Stock Up, Stock Down for Every NFL Left Tackle

Eli NachmanyCorrespondent IIIFebruary 14, 2013

Stock Up, Stock Down for Every NFL Left Tackle

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    Although much is made of the quarterback position, it's truly the left tackles who facilitate the passing game.

    Bleacher Report's own Matt Miller took the time to rank the best left tackles in the NFL, and we compare the players' rankings from last year to this year.

    Which blindside blockers fared well in 2013, and which ones took a fall?

32. Marshall Newhouse, Green Bay Packers

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    This year's ranking: 32

    Last year's ranking: 31

    Stock: Down

    Why: Marshall Newhouse hasn't exactly proven himself to be a reliable blocker on Aaron Rodgers' left side, slipping from 31 to 32 in this year's rankings.

    Green Bay is a well-oiled machine that operates smoothly, even when one of its parts is faulty, but Rodgers took a lot of hits in 2012. In the pass-rusher-rich NFC North, Newhouse simply can't compete at such a high level.

31. Nate Potter, Arizona Cardinals

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    This year's ranking: 31

    Last year's ranking: N/A

    Stock: Neutral

    Why: Nate Potter and the rest of the Cardinals offensive line had a brutal season, struggling to provide its quarterbacks with a clean pocket.

    It didn't really matter who was under center—Nate Potter was going to allow a pass-rusher to sneak through the line of scrimmage and make a play.

30. Jeff Backus, Detroit Lions

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    This year's ranking: 30

    Last year's ranking: 20

    Stock: Down

    Why: Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson lit the record books on fire in 2012, but everyone else on the Lions didn't quite do their part.

    Jeff Backus wasn't a great pass-blocker, but his real deficiency came in the run-blocking game where the offensive tackle couldn't compete.

29. Wayne Hunter, St. Louis Rams

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    This year's ranking: 29

    Last year's ranking: N/A

    Stock: Down

    Why: Wayne Hunter was a right tackle last year and wasn't graded as a left tackle for the 2011 season, therefore we have no grade to go off of here.

    That said, anything involving Hunter's 2012 season has to be considered down, as he was forced out of New York and was very mediocre in St. Louis as a Ram.

28. J'Marcus Webb, Chicago Bears

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    This year's ranking: 28

    Last year's ranking: 28

    Stock: Neutral

    Why: J'Marcus Webb has proven to be a consistently bad offensive tackle who doesn't belong in a starting role.

    His stock goes neither up nor down here, as he has ranked as the 28th-best offensive tackle for two straight years.

27. Michael Oher, Baltimore Ravens

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    This year's ranking: 27

    Last year's ranking: N/A

    Stock: Neutral

    Why: So much for The Blind Side.

    Michael Oher's transition to left tackle didn't go as smoothly as it did in the movie. The blocker definitely struggled at times, but luckily, his team won the Super Bowl anyway.

26. Donald Stephenson, Kansas City Chiefs

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    This year's ranking: 26

    Last year's ranking: N/A

    Stock: Neutral

    Why: Donald Stephenson may have been a rookie, but he showed no signs of life in limited action against some teams.

    Stephenson had an especially bad game against the Colts and can't be trusted at left tackle in the future, so a move to the right side may be in order here.

25. Jermon Bushrod, New Orleans Saints

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    This year's ranking: 25

    Last year's ranking: 19

    Stock: Down

    Why: It was a down year for the New Orleans Saints, who regressed in the win-loss column on the back of lackluster effort and scandal.

    Jermon Bushrod, specifically, had an off year and ended the season ranked in the 20s as a left tackle, down from his rank as the 19th-best tackle in 2011.

24. Sam Baker, Atlanta Falcons

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    This year's ranking: 24

    Last year's ranking: N/A

    Stock: Neutral

    Why: Sam Baker didn't receive a ranking last season because Will Svitek was the team's left tackle. This year, Baker graded out as a mediocre blindside blocker.

    The Falcon doesn't have an impressive skill set, and Atlanta should look to make a switch this offseason.

23. Jake Long, Miami Dolphins

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    This year's ranking: 23

    Last year's ranking: 6

    Stock: Down

    Why: Yikes, it was a bad year for Jake Long.

