NFL1000: Ranking the Top Left Tackles of 2017 Season

NFL1000 ScoutsFeatured ColumnistJanuary 11, 2018

NFL1000: Ranking the Top Left Tackles of 2017 Season

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    Dylan Buell/Getty Images

    Some would have you believe the left tackle position is under siege. 

    College spread offenses that don't teach NFL-style blocking schemes, limited time for padded practices and edge-rushers' technical advancements have left the league's blindside protectors in a state of regression. You hear it all the time. And there are relative "busts" coming out of college every year who some coaches and executives cite as the prime examples of the theory that it's too hard to project NCAA blockers into a pro setting.

    In truth, the secret to finding a great young left tackle is the same as doing so at any position: the proper combination of player, scheme and team. If your offense is designed around a power-based counter/trap attack, and you select a guy in the first round who blocked out of a two-point stance for a quarterback who took a bunch of short drops and got rid of the ball to receivers who ran simplistic route concepts, it might not be the player's fault that things don't work out.

    Coaches and executives must be on the same page. The former must identify the traits and attributes in prospects that best fit their systems. It's the evaluator's job to understand what can be built on and what might not work for what they do.

    With that in mind, high-quality left tackles come into the league every year under these conditions. They can be first-round stars or second-day surprises, but when their talents match with the ideal environment, they'll thrive. Other coaches and evaluators will continue to run outmoded concepts, refuse to adjust and wonder why they're behind the proverbial eight ball.

    NFL1000 offensive line scout Duke Manyweather has been watching the NFL's left tackles all year. These are his final grades and evaluations for the 2017 regular season, which are based on these criteria:

    Pass Protection: 25 points. How does this lineman handle edge-rushers one-on-one? Can he ride a defender in an arc around the pocket? How well does he adjust to maneuvers such as end-tackle stunts? Can he adjust his placement for inside counters?

    Run Blocking: 20 points. Does this lineman pinch inside well to seal the edge? Does he have the power and leverage to drive-block consistently? Can he hit the second level and block his targets to free his running backs at linebacker depth?

    Power: 20 points. Does he put his hands on the defender's numbers and push him back? How is his upper-body strength? Is he strong enough to one-hand his way through a block if a defender does something he doesn't expect?

    Agility: 25 points. Does he have the agility and light feet to move through a blocking progression against a fast, aggressive pass-rusher? Can he block at the second level on screens and other short passes that require vertical movement? How is his footwork on sweeps and pulls? How quick is he off the snap to deal with whatever's in front of him? Can he regroup after a missed block to clean things up?

    Position Value: 10 points. This takes into account positional importance when comparing scores to other spots on the gridiron. Left tackles are given 9/10 points across the board, leaving them with a maximum score of 99/100.

    Make sure to check out all of the NFL1000 rankings from the 2017 season.



Notable Omissions

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    Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

    When evaluating each position, our scouts need a floor of total snaps to have a sample size. The following players did not make our rankings despite snaps at left tackle in 2017 because they didn't participate in at least 20 percent of their teams' snaps:

    • Billy Turner, Denver Broncos

Nos. 45-41

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    Dallas' Chaz Green
    Dallas' Chaz GreenAssociated Press

    45. Chaz Green, Dallas Cowboys

    Pass Protection: 13/25
    Run Blocking: 
    12/20
    Power: 
    13/20
    Agility: 
    9/25
    Position Value: 
    9/10
    Overall Grade: 
    56/100

    Continuous injuries greatly slowed Green's development. He's spent more time rehabbing than being healthy and training with development in mind. Per our own internal charting, the 25-year-old recorded one of the worst performances in recent offensive line history in Week 10 at Atlanta, surrendering four sacks to Adrian Clayborn.

    Green's biggest issue is his lack of lower-body mobility and posterior chain strength, which both show up in his pass protection. The three-year veteran isn't a starting-caliber left tackle, and he doesn't appear to have the functional strength to hold up and be a starter inside. However, all isn't lost, but this offseason will be huge for him, especially where health is concerned.

    45. Bradley Sowell, Chicago Bears

    Pass Protection: 12/25
    Run Blocking: 15/20
    Power: 11/20
    Agility: 10/25
    Position Value: 9/10
    Overall Grade: 57/100

    Sowell has lasted in the league as long as he has because he's a decent swing tackle on the right side, though teams keep inserting him on the quarterback's blind side--perhaps because he's a tough veteran who understands line calls and technique. His understanding of the game notwithstanding, Sowell is one of the NFL's most physically limited pass-blockers. He doesn't bend to block edge-rushers, he's slow to pick up end-tackle stunts, and he's not very quick to the second level. He probably has a future as a pretty decent in-line guard in a power-based system where his agility isn't tested too often.

