Silverman: Smith, Williams and Bakhtiari Are NFL’s Best Offensive Tackles

Steve Silverman
August 15, 2018 - 3:12 pm
Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys tackle Tyron Smith (77) in action against the Los Angeles Rams at AT&T Stadium on Oct 1, 2017.

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It’s never as easy as it looks to rank skill-position players. The numbers are certainly a big part of it, but Tom Brady is not the No. 1 quarterback in the NFL merely because he threw 32 touchdown passes and just eight interceptions.

His ability to read defenses, lead his teammates and make plays when the pressure is thickest is the key to his success.

Offensive linemen have very few statistics that catch the eye of most fans. However, even those who are interested in the NFL solely because of their participation in fantasy football know that the top players in the league can’t accomplish much without help from their blockers.

OTHER RANKINGS: QB | RB | WR | TE

In this version of our NFL player rankings, we look at the top offensive tackles in the league.

1.Tyron Smith, Dallas Cowboys

Joe Thomas has retired, and that means Smith inherits the mantle of the No. 1 offensive tackle in the league. Smith has been one of the most consistent blockers in the league for years, but as the top guy, it means he has come close to perfection.

Not that he doesn’t make mistakes, but he comes with a full effort on every play and he has been to five Pro Bowls at this point in his career. The 6-5, 320-pound Smith moves extremely well for a man his size and has perhaps the best hand punch of any blocker in the league. While those competing against him have to deal with his strength and power on an every-play basis, it’s his quickness and agility that seal the deal.

Smith has wonderful feet and he continues to get a little bit better every year. If he can stay healthy for 16 games – he missed three games in each of the last two years – the Cowboys have a star left tackle who can provide leadership as well as devastating blocking.

2. Trent Williams, Washington Redskins

Williams is nearly Smith’s equal in terms of all-around ability, but he missed 10 games the past two seasons as a result of injuries and suspensions, and that’s an issue. However, when Williams is on the field, he is a formidable presence.

He has remarkable size at 6-5 and 337 pounds, and that’s more the size of a mauling right tackle than a left tackle. But the extra weight is not a problem when it comes to pass blocking as Williams moves well and he has tremendous skill in that area. He has wonderful feet and that is somewhat unexpected for someone so large.

He is a good run blocker, but he could use some improvement in that area. If he can show just a bit more consistency opening holes in the running game, Williams could be a first-team All-Pro every year.

3. David Bakhtari, Green Bay Packers

Bakhtiari almost saw his place among the best tackles in the game disappear after he suffered an ankle injury in training camp August 4, but he has recovered nicely and returned to practice. His return to practice is an indication of how tough Bakhtiari is on an every-week basis.

Bakhtiari protects Aaron Rodgers’ back side, and he gets the job done with his dogged determination as he simply will not quite on a play and always uses his quick feet to get in perfect position to block his opponents.

Bakhtiari is not a big man for his position at 6-4 and 310 pounds, but he is very strong for his size and his overall skill and determination to keep Rodgers upright makes him one of the best in the business.

4. Lane Johnson, Philadelphia Eagles

Johnson anchors the Philadelphia offensive line from the right tackle spot, and he has earned his status for his toughness and ability to engage defensive ends and pass-rushing linebackers and maul them with his nastiness.

He was a first-team All-Pro during the Eagles championship season, and he overcame a brutal 10-game PED suspension in 2016 that threatened to ruin his career. He came back as a dedicated and focused player who was determined to win the battle on each play. He was particularly effective against the Vikings in the NFC Championship game and the Patriots in the Super Bowl.

Johnson’s calling card is his power and strength, but he is much more agile than most right tackles, and that separates him from the competition.

5. Taylor Lewan, Tennessee Titans

Lewan gets the edge over Andrew Whitworth of the Los Angeles Rams because he is younger and still surging in his career. While Whitworth had a brilliant 2017 season, it’s difficult to see the 36-year-old tackle maintaining that level much longer.

Meanwhile, Lewan has made two straight Pro Bowls from his left tackle position, and he gets pushed by teammate Jack Conklin, who excels at right tackle for the Titans. Lewan is a fantastic athlete who is in brilliant shape at 6-7 and 310 pounds. While he could put on a few pounds, it doesn’t seem like he needs to add strength at this point in his career.

Once Lewan gets his hands on a pass rusher, he can lock him in his tracks and neutralize his opponent. His athleticism also pays huge dividends in the running game as he can get to the next level and bowl over linebackers and defensive backs.

6. Andrew Whitworth, Los Angeles Rams

7. Nate Solder, New York Giants

8. Russell Okung, Los Angeles Chargers

9. Mitchell Schwartz, Kansas City Chiefs

10. Jack Conklin, Carolina Panthers

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