Well, here I go once again. This time, I’m focusing on the five best offensive tackles in NFL history.
In order, here they are.
I think Munoz is hands down, the greatest offensive tackle in NFL history. Sure there were several other world-class tackles to play the game, but I firmly believe Munoz stand head and shoulders above all the rest.
The 6-6, 278-pound offensive tackle, was the first-round pick of the Cincinnati Bengals and the third player selected overall in the 1980 NFL Draft. Incredibly, some so-called experts considered the pick a risk because of multiple knee injuries and the fact that he played only one full game his senior year at the University of Southern California.
As the two-time All-America lineman (1978-1979) proved, the concerns were unnecessary. Muñoz was agile, quick, and strong and had the foot quickness and agility necessary to block quickest and best defensive ends in the league. Considered by many to be the premier tackle during his 13-seasons of play, he started 164 of 168 games from 1980-1990.
Munoz was elected to 11 consecutive Pro Bowls and was named All-Pro 11 straight times from 1981 through 1991. He was also named the NFL Offensive Lineman of the Year in 1981, 1987, and 1988 and the NFL Players Association Lineman of the Year in 1981, 1985, 1988, and 1989. Muñoz was also a pillar of dependability as he missed only three games due to injury in his career. For me, there was no other selection. Munoz is the greatest offensive tackle in NFL history – and that’s that.
When Shell took over as the starting left tackle in 1971 he became widely recognized as one of the premier offensive linemen in the National Football League, For much of his career, Shell teamed with left guard Gene Upshaw, a 1987 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee, to provide the Raiders with an exceptional nucleus that powered the perennially strong Oakland Raiders offense of the 1970s.
Shell was a first- or second-team All-Pro choice six straight years from 1973 through 1978 and also played in eight Pro Bowl games and 23 postseason contests, including eight AFL/AFC championships as well as the Raiders’ victories in Super Bowls XI and XV.
Shell played in his first 156 pro games before a pre-season injury in 1979 forced him out of the lineup for five games. He then launched another streak of 51 games that ended with an injury midway into his final season in 1982.
Simple and plain, Shell is certainly one of the greatest offensive tackles in NFL history and also, one of the league’s all-time class acts.
Drafted by the Los Angeles Rams in the third round of the 1976 NFL Draft, Slater is tied for third all-time for the most seasons played in the history of the league. His 259 regular-season games played were the most ever by an offensive lineman when he retired, and his 20 seasons with one team is still an NFL record.
Slater became a starter in 1979 and was a part of an offensive line that surrendered just 29 sacks and helped the Rams’ offense finish second in the NFL in total yards gained that season with 6,006.
The 6-4, 277-pound tackle went on to become the cornerstone of the Rams’ offensive lines for two decades. Slater was a first- or second-team all-pro selection following five different seasons and a first- or second-team All-NFC choice, seven times. Slater also earned seven Pro Bowl berths and was selected in consecutive years from 1985 through 1990.
Twenty-four different quarterbacks and 37 different running backs played behind Slater during his long career. Slater blocked for seven different 1,000-yard rushers in his storied career, including Lawrence McCutcheon, Wendell Tyler, Eric Dickerson, Charles White, Greg Bell, Cleveland Gary, and Jerome Bettis.
Yes, he played on several teams that were downright atrocious, but one thing is for sure. Jackie Slater is one of the best offensive tackles in NFL history.
One of my favorite players – and announcers – Dierdorf excelled as an offensive lineman for 13 seasons from 1971 through 1983. When he joined the St. Louis Cardinals as a second-round choice and the 43rd player selected in the 1971 draft, he seemed destined for stardom from the first moment he stepped on the field.
Dierdorf, who had been a consensus All-America at Michigan in 1970, possessed size, speed, quickness, discipline, intelligence and consistency. The 6-3, 275-pound Dierdorf was equally effective as a blocker on both running and passing plays and was the ring-leader of the offensive line that permitted the fewest sacks in the NFC for five straight years in the mid-1970s. In 1975, the Cardinals set a then-record by allowing only eight sacks in 14 games.
Dierdorf played in every game until a broken jaw forced him out of two games in his seventh season in 1977. Dierdorf was also named All-Pro five seasons – from 1975 to 1978 and again in 1980. He was elected to six Pro Bowl games, missing only once from 1974 through 1980. Bottom line – Dierdorf is one of the greatest offensive tackles in NFL history.
I have to admit that there were several worthy candidates for this fifth and final spot on my list. However, after careful consideration, I decided that Yary, an exceptional offensive tackle would be my pick.
Yary joined the Minnesota Vikings as the first player chosen in the 1968 AFL-NFL Draft. His 15-season, 207-game career included 14 years with the Vikings from 1968 to 1981 and a final season with the Los Angeles Rams in 1982. Yary won the starting right tackle job on the Vikings offensive line in his second season and remained as a fixture at that spot throughout his Minnesota tenure.
The 6-5, 255-pound Yary possessed speed, agility, intelligence, aggressiveness, and a work ethic that is the stuff of lore. Yary was also named all-pro six times and All-NFC eight straight seasons from 1970-1977. He played in seven consecutive Pro Bowls during that period and was a major force in a Minnesota team that was highly successful throughout the 1970s.
During Yary’s tenure, the Vikings won two NFL Central Division titles and nine NFC Central championships. During that same period, Minnesota also won the 1969 NFL championship and NFC titles in 1973, 1974 and 1976. Yary played in five NFL/NFC championships and Super Bowls IV, VIII, IX and XI. For me, there was no other choice but Yary, one of the greatest offensive tackles in NFL history.
So, there you have it – my tope five offensive tackles in NFL history. These guys could block out the sun if they wanted to.