Related Tags: NFL Draft
NFL teams do not normally like to rely on the draft to fill immediate holes on the offensive line, but three teams in particular did just that. With some serious liabilities up front, three teams made significant upgrades to their offensive lines despite penciling in rookies as starters. Here's a look at the most improved offensive lines after the draft.
A year ago, the Bengals spent $5 million in free agency on OT Bobby Hart. To say Cincinnati overspent is an understatement. Hart graded out as one of the worst offensive tackles in the league. This year, the Bengals spent the 11th overall pick in the draft to add Jonah Williams, a two-time All-American tackle out of Alabama. Williams has started at both right and left tackle and will likely be Cincy's starter on the left side. The Bengals also drafted Ohio State center Michael Jordan in the fourth round. Even if Jordan doesn't become a starter, Cincinnati should be in good shape with C Billy Price, RG John Miller, LG Cordy Glenn, and Hart and Williams at the tackles.
The Texans gave up a league-high 62 sacks last season. In addition, Houston offensive tackles allowed 135 pressures in 2018. Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson spent much of his 2018 season either on his back or running away from pressure. Houston was in desperate need of some upgrades on their offensive line. They got exactly that with their selections of Tytus Howard from Alabama State and Max Scharping from Northern Illinois. Howard, who was a high school quarterback, is a 6-foot-6-inch, 325-pound monster who will start at left tackle. Scharping, taken in the second round, could be Howard's twin checking in at 6-6 and 320 pounds. He is also extremely versatile having started at both tackle spots and at guard while at NIU.
The plan in Houston is to start Howard at left tackle and Scharping at left guard. The pair will team nicely with center Nick Martin, RG Zach Fulton, and RT Julie'n Davenport. Even though the rookies are from small schools, they are an upgrade over the Texans' starting unit last season.
The Falcons played in Super Bowl LI at the end of the 2016 season. Ever since, the offensive line play has trended downward. In response, Atlanta decided to select a pair of behemoths in the first round of this year's draft. With the 14th overall pick, the Falcons took Boston College guard Chris Lindstrom (6-4, 310). With the 31st pick, Atlanta went for Washington OT Kaleb McGary (6-8, 324). Both are athletic and should pair nicely together on the right side of the Falcons offensive line for years to come. With center Alex Mack, RG James Carpenter, and RT Jake Matthews; the Falcons will definitely be better than they were a year ago up front.