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5 Greatest Left Tackles of All Time

With most quarterbacks being right-handed, an excellent left tackle is vital to protect their blindside. Many of the best offensive linemen are asked to play this important position, making Ravens’ tackle Jonathan Ogden’s selection as the best even more prestigious.

My name is David, and as a former quarterback, nothing mattered more to me than a rock-solid left tackle. A great receiver is wonderful and a good running back takes a lot of the pressure off, but nothing compares to the security and knowledge that you’re not about to get hit from behind by a 240-pound behemoth. 

Along with Ogden, there are plenty of other excellent left tackles to sift through, and deciding on the five best was not easy. In this article, I make my case for the top five to ever play the position, basing my decisions on personal awards such as All-Pro selections, and whatever metrics I can find to help measure a linemen’s impact.

#5 Ron Yary

The Vikings’ defense gets a lot of the credit for their run of NFC dominance in the 1970s. But their offense was no slouch either, thanks in large part to the excellent line play of hall-of-fame left tackle Ron Yary. 

Yary was the first lineman to be selected first overall after being chosen in the 1968 draft out of USC. Despite the high draft selection, Yary didn’t become a full-time starter until his third year in the league. [1]

If all he needed was a little more development, the Vikings’ patience paid off. Yary was named first-team All-Pro six straight times from 1971-1976 and an additional second-team selection in 1977. [2]

During his prime, the Vikings reached the playoffs in all but one season. [3]

Yary was the starting left tackle on three of the Vikings’ Super Bowl teams, though as this miserable Viking fan can tell you, all resulted in blowout losses.

Yary’s play dropped off after 1977, but he remained a solid starter for the purple and gold through his age-35 season before playing one forgettable final year with the Rams. [4]

Despite his impressive run, it took some time for Yary to be recognized by the hall-of-fame, but he finally received the well-deserved call in 2001. [5]

#4 Walter Jones

A sixth overall pick in the 1997 draft, Walter Jones played his entire career for the Seattle Seahawks until he retired in 2008 at 34. While not unusual for linemen to retire in their early 30s, Jones still seemed to be at the peak of his powers having just been named second-team All-Pro. [6]

It took Jones a few years to develop into a high-end left tackle. He started 60 of a possible 64 games his first four seasons but was only recognized with a single pro-bowl selection in 1999. His career finally took the next step in 2001 with a first-team All-Pro selection. [7]

Jones would go on to make five more All-Pro teams from 2004-2008, being named first-team three times. [8]

During the stretch, the Seahawks reached the playoffs every season including a Super Bowl appearance in 2005, a 21-10 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. [9]

Along with fellow hall-of-fame left guard Steve Hutchinson, Jones helped plow the way for one of the most impressive seasons by a running back in NFL history. [10]

Shaun Alexander’s 2005 included over 1800 yards rushing and what was at the time the NFL record for rushing touchdowns with 27. [11]


#3 Joe Thomas

Poor Joe Thomas. The third overall pick in the 2007 draft, Thomas exemplified how difficult it can be for a single player to change a team’s fortunes. Thomas put together an incredible run as the Cleveland Browns’ starting left tackle, starting by finishing second in offensive rookie of the year voting to Adrian Peterson. [12]

While he didn’t have the prototypical size of some tackles further down the list, Thomas leveraged his 310 pounds and 6’6” frame with masterful footwork and hand use to stymie on rushing defensive ends. His performance didn’t go unnoticed, and Thomas would be selected to eight straight All-Pro teams including six first-team nominations. [13]

Despite his dominant performance protecting the quarterback’s blindside, Thomas was part of a decade of futility in Cleveland. Thomas’ Browns never reached the playoffs, recorded just one winning season, and capped it all by going 0-16 in 2017, Thomas’ final year. [14]

There were plenty of times Thomas could have shut his season down early due to injury. But Thomas was the NFL’s ironman for more than a decade and played an incredible 10,363 consecutive snaps before an arm injury in 2017 finally knocked him out. [15]

#2 Anthony Munoz

The third pick in the 1980 draft by the Cincinnati Bengals, Munoz oversaw a decade of high-level play by quarterbacks Ken Anderson and Boomer Esiason. Munoz protected the blindside of several high-powered offenses and was a key catalyst to O’Brian and Esiason taking home MVP trophies in 1981 and 1988. [16, 17]

Munoz’s play was not overlooked, and he was a fixture on the NFL All-Pro teams. He made eleven straight appearances with nine first-team selections. [18]

The Bengals enjoyed plenty of success while Munoz patrolled the left tackle position making the playoffs four times including two Super Bowls, though they fell short on both occasions. [19]

An NFL hall-of-fame selection in 1998, Munoz even served as a gadget player on numerous trick plays and retired with four receiving touchdowns and seven receptions. [20]


#1 Jonathan Ogden

In most cases, offensive linemen move from tackle to guard when they reach the NFL, not the other way around. But despite being the fourth overall pick in the 1996 draft, Ogden began his career at the guard position because the Ravens already had a Pro-Bowl left tackle in Tony Jones. [21]

But Ogden’s unique skill set was evident from the start, and Jones requested a trade in the offseason, allowing Ogden to move to left tackle where he’d spend the rest of his career until his retirement in 2007. [22]

Ogden would be named to the NFL All-Pro team eight consecutive seasons including four first-team selections. Despite Ogden’s dominance, the Ravens rarely featured a high-flying offense as they struggled to find the right quarterback with retreads such as Jim Harbaugh, Jeff Blake, aging Vinny Testerverde, Elvis Grbac, and Kyle Boller among the quarterbacks that enjoyed clean pockets behind the 6’9” 345-pound superstar.

That all changed in 2000 when Baltimore assembled one of the best defenses in NFL history while quarterback Trent Dilfer and the offense did just enough to bring a title to Baltimore. [23]

Ogden continued to excel until his retirement in 2007 at 33. His PFF grade in his final year was a superb 95.0, the third highest since 2006. [24]


Selecting the best linemen was more difficult than choosing among skill position players or even defensive players. There are only so many metrics and stats to look at when determining who you think is the best, with All-Pro selections and career longevity often being the best indicators. 

This leaves a lot of room for debate, and I think many could argue that this top-five list could be ordered in several different permutations. So let me know what you think in the comments below, or if there’s anyone I left off that you think deserves recognition.



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