It’s a tough position to evaluate. There aren’t a lot of stats to help with the cause. Styles of play can sometimes skew opinions. And the difference between a win and a loss on any given play isn’t always black and white.
But what is clear is that it’s a vital position. Whether a team is run-first or pass-happy, the ability to control the line of scrimmage is the key to any NFL offense. Thus, having a good offensive line is critical in building a team.
While finding young players in the draft is one way to bolster a team in the trenches, free agency might be a better path. For one thing, players are older and more developed, making them ready to plug into the lineup right away. Secondly, they’ve shown that they can hold up to the rigors of the NFL, something that is no small feat.
So as teams try to improve along the offensive line, the following group would be a great place to start. Here are the top 10 free agent offensive linemen available in 2014:
10. Geoff Schwartz
At 28, Schwartz is coming off perhaps his best pro season. After moving into the starting right guard position, he helped the Chiefs offense take flight, evidenced by the fact that Schwartz didn’t give up his spot once others returned from injury. A better run blocker than pass protector, Schwartz also offers versatility. While he’s better at the guard position, he can play tackle if needed; that’s a nice insurance policy to have.
9. Zach Strief
Strief knows something about playing a high-pressure position, as he’s protected Drew Brees’ blindside for the past three seasons. That means he’s gotten a lot of work at fending off opposing pass rushers, given the Saints penchant for throwing the ball. Not only is he very effective at his job on the field, but Strief is also a leader off of it; in 2012, the 30-year-old offensive lineman was named one of New Orleans’ offensive team captains.