Oct. 09, 2011; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney (93) tries to get around Kansas City Chiefs offensive tackle Branden Albert (76) at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory credit: Michael Hickey-USA TODAY Sports

The Deflating Importance of a Left Tackle


A story was published last weekend on ESPN about the decreasing importance in the left tackle position in the NFL. It starts with the offseason move of Jake Long, once the first overall pick, and makes the case for how the left tackle position, “once considered an essential building block for every franchise, has seen its importance erode in the era of read-option spread offenses.”

Below is an excerpt from the story:

“Times have changed dramatically since 2006, when the Ravens’ Michael Oher was the inspiration for The Blind Side. That best-selling book and eventual blockbuster movie helped mythologize the left tackle’s role in protecting the quarterback’s back. But in ’06, the ideal QB still stood in the pocket and worked through his progressions before delivering the ball downfield. Today, QB drops are shorter, the ball comes out quicker, the passers are far more elusive and the pressure is coming from all over, not just the right defensive end. As a result, Oher doesn’t even protect the blind side anymore. In Super Bowl XLVII, he started at right tackle.”

The story is full of good nuggets of information and interviews, such as “When coaches talk about position hierarchy, left tackle isn’t among the top few anymore,” an AFC team exec says. “Now it’s QB, pass rusher, cornerback, wide receiver. A guy like Joe Thomas shows that a great left tackle isn’t nearly sufficient.” And this quote by Phil Savage, former GM of the Browns and current executive director of the Senior Bowl: “Now, because of defenses, you’d better be solid across the entire line. Instead of the super-elite left tackle, it’s about five men who block well in a system.”

If you haven’t seen this article already, I highly recommend it. But now to the point of this post: how important is the left tackle position to the Kansas City Chiefs?

Alex Smith is not a spread option guy, nor is he a Michael Vick type player that heavily relies on his feet to make plays and can make an offensive line look better because of his mobility. Alex Smith is the prototypical pocket passer. But in Andy Reid’s offense, the ball will come out quicker and will operate more like a spread than Chiefs fans have ever seen before out of the team. With these quick and intermediate throws, the line isn’t asked to hold their blocks as long as they would have to on a five or seven step drop back. And as the ESPN article pointed out, good quarterbacks in the league have gotten away with average left tackles – Eli Manning has 5th round pick David Diehl, Aaron Rodgers has 5th round pick Marshall Newhouse.

Now, is it a bad thing that the Chiefs have such a good left tackle in Branden Albert? No. You always want the best player at any position. What the article is saying, however, is that a team doesn’t need a guy like Branden Albert to be successful on offense, and could get by with a lesser caliber alternative. If Albert is willing to agree to a deal, though, I would much rather have him than not.

But when I read this article, the importance of Branden Albert to the Chiefs was only a secondary thought that crossed my mind. What came first and foremost was the logic of taking a tackle with the first overall pick this year. If the left tackle position has become devalued, then shouldn’t that pick be used on a position of higher value? Like a pass rusher? Or a quarterback? Even the right tackle and guard positions have found their value increase; could the pick be better used on those positions?

Obviously there are many ways that the Chiefs can use the first pick, but you don’t want to be on the wrong side of a league-wide NFL trend. Bill Parcells told ESPN.com in April, 2011 that he didn’t regret taking Jake Long over Matt Ryan, but that “you always wonder if you should have taken a quarterback.” And as another NFL team exec put it, “A guy like Joe Thomas shows that a great left tackle isn’t nearly sufficient.” The Chiefs have a great left tackle already on the roster. Should they use the first overall pick this year on another one?

Next Chiefs Game View full schedule »
Thursday, Aug 2828 Aug6:00at Green Bay PackersBuy Tickets
Dick's Sporting Goods presents "Hell Week":

Tags: Kansas City Chiefs

  • berttheclock

    Oher was moved because his skill set fell off to the point he is now rated in the lower quarter of NFL LTs. So, he was moved to RT. Funny thing about Phil Savage, who drafted Joe Thomas, saying you need five guys to block. What is funny about that is after he drafted Thomas, he did not take Marshall Yanda to be his right tackle. Instead, he played to the local fans who wanted to see their home grown hero out of ND, Brady Quinn, brought to the Browns. The drafts of Savage following Thomas were mediocre. Now, Savage is Director of the Senior Bowl which follows along with Matt Millen, a once great player but a terrible GM and Disaster Pioli, landing gigs on Cable TV as “pundits” and Savage being part of the group of those in sports who keep failing upwards. Peter Principles Deluxe.

