We begin our 5 episode jump into the trenches with the Offensive Tackles. The bookends of the Offensive Line, their job for the most part in the keep the Quarterback upright and protected. Conventionally the Left Tackle will be the blindside protector and therefore will specialise in pass blocker, where your Right Tackle is given the job of Mauler in the run game. These roles obviously change for Lefties, but for the most part they are taught a certain way.
When ranking the players, we have to bring them together into one category though, as their primary job is still keeping Defenders at bay whether that is downhill for the Running Backs or moving them in any direction away from the Quarterback. We therefore rank them, the top 5 for 2021 and the Rookie who is ready to prove himself at the absolute highest level.
|Ronnie Stanley||Orlando Brown Jr|
|Taylor Lewan||Ronnie Stanley|
|Orlando Brown Jr||Taylor Lewan|
|Jack Conklin||Trent Williams|
|Tristan Wirfs||Tristan Wirfs|
Orlando Brown Jr
You heard it hear first, of their two Offensive Tackles, the Baltimore Ravens let go of the wrong one. Now Brown Jr obviously commanded more in terms of trade capitol, so I am not saying it does not make sense, I am just stating facts. He has been a fixture at Tackle since entering the league, however Orlando told anyone who would listen this offseason, he wants to be the Franchise Left Tackle, as we all know, that is where the money is. He could not have picked a better landing spot himself, Kansas City are already a contender, and any early struggles as ‘the guy’ can be masked by Mahomes. That however will not matter, when he tops the 2021 list.
Any of the Offensive Tackles in the NFL must have a bit of a dream to play in Baltimore. They are a run first team, and although players like Stanley have mastered the nuance of pass blocking, having played O Line myself, nothing is better than downhill blocking. Stanley is now the featured player in the Offensive Line tasked with protecting and enabling the leagues most exciting rushing attack and he is more than capable of doing so. I expect Baltimore to continue their ascension even after losing Orlando Brown Jr.
Now we all know that Derrick Henry could do it without blockers, that is not to say he does not need them, but one on one, I would give Henry the edge over all but a few players. The whole of the Offensive Line is Tennessee has to be held to a certain level, however of the Offensive Tackles, I believe the one who has to play better is Left Tackle Taylor Lewan. The Play Action game of the Titans last year was excellent, and this can in part be attributed to Lewan and his ability to give Tannehill the time he needs to unleash it.
Trey Lance has arrived in San Francisco, and he would do well to become very good friends with Trent Williams. It is not often a Rookie arrives into a more suitable system than the 49ers this year. Decimated by injury last year, they finished well below par, however healthy, this team is ready to compete. Williams has consistently played at a Pro Bowl level in recent years, and if he can keep Lance on his feet, the sky is the limit.
The Rookie out of Iowa was given the unenviable task of protecting Tom Brady in his first year with Tampa Bay and, well, we all know how that went. Wirfs came in and immediately took possession of the Right Tackle job. In doing so he helped to kick start the Running Game just enough so Brady could thrive under Centre. It is not often seen a Rookie playing so well, and without question he could be the top player at his position within a few years.
Taken in the Second Round of the 2021 NFL Draft by Miami, Eichenberg was the 6th Tackle off the board, and one would argue to the most playoff ready team. In the NFL there is an old adage that states, Tackles from Notre Dame can block, and it reigns true for the most part. He may not have been seen as the best in his class, however teams know what they are getting from a Tackle who played for the fighting Irish. With a young Quarterback under centre, not to mention a young line around him, look for Eichenberg and the team to grow and thrive together.
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