    Long couldn't acclimate to Miami's new blocking scheme, and his game certainly suffered as a result, considering his large drop down the list here.

22. Anthony Castonzo, Indianapolis Colts

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    This year's ranking: 22

    Last year's ranking: 22

    Stock: Neutral

    Why: He wasn't as bad as J'Marcus Webb, but Anthony Castonzo was another tackle who went from mediocre to mediocre in staying at his 22nd rank.

    Andrew Luck's great rookie season is even more impressive when considering how bad his offensive line was, especially his left tackle.

21. King Dunlap, Philadelphia Eagles

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    This year's ranking: 21

    Last year's ranking: N/A

    Stock: Down*

    Why: King Dunlap was a major downgrade from the Eagles' 2011 offensive tackle, Jason Peters, who sat out all year due to injury.

    Peters' rank of No. 1 in 2011 factors into Dunlap's stock going down, even though the tackle had an average year by his own standards.

20. Cordy Glenn, Buffalo Bills

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    This year's ranking: 20

    Last year's ranking: N/A

    Stock: Neutral

    Why: Cordy Glenn, a rookie, didn't receive a rank last season, but his 2012 year wasn't all that bad for a struggling Bills team.

    Buffalo got used to solid play on the left side from Glenn, who figures to keep improving as the year goes on; 20 is a good foundation upon which he may build.

19. Rodger Saffold, St. Louis Rams

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    This year's ranking: 19

    Last year's ranking: 25

    Stock: Up

    Why: Rodger Saffold is making steady improvement as the Rams' left tackle, and it seemed as though the entire team played with inspiration under new head coach Jeff Fisher.

    Fisher has always had good offensive lines during his coaching career, and getting the most out of Saffold will be a goal moving forward.

18. Donald Penn, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    This year's ranking: 18

    Last year's ranking: 9

    Stock: Down

    Why: Not as big of a dropoff as Jake Long here, but certainly a significant fall off the map with this blocker.

    Donald Penn needs to improve his pass-blocking skill set if he wants to become a better player on the Buccaneers' star-studded offensive line.

17. Tyron Smith, Dallas Cowboys

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    This year's ranking: 17

    Last year's ranking: N/A

    Stock: Neutral

    Why: Tyron Smith's ho-hum move to the left side was neither good nor bad, so there's not much to say here.

    The Cowboy blocker had an average season that was very representative of the average season his team had.

16. Jordan Gross, Carolina Panthers

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    This year's ranking: 16

    Last year's ranking: 7

    Stock: Down

    Why: Jordan Gross started to show signs of age in 2012, as he wasn't quite able to keep up with the young pass-rushers like he used to.

    Gross is still a solid left tackle, but age is taking its toll, and the Panthers may not have much longer with the blocker.

15. William Beatty, New York Giants

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    This year's ranking: 15

    Last year's ranking: 30

    Stock: Up

    Why: Big year for William Beatty, as the tackle improved significantly from his 2011 form to become a slightly above-average blocker.

    Beatty was ranked 30th last year, so moving all the way up the list (a whole 15 spots) is certainly impressive.

14. D'Brickashaw Ferguson, New York Jets

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    This year's ranking: 14

    Last year's ranking: 14

    Stock: Neutral

    Why: D'Brickashaw Ferguson proved, once again, that he's a solid left tackle who's not going anywhere.

    Despite playing for the mediocre Jets, Ferguson is one of the better left tackles in the league and doesn't get the credit he deserves.

13. Branden Albert, Kansas City Chiefs

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    This year's ranking: 13

    Last year's ranking: 17

    Stock: Up

    Why: Branden Albert is a generally good left tackle, and he made an encouraging improvement as the year went on.

    The Chiefs will be faced with a tough decision this offseason, as they could release Albert and nab Luke Joeckel with the first overall pick.

12. Matt Kalil, Minnesota Vikings

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    This year's ranking: 12

    Last year's ranking: N/A

    Stock: Neutral

    Why: Matt Kalil wasn't a top-10 left tackle in 2012, but he had a banner season that showed just why Minnesota drafted him last year.

    Kalil still has room for improvement, but a great rookie season affirms his status as one of the best in the league.

