Top interior OLs reside in AFC East

July, 23, 2011
7/23/11
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USA Today continues its positional series of top players in the NFL, focusing on interior offensive linemen. The top two spots belong to linemen in the AFC East -- Jets center Nick Mangold is No. 1, while Patriots guard Logan Mankins is No. 2.

As part of the piece, the importance of Mangold's role is highlighted while including a Patriots twist: How Mangold matches up with players such as Patriots nose tackle Vince Wilfork.

Because the Jets don't consistently double-team Wilfork -- trusting Mangold in a one-on-one situation -- it allows them to release guards to help double-team on the edge.

"I always look forward to playing the Patriots and getting Vince (Wilfork)," Mangold says of his battles with the 325-pound Pro Bowl nose tackle. "You know you'll be there for 60 minutes-plus."

Meanwhile, Mankins edges Saints guard Jahri Evans as the top guard. Evans is slotted at No. 3.

Mike Reiss

ESPN New England Patriots reporter

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