Thanks to the fine work by the folks over at Pro Football Focus, when it comes to grading the body of work of every NFL player, we're able to reasonably compare the Bengals to other teams in the division at a fairly deep level. According to their rankings, the Bengals had the second best interior offensive line in the division behind the Baltimore Ravens. Unfortunately, it wasn't a very close second.
For the Ravens, the real super star in 2012 was right guard Marshal Yanda. Yanda wasn't only the best guard in the division, but he was the second best guard in the league, earning an overall grade of 31.2, excelling equally as a run blocker and a pass blocker. His grade of 31.2, when combined with center Matt Birk's grade of 15.1 and left guard Kelechi Osemele's grade of 3.6, gave the Ravens interior line an overall score of 49.9.
The Bengals had a much younger interior line as two of the three players were rookies and the other only had about four games worth of experience before the 2012 season. Rookie right guard Kevin Zeilter led the way with an overall grade of 13.8. Despite his reputation as a mauler, he was better as a pass protector than a run blocker, though he scored positively in both areas. Next was the only non-rookie, left guard Clint Boling, who earned a grade of 7.5. Finally there's undrafted rookie center Trevor Robinson, who took the majority of the team's snaps at center. He finished with the only negative grade of the three, earning a -1.8. The three combined gave the Bengals interior line a grade of 19.5.
In third place are the Browns. Center Alex Mack earned the best grade in Cleveland with an overall score of 14.9. He graded positively in both run blocking and pass protection, but he scored much higher as a run blocker. Next is left guard John Greko, who earned a grade of 9.4. The Browns would have overtaken the second-place spot, but right guard Shawn Lauvao had a bad year, especially as a run blocker, earning a negative grade of -7.3. The three combined, give the Browns interior line an overall score of 17 even.
Finally, and not surprisingly, in last place are the Pittsburgh Steelers. Their best interior offensive lineman was Maurkice Pouncey, who had a grade of 5.4 in 2012, excelling as a run blocker more than a pass protector. Next for the Steelers was left guard Ramon Foster, who had an overall grade of 2.1. Finally, rookie right guard David DeCastro brought up the rear with an overall grade of -2.8. The three interior linemen combined for a grade of 4.7.
The Bengals intrior line made great strides in 2012. Not only did Zeitler step in and play very well immediately, but the Bengals may have found their future left guard and Marvin Lewis stated that, due to Robinson's play, there would be an open competition for the starting center job.
If the Bengals can keep the rest of the offensive line intact through free agency, they could have one of the better offensive lines in the league in 2013.