The NFL’s top 10 offensive players of 2023: Cowboys’ Zack Martin and Eagles’ Jason Kelce top the list

Centerbacks don’t get enough credit in the NFL unless they give up a sack or don’t make a block. The position of the guard and the center is difficult to assess anyway, especially since most blocking situations are between the A and B gaps and are not necessarily limited to 1v1 situations.

Thanks to advanced statistics, the league has a better chance of assessing how good central defenders are – and how valuable they are to the offensive system in which they are used. Of course, other factors also play a role.

Does blocking runs matter more than print rate? Are great offensive players indoors the ones protecting the quarterback? Can they do better than their teammates, who they line up alongside every week?

Qualifying for this inside line ranking depends on how good the player was in 2022. We’ll use achievements from recent seasons to weigh up the rankings, but performance in 2022 is the key equation in the formula. This is a ranking of the current top indoor offensive players, not based solely on past or future achievements.

Before the 2023 Home Offensive Linemen rankings are scrapped, Those were the rankings from last year:

  1. Zack Martin (Dallas Cowboys)
  2. Quenton Nelson (Indianapolis Colts)
  3. Jason Kelce (Philadelphia Eagles)
  4. Joel Bitonio (Cleveland Browns)
  5. Corey Linsley (Los Angeles Chargers)
  6. Shaq Mason (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
  7. Creed Humphrey (Kansas City Chiefs)
  8. Wyatt Teller (Cleveland Browns)
  9. Joe Thuney (Kansas City Chiefs)
  10. Brandon Scherff (Jacksonville Jaguars)

Without further ado, the top 10 inside offensive linemen in the NFL (guards and centers lumped together). To see our top 10 offensive tackles for 2023, Click here.

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It’s fair to say that Linsley is the best pass blocking center in football. On 538 pass-blocking snaps last season, Linsley didn’t allow sacks up to five pressings with a pressure rate per dropback of 0.9%. He didn’t make the All-Pro team or the Pro Bowl last season because he wasn’t as efficient at run-blocking as he was in previous seasons.

Linsley remains one of the top 3 centers in the game and one of the elite centers for pass blockers, only allowing a 0.9% press rate per dropback over the past three years.

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A Pro Bowler in his second season, Dickerson has become one of the NFL’s best pass blockers. He allowed just one sack and three quarterback hits in 581 pass-blocking snaps, allowing 17 pressures and a 2.9% pressure rate.

Dickerson has also been instrumental in the Eagles being the No. 1 running offense in the NFL for the past two seasons and has been a powerful force in goal-line situations. He was one of the top pass blockers in the league last season and is only 24 years old.

Expect Dickerson to be on this list for a long time to come.

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Jenkins is one of the most versatile offensive linemen in the league, starting at tackle, guard and center for the Packers. Jenkins was already a Pro Bowl guard and returned to the Pro Bowl last season due to his versatility on offense. He started 36 of his 53 games at left-back, including 10 in 2022 (another five starts were at right-back).

Jenkins is at his best at left-back, allowing two sacks and just four pressings in his ten starts there — including just one pressing in his last seven games. His print rate per dropback was just 1.2%.

When the Packers keep Jenkins on their guard, he’s one of the best in the NFL. He’s also a pretty good tackle but could be a lot higher on this list if Green Bay kept him in central defence.

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Do you want to know why the Falcons dominated football last year? Look no further than Lindstrom, who was the league’s top run-blocking guard last season. Atlanta paid Lindstrom well for his 2022 season as he received a five-year, $105 million contract — the highest contract ever earned for his position.

Lindstrom, one of the top tacticians in the league, conceded just two sacks and seven pressings on 490 pass-blocking snaps last season (1.4% pressing rate allowed).

As a second-team All-Pro, Lindstrom made his breakthrough in his fourth season. A 2023 repeat will see Lindstrom ranked as one of the top five central defenders in the game (and he’s only 26).

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Somehow, Thuney gets better season after season and establishes himself as one of football’s elite guards. Thuney had his best passing block year in 2022, when he allowed just one sack and 12 pressings in 634 pass block snaps. The permissible pressure rate of 1.9% corresponded to a career high from the 2021 season.

