Team of the Decade: Offensive Tackle
With the NFL Draft over and the 2019 season fading into the past it is time to take stock of the last decade of NFL action with The Touchdown’s Team of the Decade. This team will be based on a statistical analysis of the past 10 years, looking back at how each player performed overall and on a per game basis. In order to make this a true representative of the decade, only players who have played in 40 regular-season games (a quarter of the decade) will be included, with that being 40 games started for the quarterback position.
In this article we will be looking at the offensive tackle position, which is a position that carries a lot of importance to any offense. The tackles set the edges in the run game and protect the quarterbacks from their biggest threat on the field in the form of the defensive ends. We will be looking to select four offensive tackles for our Team of the Decade, so let’s get down to business.
There are so many talented options at the offensive tackle position that deciding who made the main part of the article and who ended up in the honourable mentions was an excruciating decision. In the end nine players made the main part of the article and the ones listed below were very close to joining them.
The long-time Green Bay contributor has been an incredible servant to his team over the last seven years, making the Pro Bowl twice and being named a First-Team All-Pro once. After a slow start in the league he has established himself as one of the best in the NFL in the past four years.
Over his 13 year career Penn has been one of the steadfast names near the top of the position. He has regularly been considered among the top-20 tackles in the league, but was never voted a First-Team All-Pro in the past decade.
Johnson has been a huge contributor to the Eagles successes in the past decade. He has been voted to the First-Team All-Pro once and made three Pro Bowl’s while continually being considered in the top-20 at his position. However, at right tackle his influence on the game has not been as big as some others.
As part of what has generally come to be seen as one of the best offensive lines in the league Armstead’s consistent play has been a huge part of that. His biggest knock is that he has never been voted a First-Team All-Pro in the past decade, but has made the Pro Bowl twice in his seven years.
Andrew Whitworth | Cincinnati Bengals/Los Angeles Rams
No body has played more games at the position in the past decade than Whitworth who has missed just three of the possible 160 regular-season games in that time. However, longevity is not the reason Whitworth is here, his play over the past decade has regularly seen him considered a top-10 tackle in the league.
2019 was a down year and that is what a lot of people will now think of when they see his name. However, go back and put on any tape from 2013 to 2018 and just watch the way Whitworth performs at left tackle. Those performances have seen him named First-Team All-Pro twice and to the Pro Bowl four times.
Duane Brown | Houston Texans/Seattle Seahawks
A good way to know whether an offensive tackle is considered to be good or not is to look for the reaction from the league when he is traded. We saw that with Brown in 2017 when the Seattle Seahawks acquired him. Pundits and fellow players alike were falling over themselves to talk about how good Brown was as a player.
Brown has only been named a first-team All-Pro once in his career, but has been named to the Pro Bowl four times. He has consistently been listed among the top-10 tackles in the league and deserves a place in the main part of this article.
Jason Peters | Philadelphia Eagles
After starting his career in Buffalo, Peters has spent the entirety of the last decade in Philadelphia. During that time he has established himself as arguably the premier left tackle in the league. Outside of perhaps Whitworth and Marshall Yanda no tackle will have appeared on more top-10 lists in the last decade than Peters.
Peters is one of just five tackles to have been names a First-Team All-Pro twice in the last decade. He has also been voted to six Pro Bowls, and took home a Super Bowl with the Eagles in 2018.
Joe Staley | San Francisco 49ers
Staley has been a one-team player throughout his career and has been a big part of the San Francisco 49ers strong offensive line throughout the decade. While he has not been voted a First-Team All-Pro at all in the decade, you will be hard pressed to find many players more consistently considered a top-10 offensive tackle over the past 10 years. That is reflected in his six Pro Bowl nominations, which while not as prestigious as a First-Team All-Pro selection, is still an impressive number.
Joe Thomas | Cleveland Browns
In the first half of this decade if you had asked someone to name three Cleveland Browns players then you could almost be sure Thomas would be one of those three names. In a world where fantasy football and playmaking is so important that is quite the accolade in itself for Thomas.
Thomas was quite simply a dominant force on the field in the eight years he played in this decade. His seven Pro Bowl nominations are impressive, but his FIVE First-Team All-Pro selections is mind blowing. When you consider that no other tackle in the past decade has more than two, Thomas is a lock to be one of the offensive tackle starts in our Team of the Decade.
Jordan Gross | Carolina Panthers
You will be forgiven if your first instinct when reading Gross’ name is to scratch your head. Gross has not played in the league since 2013 having spent 11 years in the NFL with the Carolina Panthers. However, in those four years Gross played at the start of the decade there are multiple top-10 lists each season which he appears in.
While he did not receive any First-Team All-Pro nominations this decade, to consistently have been selected as a top-10 offensive tackle in those four years makes him worthy of a mention in this article.
Ryan Ramczyk | New Orleans Saints
There is arguably some hypocrisy to including right tackle Ramczyk here while leaving Lane Johnson out in the cold among the honourable mentions. However, Ramczyk has been so impressive in his first three years in the league that it just simply was not right to leave him out of the main part of the article.
In just three years he has been named a First-Team All-Pro once and has consistently been considered among the top-10 tackles in the league. For a young player to come in and be that good immediately is impressive. It will be interesting to see whether Ramczyk becomes a career right tackle like Johnson, or whether the Saints shift him to left tackle when Armstead moves on.
Trent Williams | Washington Redskins
Thankfully we will see Williams back on the field in 2020 for the first time since 2018. Despite some rough stretches in his career, including having a cancerous growth removed in 2019, the mismanagement of which led to him staying away from the Redskins team facility for the entirety of 2019, he has been routinely viewed as one of the very best tackles in the league.
Williams has never been voted a First-Team All-Pro in the nine years he has played this decade. However, he has been voted to the Pro Bowl seven times, and has been listed among the top-10 tackles in around half of those nine years.
Tyron Smith | Dallas Cowboys
Since being drafted by the Cowboys in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft, Smith has established himself as one of the very best tackles in the league. In nine years he has gone to the Pro Bowl seven times. He is also one of those five offensive tackles named a First-Team All-Pro twice or more in the decade.
Smith has become the linchpin of a Cowboys offensive line that has proven to be one of the most consistent over the past five years. He has helped pave the way for Dak Prescott to go from relative unknown, to potentially the next highest-paid quarterback in the NFL.
Offensive Line Selections for The Touchdown’s Team of the Decade:
Starter: Joe Thomas & Jason Peters
Backups: Tyron Smith & Andrew Whitworth
Narrowing the field down to those worthy of the main part of this article was actually tougher than selecting the top-four. Selecting Thomas as one of the starters was an easy task. The tougher question came around who would join him. Ultimately, Peters gets the nod, but either Smith or Whitworth would be worthy starters as well.
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