Building a solid offensive line is an essential step towards creating a solid offense. It's pointless to have a great quarterback or a great group of skill players if the offensive line cannot keep the opposition defense at bay for long enough to allow plays to develop.
It's no coincidence that the teams with the best offensive lines almost always make the playoffs. Teams spend a lot of money trying to find a left tackle to protect the blind side of their quarterbacks, but protecting the interior of the offensive line is also incredibly important for an offense to stand out.
Check out the ten best offensive lines ahead of the 2021 season
#1 - Cleveland Browns
The Browns had the best offensive line in the NFL in 2020, and, unsurprisingly, they top our list again.
The interior, featuring Joel Bitonio, J.C. Tretter, and Wyatt Teller, has been a cohesive group for a few years. The arrival of tackles Jedrick Wills and Jack Conklin only makes the line even more potent.
There's no weak link in the Browns' offensive line, which is well-coached by Bill Callahan. Baker Mayfield will feel extremely safe and confident in the pocket behind the team's stellar offensive line.
#2 - Tampa Bay Buccaneers
All five starters on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' impeccable offensive line from last season will be returning to the team in 2021.
Tristan Wirfs, who arrived via the 2020 draft, became the team's starting right tackle in training camp and has played at a high level since Week 1 of last season.
The interior is strong, with Donovan Smith being the only question mark at left tackle. Smith is a good player but often inconsistent.
#3 - Indianapolis Colts
The days of the Indianapolis Colts' quarterbacks suffering a ton of pressure from opposing defenses are long gone. In 2020, the Colts allowed just 21 sacks, the second-fewest in the entire NFL.
Quenton Nelson is one of the best guards in the league and the unit's biggest star, but Braden Smith's impact since being drafted by the team cannot be underestimated. Anthony Castonzo's retirement is concerning. However, Eric Fisher is a decent replacement for the left tackle position.
#4 - Kansas City Chiefs
The lesson from the Super Bowl was clear: protect Mahomes, or the team will struggle. The Chiefs' offensive line suffered some bad luck over the last year, with Laurent Duvernay-Tardiff's opting-out before the season due to COVID-19 concerns and their tackles sustaining injuries throughout the season.
General manager Brett Veach invested heavily in reinforcements to protect Mahomes. Orlando Brown and Joe Thuney arrive to stabilize what promises to be the best left-side of any NFL offensive line in the league.
On the right, Mike Remmers and Kyle Long-form a solid duo despite not being stars. Finally, center Creed Humphrey arrives via the 2021 draft with enough quality to start instantly.
#5 - New Orleans Saints
The Saints saw important players leaving for other teams this offseason because of cap space issues. But the offensive line remains virtually intact.
Terron Armstead and Ryan Ramczyk make an excellent tackle duo, while Andrus Peat is the big name on the interior. Cesar Ruiz and Erik McCoy have also done a fantastic job when they've been on the field since arriving in New Orleans in 2020 and 2019, respectively.
Quarterback Jameis Winston and running back Alvin Kamara will have excellent protection in 2021.
#6 - New England Patriots
Although the Patriots lost the excellent Joe Thuney to the Chiefs, the team has a cheaper replacement in Michael Onwenu, who delivered outstanding performances in his rookie season last year. New correct tackle Trent Brown and Isaiah Wynn will form an excellent tackle duo.
David Andrews and Shaq Mason make up a solid interior offensive line. The Patriots' offensive line is one of the best in the entire NFL.
#7 - Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys no longer have what was by far the best offensive line in the NFL not too long ago. The 44 sacks the team allowed in 2020 was the seventh-highest mark in the entire league. But with the return of key players from injury, it looks like Dallas can feel comfortable with its offensive line again.
The return of Tyron Smith and La'el Collins at tackle will be immense, and the domino effect will mean that Zack Martin, another excellent player, can return to his original position. There are concerns for the rest of the interior, with Connor Williams disappointing since he arrived in the NFL, but overall it's still a quality group.
#8 - San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers needed to improve the interior of their offensive line this offseason and did so, signing the excellent Alex Mack to work again with Kyle Shanahan.
The team also used a second-round pick on Aaron Banks to improve their guard position.
The strength of this group is their tackles. Trent Williams is tremendous and Mike McGlinchey, despite having a below-par season last year, has enough talent to be a big difference-maker. An upgrade to the offensive line would greatly help Shanahan's system in 2021.
#9 - Detroit Lions
The offensive line is the Lions' biggest strength. A group that already had quality names improved even further with 2021 first-round draft pick Penei Sewell. He will be a star for a long time.
Frank Ragnow and Taylor Decker are above average players, while Jonah Jackson had a brilliant rookie season in 2020. Detroit is not a strong team, but their offensive line is tremendous.
#10 - Green Bay Packers
Be it Aaron Rodgers or Jordan Love, the Packers quarterback in 2021 will play behind one of the weaker offensive lines that the team has had in the past few years.
David Bakhtiari will be returning from a severe injury, and Billy Turner at right tackle is far from ideal. Rookie Josh Myers will be the starting center while Elton Jenkins has developed into a star. It's a good group, but more unstable than it has been in recent seasons.