was lost to free agency, which should make for an interesting camp battle. Back up Jonathan Goodwin will compete with NFL journeyman Matt Lehr for the starting role. Give the edge to Goodwin who filled in nicely last season and was given a new contract.

Key Skill Player Changes: None.

2008 Outlook: The Saints should be able to improve on their YPC as long as McAllister comes back healthy. Reggie Bush proved that he couldn’t carry the load before he went down as well, but the return of a healthy former Pro-Bowl LT Jamaal Brown should makes things easier. Look for Brees and Colston to have excellent seasons once again. Bush will be the greatest question mark.

Philadelphia Eagles

Last Year's Performance: RB Brian Westbrook had arguably his best season in 2007, but this group did not do a very good job protecting the QB. They gave up 49 sacks, 5th most in the NFL.

Key Coaching Changes: None.

Key Line Changes: This group will return all five, but they did use two draft picks on the tackle position as Runyan and Thomas are getting up their in age.

Key Skill Player Changes: Valiant attempts were made to land big play receivers Randy Moss and Larry Fitzgerald, but no notable players were signed. The Eagles did use a second round pick on WR DeSean Jackson, which will give McNabb another target.

2008 Outlook: This line seems to have all the pieces to be a dominating force, but the the age of tackles Runyan and Thomas are a concern and the younger vets need to improve. If QB Donovan McNabb doesn’t return healthy, don’t expect much more than last season.

Washington Redskins

Last Year's Performance: Injuries bit this line for the second season in a row, but Pro Bowl tackle Chris Samuels helped RB Clinton Portis run for nearly 1300 yards and 11 TD’s. Portis was the only bright spot in a running game that averaged just 3.8 ypc.

Key Coaching Changes: New head coach Jim Zorn takes over for Hall of Famer Joe Gibbs. Zorn brings in more of a vertical approach, but until we see more of QB Jason Campbell, expect the running game to be the focal point.

Key Line Changes: The Skins chose to ignore their aging line in the off-season and will keep their fingers crossed that they don’t get bit by the injury bug again this season.

Key Skill Player Changes: Drafting two wide outs and a tight end with their first three picks in the draft says something about the approach of new head coach Zorn.

2008 Outlook: This line with the exception of Samuels is getting old, fast. Don’t expect much of an improvement unless QB Campbell makes strides to keep the defense honest. He’ll have to do this by making quick decisions in the passing game.

Carolina Panthers

Last Year's Performance: The Panthers O-line struggled to find consistency last season, and the running game only scored one touchdown for every 64.4 attempts, 3rd worst in the league.

Key Coaching Changes: None.

Key Line Changes: A complete overhaul to the O-line should propel this group to one of the tops in the league, but not likely this year. G Mike Wahle and C Justin Hartwig were lost to free agency, RT Travelle Wharton was resigned and is being moved to guard. One of the better tackles in the league, Jordan Gross received the franchise tag and is expected to move to the left side. Carolina gave up their 2009 1st round pick to draft highly talented RT Jeff Otah. Ryan Kalil, a highly touted second rounder in 2007 will take over for the departed Hartwig at center.

Key Skill Player Changes: WR’s Keary Colbert and Drew Carter departed and the Panthers brought back veteran WR Muhsin Muhammad as well as DJ Hackett from Seattle. RB Deshawn Foster left for SF. This should give the talented Deangelo Williams more opportunities, but will probably split carries with 1st rounder Jonathan Stewart.

2008 Outlook: With all the moves made on the line, there is much uncertainty, but this is a talented group that should gel by mid season and finish in the upper echelon of the league barring any injuries. Look for the team to hit all cylinders down the stretch, otherwise you may have to be patient with your Carolina offensive players to begin your fantasy season.

New York Jets

Last Year's Performance: A disappointment. Statistically one of the worst lines in the league, giving up a sack for every 9.6 pass attempts and only allowed the running game to average a mere 3.8 YPC.

Key Coaching Changes: None.

Key Line Changes: The signing of veteran and future Hall of Famer Alan Faneca gives the Jets’ left side of the line and entire unit a new attitude. RT Damien Woody was signed away from Detroit to upgrade the right tackle position, but he underwent shoulder surgery in the off-season. This line now has 4 former first round picks on their roster.

Key Skill Player Changes: TE Bubba Franks will give the passing game a new red zone target and backup running back Jesse Chapman will help keep Thomas Jones’ legs fresh. The biggest improvement comes at the FB position with the arrival of Tony Richardson, arguably the best at the position in the league.

