Cleat Geeks

Pro Bowl Preview: Offensive Lineman

 

ProBowlAwardThe NFL Pro Bowl held January 31st in Hawaii is coming up quickly! In my series of articles I will breakdown each position of players and pick who I’d want to build my top Pro Bowl team!

There were six tackles, six guards, and four centers chosen to participate in the Pro Bowl this year. I will be giving you a short bio about them since it’s almost impossible to find stats for individual offensive lineman. These guys are often overlooked. The lineman do not get the publicity, but they have the most important job on the field. You usually only hear an offensive lineman’s name when he did something bad, so I am looking to change that here. It’s time for the big boys up front to be in the limelight!

 

Tackles

Trent Williams, Redskins

The 27-year-old will be enjoying his fourth consecutive Pro Bowl. Williams was drafted in 2010 out of Oklahoma where he was first-team All-Big 12 twice. He was voted the #47 player in the NFL by his peers, and made second-team All-Pro this season.

 

Jason Peters, EaglesJason-Peters

This is the eighth Pro Bowl that the 33-year-old has been voted into. He has been first-team All-Pro twice and second-team four times. He was ranked the 40th best player in the NFL this year, but had an up-and-down season. He often played well when he was in, but left the field with injuries many times throughout the season. Injuries can start to pile up for big guys, so we will see how many more seasons Peters has in him.

 

Andrew Whitworth, Bengals

Whitworth is the old man among the tackles at age 34. This will only be his second Pro Bowl after not being voted in the previous two seasons. Last year Whitworth was voted to the second-team All-Pro, and this season he was voted first-team for the first time. In the 2014 season, he gave up zero sacks and only one hit on quarterback Andy Dalton. Whitworth has had a great season this year that was recognized by the Bengals having the second-best rushing success on the left end. He has put in 10 seasons of hard work for the Bengals, and I am glad that he was recognized for it again this year.

 

Tyron Smith, Cowboys

Smith is an athletic tackle that was drafted out of USC in 2011. Coming out of college Smith was actually a right tackle, but switched to the left his second year. After just one year on the left, Smith has been voted to three-straight Pro Bowls. He was also voted the 36th best player in the NFL by the rest of the players.

 

Joe Thomas, Browns

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Joe Thomas was selected third overall out of Wisconsin in 2007. Since then, he has been selected to all nine Pro Bowls, which made him the first lineman ever to do so. He also has made the first team All-Pro six times, and recently was voted the 25th best player in the NFL by his peers. Thomas is not only the best offensive lineman on his team, he’s the best player. He undoubtedly talented, and he always suits up no matter the circumstances. If I had to pick the best tackle in the NFL, I would pick Thomas closely followed by Smith.

 

Guards

David DeCastro, Steelers

The fourth-year right guard out of Stanford will be making his first appearance at the Pro Bowl. DeCastro was also named first-team All-Pro for the first time this season. He is one of the best young lineman in the NFL, and he has often been compared to the great Steve Hutchinson who DeCastro grew up idolizing.

 

Mike Iupati, Cardinals

Iupati signed a five-year deal with the Cardinals this past off-season after spending his first five seasons with the 49ers. He has been selected to four consecutive Pro Bowls, earned first-team honors in 2012, and made second-team All-Pro this season. Iupati is not the greatest pass blocker at the left guard position, but he easily is one of the best in the run game.

 

Zack Martin, Cowboysd1efbccc73b224f0b3001b239b3d062a

The second-year right guard out of Notre Dame has made the Pro Bowl in each of his first two seasons. Martin also earned first-team honors as a rookie and second-team this season. He became a starter early at Notre Dame, and he was always available to play. He holds his school’s record for all-time career starts (52), and that consistency has translated to the pro game where he hasn’t missed a game yet.

 

Trai Turner, Panthers

The second-year right guard out of LSU was selected to his first Pro Bowl. Turner is the kind of player that is only going to get better. He shocked many when he left LSU to enter the draft after his Sophomore year. Since he did not get all of the experience that most get in college, he is still learning and developing. He’s figuring out how to play, but he always has the physicality needed for the position. In his 1,416 snaps in college, he recorded 115 pancake blocks! In his final game, The Outback Bowl, he recorded ten pancake blocks! This kid definitely has a bright future ahead of him.

