I thought I'd switch it up this week and give you guys my list of the best five offensive linemen I've ever faced.
Being in the league since 2002, I've seen some great players, and it's been a lot of fun testing myself against future Hall of Famers. Some people dread lining up across from perennial Pro Bowlers, but I cherish those opportunities. It lets me know where I'm at, and it also makes me a better player.
1) Jonathan Ogden, Baltimore Ravens (6-9, 345) – He's the best player I've faced. I went against him in practice all the time during my years in Baltimore. He's just so big, so athletic and so technically sound that it's tough to beat him. There's a reason he's been to eight Pro Bowls.
The rest of the linemen I list are in no apparent order. I just bunch them all together because they're equally as dominant.
*Walter Jones, Seattle Seahawks (6-5, 308) – Same strengths as Ogden. He's a big guy with long arms, athletically gifted and technically sound. Walter is just a very talented player. It's always tough to beat him.
The problem with facing linemen that have long arms is that once you're engaged with them, it's tough to get off them and see the running back because they're so large and they can hold you out. That's probably the biggest challenge in facing long-armed linemen.
*Willie Roaf, Kansas City Chiefs (6-5, 320) – Willie is a big, strong guy. He retired this year, but I bet he still could play, and dominate. He's probably not as technically sound as Ogden or Jones, but he's so big and so athletic that he's going to give you a lot of problems.
*Will Shields, Kansas City Chiefs (6-3, 320)- At the guard position, Will Shields is a guy that I played against here when we faced Kansas City this preseason. He's a guy that has always given me problems. You can't really get into him, because when you do he's going to grab you and his hands are so strong that he's not going to let go.
*Willie Anderson, Cincinnati Bengals (6-5, 340) – Big Willie Anderson is just a great player. Maybe not now, but the younger Willie could run like a fullback and do it all day long. He's just so athletic. And for a guy weighing 340 or 350 pounds, to move the way he did, it was always fun going against him because you knew you were in for a game all day.
So there's my list. Debate all you want. Send me an e-mail if you disagree, or even if you agree. I'll answer questions once a week if there are enough responses.
In general, the toughest offensive linemen for me are the players that are so technically sound that you can't really shake them. As a defensive lineman, I try to exploit weaknesses. If a player is technically sound, and he doesn't have any weaknesses, what are you going to do? If you throw your best move, and he counters it, you're in for a long day. But that's what I play for. At the end of a game, if my team wins and I know I beat a technically sound player, it's a very satisfying feeling.
This week, I won't play against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Coach Kubiak was nice enough to let some of the starters rest up for our regular season opener. I already have started looking at the Philadelphia Eagles' offensive line. They're a group that's been together a while. They're a really cohesive unit. I have some moves and some tricks in my bag that I'm planning on bringing out, but I'm not going to reveal those right now.
You'll just have to watch Sept. 10 to see how it goes.
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