Top 100 NFL Players by Position: Left Tackles

Movie Quote of the Day:

“So if I asked you about art, you’d probably give me the skinny on every art book ever written. Michelangelo, you know a lot about him. Life’s work, political aspirations, him and the pope, sexual orientations, the whole works, right? But I’ll bet you can’t tell me what it smells like in the Sistine Chapel. You’ve never actually stood there and looked up at that beautiful ceiling; seen that. If I ask you about women, you’d probably give me a syllabus about your personal favorites. You may have even been laid a few times. But you can’t tell me what it feels like to wake up next to a woman and feel truly happy. You’re a tough kid. And I’d ask you about war, you’d probably throw Shakespeare at me, right, “once more unto the breach dear friends.” But you’ve never been near one. You’ve never held your best friend’s head in your lap; watch him gasp his last breath looking to you for help. I’d ask you about love, you’d probably quote me a sonnet. But you’ve never looked at a woman and been totally vulnerable. Known someone that could level you with her eyes, feeling like God put an angel on earth just for you. Who could rescue you from the depths of Hell. And you wouldn’t know what it’s like to be her angel, to have that love for her, be there forever, through anything, through cancer. And you wouldn’t know about sleeping sitting up in the hospital room for two months, holding her hand, because the doctors could see in your eyes, that the terms “visiting hours” don’t apply to you. You don’t know about real loss, ’cause it only occurs when you’ve loved something more than you love yourself. And I doubt you’ve ever dared to love anybody that much…”

– Sean Maguire, Good Will Hunting (1997)

NFL analysts, experts, players, etc. have been releasing their own rankings for the top players in the NFL. The NFL Network just released their Top 100 that is voted on by the players. Also, Mike Miller at Bleacher Report has been coming out with his own rankings of the Top 1,000 players in the NFL.

I decided to create my own version of this, but I’m going to put it together by position (except punters and fullbacks because nobody cares about them) and it’ll only be 100 players. I’m not even sure I can name 1,000 people that I know in the real world let alone the NFL. I’m also going to add honorable mentions and what I like to call the “Rising Star” of each position. Another thing I added when creating these lists is that the players have to currently be on a team. No free agents.

Today’s rankings involves left tackles. This will be easier to write about because the left tackles are the prized possession of the offensive line. They protect every quarterback’s “blind side.” They’re always the first ones to be drafted, they’re also usually the highest paid on the offensive line, and they receive recognition for All-Pro honors. Here’s my list:

Rising Star: Taylor Lewan, Tennessee Titans

Lewan was just a rookie last year and was expected to be the backup left tackle and learn from 3x All-Pro left tackle, Michael Roos, and possibly compete for the starting right tackle spot. However, Roos got injured that landed him on the Injured Reserve list. Lewan emerged as the starting left tackle for the Titans. Unfortunately, Lewan suffered a knee injury that ended his season early. The Pro Football Writers Association named Lewan to the All-Rookie team last year. Lewan is expected to be the starting left tackle for Tennessee this season, and should have a bright future at that spot.

Honorable Mention: Joe Staley, San Francisco 49ers

Staley has started every game that he’s played for San Francisco since getting drafted in 2007. He also hasn’t missed a game in the last three years. Staley is a 4x Pro Bowler (2011-2014) and a 3x Second-team All-Pro (2011-2013). He’s one of the best in the game at pass protection, but he turns 31 next month. It’s almost time for San Francisco to start looking for younger options.

Top 5 Left Tackles:

5. Andrew Whitworth, Cincinnati Bengals

Whitworth is the oldest player on this list, about to turn 34 in December. That’s probably why Cincinnati used up their first two draft picks on offensive tackles in April. Whitworth has started 132 total games for Cincinnati, and became the starting left tackle in 2013. Pro Football Focus named him All-Pro in 2010 and 2014. Whitworth made the Pro Bowl in 2012 and was Second-team All-Pro last season.

4. Jason Peters, Philadelphia Eagles

Peters is a 33-year-old veteran. The former undrafted free agent has started every game he’s played in since 2006, starting every game the past two seasons. Peters is a 7x Pro Bowler (2007-2011, 2013, and 2014). He’s a 2x First-team All-Pro (2011 and 2013) and a 4x Second-team All-Pro (2007, 2008, 2010, and 2014). Peters was also ranked 40th in the NFL Top 100 for this season.

3. Branden Albert, Miami Dolphins

I think that Albert is one of the more undervalued left tackles in the NFL. He’s started a total of 92 games since 2008. Albert was a Pro Bowl in 2013. He missed almost all of last season due to injury. If he’s healthy this season, Miami should have one of its better seasons offensively.

2. Tyron Smith, Dallas Cowboys

Smith has only been in the NFL for four seasons and has started every game but one. Smith is already a 2x Pro Bowler (2013 and 2014). He was First-team All-Pro in 2014, and Second-team All-Pro in 2013. He was also ranked 36th in the NFL Top 100 for this season. Smith signed an 8-year/$109 million contract extension to stay with the Cowboys. He’s going to be protecting the bling side for a long time in Dallas.

1. Joe Thomas, Cleveland Browns

Without a doubt, Thomas is the best left tackle in the NFL. Thomas was drafted third overall in the 2007 NFL Draft. He’s started every game for Cleveland (128 games) since getting drafted. Thomas has made the Pro Bowl every year he’s been in the NFL (2007-2014). He’s a 5x First-team All-Pro (2009-2011, 2013, and 2014) and a 2x Second-team All-Pro (2008 and 2012). It’s a shame though that Thomas plays for Cleveland. He has never had a quality quarterback to protect in his eight seasons in the NFL.

Tomorrow: Top 5 4-3 Defensive Tackles

Thanks for reading

Shane Price
Follow me on Twitter – @priceisright53

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