                      

    44. Greg Robinson, Detroit Lions

    Pass Protection: 14/25
    Run Blocking: 
    13/20
    Power: 
    12/20
    Agility: 
    13/25
    Position Value: 
    9/10
    Overall Grade: 
    61/100

    The Lions traded for Robinson last June to be a stopgap until Taylor Decker returned from a shoulder injury, but the move didn't work out. Things got so bad, Detroit explored other options after Week 6 and waived Robinson after Week 9. Robinson, the No. 2 overall pick in 2014, is a prime example that development is never a given in the NFL, especially for offensive linemen.

                     

    43. Cedric Ogbuehi, Cincinnati Bengals

    Pass Protection: 14/25
    Run Blocking: 
    12/20
    Power: 
    12/20
    Agility: 
    14/25
    Position Value: 
    9/10
    Overall Grade: 
    61/100

    Cincinnati had high hopes for Ogbuehi, but lack of consistency and overall functional strength have placed limitations on the 2015 first-round pick. The Bengals will have a new offensive line coach in 2018, and it will be interesting to see if that benefits Ogbuehi.

                               

    42. Chris Clark, Houston Texans

    Pass Protection: 14/25
    Run Blocking: 
    13/20
    Power: 
    12/20
    Agility: 
    15/25
    Position Value: 
    9/10
    Overall Grade: 
    63/100

    Clark has played significant snaps in the NFL and is viewed as a reliable backup who can provide adequate pass protection and good run blocking. Ideally, you can live with him as a spot starter, but if he is your best option as a full-timer, there are issues.

                         

    41. Dion Dawkins, Buffalo Bills

    Pass Protection: 15/25
    Run Blocking: 
    12/20
    Power: 
    12/20
    Agility: 
    15/25
    Position Value: 
    9/10
    Overall Grade: 
    63/100

    Dawkins was forced into a starting role due to ongoing injuries to Cordy Glenn. As a prospect at Temple, his physical traits projected to guard or tackle, yet the 6'4", 320-pounder's critical technique factors such as punch timing, hand usage and pass set suggested he could struggle at both positions. Early on, the rookie did struggle in both pass protection and run blocking, but he began to find ways to be effective even if his technique wasn't perfect.

Nos. 40-36

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    Houston's Julien Davenport
    Houston's Julien DavenportJonathan Bachman/Getty Images

    40. Julien Davenport, Houston Texans

    Pass Protection: 16/25
    Run Blocking: 
    13/20
    Power: 
    12/20
    Agility: 
    14/25
    Position Value: 
    9/10
    Overall Grade: 
    64/100

    Davenport is still a work in progress. The rookie started the season as the extra blocking tight end but ended up seeing time at left tackle. Coming out of Bucknell, Davenport was viewed as a project who would need time to develop. But that doesn't always happen. He'll need to continue to develop his technique and build a tool box based around his physical traits to succeed.

                

    39. Brian Mihalik, Detroit Lions

    Pass Protection: 16/25
    Run Blocking: 
    13/20
    Power: 
    13/20
    Agility: 
    13/25
    Position Value: 
    9/10
    Overall Grade: 
    64/100

    Mihalik played some quality snaps for Detroit and displayed flashes that showed—with coaching and development—that he has potential to find an NFL role. He struggles with a lack of consistency in pass-protection fundamentals, though. The 6'9", 315-pounder is a strong run-blocker who looks to strain and finish blocks whenever he can.

              

    38. John Wetzel, Arizona Cardinals

    Pass Protection: 14/25
    Run Blocking: 
    13/20
    Power: 
    14/20
    Agility: 
    14/25
    Position Value: 
    9/10
    Overall Grade: 
    64/100

    In two seasons with Arizona, Wetzel has started 19 games, including 11 in 2017. He's limited as a swing-tackle, but due to injuries, the Cardinals needed him to play significant snaps. He was subpar in pass protection, allowing pressures and quarterback hits at a high rate. The 6'7", 328-pounder doesn't have the necessary range, overall technique and anchor strength to consistently hold up in pass protection. As a run-blocker, Wetzel plays with physicality but lacks the functional strength and hand usage to consistently win at the point of attack.

                       

    37. Rees Odhiambo, Seattle Seahawks

    Pass Protection: 16/25
    Run Blocking: 
    13/20
    Power: 
    13/20
    Agility: 
    14/25
    Position Value: 
    9/10
    Overall Grade: 
    65/100

    Odhiambo saw limited action at left tackle for Seattle and is better fit to play on the interior offensive line. Pressed into service as Seattle's starting left tackle following George Fant's preseason injury, Odhiambo's misplaced alignment was less his fault and more the continued issues the Seahawks have with putting their blockers in the best places to succeed. He's a swing guard, but he needs to stay away from the outside, as he struggles to anchor in the running game, and he's highly susceptible to edge speed. 

