Top Ten Offensive Tackle Bookends of 2014by Joe Soriano 1h ago Dallas Cowboys tackle Tyron Smith. Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY SportsYesterday, I decided to rank the top ten safety duos going into the 2014 season, and it’s time to rank the top offensive tackle duos heading into the new season. First of all, I would like to give honorable mentions to the Oakland Raiders, Indianapolis Colts (crossed them off at the last second), San Diego Chargers, New Orleans Saints, and Tennessee Titans (not sure if both Michael Roos and Taylor Lewan will start).10. Tampa Bay Buccaneers Anthony Collins, Demar DotsonThe Buccaneers have one of the most underrated duos in the league, and Dotson definitely deserves to receive more recognition after a breakout 2014 season. Collins benefited greatly from Andrew Whitworth dominating at left guard, but he deserved the contract he received from the Buccaneers and will be an upgrade over Donald Penn. The 28-year-old didn’t even allow Andy Dalton to get hit once in pass protection, per the Pro Football Focus, and he had a career year in a contract year. It will be interesting to see if Collins suffers a drop-off without Whitworth next to him, but he should be fine.9. Philadelphia Eagles Jason Peters, Lane JohnsonJohnson will be suspended for the first four games of the season for violating the league’s performance-enhancing drugs policy, and that’s a shame since he looks poised for a big breakout season in his second year. One of the most athletic offensive tackles in the league, Johnson was highly-rated coming out of Oklahoma and already looked the part as a run blocker in the Eagles run-heavy scheme. The Eagles talented tackle bookend encircles one of the league’s best interiors, and Evan Mathis is simply unstoppable at guard. Jason Peters is also a top-notch blocker, and he recovered from a rusty start of the season (coming off of a major injury) to finish as one of the best tackles in the game. That’s where he is in the league’s hierarchy, and there aren’t many players who have his athleticism and can dominate in the passing and running game. Johnson had struggles as a pass blocker last year, but he looks an awful lot like Nate Solder and should have a similar second-year breakout to the Patriots LT once he returns from suspension. If Johnson does break out, then the Eagles should move into the top five.8. Cleveland Browns Joe Thomas, Mitchell SchwartzJoe Thomas continues to be the best pass blocker in the game, and it isn’t even worth trying to argue against that at this point. He’s as reliable as they come, and he is a sure-fire, first-ballot Hall of Famer. Mitchell Schwartz’s play can be a point of contention, but there’s no doubt in mind that he has all the tools to be an excellent starting tackle. He played at a high level in 2012 before falling down a bit last year, but it’s not like he was bad either. Schwartz allowed 11 sacks, but that total is bloated. I see a bounce-back season in store in 2014, but this ranking is largely based off of Thomas’s ability.7. St. Louis Rams Jake Long, Joe BarksdaleBased on the depth charts I’ve seen, it looks like the Rams starting offensive line will be, from left-to-right, Jake Long, Greg Robinson, Scott Wells, Rodger Saffold, and Joe Barksdale with veteran offseason addition Davin Joseph being the top backup at guard. The Rams have an embarrassment of riches on the offensive line, which gives them a great deal of flexibility. They have four tackles who can conceivably play at a high-level next year, though some may be worried about Long coming off of a severe knee injury. Barksdale’s breakout 2013 was important when Saffold went down, Robinson’s upside has been well-documented, and there’s no doubt that Long played at an elite level in his first year with the Rams.6. Dallas Cowboys Tyron Smith, Doug FreeThe Dallas Cowboys offensive line used to be an oft-criticized unit, but it’s now one of the major strengths of this team and supports an amazing offense that must carry an awful defense. Doug Free was a major punching bag after an absolutely pathetic 2012 campaign, but it was an off year for a guy who was quietly a solid starting right tackle in the previous couple of seasons. He bounced back in a big way in 2013, forming a great partnership with Tyron Smith. With Zack Martin and standout center Travis Frederick on the inside, the Cowboys offensive line will ensure that Tony Romo, who continues to deal with back issues, won’t revert to being an expensive punching bag for defenses.5. Denver Broncos Ryan Clady, Chris