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Friday, June 10, 2011
Fired-up Friday: Left tackle rankings

By Dan Graziano

After spending some time with you guys in the comments section Thursday afternoon, I was tempted to make today's debate topic "Best Family Guy Characters." (1. Peter, 2. Stewie, 3. Quagmire, 4. Brian, 5. Adam West)

I even thought about taking it up a notch and doing "Best Secondary Family Guy Characters." (1. Carter Pewterschmidt, T2. Tom Tucker, T2. Diane Simmons, 4. Ollie Williams, 5. The Evil Monkey)

But after writing about offensive lines Thursday and sending in my picks for best left tackles in the league for next week's Power Rankings, I have offensive line on the brain. So I thought we'd debate left tackles. I put only one NFC East left tackle in my leaguewide top 10, though two others did receive consideration. And I like all four players a lot, though the guy sitting at No. 4 has slipped a bit in the past couple of years. Anyway, here's my list, and I'll talk more after you read it:
  1. Jason Peters, Eagles
  2. Trent Williams, Redskins
  3. Doug Free, Cowboys
  4. David Diehl, Giants

As I did a few weeks ago when the debate was Tony Romo vs. Eli Manning, I had No. 2 and No. 3 close enough that I thought about making it a tie. But we don't cop out here on the NFC East blog, so I went ahead and ranked them. Free was excellent last year in his first season as Dallas' left tackle, but if I were picking one of them for next season and beyond, I'd take my chances on Williams' raw talent and upside. Though I wouldn't be crushed if I had the third pick in this draft and ended up "stuck" with Free.

As for Peters, it bears mentioning that the Eagles' quarterback throws left-handed and left tackle in Philly isn't the "blindside" protection position it is on other teams. It's conceivable that the fact that Michael Vick can see a pass-rusher coming from Peters' side helps Peters, who wasn't great in 2009 when Donovan McNabb was there but looked leaner, quicker and much more effective in his second year in Philly. It's also possible that teams line up their best pass-rushers on the other side against Philly so as to come at Vick from the back, though I haven't seen any breakdowns that would tell me that. So while the disclaimer does matter on Peters, I still think he's the best player in this group and deserves to be ranked first no matter which hand his quarterback throws with.

So have at it, and please play nice. Think about those good, old-fashioned values on which we used to rely ...