                   

    36. Kendall Lamm, Houston Texans

    Pass Protection: 15/25
    Run Blocking: 
    12/20
    Power: 
    13/20
    Agility: 
    16/25
    Position Value: 
    9/10
    Overall Grade: 
    65/100

    Lamm played some left tackle for the Texans with Duane Brown holding out, and the third-year man struggled to hold up against elite edge-rushers. Ideally, he's a tackle/tight end hybrid who can be used in certain power formations as a third tackle. 

Nos. 35-31

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    Cleveland's Spencer Drango
    Cleveland's Spencer DrangoDavid Richard/Associated Press

    35. Spencer Drango, Cleveland Browns

    Pass Protection: 16/25
    Run Blocking: 
    14/20
    Power: 
    13/20
    Agility: 
    13/25
    Position Value: 
    9/10
    Overall Grade: 
    65/100

    Drango was thrust in to the starting left tackle spot when Joe Thomas went down for the season with a triceps injury in Week 7. Drango plays with tremendous effort and battles as a pass protector but is not an ideal option as a long-term starting left tackle. Ultimately, the two-year veteran is an adequate swing tackle who could kick inside and be a decent guard.

                         

    34. Byron Bell, Dallas Cowboys

    Pass Protection: 16/25
    Run Blocking: 
    14/20
    Power: 
    14/20
    Agility: 
    13/25
    Position Value: 
    9/10
    Overall Grade: 
    66/100

    At no point was the plan for Bell to play left tackle, but with Tyron Smith out and Chaz Green's inability to be a functional backup, Bell was the best option. The 6'5", 320-pounder has had success at right tackle and both guard spots. Bell's physical traits are limited, though, and it shows against rushers with elite skills when he is at left tackle.

                 

    33. Ereck Flowers, New York Giants

    Pass Protection: 15/25
    Run Blocking: 
    14/20
    Power: 
    12/20
    Agility: 
    17/25
    Position Value: 
    9/10
    Overall Grade: 
    67/100

    Many had high hopes for Flowers at the start of 2017 after reports continued to surface that he was in the best shape of his career and spent all offseason at the Giants facility. Fast forward to the end of the year, and 2015's ninth overall pick still has the same deficiencies in technique and fundamentals. A lack of effort is also an issue. With a new head coach coming and a new front office already in place, Flowers' days as a Giant may be numbered.

                    

    32. Matt Kalil, Carolina Panthers

    Pass Protection: 17/25
    Run Blocking: 
    14/20
    Power: 
    13/20
    Agility: 
    14/25
    Position Value: 
    9/10
    Overall Grade: 
    67/100

    A change of venue to Carolina did not mean a change in Kalil. The 28-year-old still struggled with his overall technique and consistency. Injuries halted his early development and many bad habits were ingrained, which the veteran keeps reverting to when he is challenged.

                    

    31. Ty Nsekhe, Washington Redskins

    Pass Protection: 16/25
    Run Blocking: 
    14/20
    Power: 
    14/20
    Agility: 
    15/25
    Position Value: 
    9/10
    Overall Grade: 
    68/100

    Nsekhe, usually an above-average swing tackle, had a core injury that required late-September surgery. He returned in Week 10 but was never the same when it came to his lateral agility and anchoring. If he can get healthy, Nsekhe can bring value in different spots, as he also saw time at left guard and right tackle.

Nos. 30-26

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    Miami's Laremy Tunsil
    Miami's Laremy TunsilAssociated Press

    30. Laremy Tunsil, Miami Dolphins

    Pass Protection: 16/25
    Run Blocking: 
    14/20
    Power: 
    13/20
    Agility: 
    16/25
    Position Value: 
    9/10
    Overall Grade: 
    68/100

    Tunsil completed his first full season as a starting left tackle in 2017, and the lack of consistency was glaring. That showed on the second-year blocker's pass set—both in oversetting and undersetting—which leads me to believe his concepts of landmarks and set points are nonexistent.

                 

    29. Garett Bolles, Denver Broncos

    Pass Protection: 16/25
    Run Blocking: 
    14/20
    Power: 
    14/20
    Agility: 
    17/25
    Position Value: 
    9/10
    Overall Grade: 
    70/100

    Bolles was Denver's first pick in the 2017 NFL draft (No. 20 overall), and he took some lumps during his rookie season. There is no denying Bolles' potential, considering the athletic ability he has and the physical mindset he plays with. However, he'll need to refine his footwork, specifically in pass protection. That will allow him to be in position to effectively use his hands—nuances he lacked as a rookie.

