Pro Football Weekly's 2018 Offensive Tackle rankings

Cowboys' Smith takes mantle from Thomas as NFL's best tackle

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Pro Football Weekly’s player rankings are compiled with the help of NFL evaluators and coaches, with input from the entire PFW staff. Players are ranked on their performances to date at positions they’ve played and are not projected at new positions which they might move. Rookies are not included in the rankings. NFL personnel participated on condition of anonymity.

We continue our player ratings with PFW’s top 10 tackles. For the full rankings (1-22) and player ratings for every position, along with team-by-team season previews, get our Pro Football Weekly NFL Preview Magazine on newsstands now and online.

1. Tyron Smith, Cowboys

Smith was the heir apparent to Joe Thomas, who led off in this space for several years. Now that Thomas has retired, it's time for the 29-year-old Smith to prove he deserves this mantle. He has already been to five Pro Bowls and earned his second first-team All-Pro nod in 2016, in addition to a pair of second-team honors. He is nearly flawless on the field, but after missing just one game in his first five seasons, Smith has missed three in each of the past two years. At 6-5, 320, he combines excellent athletic ability with unusual natural strength. Smith is amazingly agile for a man his size, and as good as he already is, some believe Smith still hasn’t reached his ceiling.

2. Andrew Whitworth, Rams

Long underrated, Whitworth was perhaps the most valuable and important free-agent signing in the league last season, Case Keenum in Minnesota notwithstanding. The Rams rewarded Whitworth with a three-year, $33.75-million deal ($15 million guaranteed). And after 11 years in Cincinnati, and despite playing in his age-36 campaign, he responded with one of his best seasons. Whitworth was plagued by inconsistency early in his career but has gotten better with age. Over the last five seasons, he’s been at or near the league lead with the fewest QB hurries, hits and sacks allowed of any tackle with more than 1,000 snaps. Whitworth (6-7, 330 pounds) has outstanding size but can play a bit stiff at times and is not the most athletic big man around.

3. Trent Williams, Washington

In a remarkably deep group of contemporary left tackles, Williams is another one who could easily be an All Pro every year — if he could stay on the field. At 6-5 and 337 pounds, the massive Williams is built more like a right tackle than a left tackle, and he has been to six Pro Bowls. As huge as he is, one would expect Williams to be a mauler in the ground game, but that is actually where he struggles at times. Conversely, he is outstanding in pass protection. Williams' only true trouble spot is availability — he missed a game to injury in 2014, two in 2015 and 10 combined because of suspensions/injuries the past two seasons. After gutting out a painful knee injury last year, Williams is recovering from patella tendon surgery.

4. David Bakhtiari, Packers

Bakhtiari was a find by former Packers general manager Ted Thompson in the fourth round of the 2013 draft out of Colorado. He now has one of the most important jobs in the NFL — protecting Aaron Rodgers' blind side. Bakhtiari isn’t particularly big (6-4, 310), but he has great feet and strong hands. In 2016, he was named second-team All Pro by the Associated Press for the first time, and he earned another second-team nod last season.

5. Lane Johnson, Eagles

Johnson is considered the best right tackle in football. He earned first-team All-Pro honors last season, one year after being forced to serve a 10-game suspension for failing a test for PEDs. He is as dominant a run blocker as you’ll find in the game and remarkably productive in pass protection for a guy who has much more brute strength than agile athleticism. Johnson is also quite the character off the field, well-liked by teammates and appreciated by the media.

6. Taylor Lewan, Titans

Lewan was selected to his first Pro Bowl in 2016, his third year in the league, and made his second straight last season. Along with teammate and RT Jack Conklin, he helps form the best young pair of bookends in the NFL. He has a massive frame, standing 6-7, and weighing 310 pounds with nearly 34-inch arms, and if he gets his hands on a pass rusher, the fight is over. Lewan is unusually athletic for a man of his size and specializes in getting to the second level in the Titans' run game.

7. Mitchell Schwartz, Chiefs

The Chiefs raised more than a few eyebrows around the league in 2016, when they gave Schwartz a five-year, $33-million free-agent deal, including $20.7 million guaranteed to leave Cleveland. But he has been voted to two Pro Bowls, in addition to earning a second-team All Pro nod, in his two years in Kansas City. Schwartz is 6-5 and 320 pounds, and though he's not quite as physically intimidating as some right tackles, he is extremely effective. He also has been a calming influence on former No. 1 overall pick Eric Fisher, who seems to finally be settling in at left tackle.

8. Nate Solder, Giants

Solder spent his first seven years in the NFL with the most important job in the league — blind-side protector for Tom Brady. And while Solder has never been to a Pro Bowl or won any particular honors other than his two Super Bowl rings, he is widely recognized as one of the best pass protectors at his position. Still, there were more than a few people surprised this past March, when the Giants made Solder the highest-paid offensive lineman in the league, signing him away from the Patriots for $62 million with $35 million guaranteed.

9. Russell Okung, Chargers

Okung has always been an excellent left tackle, but in his first six years in the NFL with Seattle, he never started all 16 games, and he played in more than 13 just twice. In 2016, his first crack at free agency, Okung represented himself and signed a one-year, "prove it" deal with the Broncos for $5 million, with a four-year team option for $48 million. He started all 16 games for the first time and parlayed that into a four-year, $53-million deal with the Chargers. Last season, in his first year in Los Angeles, he started 15 games and was voted to his second Pro Bowl.

10. Jason Peters, Eagles

Peters would be much higher on this list if he wasn’t 36 years old and coming off a torn ACL and MCL that cost him the Eagles' final 12 games, including the run-up to a Super Bowl triumph. A nine-time Pro Bowler and near-certain future Hall of Famer, Peters has been a first-team All Pro three times and second-team three more. Peters was a high school defensive tackle who went to Arkansas as a tight end and was signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Buffalo Bills in 2004, when he was converted to left tackle.

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