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wolfpack
04-20-2008, 09:49 AM
Left tackles have gone from unnoticed to indispensable

By RANDY COVITZ

The Kansas City Star


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Chiefs quarterback Brodie Croyle found out last season how important left tackle Damion McIntosh (center) could be to his health by keeping defensive linemen such as the Broncos’ Elvis Dumervil out of Croyle’s face.


Pro football’s Big Uglies have become Glamour Boys.Left tackle, regarded as an important but anonymous position in the NFL’s pre-salary-cap era, is now recognized as one of the four cornerstone positions in the game — along with quarterback, cover cornerback and pass-rushing defensive end.
Elite offensive tackles are now among the game’s highest-paid players, and as many as six could go in the first round of the NFL draft on April 26.
“The thing about left tackle is that it is a ‘must’ position in this league,” Texans coach Gary Kubiak said. “You’ve got to protect your quarterback; you’ve got to protect your franchise, so to speak. And those guys are hard — hard — to find. I mean, they don’t fall off of trees. You don’t make one. They’re a special breed.”
Chiefs coach Herm Edwards, whose team’s most pressing needs begin with finding protection for the quarterback, goes one step further in describing left tackles.
“They’re rock stars … because of the way the game has changed,” Edwards said. “There is so much emphasis now on throwing the ball, and the emphasis on the speed pass rusher … to score, you have to throw.”
Indeed. Last year, NFL teams combined for 428.6 passing yards per game, the highest figure since 1995 (441.6), and teams combined to average 43.4 points per game, the most since 1983 (43.7).
Seven quarterbacks — Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Tony Romo, Brett Favre, Carson Palmer, Jon Kitna and Peyton Manning — threw for at least 4,000 yards, the most passers to do so in a season. There were 81 300-yard passing games, tying 2004 for the most since the 16-game schedule began in 1978.
“The fact of the matter is if you can’t protect the quarterback’s blind side, you can’t pass,” said John Harbaugh, the Ravens’ new coach. “You’ve got to have a guy with a demeanor that says nobody’s touching the guy behind me, no matter what.”
The Chiefs learned that lesson the hard way last season. Kansas City quarterbacks were sacked 55 times, the second-most in club history and tied with San Francisco for the most sacks allowed in 2007.
The Chiefs haven’t taken an offensive tackle in the first day of the draft since 1998 and 1999. In 1998, they selected Victor Riley with the 27th overall pick, and he was a three-year starter at right tackle before signing as an unrestricted free agent with New Orleans.
In 1999, the Chiefs took John Tait with the 14th overall pick, and he started two years at left tackle and two at right tackle before signing a megadeal with the Bears.
“Left tackle has always been an important position,” said former Chiefs MVP Glenn Parker, who started at both left and right tackle as well as left guard for Kansas City during 1997-1999, “but when you have a cap on your salaries, how you pay people comes at a premium. It’s forced not only football people, but fans now take a look at it, and they say, ‘Where’s the premium? Where can we spend our money wisely and where can we get by cheap?’
“They realize athletic, big guys who can play the left tackle spot are in short supply. It’s driven up salaries on left tackle, and the average Joe realizes now that left tackle is an important position.”
•••
As Tait and Riley showed, most tackles taken in the first round generally are good investments. There are exceptions. Trezelle Jenkins, a colossal bust, was taken by the Chiefs with the 31st pick of the 1995 draft.