                

    28. D.J. Humphries, Arizona Cardinals

    Pass Protection: 17/25
    Run Blocking: 
    14/20
    Power: 
    14/20
    Agility: 
    16/25
    Position Value: 
    9/10
    Overall Grade: 
    70/100

    Humphries made the switch to left tackle and looked promising early for Arizona until injuries derailed his season. He started in Week 1 but suffered an MCL sprain and proceeded to miss the next four weeks. Humphries was eventually lost for season in Week 10 with a knee injury against Seattle. In five starts, the three-year veteran was fairly clean in pass protection, and he didn't surrender a sack.

               

    27. Jeff Allen, Houston Texans

    Pass Protection: 17/25
    Run Blocking: 
    16/20
    Power: 
    13/20
    Agility: 
    16/25
    Position Value: 
    9/10
    Overall Grade: 
    71/100

    Allen started at right guard and at left tackle for Houston in 2017, which is impressive when you factor in he wasn't fully healthy all season after March ankle surgery. The 6'4", 305-pounder's technique and fundamentals allowed him to hold up at left tackle when the Texans needed him, despite his limited physical traits.

               

    26. Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Philadelphia Eagles

    Pass Protection: 18/25
    Run Blocking: 
    15/20
    Power: 
    14/20
    Agility: 
    16/25
    Position Value: 
    9/10
    Overall Grade: 
    72/100

    Vaitai was forced to start at left tackle for the injured Jason Peters, who tore his ACL in late October. The second-year man took his lumps early on but was effective holding the left edge. Vaitai is more of a physical pass protector with a massive frame (6'6", 320 lbs). When he faces rushers with elite traits, he's limited.

Nos. 25-21

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    Tampa Bay's Donovan Smith
    Tampa Bay's Donovan SmithJoe Robbins/Getty Images

    25. Donovan Smith, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    Pass Protection: 18/25
    Run Blocking: 
    14/20
    Power: 
    15/20
    Agility: 
    16/25
    Position Value: 
    9/10
    Overall Grade: 
    72/100

    Smith showed dominant flashes but rarely put it together on consecutive plays. There were times when he looked like he could one of the best in the league—then two plays later, one wonders where it went. I have been hard on Donovan Smith in the past because I wanted more out of him, but his 2017 film shows he is working on his consistency.

                   

    24. Anthony Castonzo, Indianapolis Colts

    Pass Protection: 18/25
    Run Blocking: 
    16/20
    Power: 
    14/20
    Agility: 
    15/25
    Position Value: 
    9/10
    Overall Grade: 
    72/100

    Castonzo was a veteran fixture on a young Colts offensive line. He's a functional starter, but his pass-protection ability has declined from past years. However, the 29-year-old is still a good run-blocker and plays with good explosion and violent hands.

                                

    23. Nate Solder, New England Patriots

    Pass Protection: 18/25
    Run Blocking: 
    14/20
    Power: 
    14/20
    Agility: 
    18/25
    Position Value: 
    9/10
    Overall Grade: 
    73/100

    Solder plays with good physicality and likes to get after it in both pass protection and as a run-blocker. There are times where the 6'8", 325-pounder's weight distribution is off in his pass set, which causes the 29-year-old to lunge and mistime his punch.

                                

    22. Eric Fisher, Kansas City Chiefs

    Pass Protection: 18/25
    Run Blocking: 
    15/20
    Power: 
    15/20
    Agility: 
    16/25
    Position Value: 
    9/10
    Overall Grade: 
    73/100

    Fisher continues to be solid in many aspects, but his inconsistency in pass protection has become worrisome, and he's had many close calls. Fisher's footwork is extremely inefficient, which allows defenders to gain ground as he shortens the corner. He's had success when he's kept rushers off balance by pass-setting firmly as a change from pass-setting with depth.

                      

    21. Cam Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars

    Pass Protection: 17/25
    Run Blocking: 
    17/20
    Power: 
    14/20
    Agility: 
    16/25
    Position Value: 
    9/10
    Overall Grade: 
    73/100

    Robinson was such a polarizing figure coming out of Alabama. Many thought he should have been the first offensive lineman taken in the 2017 draft, but he fell to the second round. Robinson had ups and downs in is first season in Jacksonville, but the flashes were consistent enough to make the team excited for his development. The 22-year-old still needs to develop his set points and anchor points in pass protection, but he played well as a run-blocker.

Nos. 20-16

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    Chicago's Charles Leno Jr.
    Chicago's Charles Leno Jr.Michael Thomas/Getty Images

    20. Charles Leno Jr., Chicago Bears

    Pass Protection: 18/25
    Run Blocking: 
    15/20
    Power: 
    12/20
    Agility: 
    19/25
    Position Value: 
    9/10
    Overall Grade: 
    73/100

    Leno may be one of the most under-the-radar left tackles in the NFL. He's adequate as a pass protector and as a run-blocker, and he puts out solid tape. Leno's skill set is continually growing, especially his hand usage.

