There are few luxuries in the NFL like a reliable offensive tackle. Just look at their contracts. They’re like Lamborghinis in a Hummer’s body. Teams may be able to skimp on paying a center, but they’re not getting off easy on the edges.
How about when teams have two standout offensive tackles? That’s just an embarrassment of riches. Who needs two Lamborghinis?
Some of the best offenses in the league, it turns out.
They call them bookends because they are the exterior lines of protection, given the task of keeping the quarterback upright and the defensive end away from the prize. It’s an arduous job, but someone’s got to do it.
And in the case of the following six teams, two large someones.
Here’s a look at the best offensive tackle duos in the NFL:
Tyron Smith/Doug Free
You can’t really compare these two against each other, because Smith is on his way to becoming the best offensive tackle in the NFL. But Free was no slouch in 2015, either. The Cowboys are the best team in the league up front, and it goes beyond these two. But there’s a reason folks are still optimistic in Dallas despite Tony Romo’s peanut-brittle back, and it’s because even though quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott are babies, they’re babies supported by a bunch of cushioning.
Kansas City Chiefs
Eric Fisher/Mitchell Schwartz
Perhaps no signing in the NFL this offseason carries as much weight as Schwartz’s, and that’s no tubby offensive lineman joke. Schwartz is no laughing matter. Kansas City needed someone to at least stand in the way of Denver’s Von Miller, so the Chiefs went out and spent $33 million on the Browns former standout, who should get to Pro Bowl-level in his fifth year. Fisher enters his third year in the league ready to make a big leap. The 2013 No. 1 overall pick recently signed a four-year, $48-million extension. A running game that includes Jamaal Charles, who is returning from injury, and able backups Charcandrick West and Spencer Ware should benefit the most from Schwartz’s signing. Quarterback Alex Smith can’t be too upset, either.
Trent Williams/Morgan Moses
Williams, the No. 4 pick in the 2010 draft and a four-time Pro Bowler, is 28 and entering the prime of his career. Moses had a surprising 2015 preseason and pushed first-round pick Brandon Scherff inside to guard. Moses followed that up with an even more surprising regular season, and the Redskins now have the making of one great line. Do they have the skill position players to make the most of it? Well, quarterback Kirk Cousins will find out fast.
Jake Matthews/Ryan Schraeder
The Falcons are proof there are many ways when it comes to finding talented offensive tackles. In fact, the less-heralded of their two starters — Ryan Schraeder — might be the better one. Schraeder, a fourth-year right tackle from Valdosta State, went undrafted in 2013 after not playing high school football. A late growth spurt — he grew from 5-foot-7 to 6-7 — encouraged him to walk on at tiny Butler Community College. But even that has paled in comparison to his growth in the NFL, as he was named a 2015 All-Pro by Pro Football Focus. On the other side of the line, 2014 No. 6 pick Jake Matthews improved dramatically from his rookie season and is primed to be even better as a third-year pro this season.
Andrew Whitworth/Cedric Ogbuehi
This twosome is a bit imbalanced, simply because Whitworth is among the greats in the league, a three-time first-team All-Pro who allowed just 17 quarterback pressures a year ago, according to Pro Football Focus. Whitworth has been a stable presence for the Bengals for a decade now, which has had an impact across the Cincinnati line. The Bengals are hoping that impact reaches to the other tackle position. Ogbuehi could use a bit of experience, but the 2015 first-round pick is talented. Ogbuehi has been injured early in his career, but if he sees the field, the Bengals’ dynamic backs, Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard, will be better for it.