Bears offensive tackle Charles Leno plays against the New York Giants on Nov. 24, 2019 at Soldier Field.
Bears offensive tackle Charles Leno plays against the New York Giants on Nov. 24, 2019 at Soldier Field.

Welcome to our 10-part series in which we rank the four NFC North clubs at every position. Our rankings are based on performance to date, scouting reports and a consensus of evaluations from general managers, coaches and scouts around the NFL.

Part 5 – Offensive Lines

1. Green Bay Packers – B-: While the NFC North’s four offensive lines are not as bad as the division’s tight ends, there are no complete groups to pick from.

The Packers come out on top because David Bakhtiari is one of the best left tackles in football, and while new arrival Ricky Wagner is not in departed free agent Bryan Bulaga’s class, he does stay healthier, is better than average and they give the Packers the best of the three positions among any of their division opponents.

Where they start to slip is inside. Corey Linsley is fine at center but nothing special and Lane Taylor and Billy Turner at the guard spots are just guys filling spots until the Pack can do better.

If you doubt the interior of this line is a concern explain why Brian Gutekunst drafted John Runyan, Jake Hanson and Simon Stepaniak back-to-back-to-back in last month’s draft.

2. Minnesota Vikings – C+: The Vikings aren’t bad from center out to left tackle with Garrett Bradbury, Pat Elflein and Riley Reiff.

Bradbury was drafted 18th overall last year, allowing Elflein to kick back over to guard, where he may not be quite as good as he is at center, but he is above average and both players have nice upsides.

Reiff is solid at left tackle, a typical Kirk Ferentz offensive line warrior who isn’t special but will battle you all day long, and he won’t hit 32 until December.

Where things start to get a bit dicey are on the right side.

The Vikes need an upgrade over seven-year veteran journeyman Dakota Dozier at guard, and Brian O’Neil, a late second-round pick in 2018 at 6-7. He has the frame for right tackle, but he struggles to get to 300 pounds and gets manhandled at times.

That’s why Rick Spielman used a second rounder on Ezra Cleveland this year to compete with O’Neil and perhaps some day replace Reiff, and also drafted guard Blake Brandel.

T3. Chicago Bears – C: The Bears interior group has big question marks but may also have the talent to be solid or better.

James Daniels projects as a top center if the Bears choose to put him there and leave him there, but he’s really struggled at guard.

Cody Whitehair can play anywhere on the offensive line and went to the Pro Bowl two years ago as an alternate at center but his best position appears to be guard.

At the other guard, Rashaad Coward and Alex Bars are intriguing prospects but that’s all they are at the moment. It seems likely veteran free agent Germain Ifedi, a former first-round pick of the Seahawks, will keep them on the bench for one more season.

Bobby Massie is actually better than he gets credit for at right tackle, but occasionally needs help in pass protection. At left tackle, Charles Leno is among the NFL leaders in offensive line penalties over the last three seasons and suffers far too many mental lapses.

T3. Detroit Lions – C: Left tackle Taylor Decker was supposed to be the building block of general manager Bob Quinn’s Lions rebuild after he used his first ever first-round pick on him in 2016.

After a strong rookie season he missed half of 2017 with a torn labrum in his shoulder that required surgery. While he’s been healthy the last two seasons, he’s been very average on the field.

Center Frank Ragnow was Quinn’s 2018 first-round pick and played well as a rookie but struggled at times last year.

Beyond that, this year will be rebuild time again. Oday Aboushi, working on his fifth NFL club in six seasons, played the second half of last year at right guard, and Joe Dahl played 13 games at the other guard in his fourth season as a Lion after playing just six, six and 10 games his first three seasons.

The pair couldn’t keep Quinn from using third- and fourth-round picks this year on guards Jonah Jackson and Logan Stenburg.

Free agent Halapoulivaati Vaitai arrives from Philadelphia to man the right tackle spot, but it’s worth noting after he played in 48 games the last three seasons, often in relief of Jason Peters and Lane Johnson, Philly elected not to bring him back even though Peters is on the street now, too.

Analysis