The NFL pass-blocking awards: Best and worst O-lines overall, and more

Second-year guard Quenton Nelson and veteran tackle Anthony Castonzo lead a Colts line that could be the premier offensive front in 2019. Jeffrey Brown/Icon Sportswire

Pass blocking is the NFL's secret -- or at least, underrated -- method for winning.

Analysis based on ESPN's pass block win rate (PBWR) -- a metric powered by NFL Next Gen Stats that we first unveiled last season -- led us to that conclusion and can be found right here.

But what about 2019? Which offensive lines will stand out? That's what this space is for.

Since PBWR is a mere 8 months old, we don't have a formal method of predicting pass blocking just yet. But what we do have are past results, expected starters (thanks to ESPN's Mike Clay) and a dash of my own subjectivity. Blend that all together and we're left with our predicted pass-blocking superlatives for the 2019 season.

Only thing you need to know: PBWR is simply the rate at which an offensive lineman sustains his pass block for at least 2.5 seconds. The full methodology can be found right here.

Best | Most Improved | Worst
Sneaky Good | Wild Card

Best pass-blocking line: Indianapolis Colts

Expected starters: Anthony Castonzo, Quenton Nelson, Ryan Kelly, Mark Glowinski, Braden Smith

The Colts finished the regular season ranked No. 9 overall in PBWR, but there are two main reasons I expect them to fly up the list in 2019 even though they'll play the exact same group they rolled with toward the end of last season.

  • Most of the other top pass-blocking teams lost valuable offensive linemen: Rodger Saffold and John Sullivan are gone from the Los Angeles Rams. The New England Patriots no longer have Trent Brown. Mitch Morse bolted from the Kansas City Chiefs to the Buffalo Bills.

  • Because the Colts didn't start last season with this exact group: They mixed and matched early in the season while not at full strength before deciding on those five beginning in Week 6. From that point on the Colts had a PBWR of 60 percent, fourth best in the league in that span.

Add in that the oldest player on the line (Castonzo) is only 30 and two others were rookies last season (Nelson and Smith), and there's every reason for quarterback Andrew Luck to expect to have elite protection in 2019.