  • Larry

    Trade Albert and the #1 pick and stock pile a lot of picks and get a lot of good players to get this team really going in the right direction. If picking one player is good, then two or three players is better. Why not have later #1 pick, two #2, possible have three #3 picks. Could you see what this team look like then?

    • kmon

      Who’s going to trade with us? the only possibility is the dolphins and they’re going to wait to see what other teams do, maybe a tackle falls to them but especially if they really like lane Johnson they’ll trade up to maybe the 7th or 8th pick to get him. so you might as well forget about us trading down out of that 1st pick, its not gonna happen

      • berttheclock

        For some reason, the writers at the Palm Beach Post have better insight into Ireland and Philbin than the Miami Herald writers. Yes, it looks as though Ireland is going to make a move on an offensive lineman, but, by trade with KC, moving up to take Johnson or a last minute signing of Winston? Supposedly, Philbin brought in far better offensive line coaches to evaluate and coach, so, who really knows at this point.

      • Larry

        It could be from anyone, who really knows? As far as we know, (again a long shoot) Baltimore with all the players that left, could want to replace players to stay a good a team. Who really knows. I just said what I want the KC to do, asked a what if that did happen, not as if it would happen. KC the worst team last year right. Why not stock pile picks and try to get better, instead of just going threw the motions maybe picking one or two good players, why not pick two to four good players and really get the ball rolling. AGAIN A LONG SHOOT OF IT HAPPENING I KNOW. but it would be cool.

    • redchiefs

      That’s thinking outside the box, I kind of like it. It would save 9.85mil, allowing some extra picks.

      • Derek

        except what the article is talking about is that BA’s value just liek the rest of the tackles has gone down and last I heard miami isn’t even willing to give up both 2nd rounders; hell they dont’ want to give anything and will probably just jake a trade to get one of the new tackles later in the draft. In otherwords trading albert isn’t going to happen at a good enough value worth doing. IF that is indeed the case then Reid’s “I believe in albert!” speech will be enough commitment to keeping him at KC.

        • larry

          #1 trade down for a later #1 n a #2. Albert for a #2 maybe #3 this yr or next yr. Do u c the math now.

    • KCMikeG

      Love it! All the holes filled and stronger depth is what gets you into the playoffs. Great best case for sure and I believe R&D could pull it off. With the quality depth this year having multiple picks mid round would be better than a single high pick. IMO Albert will find out the money he wants isn’t out there and will stay on at LT. Quessenbery, Schwenke, Armstad, Gilkey all could be starters and are there in the 3rd-4th rounds.

  • berttheclock

    A major problem I have with Phil Savage being used for a statement about drafting is Phil Savage never really had a philosphy of direction for building a team. When, he took over in ’05, he brought in a defensive minded HC in Romeo. Yet, he went away from defense in his very first draft. The Browns had been 24th in the league on defense and had given up 58 to Cincy and 42 to the Pats. Yet, with only Jeff Garcia and Luke McNown at QB, he chose to take the highly rated WR, Braylon Edwards, over such defensive players as DeMarcus Ware, Shawne Merriman and Derrick Johnson. Then, in ’06, he decided to go defense, but, allowed a trade with Baltimore where the Ravens took Ngata and the Browns took Wimbley. In ’07, he did take Joe Thomas, but, he traded with Dallas and gave away a 1st for ’08 (Felix Jones) and a 2nd in ’07 to be able to take Brady Quinn. After he took BQ, such as Joe Staley and Ben Grubbs were left on board. Even Marshall Yanda was left. Back in ’05, he took Charlie Frye and left Justin Tuck and Richie Incognito, the center on board. BTW, that Felix Jones trade he gave away had such as Chris Johnson, Mike Jenkins and the best LT in the business, Duane Brown, on board.
    Savage just appeared to leap around trying to build. Too many draft picks traded away and too many free agents signed of whom never really jelled into a winning unit. So, please, spare us the “pearls of wisdom” from Mr Savage.

  • kmon

    Luke joeckel blocked for two scrambling qb’s. defenders can’t get to the qb quick enough because they always ran out of the pocket. if joeckel blocked for a strict pocket passer who knows how many sacks he would give up? we should keep Albert, get a LG, if Hudson can stay healthy then that’s a plus, we have asamoah and move Swartz to RT then our line would be set! build around albert, he’s only missed like 5 or 6 games in his career so y are we so quick to give up on him for one back injury at the end of the yr?

    • Larry

      I like fisher BC he’s more physical of a player. Just saying. I saw two videos and he was throwing defenders around. Luke was being throw around by defenders on the videos I saw, or having a hard time blocking.