                  

    19. Kelvin Beachum, New York Jets

    Pass Protection: 19/25
    Run Blocking: 
    15/20
    Power: 
    15/20
    Agility: 
    16/25
    Position Value: 
    9/10
    Overall Grade: 
    74/100

    Beachum will not amaze you with athleticism or flashy play and is not great at any one thing. But he is good at many of the critical aspects of offensive line play such as footwork, maintaining a functional base of power and playing with leverage. What he accomplishes with limited physical tools is a testament to just how important technique and fundamentals are.

                  

    18. Terron Armstead, New Orleans Saints

    Pass Protection: 19/25
    Run Blocking: 
    13/20
    Power: 
    13/20
    Agility: 
    20/25
    Position Value: 
    9/10
    Overall Grade: 
    74/100

    Armstead made his 2017 debut in Week 6 against Detroit after starting the season on injured reserve due to shoulder surgery. He had some early rust, and it took him awhile to get back into playing shape. The 26-year-old possesses the range to be a special pass protector and is adequate in the run game. His health has been an issue and has limited him the last couple of seasons. Without question, New Orleans is a better unit with him on the field and healthy.

                

    17. Cordy Glenn, Buffalo Bills

    Pass Protection: 18/25
    Run Blocking: 
    17/20
    Power: 
    15/20
    Agility: 
    15/25
    Position Value: 
    9/10
    Overall Grade: 
    74/100

    When Glenn is on the field, he's an excellent left tackle. But the best ability is availability, and in the last two seasons, he's struggled to stay on the field with ankle and foot injuries. Glenn started just five games in 2017, and there were rumors that Buffalo thought about trading him despite giving him a five-year, $60 million contract in May 2016.

                  

    16. Duane Brown, Seattle Seahawks

    Pass Protection: 18/25
    Run Blocking: 
    15/20
    Power: 
    15/20
    Agility: 
    18/25
    Position Value: 
    9/10
    Overall Grade: 
    75/100

    The veteran tackle held out for a new contract until Week 8 against the Seattle Seahawks—only to be traded days later to the Seahawks. The 11-year vet was vocal about wanting to leave Houston, and he got his wish. He showed no rust afterward and was solid in every aspect. Seattle's offensive line was one of the bottom units in the league, so a veteran presence who has been to multiple Pro Bowls was an exact piece the Seahawks needed to keep Russell Wilson protected.

Nos. 15-11

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    Pittsburgh's Alejandro Villanueva
    Pittsburgh's Alejandro VillanuevaJoe Sargent/Getty Images

    15. Alejandro Villanueva, Pittsburgh Steelers

    Pass Protection: 18/25
    Run Blocking: 
    16/20
    Power: 
    14/20
    Agility: 
    18/25
    Position Value: 
    9/10
    Overall Grade: 
    75/100

    Villanueva is one of the best stories in the NFL, from his service in the U.S. Army to being cut from or never signed to multiple practice squads to now becoming the Pittsburgh Steelers starting left tackle. Villanueva has gotten better every season since he became the starter in 2015, and it isn't always pretty, but it has proved to be effective for the massive 6'9" 320-pound tackle.

         

    14. Riley Reiff, Minnesota Vikings

    Pass Protection: 19/25
    Run Blocking: 
    16/20
    Power: 
    15/20
    Agility: 
    16/25
    Position Value: 
    9/10
    Overall Grade: 
    75/100

    Reiff found a new home in Minnesota and is a key piece to the success the Vikings had in the 2017 regular season. He uses his technique and above-average anchor ability to cover the left edge well. Reiff will get after it in the running game and plays with tremendous physicality and adequate power to consistently move the point of attack.

          

    13. Russell Okung, Los Angeles Chargers

    Pass Protection: 19/25
    Run Blocking: 
    15/20
    Power: 
    15/20
    Agility: 
    17/25
    Position Value: 
    9/10
    Overall Grade: 
    75/100

    Okung uses crafty technique to find ways to consistently win despite working through numerous injuries the last few years. Okung was a tremendous free-agent pickup for the Los Angeles Chargers, who desperately needed an upgrade at left tackle to keep Philip Rivers upright.

                     

    12. Ronnie Stanley, Baltimore Ravens

    Pass Protection: 19/25
    Run Blocking: 
    15/20
    Power: 
    14/20
    Agility: 
    18/25
    Position Value: 
    9/10
    Overall Grade: 
    75/100

    Despite playing with many ailments over the course of the 2017 season, Stanley avoided the the dreaded "sophomore slump." When injuries compromise natural athletic ability, it is important for offensive linemen to trust their learned technique, and Stanley did just that all season in both pass protection and the running game. Stanley is lengthy with tremendous range to cover ground in pass protection and shows efficient footwork and above-average hand usage to leverage and drive defenders when run blocking.

