10 Best Offensive Guards in NFL: Leonard Davis a Top Five Player?
By Jonathan Bales
In our Offensive Tackle Power Rankings, we made a point of not favoring left tackles too much. Right tackles, in our opinion, are nearly just as crucial to a team’s success. Similarly, we do not downplay the role of offensive guards in the overall efficiency of a line. Luckily for Dallas, a team that will soon find itself searching for younger guards, the position is often undervalued in the draft.
1. Jahri Evans, New Orleans Saints
Jahri went to the same school as my dad: Bloomsburg University in northern Pennsylvania. The small-school product just became the richest guard in NFL history. That doesn’t make him the best, but being a dominant run blocker and only allowing two sacks in 2009 does.
2. Chris Snee, New York Giants
I hate to put a Giants player so high on any list, but Snee deserves it. He has been underrated for a long time.
3. Logan Mankins, New England Patriots
Mankins is a vicious run blocker and probably the Patriots’ best lineman.
4. Steve Hutchinson, Minnesota Vikings
Many people would put Hutchinson at the top of this list, but his play dropped off quite a bit last season. It helps to have A.P. running behind you.
5. Leonard Davis, Dallas Cowboys
Big L.D. checks in as a top five guard in the NFL due to his solid play in both the running and passing game. We have him an “A-” grade in both areas, and he checked in with the third-highest grade of anyone on the Cowboys last season.
6. Carl Nicks, New Orleans Saints
You won’t see Nicks this high on any other list, but he and Evans have proved that, contrary to popular belief, guards are not necessarily less valuable than tackles in the NFL.
7. Ben Grubbs, Baltimore Ravens
Grubbs flies under the radar in Baltimore due to the hype surrounding offensive tackles Michael Oher and Jared Gaither and because, well, he’s a guard. Grubbs yielded just two sacks in 2009, though, and blocked for one of the league’s most prominent backs.
8. Bobbie Williams, Cincinnati Bengals
Perhaps the first player you have not heard of, Williams is the rock of a Cincy line that does an underrated job in opening holes for running back Cedric Benson and protecting quarterback Carson Palmer.
9. Ryan Lilja, Kansas City Chiefs
Check out these numbers for Lilja in 2009: 1013 snaps, zero penalties, one sack allowed. Yes, he’s aided by Peyton Manning’s quick decision-making, but he’s also quite good.
10. Rob Sims, Detroit Lions
The Seahawks’ skill players didn’t exactly light it up when Sims was in Seattle, but that wasn’t due to his play.