We're counting down the top 10 players in the NFL's most popular division. This is based mainly on what went down in 2011, but we've projected a little as well. Whittling it down to two handfuls of guys was no easy task—it felt as though a couple dozen Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins were worthy of the top 10.
No. 7: Jason Peters, Offensive Tackle, Philadelphia Eagles
I struggled quite a bit with this one, because based entirely on what went down in 2011, you could probably make a strong argument for Peters to be in one of the top three or four spots on this list.
With that said, if we're considering 2012 projections, Peters loses quite a few points.
When we put together this list again next July, we know he almost certainly will not be included. The four-time All-Pro left tackle ruptured his Achilles tendon twice this offseason, killing his 2012 season and jeopardizing his career beyond that.
It's definitely one of the most heartbreaking stories to hit the NFC East this offseason. It's a tremendous shame that we'll be robbed of countless opportunities to again witness Peters making edge rushers look like nine-year-old girls next season.
There was a time in Peters' career—back in the Buffalo days, mainly—when he was feeding off early success. Someone decided in 2007 that he was a superstar, while the rest of us assumed that was the case. Meanwhile, Peters struggled quite glaringly in '08. His struggles were a little less glaring in '09, but still enough that he shouldn't have been a Pro Bowler that season.
Nevertheless, over the last two years, Peters truly has been fantastic. He gave up just five total sacks on 1,764 snaps (per Pro Football Focus), which simply shouldn't be possible in front of a quarterback like Michael Vick.
Last season, Pro Football Focus rated him as the best offensive tackle in football. Only three qualifying players at that position allowed less pressure than he did, and only Minnesota's Phil Loadholt—who was terrible in pass protection—fared better as a run blocker.
He mauled everyone in site, and it's a damn shame that we won't get to see an encore performance in 2012. But this isn't a eulogy. Peters is good enough to get back to work and return to this list in 2014. Just watch.
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