          

    11. Donald Penn, Oakland Raiders

    Pass Protection: 19/25
    Run Blocking: 
    15/20
    Power: 
    15/20
    Agility: 
    18/25
    Position Value: 
    9/10
    Overall Grade: 
    76/100

    Penn's 2017 season came to an end in Week 15 after he suffered a foot injury that would require surgery for the 12th-year veteran. The Raiders underachieved, but the gritty Penn still punched the clock every week and went to work, as he's always done over his 170-start career. Penn's physicality as a run-blocker fits exactly the brand of football Oakland likes to play, and he also provides solid pass protection for David Carr. Penn was voted to the 2017 Pro Bowl, his third selection and second consecutive.

10. Joe Staley, San Francisco 49ers

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    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    Pass Protection: 19/25
    Run Blocking: 
    15/20
    Power: 
    14/20
    Agility: 
    19/25
    Position Value: 
    9/10
    Overall Grade: 
    76/100

    The lack of success the San Francisco 49ers have had in recent years overshadows just how consistent Joe Staley has been his entire career. Many fans assumed Staley’s play had significantly declined based on San Francisco's lack of offensive production, but the film tells a different story. Staley is still one of the most athletic and rangy offensive tackles in the NFL and does a nice job in pass protection—despite the 49ers' often being in obvious passing situations when rushers pin their ears back to get after the quarterback.

    —NFL1000 OT Scout, Duke Manyweather

          

    Between Brian Hoyer's needless pocket escapism and C.J. Beathard's "deer in the headlights" approach to pressure, it was tough to diagnose how well any 49ers pass-blocker was performing until Jimmy Garoppolo started taking snaps under center, displaying the processing speed necessary for his position.

    At that point, Staley looked like exactly what he is—a rare athlete at the position who can ride a defender out of the pocket and bury him at the end. Underrated is Staley's power in the run game and when it's required to take a defender down in the passing game.

    —NFL1000 Lead Scout, Doug Farrar

9. Taylor Decker, Detroit Lions

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    Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    Pass Protection: 18/25
    Run Blocking: 
    16/20
    Power: 
    15/20
    Agility: 
    18/25
    Position Value: 
    9/10
    Overall Grade: 
    76/100

    Second-year man Taylor Decker started the season on injured reserve after undergoing shoulder surgery last June. The Detroit Lions welcomed him with open arms in Week 10 as they struggled to protect the left edge with various players.

    Decker was thrust back into the lineup against Cleveland, and though he looked rusty initially, he began to find his groove in his second game back. Detroit should be excited about his versatile skill set, which allows him to play with power as a run-blocker and display tremendous range in pass protection. 

    —NFL1000 OT Scout, Duke Manyweather

                

    With a lean, athletic frame and outstanding footwork, the 6'7", 311-pound Decker is the ideal left tackle for a Detroit offense that prioritizes the pass far above the run. He has the power to drive block and seal the edge, but he excels in getting to the outside of the pocket and establishing his hands to block before a defender can get at him. Tougher edge-rushers can push him back at times, but he has the upper-body strength and overall control to recover well. 

    —NFL1000 Lead Scout, Doug Farrar

8. Jake Matthews, Atlanta Falcons

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    Jeff Haynes/Associated Press

    Pass Protection: 18/25
    Run Blocking: 
    16/20
    Power: 
    16/20
    Agility: 
    17/25
    Position Value: 
    9/10
    Overall Grade: 
    76/100

    Jake Matthews made a significant jump in development in 2016, proving to be a key piece for Atlanta as it reached Super Bowl 51. The sixth overall pick in the 2014 draft continued to build his skill set in 2017, leaning on technique and fundamentals as he bookended the Falcons' left edge.

    Matthews surrendered only three quarterback sacks per our charting while helping pave the way for 1,847 yards and a 4.3 yards-per-carry average in the running game. He showed the footwork, hand placement and body control when asked to reach and seal edge defenders, springing many big runs throughout the course of the regular season.

    —NFL1000 OT Scout Duke Manyweather

                             

    Both as a pass-blocker and run-blocker, Matthews has learned to generate power and consistent strength with a low, wide base and a nasty demeanor when drive-blocking. His footwork can be choppy at times when he's dropping back or on the move—he's not what you'd call a top-10 lower-body athlete at the position—but he has more than enough lower-body power and acceleration to the second level to help Atlanta's multifaceted running game go.

