Four Sooners land on PFF’s OT rankings entering the 2021 NFL season

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The big guys in the trenches often get unnoticed with the spotlight going to skill positions but PFF turned attention to the protectors at the line of scrimmage. Continuing the series of 2021 NFL position rankings, offensive tackles are up next. The top 32 tackles are evaluated by PFF’s advanced database to create the compiled list of talent across the league.

Four former Oklahoma Sooners are among the group: Trent Williams, Lane Johnson, Orlando Brown Jr., and Daryl Williams. Here is a breakdown of each premiere tackle.

Trent Williams (2), San Franciso 49ers

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

What PFF says…

After taking a one-year hiatus in 2019, Williams returned to the field for a new squad in 2020 and looked like the same elite player. He notched a 91.8 PFF grade in San Francisco last season, leading all offensive tackles. While his pass protection was strong, it was his performance in Kyle Shanahan’s wide zone rushing attack that really solidifies his spot here. Williams earned a career-high 91.8 run-blocking grade and laid down more big-time and positively graded blocks than any other tackle in a season during the PFF era (since 2006).

What Sooners Wire says…

The 49ers gave Trent Williams a lofty six-year, $138.06 million paycheck to retain his services. The lucrative deal made Williams the highest-paid offensive lineman in NFL history. He was acquired by the 49ers last offseason following a nine-year tenure in Washington. The blindside left tackle returned to peak form in 2020 after missing the entirety of the 2019 season, earning him an appearance in his 8th Pro Bowl. If the dollar amount given to a left tackle is not testament enough, his accolades/production at the line of scrimmage sure are.

Now, let’s move to the NFC East.

Lane Johnson (10), Philadelphia Eagles

(AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

What PFF says…

Injuries have hindered Johnson over the past few years, but he’s still managed to produce at a high level. However, that’s with exception of his run-blocking in 2020, as his grade fell outside the top 10 among tackles for just the second time in his NFL career. Johnson was fantastic in pass protection, though. He posted an 83.1 pass-blocking grade and allowed only two pressures through his first six starts.

He played through nagging injuries in 2018 and still looked like a top-10 tackle. Before he went down in 2019, causing him to miss the last few weeks of the season, Johnson was the second-highest-graded tackle in the NFL. When fully healthy, he is among the best at his craft.

What Sooners Wire says…

The Birds are in a rebuilding phase and Lane Johnson is the anchor up front that sets the tone on offense. The Eagles bolstered depth along the offensive line and with Johnson’s healthy return, he will kickstart the unit’s aim for regained dominance at the line of scrimmage. The 31-year-old right tackle will go up against the NFC East’s pass rushers and protect second-year quarterback Jalen Hurts. Having Johnson as a bodyguard would make anyone feel better under center.

Now, a journey to the AFC West.

Orlando Brown Jr. (17), Kansas City Chiefs

Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

What PFF says…

After a dreadful offensive line performance cost Kansas City a shot at winning Super Bowl 55, the team made a power play for Orlando Brown Jr., trading away its 2021 first-round pick, among others. The Chiefs will eventually have to pay Brown handsomely, as he is still on a rookie contract. Was the juice really worth the squeeze for the Chiefs? Not really, but it does solve the problem to an extent, as Brown is a reliable and quality tackle.

Brown demanded a trade from the Ravens after filling in for Ronnie Stanley at left tackle and expressing his desire to stay there. Brown did have the best season of his short three-year NFL career in 2020. His grade at left tackle ranked 16th among those with at least 350 snaps at the position. He was consistent week after week throughout the season. In fact, Brown was the only tackle overall in 2020 to start all 16 games and not once record a single-game PFF grade below 60.0. Yet, he also never cracked a single-game PFF grade above 80.0.

What Sooners Wire says…

Everyone witnessed the harassment Patrick Mahomes faced in the pocket in Super Bowl LV by the Bucs. Solidifying the offensive line became Andy Reid’s top priority. General manager Brett Veach sent the 31st overall pick, a third-round pick, a fourth-round pick and a 2022 fifth-rounder for Ravens’ OT Orlando Brown Jr. In addition to Brown’s acquisition, the team drafted another Oklahoma product, center Creed Humphrey. Brown will be tasked with protecting Mahomes, the club’s most valued asset and ascending young quarterback that has taken the NFL by storm with his arm-talent. In the 11 games Brown played at left tackle in 2020, he did not allow a sack or QB hit, per PFF. He will help revitalize the O-Line in Kansas City.

A final transition to the AFC East.

Daryl Williams (28), Buffalo Bills

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

What PFF says…

After an injury-plagued, up-and-down five-year stint with Carolina to begin his NFL career, Williams joined the Bills prior to the 2020 season to be their starting right tackle. Not only did he play in all 19 games, but he also played at an extremely high level. His 80.0 pass-blocking grade ranked fourth among right tackles. If Williams can stay healthy and piece together another season like that in 2021, I suspect he will shoot up this list.

What Sooners Wire says…

Daryl Williams earned the Buffalo Bills’ starting right tackle job in 2020 that culminated into one of the best seasons of his pro career. His production in the trenches helped guide the squad to a 13-3 record. Williams formed a formidable tandem with Dion Dawkins in protecting Josh Allen. Free agent acquisitions rarely end up becoming a return of investment but Williams’ addition elevated the offense in Buffalo. He was awarded to a three-year, $28.2 million contract in March and will be a cornerstone in the O-Line come fall.