“Most of the great ones who went early haven’t been busts,” said draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. “Robert Gallery (taken second by Oakland in 2004) is going to play guard this year. You can say, he’s a bust … but at least he’s still playing.
“If a kid is not making it at wide receiver, what are you going to do with him? If he’s not going to make it at running back, what are you going to do with him? A left tackle can play at other positions, where players at other positions can be out of the league in three or four years.”
Virginia’s Branden Albert, who made 35 career starts at guard and two at left tackle because of a teammate’s injury, could fall into that category where he is drafted as a tackle but could eventually move to guard.
“He’s a tackle,” Kiper said. “You can list him as a guard, and rate him as a guard, which is what he played, and he would be an elite guard. But he has a ton of skills, has been working out as a left tackle, people are looking at him as a left tackle.”
There’s some question whether the draft’s top offensive tackle, Michigan’s Jake Long, who was a right tackle in his first two seasons before moving to the left side, can handle left tackle in the NFL.
“What you look for, if you can find it, is a guy who can play both sides,” said Chiefs president/general manager Carl Peterson. “A lot of these guys who are coming out this year have done that in their college careers.”
Besides Long, several of the tackles the Chiefs are considering, though not necessarily with the fifth pick, have experience playing both right and left tackle or tackle and guard.
Edwards believes Long can master the left side, just as Joe Thomas did last season after the Browns selected him with the third overall pick instead of quarterback Brady Quinn. Thomas started all 16 games and became a cornerstone for a team that improved from 4-12 to 10-6.
“I think by the way Joe played last year, and the impact he had for us … it had a residual effect on our football team,” said Browns general manager Phil Savage. “If you can fix your offensive line, some of the other players have a chance to perform. The addition of Joe helped a guy like (running back) Jamal Lewis, our quarterbacks, (wide receiver) Braylon Edwards, (tight end) Kellen Winslow.”
•••
So what is the special skill-set a team looks for in an offensive left tackle?
Harbaugh: “A left tackle has got to be big, rangy, tough, have tremendous feet. Long arms help.”
Edwards: “The first thing is he’s got to be athletic. He’s got to be able to block speed rushers. When you throw, you have to feel comfortable that … when it’s third-and-5 or more, that guy can stand there and keep his guy from hitting the quarterback in the back of the head.”
49ers coach Mike Nolan: “You’ve got to have a mind-set that if you get beat, you’ve got to come back and play the next down. It’s not only an athletic issue, it’s also a mental issue … if you’re a guy who goes in the tank easy … sometimes tackle is not the position for you.”
The most difficult part about playing left tackle is protecting the QB’s blind side.
“The quarterback, who is generally right-handed, doesn’t see the pressure coming from the right, and doesn’t see your blocks, so he’s most likely to run into your block,” Parker said. “The offense is set up right-handed, so his reads are from right to left. The right tackle can get out there and mess around and the quarterback sees him and moves away.
“The left tackle can’t give ground, because the quarterback can’t see him. He can’t get beat back, because the quarterback will get killed.”
Parker, who started at guard in three Super Bowls for the Buffalo Bills and another for the New York Giants, didn’t mind when he was shifted to left tackle.
“It didn’t bother me to play left tackle,” Parker said, “but I didn’t get paid like a left tackle. That’s what bothered me.”

wolfpack
04-20-2008, 09:53 AM
i know the story is on the LT but what hermmie said about floored me. mister run,run,pass,punt,, mister "we aren`t kicking enough fieldgoals" said such a thing.
just shocking. must have had a memery laps or something.

chief31
04-20-2008, 10:08 AM
i know the story is on the LT but what hermmie said about floored me. mister run,run,pass,punt,, mister "we aren`t kicking enough fieldgoals" said such a thing.
just shocking. must have had a memery laps or something.
I find it to be false representation of himself. That's why I wouldn't be surprised to see us pass on Jake if he is available. Because I doubt his earnesty about protecting the QB.

wolfpack
04-20-2008, 10:47 AM
the way herm went through RB`S and QB`S in New York and so far here he dosent seem to care about getting a good 0-L.
We should just stock up on the defense and alot of QB`S and RB`S.

hermhater
04-20-2008, 04:07 PM
I find it to be false representation of himself. That's why I wouldn't be surprised to see us pass on Jake if he is available. Because I doubt his earnesty about protecting the QB.

You and me both guy!

Herm talking about passing the ball is hilarious.

Oh God, I can't stop laughing!

:lol: