The New Orleans Saints have consistently had one of the NFL’s best offensive lines since Sean Payton first arrived in the Crescent City back in 2006. This remains true today, almost a-decade-and-a-half later. Gone are names like Jahri Evans and Zach Strief, and they’ve been replaced by young newbies like Erik McCoy and Ryan Ramczyk.
It’s still to be determined how 2020 rookie Cesar Ruiz will handle opposing NFL defensive lines, and it’s even still unclear what position Ruiz (and McCoy) will hold down this season. But with two of the best tackles in football anchoring either side of the line, it will make the interior linemen’s job easier regardless.
When Pro Football Focus ranked the best offensive tackle duos across the league, it should come as no surprise that it was the Saints’ pair that made the top of the list:
It’s hard to find many faults in Ramczyk’s game. He recently ranked 26th on this year’s edition of PFF50 — highlighting the 50 best players in the NFL heading into the 2020 season — and there’s a real case for him being the best tackle in the NFL just three years into his career. No tackle had a higher PFF grade than Ramczyk this past regular season (90.9), and he has yet to record a pass-blocking or run-blocking grade below 75.0 for a season since the Saints drafted him in the first round out of Wisconsin. He figures to be among the best at the position for years to come in New Orleans.
Armstead joins him as one of the best pass-blockers in the NFL. Over the past five regular seasons, the only three tackles with 2,000 or more offensive snaps and a better pass-blocking grade than Armstead (91.4) are David Bakhtiari, Joe Thomas and Andrew Whitworth. He has recorded pass-blocking grades of 80.0 or higher in each of those seasons, including 85.0 or higher in four of five years. That kind of stability is easy to take for granted, but it shouldn’t be. The Saints, without question, have two of the best tackles in the NFL.
Winning in the trenches is key for long-term success in the NFL. This is part of the reason the Saints have won the NFC South the past three years, and the other teams atop Pro Football Focus’s list are all among the NFL’s elite.
The reigning NFC Champion San Francisco 49ers made an honorable mention to the top five, the Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs came in at number five, and Kansas City’s opponent in last year’s AFC Championship Game, the Baltimore Ravens, were number three. The Dallas Cowboys (#2) and Indianapolis Colts (#4) rounded out the top five.
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