We continue our positional player power rankings with the second-most important offensive position in football. These guys are in charge of protecting four of the most valuable quarterbacks in the sport.
1. Trent Williams, Washington Redskins: Williams was really beginning to hit his top stride when he was suspended late last season. It looks as though he might be on the right track again this year, so an All-Pro season at left tackle isn't out of the question. He's that good.
2. Tyron Smith, Dallas Cowboys: Last year's No. 9 overall pick had a solid season at right tackle, but still gave up far too many sacks (eight, according to Pro Football Focus). Now, he's making the sometimes tricky transition to the left side, which could mean he's a year away from becoming the dominant player everyone expects him to be.
3. Todd Herremans, Philadelphia Eagles: Remember, it was Herremans, not Jason Peters, protecting Michael Vick's blind side last year, and that Philly line graded out quite well in PFF terms. The 29-year-old vet is by no means consistent, but he's a superb run blocker and steady enough to start for years to come.
4. Demetress Bell, Philadelphia Eagles: Bell was a revelation in Buffalo last season, but there's some concern that his great play was a bit of a fluke. The former seventh-round pick gave up only one sack on 401 snaps at left tackle, but he couldn't stay healthy for the second time in three years. He's replacing the best left tackle in football, so that's a bit of a concern.
5. Doug Free, Dallas Cowboys: Free moves back to the right side, where I believe he'll excel. That's where he was at his best during a very solid 2009 season. The former fourth-round pick struggled last year, but he's only 28 and he should improve in 2012.
There are three other tackles slated to start in the NFC East this year. Jammal Brown has struggled back-to-back years on the right side in Washington, but I'd rank him sixth because he has the ability to dominate again.
Then there are both New York starters, Will Beatty and David Diehl, neither of whom inspire a lot of confidence. Jury's still out on the young Beatty, but I'm surprised Diehl still has a roster spot, let alone a starting spot, with Big Blue.
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