    —NFL1000 Lead Scout Doug Farrar

7. Taylor Lewan, Tennessee Titans

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    Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

    Pass Protection: 19/25
    Run Blocking: 
    17/20
    Power: 
    14/20
    Agility: 
    18/25
    Position Value: 
    9/10
    Overall Grade: 
    77/100

    Taylor Lewan has accumulated 53 starts in his four seasons as a Tennessee Titan, and the last two campaigns, he has played himself into top-10 left tackle consideration.

    He plays with tremendous passion and physicality that seem to be the pulse of the Tennessee offensive line. Lewan is an above-average run-blocker and continues to improve constantly in pass protection. His passion and physicality are a gift but something he needs to keep in check, as he sometimes gets in trouble in pass protection for being too aggressive.

    —NFL1000 OT Scout Duke Manyweather

                    

    The Titans offense regressed in 2017, especially in the passing game, but that wasn't really Lewan's fault. If you want to blame him, you'd have to give him an equivalent amount of credit for the 2016 season, in which head coach Mike Mularkey's "exotic smashmouth" offense was as diverse as it needed to be for optimal success.

    While he can work himself out of blocks at times with his aggressiveness, Lewan strikes forward impressively as a run-blocker. As a pass protector, he's improving his footwork, and the 6'7", 309-pound tackle has the power to catch defenders and walk them around the pocket. 

    —NFL1000 Lead Scout Doug Farrar

6. Jason Peters, Philadelphia Eagles

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    Michael Perez/Associated Press

    Pass Protection: 19/25
    Run Blocking: 
    16/20
    Power: 
    18/20
    Agility: 
    14/25
    Position Value: 
    9/10
    Overall Grade: 
    76/100

    Jason Peters was off to a terrific start in 2017 and looked like one of the most dominant left tackles in the league in all aspects before his 14th season was cut short with a torn ACL and MCL in Week 7 against Washington. When on the field and healthy, Peters is still elite as a pass protector and run-blocker. With the run the Philadelphia Eagles are on, we can only wonder what type of impact Peters would have had in the postseason. We will likely find out what his absence means for the Eagles.

    —NFL1000 OT Scout, Duke Manyweather

          

    When Peters was healthy, he and right tackle Lane Johnson combined to form the best tackle battery in the NFL, and that was a major part of Philadelphia's versatile and devastating offense. Most blockers with Peters' mauling style in the run game don't have his sheer athleticism as a pass-blocker. He gets low and tough in his kick-step, and even when he lets a defender through, he has the savvy and recovery quickness to make up for it. 

    —NFL1000 Lead Scout, Doug Farrar

5. Trent Williams, Washington Redskins

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    Pass Protection: 20/25
    Run Blocking: 
    17/20
    Power: 
    16/20
    Agility: 
    16/25
    Position Value: 
    9/10
    Overall Grade: 
    78/100

    Despite playing through a serious patella knee injury that will require offseason surgery, Trent Williams turned out quality bookending in his 10 games in 2017. He could have risked a patellar tendon rupture but still played with reckless abandon when he was on the field, churning out many highlight-worthy blocks and executing blocks in space. Williams' rare combination of size (6'5", 320 lbs), athleticism, explosive power, technique and physicality makes him one of the best tackles in the NFL, season after season.

    —NFL1000 OT Scout Duke Manyweather

                                                      

    Williams has all the strength and athleticism you'd want in a left tackle, and his pass blocking has moved from impressive to nearly peerless during his time in the NFL. But an inherent nastiness to his on-field demeanor is what sets him apart. Williams is a great technician, but this is a player who wants to physically dominate every defender he faces. And he has the ability to do that more often than not.

    —NFL1000 Lead Scout Doug Farrar

4. Tyron Smith, Dallas Cowboys

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    Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

    Pass Protection: 19/25
    Run Blocking: 
    18/20
    Power: 
    17/20
    Agility: 
    15/25
    Position Value: 
    9/10
    Overall Grade: 
    78/100

    Tyron Smith was never healthy in 2017, and as he went, so did the Dallas offense. His injuries affected his ability to efficiently change directions and expand pass protection set points and also made his anchor inconsistent at times.

    Much was made of Ezekiel Elliott's six-game suspension, but it became clear that the Cowboys offense was dependent on No. 77's ability to be left on an island in pass protection while also consistently executing reach blocks and cutoff blocks in the running game—tasks Dallas inconsistently executed with Smith out of the lineup. Even while injured, Smith performed at a high level that was better than other left tackles.

    —NFL1000 OT Scout Duke Manyweather

                                

    Smith's injuries in 2017 led to a regression in the Dallas offensive line and, along with Ezekiel Elliott's six-game suspension, a regression in the Cowboys offense overall. But when he's healthy, the 6'5", 320-pounder has the league's most impressive combination of athletic ability and pure strength. It's the rare defender who can beat him inside or outside, and though your last memories of Smith are of the injured guy in 2017, remember that he was also the epicenter of the NFL's best line in the few years before. 