Thuney isn’t his team’s best offensive player, but he’s been instrumental in making the Chiefs’ offensive line one of the best in the league. He fulfilled his contract in Kansas City.

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Humphrey has made a case for being the top center in football, particularly as a run blocker. He’s been dominant for the Chiefs in that division since joining the league and demonstrated his prowess at closing the A gap in Super Bowl LVII.

He’s also pretty good at blocking passes, considering how often Kansas City throws the ball. Humphrey didn’t allow a sack in 723 pass-blocking snaps and only allowed two quarterback hits and 17 pressings, for a 2.4% allowed pressing rate.

Humphrey’s pass-blocking numbers are actually down a bit in 2022, but he was still good enough to earn Second Team All-Pro honors and a Pro Bowl selection in just his sophomore season.

Humphrey is only 23 years old and already one of the best central defenders in the game.

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The Colts offensive line experienced a massive free fall in 2022, and Nelson was at the epicenter of it. Nelson, who only allowed four sacks in his first four seasons, allowed five of 686 pass-blocking snaps last season. In addition to sacks, Nelson allowed 30 pressings (up from just 28 total over the previous two seasons) and had a career-worst pressing allowed per dropback rate of 4.4%.

Why is Nelson so high after a bad season? Nelson had three First Team All-Pro selections and four total All-Pro selections in his first four seasons, and dominated tackles and edge rushers in pass blocking and run blocking.

The 2022 season could be more of an outlier than the norm for Nelson.

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In another season, Bitonio reaffirmed that he is one of the best guards in football and was selected to the Pro Bowl and All-Pro for a fifth straight year. Bitonio has been a First Team All-Pro for each of the past two years and has only allowed a 2.7% pressure during that time – with just three sacks allowed in 1,221 pass-blocking snaps.

Bitonio allowed just one sack in 2022 despite having 19 pressings and six quarterback hits to his credit (31% pressure rate allowed). He’s one of the best run blockers in the game and with this all-round combination he deserves this award.

Thanks to Bitonio and Wyatt Teller, the Browns are dominant in the running game. Even though Bitonio is nearing his mid-30s (turns 32 this year), he’s getting better in his position every year.

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En route to the Hall of Fame, Kelce had his best season as a pass blocker at age 35. Kelce didn’t concede a sack or quarterback hit in 2022 and gave up just eight pressings with a career-enabling pressing rate-best 1.3% (third-best among all NFL players, at least 500 snaps.)

Kelce has always been a dominant run blocker, and last season was no exception – especially in the second level. That paved the way for another First Team All-Pro selection, his fifth in the last six years.

The elder Kelce brother is one of only eight centers to have received five First-Team All-Pro selections, and the previous seven have each made it into the Hall of Fame. Kelce is showing no signs of slowing down as he enters his 13th season.

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Just another consistent and dominant year for Martin, which is the norm these days. Martin earned another first-team All-Pro selection, his sixth career and eighth All-Pro selection in nine seasons (he’s been All-Pro in every season he has played 11+ games) .

Martin didn’t concede a sack in 594 pass-blocking snaps in 2022, conceding only two quarterback hits, 16 pressings and a 2.7% pressure rate. Ezekiel Elliott’s troubles hurt Martin with run-blocking, but he didn’t have a typical season in that regard, causing holes in the A or B gaps.

Regardless, Martin is still the benchmark for guard games in the NFL and on the way to the Hall of Fame. Only John Hannah and Randall McDaniel have more first-team All-Pro selections than Guard (seven), putting Martin just a point behind.

Considering how good Martin was, he could rank as the greatest guard of all time if he maintains his dominance into his mid-30s.

Other names considered (in no particular order): Wyatt Teller (Cleveland Browns), Shaq Mason (Houston Texans), Isaac Seumalo (Pittsburgh Steelers), Frank Ragnow (Detroit Lions), Kevin Zeitler (Baltimore Ravens), Michael Onwenu (New England Patriots), Teven Jenkins (Chicago Bears), Alijah Vera-Tucker (New York Jets), Brian Allen (Los Angeles Rams), Brandon Scherff (Jacksonville Jaguars).

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