If Pro Football Focus is correct (which they are, let’s be real) the Jacksonville Jaguars have two of the best offensive linemen in the league protecting Blake Bortles along the interior — center Brandon Linder and newly signed left guard Andrew Norwell.
That’s according to Austin Gayle who analyzed pass blocking efficiency around the league. According to Pro Football Focus, pass-blocking efficiency is the measure in which an offensive lineman allows pressures on a per-snap basis, with weighting towards sacks allowed.
Here’s what Gayle had to say about Norwell.
2. Andrew Norwell, Jacksonville Jaguars (formerly with Carolina)
Pass-blocking efficiency – 98.3
Falling just behind Martin, four-year veteran Norwell earned career-highs across the board in his contract year with the Panthers, leading to a very lucrative offseason for the former undrafted free agent out of Ohio State.
Norwell earned an 88.0 overall grade and a 98.1 pass-blocking efficiency in 2017, eclipsing previous career highs and ranked No. 3 and No. 2, respectively. His efforts this past season, combined with his previous three seasons of quality production, helped him put pen to paper with the Jacksonville Jaguars on a five-year, $66.5 million deal.
Stepping in for five-year veteran and former Jaguars starter Patrick Omameh, Norwell serves as an immediate upgrade to Jacksonville’s interior offensive line.
And here’s Gayle on Linder.
2. Brandon Linder, Jacksonville Jaguars
Pass-blocking efficiency – 99.3
Every year he’s been healthy, Linder has performed at a high level, earning 83.8-plus grades in each of the three years he’s played north of 200 offensive snaps. He turned consistency into elite play in his second year as a full-time center in 2017, as he recorded a career-high 99.3 pass-blocking efficiency across 444 pass-blocking snaps during the regular season.
With aforementioned Norwell added to the mix and former third-round pick A.J. Cann returning for his fourth season, Linder will reclaim his starting position at center and look to build on a strong 2017 season.
It can’t be said enough that Tom Coughlin, Dave Caldwell, and the Jaguars front office have done a superb job building the team around Bortles. The run game was the most productive in the NFL last year and the offensive line only gave up 19 of the 29 sacks that Bortles suffered last year. If they can continue to perform among the highest in the league, there’s no reason the team shouldn’t be a Super Bowl contender late in the season.