PITTSBURGH - DECEMBER 12: Andrew Whitworth #77 of the Cincinnati Bengals celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the game on December 12 2010 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
We've made countless references that Andrew Whitworth is one of the league's top offensive tackles. What's interesting, and awesome, is that fans from all 32 NFL teams recognized it, voting Whitworth as the top offensive tackle during the Pro Bowl last season. Most analysis from detailed companies that actually grade players on each play -- rather than throwing a few numbers together with unsupported conjecture (looking at you ESPN) -- tend to consider Whitworth as one of the best offensive tackles in the league.
Pro Football Focus examined the production of all left tackles from 2008-2010, taking their overall grade from each season and combining their scores over the course of three seasons. Whitworth ranked fifth over that span, behind Cleveland's Joe Thomas, Miami's Jake Long, New York's D'Brickashaw Ferguson and New England's Matt Light. What's more impressive is that Whitworth didn't make the full-time move to left tackle until 2009, spending much of his 2007 and 2008 seasons at left guard (though he did play his rookie season at left tackle because of multiple Levi Jones injuries).
The Bengals head into their 2011 with plenty of questions on the offensive line. Kyle Cook is a free agent, as is Evan Mathis and Nate Livings (we put Mathis in front of Livings on purpose). Bobbie Williams is entering the final year under contract and the team's right tackle position is as unstable as any. The best option, at least from a historical reference dating back to 2008, is Anthony Collins. Yet, Andre Smith is a first round pick and Dennis Roland has the most playing time at the position.
Ideally, Smith's newfound health-conscience we heard about during the player-only workouts translates into a full season without injury. Mathis returns (we know it's unlikely) while Boling and Otis Hudson groom under Bobbie Williams, who is the type of person that would actually help develop a player that was set to replace him.
All the while Andrew Whitworth cracks his knuckles for the upcoming season. Notice that Harrison didn't say anything about Whitworth during his now legendary Men's Health interview? There's a reason for that. Whitworth would be pissed. And James Harrison knows, you don't want to make Whitworth pissed. (John Henderson nods in agreement)