 

Josh Sitton, Packers

The left guard of the Packers has been a strong, consistent contributor to the “Green and Gold” for quite a while now. Eight years to be exact. This will be Sitton’s third Pro Bowl, and he has also been selected to the second-team All-Pro for three consecutive years. He is an offensive line coach’s dream because of his versatility. He began his college career at Central Florida as a right guard, but switched to right tackle at the beginning of his Sophomore season. He played this position the rest of his college career, but was converted to a left guard on the Packers. With the injuries and struggles from the rest of the line in Green Bay, Aaron Rodgers really needed someone to protect his blind side. Just a couple weeks ago they asked Josh Sitton to move over a play tackle with Bakhtiari out! With his physical attributes and the versatility to play multiple positions, Sitton will continue to have a long, successful career.

 

Marshal Yanda, Ravens

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The right guard from Iowa is the total package: he uses his hands well to control the defender, has a strong frame, his football instincts are among the best, and he is great at both run and pass blocking. Yanda has been selected to the All-Pro team the past two years and to five-straight Pro Bowls. The Ravens also named him their MVP for the season. He has one of those great stories that shows that hard work pays off. He played his first two college seasons at North Iowa Area Community College, but finally was able to play of the Iowa Hawkeyes. While at Iowa he studied Economics. Many athletes take the easiest classes they can, but not Yanda. His hard work on the field and in the classroom continue today as he plays in the NFL. That is why he is able to beat the defender physically and mentally. He easily is the best offensive guard in the NFL, and I don’t think there is a close second.

 

Centers

Alex Mack, Browns

One of the more underrated centers in the game would have to be Alex Mack. He’s a great player, but that sometimes goes unnoticed with Joe Thomas getting all of the lineman love there. This will be the third Pro Bowl for Mack in his seven-year career. He suffered a broken leg in October 2014, and he seemed to be getting back into the groove the first part of the season. Once he got over those obstacles, he was great. I’m sure he will continue his quietly good play, and it’s great that he’s getting the recognition he deserves.

 

Mike Pouncey, DolphinsMikePouncey

Mike Pouncey, brother of Maurkice Pouncey, was selected for his third consecutive Pro Bowl. He was drafted in the first round out of the University of Florida where he was a first-team All-American twice. During his freshman year, he actually made the switch to defensive line and finished with eight tackles and an interception. He made the switch back to offensive line his sophomore year, and that decision seemed to have worked out for him ever since.

 

Ryan Kalil, Panthers

In his ninth season, Kalil has the most NFL experience out of the Pro Bowl centers. He is been a great player for awhile now, and that is proven by being selected to the Pro Bowl for the fifth time. His intensity and hustle on the field is often recognized, and it helped him get voted to the first-team All-Pro for the second time this season. It doesn’t matter if it’s a quarterback draw or an outside pitch, Kalil is always the one lead blocking. If the Panthers score a long touchdown run, you can pretty much guarantee that Kalil was out in front making the key block. Although he wasn’t voted to the top-100 players this year, he was voted #93 last year. Centers often get the least amount of credit on the offensive line, unless they screw up, but it is impressive how Kalil has gotten the lineman’s spotlight to shine on him in Carolina.

 

Travis Frederick, Cowboys

Travis Frederick

The third-year center out of Wisconsin has been an incredible impact to Dallas’ offensive line since day one. He was voted to the All-Rookie team, second-team All-Pro the past two years, and also the Pro Bowl the past two years. Even though Frederick is an animal on the field, he is just as known for his smarts off the field. When he was at the University of Wisconsin, Frederick double majored in computer engineering and computer science. Although those skills don’t directly transfer to football, his attention to detail for both has helped him excel. At 24-years-old, he is already among the top offensive lineman in the league. He is definitely set up for a long, successful career.

 

 

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