It’s unquestionable that a quarterback is the most important person to an offense and a football team, but who is second? Some would tell you a defensive end who can crash the backfield, or a shutdown cornerback who can eliminate one half of the field in coverage. For me, it’s an offensive tackle.
The left tackle position gained fame in the 1980s as coaches tried to stop power rushers like Lawrence Taylor, and the value of the “blindside” protector soared. In today’s NFL, don’t forget about the right tackle.
Based on the rankings of ProFootballFocus, four of the top five right tackles in the NFL this season were drafted in the first round. The fifth player, Eric Winston, was a first round prospect before tearing his knee up. Seven of the top 10 right tackles in football were also drafted in the first round. Conversely, only three of the top 10 left tackles were drafted in the first round.
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The left tackle position will always be a more glamorous spot, especially in the draft, but those overlooking the importance of the right tackle in the NFL today will be surprised to know that the 2011 NFL draft featured three right tackles drafted in Round 1 (Tyson Smith, Nate Solder, Gabe Carimi).
The right side is making a comeback, and it would be no surprise to see at least one right tackle drafted in the top 5 picks this year. If so, it will be USC’s Matt Kalil.
Kalil is a swing tackle at USC, meaning he switches from the left to right side based on the strongside of the offense. Kalil has shown excellent ability at making a drop step and getting out in front of the pass rush from either side. His rare athleticism at the position makes him my No. 1 tackle and a top 5 player.