2008 Outlook: This group has nowhere to go but up and it should do that rather easily with the changes that were made in the off-season. If Woody can come back 100% from surgery and Fanaca doesn’t take a step towards retirement, expect this unit to improve big time. Expect a revival from RB Thomas Jones and an improvement in the passing game with less pressure on it to succeed. Faneca’s acquisition is a huge move.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Last Year's Performance: Helping a rookie running back rush for over 900 yards last season, this group, despite some injuries and youth, performed well.

Key Coaching Changes: None.

Key Line Changes: The Bucs lost starting center John Wade, but managed to upgrade at the position signing Jeff Faine from New Orleans. Third round pick Jeremy Zuttah will provide depth, but will not see the field unless an injury occurs.

Key Skill Player Changes: Veterans Warrick Dunn (RB), Brian Griese (QB), and TE Ben Troupe will provide depth and leadership needed for this young team, but not much of an impact from a fantasy prospective.

2008 Outlook: This is a young line that could catapult itself into the upper echelon of the league as long as former first round pick, Luke Petigout can return from ACL surgery. RB Earnest Graham looks to be in a good situation and should see an improvement from his rookie campaign.

Tennessee Titans

Last Year's Performance: A young group that statistically finished high in the rushing game; 5th in the league in rushing yards and touchdowns, but averaged just 3.9 YPC.

Key Coaching Changes: Offensive Coordinator Mike Heimerdinger takes over for Norm Chow. Known for being more aggressive and willing to take chances, look for him to unleash Vince Young a bit more this season.

Key Line Changes: RG Jake Scott was signed and LT Michael Roos was given a fresh deal worth a cool $43 million. Longtime G Benji Olson retired. Although they chose to ignore the line in the draft, they did select TE Craig Stevens, who was considered the best blocker at the position.

Key Skill Player Changes: Being accustomed to a scrambling QB who he had in the now imprisoned Mike Vick, TE Alge Crumpler will be a huge addition to this offense WR Justin McCareins should help spread the field.

2008 Outlook: Tennessee was fifth in rushing yards despite a 3.9-yard per carry average. This means they dominated in the run game with a back running on a torn meniscus. The holes had to be there, which should tell you this is a well-coached, high-performing unit that needs more help from its skill players. The move to Heimerdinger makes this likely. The Titans pass protection could be a concern because they were 14th in sacks allowed despite the fact they were a run-heavy team.

Arizona Cardinals

Last Year's Performance: This group overall improved slightly from 2006 with the additions of top 5 pick Levi Brown and O-line coach Russ Grimm. They protected the QB well, but were 30th in YPC. They did a pretty good job keeping their quarterbacks upright, only allowing 24 sacks, good enough for 8th best in the league.

Key Coaching Changes: None.

Key Line Changes: This young group remains in tact for 2008.

Key Skill Player Changes: Although they lost WR Bryant Johnson to San Francisco, the core of this team skill player’s returns. They drafted WR Early Doucet in the 3rd round, who could find some playing time immediately.

2008 Outlook: With 3 starters on the line entering just their second season, this group should improve on their run blocking with another year together. With sitting ducks like Leinart and Warner in the pocket don’t expect miracles in pass protection…

Houston Texans

Last Year's Performance: This line made strides in its pass protection only allowing 22 sacks last season. But they seemed to take a step backwards in the run game that averaged just 3.8 YPC.

Key Coaching Changes: Promoted QB Coach Kyle Shanahan takes over as offensive coordinator and will build up the slumping running game with newly acquired offensive line guru Alex Gibbs. Gibbs is known as the innovator of the zone-blocking scheme used in Denver.

Key Line Changes: Tackle Duane Brown was drafted with the 26th overall pick and should battle for a starting position. Former Denver center Chris Myers was signed and will compete with Arizona castoff Chukky Okobe for the spot.

Key Skill Player Changes: To add some youth to the running game, the Texans drafted West Virginia star Steve Slaton in the third round. They also signed RB Chris Brown from Tennessee to fill the hole of free agent Ron Dayne.

2008 Outlook: The coaching changes are the key to this group’s performance this season. If they can implement the scheme that has had so much success in Denver and Atlanta, expect a huge leap. If QB Matt Shaub and WR Andre Johnson stay healthy the entire season this team could make a run at the playoffs. They could actually out-Denver, Denver with their skill position players if it line does it’s job.

