ESPN dropped the ball on top-ten offensive linemen in 2016 ranking

Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

We're opinionated folk and if we don't agree with someone's perspective, we'll make it a point to explain why.

Everyone has an opinion. And most likely you've stated an opinion, at one time or another, that someone didn't agree with. You rank your best players in the NFL, or even the best players that play for the Cincinnati Bengals. No ranking will generate universal acclaim. Yours will be wrong. Ours is always wrong... damn it.

One ranking that we vehemently disagreed with recently, was ESPN's top offensive linemen for 2016 (In$ider).

The list, which ranks the best players at specific positions three years from now, excluded members from the Cincinnati Bengals. We get that not every ranking and opinion will feature the Bengals. But this is the same offensive line that Football Outsiders ranked No. 12 in adjusted line yards with three starters under 25 years old (Clint Boling, Kevin Zeitler, Trevor Robinson). Andre Smith, now 26 years old, was ranked by Pro Football Focus as the league's top right tackle. Smith won't even be 30 years old by this time three years from now.

Seriously, we have a problem with that.

Our indignation really builds around offensive guard Kevin Zeitler, who the Bengals selected No. 27 overall during the 2012 NFL draft, and Andre Smith.

Zeitler was named the starting right guard almost immediately, replacing the iconic and jovial Bobbie Williams. After a full season, Zeitler was the 12th-ranked guard (and seventh-ranked right guard) in the NFL last season. Not just among rookies, players under 25 years old, or any other criteria. Ranked in the NFL. As a whole. Of the offensive guards that played 75 percent of his respective teams snaps, Zeitler, a top-ten pass blocker, allowed the least amount of hits on the quarterback and fourth-least number of hurries.

Despite allowing seven quarterback sacks in 2012, Andre Smith was rated as the fifth-best offensive tackle by PFF and the top performer compared to all right tackles. Smith scored highly as a run and pass blocker, making him one of the most balanced offensive players on the team. His contractual issues and lack of general interest wasn't related to his performances -- it was the concern of what a big-paying contract would have on him.

ESPN's list currently ranks four rookies, including Eric Fisher, Lane Johnson and Luke Joeckel, all of whom were selected within the first four picks in April. Maurkice Pouncey, Matt Kalil, Andy Levitre, Alex Mack, Tyron Smith, Stefen Wisniewski and Jonathan Cooper rounds out the top-ten offensive linemen of 2016.

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