Scouts’ views: Jets’ Ferguson quietly becomes NFL’s No. 1 blocker

When evaluating the men who excel at doing the dirty work of keeping quarterbacks clean and steering running backs through traffic, there are no statistics on which to rely. Instead, identifying the best requires a sight test, to see how their combination of power and quickness allow their teams to tame an attacking front seven.

Jets left tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson earned his first Pro Bowl selection last season.
Jets left tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson earned his first Pro Bowl selection last season.
 
For help with this task, Sporting News enlisted former NFL offensive lineman Brian Baldinger, now an astute personnel analyst for the NFL Network. Here’s a look at Baldinger’s top offensive linemen in the NFL:
 

Tackles

1. D’Brickashaw Ferguson, LT, Jets. He doesn’t do his job with much flash, but he steadily has improved, equally skilled in pass protection and run blocking. QB Mark Sanchez should be thrilled the team locked up his blindside tackle for the long term.
 
2. Joe Thomas, LT, Browns. Cleveland can’t blame him for some of its offensive inconsistency, especially in the passing game. He is as smooth as they come. Could well start for 12 years and few notice.
 
3. Marcus McNeill, LT, Chargers. He’s the blindside protector for Philip Rivers, who holds the ball longer than anybody. A long-term holdout could be quite detrimental to San Diego’s prolific offense.
 
4. Ryan Clady, LT, Broncos. He is the prototype for the new era of offensive tackles in a pass-happy league. He is just a terrific athlete who must recover from the spring basketball injury.
 
5. Jon Stinchcomb, RT, Saints. Teaming with up All-Pro G Jahri Evans as, Stinchcomb gives New Orleans the best right side in the NFL.
 
6. Andrew Whitworth, LT, Bengals. Cincinnati could afford to close the book early on Levi Jones with Whitworth ready to solidify Carson Palmer’s blind side.
 
7. Michael Roos, LT, Titans. Roos shuts down opponents’ best pass rushers, be it in front of the statuesque Kerry Collins or mobile Vince Young. Considering Chris Johnson ran for 2,000 yards last year, Roos isn’t a bad outside run blocker, either.
 
8. Jake Long, LT, Dolphins. Had a little bit of dropoff from his rookie to second season, but he shows the work ethic and determination to come back stronger. He’s a mauler in the run game and in pass protection.
 
9. David Stewart, RT, Titans. Tennessee’s bookend offensive tackles don’t say much or get much attention, but they speak loudly by beating up the opposition.
 
10. David Diehl, LT, Giants. He and the rest of New York’s line slumped a bit in run blocking last season, but he still stood out in pass protection after moving outside from guard.
 

Guards

1. Jahri Evans, RG, Saints. He shows incredible balance and never gets knocked down. He makes the game look easy.
 
2. Steve Hutchinson, LG, Vikings. His first big payday in Minnesota paved the way for guard becoming more of a coveted position. He might have lost a step but plugs away as a top run blocker.
 
3. Logan Mankins, LG, Patriots. He is adept at pulling. He is set to holdout throughout training camp, and there would be a big dropoff without him.
 
4. Kris Dielman, LG, Chargers. He hasn’t had the same chance to show his pop with a move away from a run-heavy, Martyball offense. That should change as the team tries to establish strong, powerful rookie back Ryan Mathews.
 
5. Harvey Dahl, RG, Falcons. He is the nastiest lineman in the league–and some say dirty–but that nasty attitude makes him effective.
 

Centers

1. Nick Mangold, Jets. He is excellent at getting through traffic and blocking linebackers. Now that New York has locked up Ferguson, team officials should take care of the other cornerstone.
 
 
3. Andre Gurode, Cowboys. He is huge and athletic. It’s appropriate his last name has the ring of "road grader" in it because of how well he run blocks.
 
4. Kyle Cook, Bengals. He’s not a name everyone knows, but he was instrumental in Cincinnati’s running game revival last season.
 
5. Eric Heitmann, 49ers. Mike Singletary wants to go back to pounding the ball between the tackles, and Heitmann is smart and crafty.
 
This story appears in July 29’s edition of Sporting News Today. If you are not receiving Sporting News Today, the only digital sports daily, sign up today.
 
Vinnie Iyer is a staff writer for Sporting News. Email him at viyer@sportingnews.com.