Chicago Bears

Last Year's Performance: The Bears struggled to find a consistent offense last season, averaging a league worst 3.1 yards per carry. A rotation of inconsistent QB play, an aging offensive line and below average talent at the running back position kept the Bears out of the playoffs after reaching the Super Bowl in 2006.

Key Coaching Changes: None.

Key Line Changes: Looking to get younger at the position, the Bears drafted tackle Chris Williams (Vanderbilt) with the 14th overall pick. Expect Williams to start immediately and be an instant impact on the left side of the line. The also spent 7th round picks on guard Chester Adams (Georgia) and tackle Kirk Barton (Ohio State) to provide some depth.

Key Skill Player Changes: Out are wide receivers Bernard Berrian and Muhsin Muhammad, in are Brandon Lloyd and Marty Booker. Chicago will also look to incorporate All-Pro kick returner Devin Hester into the starting lineup to help stretch the field. The Bears drafted running back Matt Forte out of Tulane in the second round to create some competition with underachieving Cedric Benson, who has now been released by the team for his off-field behavior.

2008 Outlook: The Chicago Bears will look to return to the top of the NFC with one of the best defensive units in the league. But if they are to get back to the Super Bowl it has to start with the offensive line to create holes and keep Rex Grossman on his feet. Don’t expect Williams to do for the Bears what Joe Thomas did for the Browns…

Seattle Seahawks

Last Year's Performance: The decline of former MVP running back Shaun Alexander made this group look below average at times, but still managed to finish in the top half of the league in pass blocking.

Key Coaching Changes: Mike Solari is considered one of the best offensive line coaches in the league was hired to boost this group’s confidence.

Key Line Changes: With the signing of G Mike Wahle, the Seahawks may have finally found a replacement for Steve Hutchinson. He and future Hall of Fame LT Walter Jones should make is easy for Julius Jones to replace the released Alexander.

Key Skill Player Changes: Seattle released RB Shaun Alexander and brought in RB Julius Jones from Dallas and bruiser T.J. Duckett from Detroit to replace the former MVP.

2008 Outlook: With fresh legs at running back an upgrade at guard, this group should see vast improvement in the running attack. The addition of rookie TE John Carlson will also provide protection. Expect a revival for this group as long as Jones doesn’t start to show his age.

Baltimore Ravens

Last Year's Performance: A group that finished in the middle of the pack last season seems to have a future Pro-Bowler in G Ben Grubbs. The offense struggled to finish drives last season, but RB Willis McGahee still managed over 1200 yards and 8 TD’s.

Key Coaching Changes: The Ravens brought in a new head coach in the off-season, former Philadelphia DB coach John Harbaugh. But the biggest news for fantasy owners is the arrival of former Miami head coach, Cam Cameron to the offensive coordinator.

Key Line Changes: The retirement of tackle Jonathan Ogden is a huge hit to the Ravens, even thought he was clearly showing his age last season.

Key Skill Player Changes: The retirement of Steve McNair prompted the Ravens to draft QB Joe Flacco with its first pick in the draft. Baltimore also lost back up RB Musa Smith to free agency, but brought in Ray Rice from Rutgers with their second pick to provide fresh legs for McGahee. .

2008 Outlook: A bright spot for Willis McGahee owners with the arrival of Cam Cameron, but don’t expect much until the Ravens can find a replacement for Ogden. The combo of a new left tackle and new quarterback is a boom-bust situation.

Buffalo Bills

Last Year's Performance: A young but greatly improving group helped rookie running back Marshawn Lynch average 4.0 YPC. Inconsistency at the QB position didn’t help matters much, but they looked a lot better the second half of the season and LT Jason Peters made his first Pro-Bowl.

Key Coaching Changes: Promoted QB coach Turk Schonert takes over the offensive coordinator position, which should help a struggling passing game.

Key Line Changes: The Bills seem to be happy with what they saw last season as no moves were made after the two big-money free Dockery and Walker were signed last year.

Key Skill Player Changes: WR James Hardy (Indiana) was drafted in the second round to fill the hole of the loss of Peerless Price to free agency. He could quickly become a red-zone threat with his size and ability.

2008 Outlook: A maturing line that finished in the middle of the pack should improve and could become one of the better groups in the league. A full season with QB Trent Edwards under center should help with the inconsistencies Buffalo saw last year, especially with the use of a lot of 3- and 5-step drops. Lynch looks to be in a good position to improve on his rookie season.