11. Jared Veldheer, Oakland Raiders

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    This year's ranking: 11

    Last year's ranking: 15

    Stock: Up

    Why: Jared Veldheer is steadily improving and was the best Raiders offensive lineman this season, considering how the rest of the line was mediocre.

    Whomever plays quarterback for the Raiders in 2013 can be sure to have a very solid blindside blocker in Veldheer.

10. Nate Solder, New England Patriots

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    This year's ranking: 10

    Last year's ranking: N/A

    Stock: Neutral

    Why: Bill Belichick is a genius, and he proves it once again here with Nate Solder's successful move to the left side.

    The Patriots receive consistently good offensive line play, and Solder's great season factored into New England's banner year.

9. Trent Williams, Washington Redskins

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    This year's ranking: 9

    Last year's ranking: 11

    Stock: Up

    Why: Trent Williams is one of the best left tackles in the league, and he finally broke the top 10 with his effort in 2012.

    Though he got off to a shaky NFL start, Williams has locked down the left side for the Redskins and cleared lanes for both Alfred Morris and Robert Griffin III in 2012.

8. Eugene Monroe

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    This year's ranking: 8

    Last year's ranking: 5

    Stock: Down

    Why: Though he technically went down in the rankings, Eugene Monroe had another great season and deserves recognition.

    The Jaguars may have been awful, but it wasn't Monroe's fault, as the player kept the blind side safe for Jacksonville signal-callers.

7. Michael Roos, Tennessee Titans

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    This year's ranking: 7

    Last year's ranking: 4

    Stock: Down

    Why: Just like Eugene Monroe, Michael Roos went "down" to No. 7 in Matt Miller's latest rankings, which shows how elite the blocker is.

    He may not be a top-five player anymore, but Roos had a solid season and wasn't the weak link on an awful Titans team that needs to improve all across the board.

6. Andrew Whitworth, Cincinnati Bengals

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    This year's ranking: 6

    Last year's ranking: 10

    Stock: Up

    Why: Andrew Whitworth had a very solid year and has become one of the league's best pass-blockers, facilitating Cincinnati's Andy Dalton-to-A.J. Green combination.

    Dalton can thank Whitworth for the success he has enjoyed early in his career, considering just how good a blocker Whitworth has been.

5. Ryan Clady, Denver Broncos

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    This year's ranking: 5

    Last year's ranking: 27

    Stock: Up

    Why: Ryan Clady had an enormous year for the Broncos as he attempted to earn himself a big contract after the season.

    Clady fared much better with dropback passer Peyton Manning under center as compared to option-runner Tim Tebow, which shows that he's solid in conventional scenarios.

4. Joe Thomas, Cleveland Browns

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    This year's ranking: 2

    Last year's ranking: 4

    Stock: Down

    Why: Say what you will about the Cleveland Browns, but Joe Thomas had another great season and proved his worth on Brandon Weeden's blind side.

    The fourth-best left tackle in the NFL didn't blink after a stellar 2011 campaign and continued to play well in 2012.

3. Russell Okung, Seattle Seahawks

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    This year's ranking: 3

    Last year's ranking: 26

    Stock: Up

    Why: Similar to Ryan Clady, something just clicked for Russell Okung in 2012, as the Seahawks got great play from their left tackle.

    In both situations, a quarterback switch paved the way for better left tackle play. The fact that Okung succeeded with Russell Wilson under center just shows how athletic the tackle is.

2. Joe Staley, San Francisco 49ers

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    This year's ranking: 2

    Last year's ranking: 16

    Stock: Up

    Why: Joe Staley went from decent left tackle to elite blocker in just one year, which speaks to Jim Harbaugh's effect on the team.

    Staley had to deal with the awkward switch from iso-style run game to wide-open option spread in the middle of the season, but he managed to keep steady and execute his blocks well, which is impressive.

1. Duane Brown, Houston Texans

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    This year's ranking: 1

    Last year's ranking: 3

    Stock: Up

    Why: Duane Brown went from one of the best left tackles in the NFL to the best left tackle in the NFL, which speaks to the Texans' blocking schemes.

    Arian Foster is a solid running back, but it's easy to be a top rusher when Duane Brown is clearing the way. The great play of Brown facilitated the Texans' offensive firepower from their skill position players in 2012, and he doesn't look to be slowing down.