      • t_tyrance

        Yea if we do go tackle I rather have fisher too. I think they both will be good but I just like the Attitude and aggressiveness fisher has. I like mean lineman an he is just that.

      • jimfromkcj

        Larry I watched a lot of Joeckel’s games and I never saw an instance where he was thrown around. What game are you talking about and who was the def player who was doing the throwing? Guys like you come in and make outrageous assertions without backing them up with a single fact. Give us the facts not some pipe dream.

        • kmon

          sharrif Floyd did, that’s the only one I can recall

          • jimfromkcj

            kmon, I went to u tube and watched the Florida game and I did not see anyone throwing him around. Instead I saw him chop block several times putting the guy across from him on the ground, saw him pancake several times and even saw where he was still making blocks near the side lines and 10 yards down field. Anyone can see for themselves if you go to you tube and watch Joeckel versus Florida.

        • larry

          They wasn’t throwing him to the ground. But I have not seen him down field alot. Where I seen Fisher fight down field alot more than Luke was. As far as who u got me, they never said, n I really don’t follow college that much so I didn’t get the name of the team. And it was on YouTube.I just type in there names. And i look at alot of videos not just the one’s I want to see. I look at I want to say about 20 to 25 videos.. and I wasn’t trying to favor one over the other either.

          • jimfromkcj

            Larry, what I see is Joeckel taking guys to either the outside or inside, making lanes for running backs or Manzeil. If you watch Manzeil, when he take of, a lot of the time it is because Jockeil is taking his man to the outside and making a big opening between him and the LG who is sealing off to his right. Usually there is a hole you could drive a mack truck through. Also if you watch closely, when they run to the right Joeckel is blocking to the right and creating a pile up in the middle and all of a sudden either Manzeil or the running back gets 4 or 5 yards before the linebackers can react. The pileup Joeckel created in the middle took a couple of linebackers out of the play or out of position and there is just 1 linebacker to make the play. If he makes the play it will go for 4 or 5 yards, if he flubs it it could go 10 yards or more depended on how quick the secondary can react.

          • Larry

            And yet no attitude from luke or going down field. Just moving to the side. Where fisher does that and goes down field. And that why I like fisher better. Please come up with something better than he uses his opponents movement against themselves when moving to one side to the other, just about any tackle can do that.

    • jimfromkcj

      kmon I think it would be harder to block for a scrambler than a pure pocket passer. With the pocket guy you know where he is at and can guide your rusher by or around him. With a scrambler you never know where he is going to be and you have to take the rusher head on and can’t let him go either inside or outside. Which I think is very hard to do against good rushers like Allen and Miller. Joeckel has been very good doing the hardest job on the off line against the best defensive players in the college ranks. The only film there is of Fisher against really top notch opposition is the senior bowl. In other words they fail to judge the guys on the quality of the guys they were going up against.

      • Derek

        watch the michigan game….there are some premium defensive opposition there as well and iowa…not the best but still good to guage. Let’s not make it sound like he played with pixie dust in fairy land

  • micah stephenson

    Tell me about it. I havent hurd about 1 single team trading up to get the best LT but they will trade alot to get the best QB.

    • berttheclock

      Vermeil traded up and used 4 picks to take Pace. Phil Savage gave up a 1st and a 2nd to take Brady Quinn

      • micah stephenson

        We talking bout this yr not ten yrs ago. And without that All Star QB K.Warner, it wud never hav mattered who the LT was. If Luke Jokel or any of the LTs is all that why aint nobody trying to trade up for him? All I hear about is teams trading up for Geno Smith.

        • dominicscarlatti

          The draft is two weeks away, if memory serves, and no team has traded up for a QB or OT. Let’s wait and see what actually transpires.

        • Chelsii.

          Oh snap you got schooled son!

  • ArrowFan

    Amen on the LT as the #1 over all pick, as soon as we pick one the pundits will start bashing us because we should have taken Geno.

    • twaddy

      I, sir, am now one of your biggest fans. Brilliant comment!

      • Derek

        i’m with waddell

  • Derek

    the short-answer is HELL NO!

