Sorry for the brief hiatus, but I wanted to let you properly absorb everything that was happening with the NFL Free Agency period. Now that the storm has calmed a little, let’s pick up right where we left off.
If you haven’t been keeping up with BGN, please check out the archives below to see how other positions have stacked up.
1. Kevin Zeitler - RG - New York Giants
2018 Stats: 3 Sacks - 1 Hit - 7 Hurries Allowed | 7 Penalties
PFF Grade: 74.5
Key Stat: Allowed pressures on just 2% of his snaps, which tied for 2nd lowest in the NFL
Zeitler, a new name to the NFC East, was part of the Odell Beckham Jr. swap and steps in as the best guard in the league. Not only was he phenomenal in pass protection last season, but with 6.7 yds/attempt gained by running backs off of his blocks, he was a dominant run blocker as well. We can tease the Giants all we want, but this guy is a stud.
2. Brandon Brooks - RG - Philadelphia Eagles
2018 Stats: 1 Sack - 2 Hits - 10 Hurries Allowed | 4 Penalties
PFF Grade: 74.0
Key Stat: Allowed pressures on just 2% of his snaps, which tied for 3rd lowest in the NFL
At this point, Brandon Brooks has ascended towards becoming one of the top guards in the NFL. While his run blocking could still use a little improvement, he is a premier pass protector for Carson Wentz. He is signed for the next three seasons so Philly fans can sleep peacefully at night knowing that their dear Carson will be safe.
3. Zack Martin- RG - Dallas Cowboys
2018 Stats: 3 Sacks - 4 Hits - 12 Hurries Allowed | 1 Penalty
PFF Grade: 80.5
Key Stat: 5.1 Rushing Yards gained per attempt off of Martin’s blocks.
Martin’s pass blocking seemed to take a step back in 2018. Just take a look at how his 2018 season stacked up to his other recent years.
2018: 19 pressures on 522 pass-blocking snaps (3.6%)
2017: 11 pressures on 581 snaps (1.9%)
2016: 16 pressures on 571 snaps (2.8%)
2015: 13 pressures on 622 snaps (2.1%)
2014: 10 pressures on 548 snaps (1.8%)
At 28 years old, my money is on 2018 being an outlier over the start of a trend, but just as I did with Lane Johnson, I will dock Martin’s ranking for now until he returns to his former glory.
4. Brandon Scherff - RG - Washington
2018 Stats: 1 Sack - 1 Hits - 7 Hurries Allowed | 2 Penalties
PFF Grade: 70.1
Key Stat: 5.6 Rushing Yards gained per attempt off of Scherff’s blocks.
While Scherff’s play last year was on a higher level than Zack Martin, it was also for just a few games before he was put on IR and done for the season. If he returns to form after the pectoral injury, Scherff will continue to be a force for Washington for many years to come.
5. Will Hernandez - LG - New York Giants
2018 Stats: 5 Sacks - 3 Hits - 21 Hurries Allowed | 2 Penalties
PFF Grade: 65.8
Key Stat: 29 pressures allowed was the most among NFC East guards in 2018.
The 2018 second round draft pick played all 16 games in his rookie season and was even named to the PFWA All-Rookie Team. When compared to other rookie guards, Hernandez stacks up pretty well. While he did allow a lot of pressures in 2018, he also paved the way for Saquon Barkley and other NYG backs to gain an impressive 5.3 yards/attempt off of his blocks. If Hernandez can take a step forward in his sophomore season, the Giants will have a pretty dominant set of guards for the foreseeable future.
6. Isaac Seumalo - LG - Philadelphia Eagles
2018 Stats: 1 Sacks - 5 Hits - 15 Hurries Allowed | 2 Penalties
PFF Grade: 62.1
Key Stat: Allowed pressure on 6.3% of passing plays, which was the second worst mark among guards in the NFC East.
Seumalo took over for Stefan Wisniewski in 2018 and ultimately proved to be reliable enough that the Eagles felt comfortable letting Wiz go. He is the weakest link along the offensive line for the Eagles, but he is in some pretty incredible company. Seumalo is one of the rare NFL linemen who can be an average player at all 5 positions across the line, and that alone makes him incredibly valuable for Philadelphia. Like Hernandez, it’ll be interesting to see what Seumalo can do in his second season as a starter.
7. Connor Williams - LG - Dallas Cowboys
2018 Stats: 5 Sacks - 3 Hits - 19 Hurries Allowed | 5 Penalties
PFF Grade: 58.0
Key Stat: Allowed pressure on 6.8% of passing plays, which was the worst mark among guards in the NFC East.
Considering Williams just finished his rookie season, it’s not quite time to sound the alarms in Dallas, but Williams has a long way to go before he can safely be considered the LG of the future for the Cowboys. In addition to his high-pressure rate, Williams was fairly lousy in run blocking scenarios and also racked up 5 penalties throughout the season. The pressure is on for Williams as he enters year 2.
8. Tyler Catalina - LG - Washington
2017 Stats: 4 Sacks - 1 Hit - 9 Hurries Allowed | 2 Penalties
2017 PFF Grade: 39.2 (Not Qualified)
Key Stat: Missed 2018 due to shoulder injury
Since Catalina has played very few snaps since going undrafted in 2017, the film and data available for him are very limited. It seems safe to say he has the most to prove among starting NFC East offensive guards in 2019.
The top guards in the division are also some of the top guards in the league. The lower half of this list, however, leaves a lot to be desired. With some younger players like Williams, Hernandez, Seumalo, and Catalina who will be given an opportunity to prove themselves in 2019, it’ll be interesting to see how this list shapes up next season. Again, thanks to Pro Football Focus for all statistics involved in this article. Stay tuned to BGN as the series continues with the great Centers of the NFC East, next.