Grading offensive linemen is obviously a difficult task, as there are no truly objective statistics by which they can be compared. Instead, linemen are judged by the “eye test” more so than at any other position.
You will notice that we do not downgrade right tackles simply for playing the “easier” position. Left tackle is of course a crucial position for any offense, but we do not agree with the long-held belief that it is much more important than the other positions on the line. Thus, over half of our top 15 offensive tackles do not regularly play on the blind side.
1. Joe Thomas, LT, Cleveland Browns
In our opinion, Thomas is hands-down the best tackle in the game.
2. Ryan Clady, LT, Denver Broncos
Clady is dealing with an injury right now, but the 1/2 sack he yielded in his ’08 rookie year is ridiculous.
3. Jake Long, LT, Miami Dolphins
Long might have extra incentive to protect for Michigan teammate Chad Henne.
4. David Stewart, RT, Tennessee Titans
The run of offensive tackles who football fans know may have just ended. Stewart allowed just one sack last season.
5. D’Brickashaw Ferguson, LT, New York Jets
People say he is a finesse player, but we think Ferguson’s run-blocking has improved.
6. Michael Oher, LT/RT, Baltimore Ravens
Like Doug Free, Oher’s athleticism makes him a better fit on the left side of the line.
7. Jon Stinchcomb, RT, New Orleans Saints
Stinchy (can I call him “Stinchy”?) played 1048 snaps last season, yet allowed just three quarterback hits for a team that throws the ball all over the field
8. Damien Woody, RT, New York Jets
Woody is one of the league’s best run blockers, but he also allowed ZERO quarterback hits in 2009.
9. Willie Colon, RT, Pittsburgh Steelers
Big Ben does get sacked a lot, but much of the time it is his own fault.
10. Jared Gaither, LT/RT, Baltimore Ravens
We can’t see why no team is willing to give up a second-rounder for Gaither. Yes, there are concerns about his work ethic, but his ’09 play was outstanding.
11. Phil Loadholt, RT, Minnesota Vikings
If linemen had a legitimate shot at Rookie of the Year, Loadhoalt would have been a candidate last season.
12. Ryan Harris, RT, Denver Broncos
Harris was injured for the majority of the 2009 season. He should bounce back this year.
13. Jordan Gross, LT, Carolina Panthers
Most people think Panthers right tackle Jeff Otah is the better lineman, but Gross is far superior in pass protection on the left side.
14. Sebastian Vollmer, LT/RT, New England Patriots
Vollmer is a swing tackle, but he allowed only one sack last season and was dominant in the run game.
15. Kareem McKenzie, RT, New York Giants
Teammate David Diehl was also a candidate, but McKenzie is a better run blocker.