Thursday, August 27, 2009

Top 5 Offensive Tackles

Here is the 9th installment of Ray Didinger's Top 5's. Click here for the first 8

1. Bob Brown (1964-68) – Brown played 10 seasons in the NFL, five with the Eagles, two with the Los Angeles Rams and three with Oakland. His size, strength and mean streak made him one of the most feared linemen in the game. Brown was the Eagles first-round draft pick in 1964 (second pick overall) after an All-America career at the University of Nebraska.He was voted into three Pro Bowls in five seasons with the Eagles. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2004.

2. Al Wistert (1943-51) – This will give you some idea of how much pro football has changed: When Wistert was earning All-Pro honors with the Eagles in the 1940s, his nickname was “Big Ox” and he was all of 6-1 and 215 pounds – or roughly the size of Jason Avant. Wistert was a superb technician who excelled at the trap block, opening holes for Steve Van Buren on the championship teams of 1948 and ’49. He earned All-Pro honors eight times in his nine-year career, while playing 60 minutes every game as both an offensive and defensive tackle.

3. Jerry Sisemore (1973-84) –At 6-4 and 260 pounds, Sisemore was not a massive tackle in the mold of a Bob Brown, but he had great strength and exceptional balance. He was rarely off his feet and had surprising speed which allowed him to make downfield blocks that other tackles could only dream about.

4. Jon Runyan (2000-08) – When the Eagles signed Runyan to a six-year, $30 million contract, some people thought they overpaid for the free agent tackle. As it turned out, Runyan was a bargain. He played nine seasons in Philadelphia and ran his streak of consecutive starts to 192. Runyan is one of the toughest players ever to wear an Eagles uniform. He played last season with a knee injury that would have put most guys on IR. He played most of the 2007 season with a tailbone contusion that made it impossible for him to sit during the team meetings, yet he never missed a game.

At 6-7 and 330 pounds, Runyan is a classic mauler who was ideally suited to the power running game of the Tennessee Titans, but he had to adapt to the West Coast offense in Philadelphia. He had to become more of a pass blocker than a run blocker and while he made no secret of the fact he wished coach Andy Reid ran the ball more, he developed into a dependable pass blocker.

His one-on-one battles with Giants defensive end Michael Strahan were classics. They squared off 18 times, including twice in the postseason. Strahan had the advantage early, but Runyan won most of the later match-ups, which shows how much he improved in the area of pass protection.

Runyan’s aggressiveness which – OK – sometimes extended beyond the whistle, rubbed off on the rest of the O-line and gave it a personality, an edge that really helped.

5. Tra Thomas (1998-2008) – always felt Thomas was underrated by Eagles fans. They knew he was good, but he was so consistent for so long he was taken for granted. Of course, when he wasn’t able to play that one game against the Giants in 2007 and Osi Umenyiora beat Winston Justice for six sacks, it was a reminder of just how valuable Thomas was.

At 6-7 and 350 pounds, with long arms (36-and-a-half-inch sleeves) and quick feet, Thomas was a very good pass blocker. He proved it in the fourth game of his rookie year when he started against Kansas City’s Derrick Thomas and held the future Hall of Famer without a tackle or a sack.

An All-American at Florida State, Tre was the Eagles’ first pick in the 1998 draft. Ray Rhodes passed up Randy Moss to take Thomas with the 11th overall selection. The fans weren’t happy, but it’s hard to argue with a guy who anchored the left tackle position for more than a decade and was voted into three Pro Bowls.

In Dirty Wudders lifetime the list would look like this:
1. Runyan
2. Thomas
3. Stan Walters (DW admits we do not remember him but he played during our lifetime)
4. Ron Heller
5. Richard Cooper

Cooper may be a stretch but DW refused to put Antone Davis on this list.


  1. What about Stan Walters? Can't say that I've ever heard of him, but he was a 3-time Pro-Bowler in the late 70s.

    Outside of Runyan and Tre, there hasn't really been anyone.

    Jason Peters doesn't look like he's going to change the trend either.