Detroit Lions

Last Year's Performance: This group struggled to find any consistency last season with Mike Martz’s offensive scheme. While the ground game did find some success with running backs scoring once every 24.9 carries, they also gave up the third most sacks in the league.

Key Coaching Changes: Promoted offensive line coach Jim Colleto takes over for the pass-happy offensive scheme of the departed Mike Martz.

Key Line Changes: Detroit maneuvered in the draft to select OT Gosder Cherilus with the 17th overall pick that should step in and start from day 1.

Key Skill Player Changes: Talented running back, but oft-injured Kevin Jones is now a free agent and bruiser T.J. Duckett is now in Seattle. This prompted the Lions to use a 3rd round selection on RB Kevin Smith out of Central Florida to compete with the fumble-happy Tatum Bell for the starting spot.

2008 Outlook: With new coordinator Colletto simplifying the offense, this group has a chance to move up from in the rankings, especially in sacks allowed. But don’t expect much of a jump until Cherilus and Co. have a half a season under their belt with a rookie toting the rock. Still, that rookie is good enough to produce as well as the line produces. This group could be sneaky-good if the running game gels.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Last Year's Performance: It is hard to believe that QB Ben Roethlisberger stayed healthy enough to throw 32 touchdowns behind this shaky line that surrendered 47 sacks, and averaged just 191 passing yards per game.

Key Coaching Changes: None.

Key Line Changes: The loss of All-Pro Alan Faneca is a huge hit to this line. He may have been on the down side of his career, but he gave this line the leadership that is badly needs. Center Justin Hartwig was signed to help fill that void. The Steelers also used a fourth rounder on Tony Hill in the draft, but for now he remains just a project.

Key Skill Player Changes: Most of the additions to this group came via the draft. RB Rashard Mendenhall was drafted to help give Pittsburgh that “thunder and lightning” backfield it has missed since the Jerome Bettis era. Limas Sweed is a big play receiver that should make an immediate impact.

2008 Outlook: Ripe with talent on offense, the line is going to need to step up if the Steelers hope to find success. But unless this line overachieves and the team continues to utilize TE Heath Miller and WR Hines Ward (both excellent blockers at their positions) look for much of the same inconsistency you saw last year.

Atlanta Falcons

Last Year's Performance: A year removed from the Michael Vick era, this line went backwards with their run blocking. RB’s averaged just 3.9 YPC as compared to 5.5 in 2006, although aging veteran RB Warrick Dunn did not help matters much. The real issue wasn’t Vick, but Bobby Petrino’s decision to change the run blocking scheme that was no match for the type of linemen he had upfront.

Key Coaching Changes: A slew of new coaches take over this franchise. New Head coach Mike Smith will bring with him an entirely different offensive approach, with should be more in line with what this line is built for. Former Buffalo Head Coach Mike Mularky take the reigns at offensive coordinator and will look to get RB Michael Turner going early to give rookie QB Matt Ryan time to adjust to the league.

Key Line Changes: The Falcons traded up for the 21st overall pick in the draft to get Sam Baker who should start immediately. Center Alex Stepanovich was acquired from Cincinnati, but he will compete for the job in camp.

Key Skill Player Changes: QB Matt Ryan was the third overall pick in the draft and RB Michael Turner was signed to take the place of the veteran Dunn. Atlanta also lost All-Pro TE Alge Crumpler, but replaced him with Ben Hartsock who will help with run blocking more often than not.

2008 Outlook: This is a rebuilding year for the Falcons that will look to establish itself as a run-oriented team while Ryan adjusts to the NFL. They will also be implementing a new offensive system for the third consecutive year.

Miami Dolphins

Last Year's Performance: Much of this team’s performance was affected by the injury to RB Ronnie Brown. Brown was averaging 5.5 YPC before he got hurt and his backups only managed 3.8. Although Brown’s early season performance was a bright spot this group did not do much to protect its QB, giving up a sack for every 13 pass attempts.

Key Coaching Changes: Former Dallas assistant head coach, Tony Sparano takes over as HC and ex Carolina offensive coordinator was brought in for the same position. New VP of football operations Bill Parcells was brought in to bring new life to the franchise.

Key Line Changes: This group was overhauled in the off-season beginning with 1st overall pick in the draft, OT Jake Long, who should man this position for the next decade. They also moved up in the draft to select G Shawn Murphy who will complete for a starters role and both starting guards from last season have been replaced with their backups. Watch for camp battles at all positions except for Long’s.

