The AFC North was well-represented in the latest edition of PFF’s position-by-position rankings, at offensive tackle. There was just one exception: The Pittsburgh Steelers.
For the second time in the site’s Top 32 rankings for each position leading into the season, the Steelers did not have a representative appear. PFF shut the Steelers out on receiver, as well. Ben Roethlisberger appeared at quarterback, Najee Harris at running back, and Eric Ebron at tight end.
This shutout is less surprising than at receiver, given Pittsburgh’s starting options. Zach Banner had a legitimate shot at appearing this year, had an injury not sidelined him all of last season. He projects as the team’s starter at right tackle this season.
Chukwuma Okorafor was uninspiring as a full-time starter last season (replacing Banner), and did not have a major chance at challenging the list based on his 2020 performance. He projects to slide over to the left side to replace Alejandro Villanueva this season. As full-time starters, each has a chance to play their way onto next season’s list.
Speaking of Villanueva, it was the Ravens’ new tackle who secured the final spot on the list at 32nd overall. Here is what PFF’s Anthony Treash wrote about Villanueva, who signed with Baltimore as a free agent after six seasons as Pittsburgh’s starter.
“Baltimore smartly avoided having to pay Orlando Brown Jr., offloaded him for major draft capital and then signed an average, veteran offensive lineman to replace him. Over the past three years, Villanueva ranks 12th among left tackles in pass-blocking grade and has routinely done his job in the ground game, producing a negatively graded run-block rate that sits in the 82nd percentile at the position. He has just four career snaps at right tackle (all of which came in his first season in 2014), but he should hold up just fine there for Baltimore.”
Villanueva is one of two Ravens on the list. The other is star Ronnie Stanley, the highest-paid tackle in the league (by guaranteed money). Stanley is the highest entry from the division, ranking fifth. As mentioned by Treash in his Villanueva entry, Baltimore did deal starter Orlando Brown Jr. this offseason. Brown ranked 17th for his new team, the Kansas City Chiefs.
Jack Conklin represents the Browns at 12th overall. Twelve spots later, Jonah Williams gets the Cincinnati Bengals on the list at 24th.
The AFC North is one of five divisions to have at least three teams represented on PFF’s list. Only one division — the NFC South — had all four teams appear. New Orleans had the top tackle pairing in the NFL, with Ryan Ramczyk third and Terron Armstead fourth. Tampa Bay had Tristan Wirfs sixth, Carolina had Taylor Moton ninth, and Atlanta had Jake Matthews 16th.