  • Tom Sparks

    Nathan… Awesome Blog! And very interesting article attached!
    This is WHY I love belonging to the Chiefs Kingdom and being a part of commenting on Arrowhead Addicts. I have always held the belief that Chiefs Fan’s are some of the more versed, cerebral, and committed Fan’s in the NFL! I must throw Kudos to Arrowhead Pride, another quality & informative Chiefs Blog Site. That being said, I prefer to participate in commenting on AA, due to it’s commitment to Sarcasim, Wit, & Humor! I pretty much, for better or worse, live for these type of editorial articles. Almost all the writer’s for AA are very good!
    (Except for that one guy, Pat, Patty, Patrick?? I find his blogs humorless, dry, and a bit East Coast Blue Nose & he NEVER responds to any of my feedback!
    Kinda reminds me of my cousin from Bricktown, Nuuu Joezee!
    Always ver clempt! I jest, Patrick…..you do a fine job of running AA and writing for AA!
    Again Nathan, thank you for a great article! It backs up why I think they put Albert on the Auction Block…..with his attitude, I believe the front office was already informed by Albert of his intentions of not moving to RT this year, & therefore had to cut bait with him. I also believe they waited until he signed the Franchise Tag Contract, so they could at least shop him.
    It’s too bad! I always liked Brandon. He was pretty quite, worked hard, improved every year, and seemed like a team player…. I guess I was wrong.
    Pack your bags Big Man! Unfortunately NFL Football has a revolving door. You should have known that, before you signed. I don’t see how getting $10mil to play RT for 1 year is unfair?

    • http://www.arrowheadaddict.com Patrick Allen

      Nah that Patrick Allen is a hack. This place went down the tubes when he showed up. Bring back Adam Best.

      • Tom Sparks

        Patty… It was ALL in jest, my man! I have much love for you Patrick, in a Chiefs Brotherhood way.
        Don’t take that the wrong way. I don’t need any lessons in being PC, as to me, PC stands for Putrid Communism!
        I give you many Kudos! Keep up the great job!
        Oh… and KICK ASS CHIEFS, IT’S TIME!

    • toperspective

      I’m not sure teams want to give up draft pick(s) and pay Albert the type of money he is looking for. The 9M tag sets the bar pretty high.

  • twaddy

    I would hesitate to weigh in on the wisdom of trading Albert and drafting Joeckel. However, the reason the LT was considered most important is because a right-handed QB sets up with his back to the LT’s side (the Blind Side). Even with the Spread offense, that really hasn’t changed. And while it’s true that pressure comes from any point in today’s NFL, the bulk of the pressure comes from off of the edges making the Tackles supremely important. Generally, sacks come when the outside rush forces the QB into a collapsing pocket and contains the move out from between the hash marks. IMHO, it’s the Tackles with the LT being most important. Then again, no one’s ever asked me to coach in the NFL.

    • Chelsii.

      We’ve already discussed in another post that Alex Smith is left handed. And please be more specific are you talking about Lawerence Taylor or Ladainiam Tomlinson?

      • twaddy

        LT would be “Left Tackle”, and I wasn’t directing my comments to the Chiefs’ situation but to the league in general (that being the focus of the article). If you’d like more specificity, most QBs (Quarterbacks, not Quinton Baylor) are right handed.

        • Chelsii.

          Sorry I was just messing around. The day before this post someone was claiming Alex Smith was left handed and I knew what you meant by LT. I just joking around. Sorry about that again.

  • krayfish

    testing

  • http://www.arrowheadaddict.com Patrick Allen

    Parcells SHOULD regret not taking Matt Ryan. Talk about being stubborn.

    • chiefridgy

      Reminds me of dikoli

      • Chief Hokie

        Yup. Too proud to admit when they made a mistake, which they both made plenty of.

    • jimfromkcj

      Patrick, don’t blame Parcells the incompetent people who followed him didn’t continue His plan for rebuilding the Dolphins. And by the way Ryan couldn’t take the Falcons to the superbowl last year with the best receiving corps in the NFL. When you have Jones and White and the best TE to ever play the game it is hard to make a case that he was a better pick than Long.

      • larry

        They didn’t have a running game either atleast not a good one. Just Turner I think. Defenses just key on the pass more when it didn’t take much to take down the run.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Harm-Williams/747125518 Harm Williams

    I think Fisher is going to get the number one pick. KC Picks up Minter in the 2nd with the trade they get for Albert. KC will find the best Right Tackle available via FA with all the cap money from trading Albert… That’s how I see this going down anyway. I think the risk is too high to take Jordan and sign Albert to a long term deal with what they know on his back. There are arguments for Jordan being made right now in the arrowhead facilities but I think they are falling on deaf ears in Reid and Dorsey’s office.

  • David Fritch

    I think It would be fun to have a poll on the front page to see who everyone here would take first, and trading not being an option. I’m moving towards Jordan myself, he would just be so fun to watch swarming the QB with Haili, Houston, Johnson!