When evaluating the men who excel at doing the dirty work of keeping quarterbacks clean and steering running backs through traffic, there are no statistics on which to rely. Instead, identifying the best requires a sight test, to see how their combination of power and quickness allow their teams to tame an attacking front seven.

Jets left tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson earned his first Pro Bowl selection last season.
Jets left tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson earned his first Pro Bowl selection last season.
 
For help with this task, Sporting News enlisted former NFL offensive lineman Brian Baldinger, now an astute personnel analyst for the NFL Network. Here’s a look at Baldinger’s top offensive linemen in the NFL:
 

Tackles

1. D’Brickashaw Ferguson, LT, Jets. He doesn’t do his job with much flash, but he steadily has improved, equally skilled in pass protection and run blocking. QB Mark Sanchez should be thrilled the team locked up his blindside tackle for the long term.
 
2. Joe Thomas, LT, Browns. Cleveland can’t blame him for some of its offensive inconsistency, especially in the passing game. He is as smooth as they come. Could well start for 12 years and few notice.
 
3. Marcus McNeill, LT, Chargers. He’s the blindside protector for Philip Rivers, who holds the ball longer than anybody. A long-term holdout could be quite detrimental to San Diego’s prolific offense.
 
4. Ryan Clady, LT, Broncos. He is the prototype for the new era of offensive tackles in a pass-happy league. He is just a terrific athlete who must recover from the spring basketball injury.
 
5. Jon Stinchcomb, RT, Saints. Teaming with up All-Pro G Jahri Evans as, Stinchcomb gives New Orleans the best right side in the NFL.
 
6. Andrew Whitworth, LT, Bengals. Cincinnati could afford to close the book early on Levi Jones with Whitworth ready to solidify Carson Palmer’s blind side.
 
7. Michael Roos, LT, Titans. Roos shuts down opponents’ best pass rushers, be it in front of the statuesque Kerry Collins or mobile Vince Young. Considering Chris Johnson ran for 2,000 yards last year, Roos isn’t a bad outside run blocker, either.
 
8. Jake Long, LT, Dolphins. Had a little bit of dropoff from his rookie to second season, but he shows the work ethic and determination to come back stronger. He’s a mauler in the run game and in pass protection.
 
9. David Stewart, RT, Titans. Tennessee’s bookend offensive tackles don’t say much or get much attention, but they speak loudly by beating up the opposition.
 
10. David Diehl, LT, Giants. He and the rest of New York’s line slumped a bit in run blocking last season, but he still stood out in pass protection after moving outside from guard.
 

Guards

1. Jahri Evans, RG, Saints. He shows incredible balance and never gets knocked down. He makes the game look easy.
 
2. Steve Hutchinson, LG, Vikings. His first big payday in Minnesota paved the way for guard becoming more of a coveted position. He might have lost a step but plugs away as a top run blocker.
 
3. Logan Mankins, LG, Patriots. He is adept at pulling. He is set to holdout throughout training camp, and there would be a big dropoff without him.
 
4. Kris Dielman, LG, Chargers. He hasn’t had the same chance to show his pop with a move away from a run-heavy, Martyball offense. That should change as the team tries to establish strong, powerful rookie back Ryan Mathews.
 
5. Harvey Dahl, RG, Falcons. He is the nastiest lineman in the league–and some say dirty–but that nasty attitude makes him effective.
 

Centers

1. Nick Mangold, Jets. He is excellent at getting through traffic and blocking linebackers. Now that New York has locked up Ferguson, team officials should take care of the other cornerstone.
 
 
3. Andre Gurode, Cowboys. He is huge and athletic. It’s appropriate his last name has the ring of "road grader" in it because of how well he run blocks.
 
4. Kyle Cook, Bengals. He’s not a name everyone knows, but he was instrumental in Cincinnati’s running game revival last season.
 
5. Eric Heitmann, 49ers. Mike Singletary wants to go back to pounding the ball between the tackles, and Heitmann is smart and crafty.
 
This story appears in July 29’s edition of Sporting News Today. If you are not receiving Sporting News Today, the only digital sports daily, sign up today.
 
Vinnie Iyer is a staff writer for Sporting News. Email him at viyer@sportingnews.com.


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