2011 Top 10 NFL Offensive Tackles: Long Edges Thomas and Clady

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2011 Top 10 NFL Offensive Tackles: Long Edges Thomas and Clady
Long has been a driving force to keeping Miami's offense competitive

1. Jake Long: Dolphins

After being the first pick by the worst team in football a few years back, he led them to the playoffs. That should say something about his value to Miami. He has outstanding athleticism and is both one of the best pass-blockers and one of the best run-blockers. He is invaluable to their offense, allowing less than seven sacks in his first two years and allowing the emergence of the wildcat in Miami.

2. Joe Thomas: Browns

A young lineman who has consistently played at the all-pro caliber every season he has been in the league. He is the cornerstone to a rebuilt Cleveland line whose offense has begun to improve in dramatic fashion. He is athletic, playing multiple positions when younger. He also is built at 315 pounds, making him possibly the best lineman in football.

3. Ryan Clady: Broncos

Clady is likely the best pass-blocker on this list and likely the best pass-blocker in the entire league at any position. In his first 20 games in the NFL, he only gave up a half a sack, an incredible accomplishment. His run-blocking isn't bad, but it is not as good as most of the other elite tackles on this list. Another plus is he's only 24 and will continue to get better if healthy.

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4. D'Brickashaw Ferguson: Jets

Brick, under the coaching of Bill Callahan, has become one of the elite blind-side tackles in the league. He has incredible athleticism for the position with great quickness and long arms. He uses these skills to shut down great pass-rushers like he has with James Harrison, Dwight Freeney, and others. He has also become a great run-blocker, paving the way for one of the NFL's best rushing teams.

5. Michael Roos: Titans

A great veteran whose run-blocking has paved the way for stellar seasons for RB Chris Johnson. He is the prototypical build for the position who plays with good quickness and leverage. He is a blue-collar worker who still has many years of productivity in him. His pass-blocking is good as well, even though the Vince Young project didn't work in Tennessee.

6. Jordan Gross: Panthers

The Panthers were awful last season, but not because of the underrated Jordan Gross. A smart veteran with good skills in all aspects of the position. He is a solid run-blocker, which is the reason why both DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart can both be among the best rushers in a season when they're healthy. His pass-blocking is good as well.

CHICAGO - NOVEMBER 01: Tommie Harris #91 of the Chicago Bears is double-teamed blocked by Joe Thomas #73 and Eric Steinbach #65 of the Cleveland Browns at Soldier Field on November 1, 2009 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears defeated the Browns 30-6. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

7. Sebastian Vollmer: Patriots

The most underrated lineman in the entire league, Vollmer is the best right tackle in football who could easily move to the blind side. It's rare to see Tom Brady deal with any pressure, and Vollmer is a big part of that. He is a clever lineman with outstanding strength, great size and good athleticism. He helps the efficient New England offense go.

8. Chad Clifton: Packers

Clifton battled injuries for the last two years, but when he got healthy near the postseason, he played as good as anyone in the postseason. He gave up only one sack in the last six games for Green Bay while facing teams with rushers such as Harrison, Woodley, Abraham, Peppers and Cole. He's old, but now that he's healthy, that play should continue and keep the Packers among the best in the NFL.

9. Marcus McNeill: Chargers

Titans David Stewart #76, Michael Roos #71 and Craig Hentrich #15 celebrate Rob Bironas' winning field goal during second half action. The Tennessee Titans beat the New York Giants 24-21 on November 26, 2006 at LP Field in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Joe Murphy/NFLPhotoLibrary)

McNeill is a special athlete and blind-side protector, often overshadowed by the talent at his position in the AFC (six of the first seven on list are in the AFC). He is massive at over 330 pounds, but still manages to get great leverage. For his weight, he's light on his feet, allowing him to keep Rivers under great protection. His holdout hurt him a bit last year, but he's among the best.

10. Eric Winston: Texans

An under-the-radar player on the Texans offensive line which remains unheralded in a very high-powered offense. They have been one of the best run offenses and pass offenses in football, and a lot of that credit should go to Winston, the best of their linemen. Foster and Schaub have thrived under an improving line in Houston.

Also Considered...

Donald Penn - Buccaneers: great season, deserving of Pro Bowl spot, just misses list

David Stewart - Titans: one of the best right tackles on great tackle tandem in TEN

Jason Peters - Eagles: has not been a great lately, but always a Pro Bowl possibility

Jared Gaither - Chiefs: If he returns to form, he's among the best

Matt Light - Patriots - getting older, but another reason for Brady's great protection

Doug Free - Cowboys - blind-side tackle who continues to improve

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