Where Does the Carolina Panthers' Offensive Line Rank in the NFC South?

The offensive line doesn't always get the fanfare it deserves but the NFC South has some of the top groups in the NFL.

Over the next few weeks we will be going through the division by position, handing out our rankings to determine which team has the best roster entering the 2016 season. The position groups will be ranked based not only on the starter but the depth behind them from first to fourth with the best team receiving four points. These point totals will then be added up to determine who has the best team this season.

1. Carolina Panthers (4 Points)

Starting Offensive Line: Michael Oher (LT), Andrew Norwell (LG), Ryan Kalil (C), Trai Turner (RG), Mike Remmers (RT)

The Panthers saw drastic improvement in their offensive line last year with the addition of Michael Oher and the development of Andrew Norwell and Trai Turner. They were able to bring back their entire offensive line for 2016 and should once again be a strength for this offense.

The biggest question mark though is whether the Super Bowl performance by their offensive tackles was the exception or the start of a trend. Oher and Mike Remmers struggled to keep Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware away from quarterback Cam Newton. For now, and for the purpose of these rankings, I am leaning towards exception.

2. New Orleans Saints (3 Points)

Starting Offensive Line: Terron Armstead (LT), Senio Kelemete (LG), Max Unger (C), Andrus Peat (RG), Zach Strief (RT)

The Saints offensive line greatly improved last year and this was due to the addition of Max Unger. The team traded tight end Jimmy Graham to Seattle in return for the veteran center and he played well for this team last year.

In addition to Unger, they also have two rising stars in Terron Armstead at left tackle and Andrus Peat at right guard, who was drafted in the first round last year. These two should help solidify their offensive line for years to come.

3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2 Points)

Starting Offensive Line: Donovan Smith (LT), J.R. Sweezy (LG), Joe Hawley (C), Ali Marpet (RG), Demar Dotson (RT)

This is a young offensive line that went through growing pains last year trying to protect first overall pick Jameis Winston. The Bucs used two high draft picks in the 2015 NFL Draft by selecting Donovan Smith and Ali Marpet and hope for these two to take the next step in the coming season.

The key for this group though is Joe Hawley and whether or not he can stay healthy. There is no question he is an excellent center when on the field and from 2012 to 2014 he only played in 16 games once and the most starts he had made in a single season was seven. This past season he started 14 games for the Bucs and if he can repeat that this year, they will be an improved group.

4. Atlanta Falcons (1 Point)

Starting Offensive Line: Jake Matthews (LT), Andy Levitre (LG), Alex Mack (C), Chris Chester (RG), Ryan Schraeder (RT)

The Falcons also have an offensive line is improving but in this division it isn't enough to move them up the rankings. Former first-round pick Jake Matthews made tremendous strides in his second season in the NFL and will be looking to build off that success in 2016.

The biggest improvement though will come at center with the signing of Alex Mack, who is one of the top centers in the NFL. As evident by the Saints, an accomplished center can go a long way to solidifying an offensive line.

However, the right side of the line has major question marks with Chris Chester and Ryan Schraeder and this is something opposing defenses will try to target.

Team Quarterback Running Back Wide Receiver Tight End Offensive Line Total
Carolina Panthers 4 3 4 4 4 19
New Orleans Saints 3 1 1 3 3 11
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2 4 2 2 2 8
Atlanta Falcons 1 2 3 1 1 8

*Depth charts courtesy of Ourlads.com

Twitter @BrandonCroce

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