ClarkRanking the teams in the top five was no easy task, as the teams from 3-5 are virtually interchangeable, so it might as well be a “tier” of players. The Denver Broncos have three players who can succeed as tackles in this league, but they will kick Orlando Franklin inside to replace the departed Zane Beadles. Franklin’s natural position is tackle, but I think he’ll be better than Beadles, who wasn’t as good in 2013 as he was in 2012. Clady has been slapped with the “overrated” tag recently, but I don’t think he deserves it. I’m not sure he’s elite, but he’s close and is undoubtedly a franchise LT; that’s all that matters. Clark was huge replacing Clady last year, and he might actually be an even better RT than Franklin.4. Minnesota Vikings Matt Kalil, Phil LoadholtIt seems like nagging injuries caused Matt Kalil’s play to slide a bit in 2013 after a phenomenal 2012 campaign, but there’s no doubt that Kalil is one of the most individually gifted tackles in the game. Heading into his third season with a knee injury (and scope) well behind him, Kalil will be a top ten tackle next season. Loadholt is one of the game’s best right tackles, and he’s the best run-blocking tackle in the league for my money (Peters and Solder provide some nice competition).3. Cincinnati Bengals Andrew Whitworth, Andre SmithRanking the Bengals over the Broncos and Vikings was no easy choice, but Andrew Whitworth wasn’t going to be denied this spot. He’s one of the game’s elite offensive linemen, and he managed to play guard and tackle at an elite level last season. He’s even better at tackle, though, and he’s still going strong at the age of 32. Andre Smith can be hit-or-miss at times, but he’s been money over the past two seasons despite some hitches in pass protection. He’ll have lapses like an embarrassingly quick pressure to Jason Worilds last year that led to a hit on Andy Dalton, but he’s still one of the top right tackles around.San Francisco 49ers tackle Joe Staley (74) blocks. Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports2. San Francisco 49ers Joe Staley, Anthony DavisThis ranking might also be controversial, but Joe Staley is just that good. Per PFF, he allowed just 14 pressures last season, but the craziest thing is that he is an even better run blocker. This is key in the 49ers smashmouth rushing attack led by Frank Gore, and Davis is another road-grader in the running game. Davis was still solid last year, but he was even better in 2012. In fact, he was the best right tackle that year, and that’s saying something given how good Sebastian Vollmer is. Run blocking pushes these two to the top, because we know that everyone on this list (well, except for Johnson and Schwartz last year) is assured in pass pro.1. New England Patriots Nate Solder, Sebastian VollmerThese two are clearly the cream of the crop when talking about duos, and it’s such a shame Sebastian Vollmer went down with a gruesome injury at the beginning of the season against the Miami Dolphins. We were robbed of watching the game’s premier right tackle, and it sometimes seems like there’s nothing he can’t do out there. Vollmer is the definition of solid, and his loss was lost in the talk of other big losses such as Rob Gronkowski and Jerod Mayo. Solder is even better than Vollmer, and it’s important to overlook the ten sacks he allowed last year. Sacks are overrated. Sometimes he needs to do a better job of not giving up those kinds of hits, but that’s the lone blemish to an incredibly advanced game. One of the game’s best, Solder is incredibly athletic, can dominate in the running game, and his ability to get out and block on screens makes Shane Vereen‘s life a whole lot easier. Solder isn’t flawless, but it’s telling that the sacks allowed are fluky when he only allowed 12 total QB hits and 23 pressures. He’ll be even better next year, and Tom Brady will certainly reap the rewards of having a healthy Vollmer, though he is a major injury risk due to chronic back issues, next season as well.link
Even before we got Collins, I was less worried about our tackle position than I was about guard. Frankly, I might have been in the minority, but I think Schiano played too many head games with Penn about his weight and being in shape. I think he’ll play better for Oakland this year than he played for us last year.That said, I think Collins has more potential to be an elite left tackle than Penn ever had. I do see our tackle positions to be pretty damn good this year. I just hope Warhop can get some good play out of the guards. I have a lot of hope in Omameh.