What does it take to be the guy lining up between the highest paid member (left tackle) and leader (center) of the offensive line? A heck of a lot more than people think.
Playing left guard means being quick enough to set up in pass protection—as you are a help protector for the left tackle. It also means being a pulling guard, as most teams run to the right in the NFL the left guard is asked to kick around and lead block. Being a left guard means being well-rounded. The best players can do it all.
Who are the best at the position right now?
To find out, we've determined what makes up a great guard and how well each 2011 starter represents those traits. The quest comes as part of the B/R NFL 1,000. The new series offers an in-depth look at every position in the NFL, breaking down players' skills in a way never before seen on the Internet.
B/R 1,000 rankings don't assess who had the best year or even who has the most potential. Rather, players—in this case, left guards—are judged on their current skills and mechanics, based on film study of the 2011 NFL preseason and regular season only.
After hours spent scouting every starter and every potential starter, the top 32 left guards have been scored in 10 criteria (here's more on the criteria). In the slides that follow, we'll explain each player's strengths and weaknesses as the final ranking is revealed.