Key Skill Player Changes: With little confidence in returning QB John Beck and the departure of Cleo Lemon, the Dolphins brought in Josh McCown from Oakland and drafted Michigan signal caller Chad Henne to complete for the starting spot. WR Marty Booker left for Chicago and has been replaced with Jacksonville underachiever Ernest Wilford.

2008 Outlook: This team made a ton of changes when Parcells arrived so it is hard to say what to expect from this team. It will have a completely different look in 2008 especially on the offensive line. Don’t expect much from then at least until the second half of the season after they have had a chance to work together and learn a new offense.

Kansas City Chiefs

Last Year's Performance: Bad. RB Larry Johnson went from elite status to average back after the retirement of Willie Roaf and Will Shields, averaging just 3.3 YPC. The passing blocking wasn’t much better surrendering league high 55 sacks.

Key Coaching Changes: Chan Gailey takes over at offensive coordinator.

Key Line Changes: The Chiefs moved up in the draft to select G Branden Albert who will start immediately. Retiree John Welbourn retired and will be replaced by either practice-squadder Tre’ Stallings or second year man Herb Taylor.

Key Skill Player Changes: With the losses of WR’s Eddie Kennison and Samie Parker with no real replacements, it is clear they will depend on the running game once again.

2008 Outlook: Although the drafting of Albert is an improvement, this line will be bad again in 2008, but then again the Chiefs have nowhere to go but up. They will continue to pound the ball with Larry Johnson.

Oakland Raiders

Last Year's Performance: Although this group did enough to finish 6th in the league in rushing yards per game, they gave up 41 sacks and only averaged 164 passing yards per game.

Key Coaching Changes: None.

Key Line Changes: Center John Wade was signed from Tampa Bay and will help shore up the pass blocking.

Key Skill Player Changes: WR’s Javon Walker and Drew Carter were brought in to give Jamarcus Russell some targets. 4th overall selection Darren McFadden will probably split carries with Justin Fargas until he gets his feet wet in the NFL.

2008 Outlook: A team that is built to run, but so badly wants to pass, got a boost with McFadden. But if LG Robert Gallery and LT Kwame Harris cant live up to their expectation, don’t expect McFadden to be the next coming of Adrian Peterson, at least not this year.

San Francisco 49ers

Last Year's Performance: Allowing 55 sacks, tied for the league high, this group underachieved and took a step backwards from the 2006 season. They did however allow RB Frank Gore to rush for over 1100 yards and 8 TD’s.

Key Coaching Changes: Mike Martz has taken over as offensive coordinator and will bring his pass happy offense with him.

Key Line Changes: The Niners gave up on Kwame Harris and used a second round pick on USC guard on Chilo Rachal, but he probably won’t start this season. Veteran tackle Larry Allen retired and G Justin Smiley left for Miami. San Fran also used a 4th rounder on C Cody Wallace to provide some depth.

Key Skill Player Changes: With Darrell Jackson gone to Denver, two new wide receivers were brought in to get Martz’s highflying offense up and running, St. Louis veteran Isaac Bruce and Bryant Johnson from Arizona. They also signed RB Deshaun Foster to help spell Frank Gore in the running game.

2008 Outlook: This group has nowhere to go but up, so if we should see some success as long as they can learn the complicated offense of Martz and keep whatever QB is behind center on his feet. Last season’s first round pick Joe Staley is the cornerstone to this group and will need to continue to make strides if this group is to succeed but he is moving from the right side to LT this year. RT Jonas Jennings needs to give them a full season for the first time in his seven-year career.

St. Louis Rams

Last Year's Performance: It was easy to see that the injuries that hit the Rams O-line played a big factor in this teams and RBG Seven Jackson’s performance. All-Pro OT Orlando Pace went down in the first game of the season and things went downhill from there. St. Louis started a different offensive line package nearly every game last season leading to the injuries of Marc Bulger and Jackson.

Key Coaching Changes: Head Coach Scott Linehan will relieve his conservative play calling to new coordinator Al Saunders.

Key Line Changes: LG Jacob Bell was signed away from Tennessee and will start next to Pace.

Key Skill Player Changes: Veteran WR Isaac Bruce left for San Fran and the team used a 2nd round pick on speedster Donnie Avery.

2008 Outlook: If Pace can stay healthy and return to his Pro-Bowl form, and the rest of the O-line can find some consistency, the Rams will easily improve on their 3-13 record from 2007. But with the exception of Pace and Bell, the other starters are marginal players at best.