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Green Zone League Articles

Who Are the Best Guards in League History?
By Keith Van Wagner
Special to gzl-football.com

This is sort of an article, but also sort of a question. Who are the best Guards in League History?

Here's how this came about. There's a good chance the Cowboys will be saying goodbye to G Lance Nguyen, one our first draft picks ever. After 11 seasons his contract is up and he's regressing.

He's always been a solid player for me and even made two Pro Bowls (2015, 2021), but I never really paid much attention to him. With him likely leaving I was curious how he stacked up against the better Guards in league History.

I looked up the Career Blocking Leaders for the GZL and he ranks 38th all-time in Pancakes. Of course, that list combines all blockers - Guards, Tackles, Centers, even Fullbacks ( I'm looking at you Fred Munzenmaier, 30th all-time). Of the 37 players with more pancakes, 22 are Tackles, 3 are Centers, 1 is a FB, and the remaining 12 are Guards.

But here's my question - of those 12 other Guards, how many played most or all of their career at OG? Jake Long is listed as a Guard, but I think he spent most of his career as a Tackle. Same with Joe Thomas. But I don't know about a guy like Bruce Campbell or Jahri Evans. I'm pretty sure Chris Snee played as a Guard his whole career, but not sure about the others.

So for the record, here are the "Guards" with the most Pancakes, followed by their PC/Sack Ratio:

1. Jake Long 1122 (17.8)
2. Michael Roos 1059 (16.1)
3. Trent Williams 1000 (15.6)
4. Joe Thomas 987 (12.8)
5. Nate Solder 929 (11.6)
6. Bruce Campbell 876 (19.0)
7. Jahri Evans 859 (17.9)
8. Sebastian Vollmer 788 (17.9)
9. Jordan Gross 782 (13.5)
10. Logan Mankins 735 (18.8)
11. Chris Snee 726 (20.20)
12. LANCE NGUYEN 726 (27.9)

Who above Nguyen is a legit Guard? Any idea?

I have to say, I was a little surprised to learn that of the Top 50 in Pancakes, Nguyen has the 2nd best PC/SCK Ratio. His 27.9 is second only to OT Austin Laurie of the Steelers (who has a ratio of 40.6, which is off the charts good. Considering the average for the Top 50 is about 17, that's amazing).

I should also point out that the Bengals' Jonathan Cooper is an amazing OG. Nguyen has 726 pancakes and 26 sacks allowed; Cooper has 725 pancakes and 26 sacks. Nguyen's ratio is 27.92; Cooper's is 27.88. Considering he got those figures in two fewer seasons, I'm willing to concede Cooper is probably better.

One more metric to consider. If you recall, I created a formula that tried to quantify O-Line performance that differs from the ratio we commonly use. Anyway, I ran the performance of the Guards thru this metric and this is what I came up with:

1. Jake Long (696.8)
2. Michael Roos (613.5)
3. Trent Williams (568)
4. Bruce Campbell (565.5)
5. LANCE NGUYEN (550.5)
6. Jonathan Cooper (549.5)

Again, not sure if Long, Roos, and Williams spent most of their career at G. I think Campbell did, but not sure. Maybe the Raiders could weigh in?

Anyway, just some exploring through our history and stats that I had fun doing. Funny, I've had Nguyen on my team for 11 years and just sort of considered him to be an average Guard. It wasn't until his career was ending that I realized what a good player he was.
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