    —NFL1000 Lead Scout Doug Farrar

3. Andrew Whitworth, Los Angeles Rams

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    Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

    Pass Protection: 20/25
    Run Blocking: 
    16/20
    Power: 
    16/20
    Agility: 
    18/25
    Position Value: 
    9/10
    Overall Grade: 
    79/100

    The NFL won't recognize an offensive lineman as the MVP, but the case can be made that Andrew Whitworth belongs in the conversation based upon what he has meant to the Los Angeles Rams since signing as a free agent. He not only bolstered their offensive line, but he provided veteran leadership to the entire offense.

    When Cincinnati let Whitworth leave, it lost someone who now has 179 career starts. He also secured first-team All-Pro honors in 2015 and 2017, was a second-team All-Pro in 2014 and is a three-time Pro Bowler (2012, 2015, 2016). But most importantly, he showed tremendous veteran leadership and professionalism on a unit that clearly struggled in 2017.

    —NFL1000 OT Scout Duke Manyweather

                                                      

    Whitworth has played left tackle and left guard in his career, and he could work at an All-Pro level at both. While he's decently athletic, he succeeds with optimal technique and a veteran's understanding of angles and leverage. He's rarely out of position, and he's smart and quick enough in short spaces to adjust to whatever an edge-rusher might throw at him. He was one of the key factors in the Rams' offensive turnaround, and while the bar at left tackle was pretty low before his arrival, the transformation along the line in 2017 was undeniable. 

    —NFL1000 Lead Scout Doug Farrar

2. Joe Thomas, Cleveland Browns

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    Rob Carr/Getty Images

    Pass Protection: 21/25
    Run Blocking: 
    16/20
    Power: 
    14/20
    Agility: 
    20/25
    Position Value: 
    9/10
    Overall Grade: 
    80/100

    Injuries happen in football—it's a known truth! Some are career-ending, many are season-ending, and a great deal leave players week-to-week. Joe Thomas, as he has with many aspects of offensive line play, proved to be an exception to the rule. He didn't miss a snap in his first 10 seasons as a Cleveland Brown, but that streak ended after 10,363 consecutive plays in Week 7 against Tennessee.

    In the first seven games of his 11th year, Thomas maintained an elite level of play despite Cleveland's woes, which culminated in the Browns' 0-16 record in 2017. Thomas makes pass protection look like a well-choreographed dance and would lead you to believe that moving the point of attack in the running game takes little effort. But the truth is Thomas is an outlier in every sense of the word and continues to perform his way to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

    —NFL1000 OT Scout Duke Manyweather

                             

    When healthy in 2017, Thomas retained the textbook technique that has made him the gold standard at his position since he came into the NFL in 2007. He's a powerful run-blocker and has the speed and agility to perform any sweep or pull and get downfield in screen blocking. But his passing blocking—"film porn" for those who study the All-22 to see what makes left tackles great—is why Thomas is special.

    He has no peer when it comes to riding a defender out of the pocket with a perfect arc, and he's nasty enough to slam that blocker out of the picture at the end. If you were to design an ideal left tackle in a laboratory, Joe Thomas is whom you'd wind up with.

    —NFL1000 Lead Scout Doug Farrar

1. David Bakhtiari, Green Bay Packers

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    Pass Protection: 22/25
    Run Blocking: 
    16/20
    Power: 
    16/20
    Agility: 
    20/25
    Position Value: 
    9/10
    Overall Grade: 
    83/100

    Green Bay's David Bakhtiari emerged as an elite pass protector in 2016, and despite missing four games in 2017, he still turned in an All-Pro-caliber 2017 season. Bakhtiari gave up just one sack on the season per our charting and used sound technique and agility to open lanes in the running game. His stellar campaign is easy to overlook with the lack of overall success for the Packers and the Aaron Rodgers injury, but Green Bay has a franchise left tackle it can continue to build around as it shuffles personnel not only on the field, but in the front office as well. 

    —NFL1000 OT Scout Duke Manyweather

             

    A fourth-round pick in 2013, Bakhtiari was pressed into service as Green Bay's starting left tackle in his rookie campaign, and he's been there ever since. The technique fixes he's undergone since then show up on tape, and they make him the NFL's most consistent pass-blocker right now. Bakhtiari comes off the snap very quickly with efficient footwork. 

    His arc isn't always pretty in a Joe Thomas sense, but he's strong and athletic enough to make it work. And given that he's blocked for two highly mobile quarterbacks in Aaron Rodgers and Brett Hundley, Bakhtiari's insistence on not giving up sacks and pressures is even more impressive, as is the fact that he does this in a limited passing offense that forces its quarterbacks to hold the ball longer than they'd like.

    —NFL1000 Lead Scout Doug Farrar