Alejandro Villanueva has had quite the journey. Army veteran to defensive line to turning into a franchise left tackle. Now that the season is over, the World Wide Web is full of rankings and review of 2017. As we’ve done with quarterbacks and the defensive line, we’re checking out Bleacher Report’s NFL 1000, breaking down most of the left tackles in the league.
That job was taken up by Duke Manyweather, one of the best follows for the lowdown on the offensive line. He definitely has credibility. And in ranking the best left tackles in the league for this year, Villanueva came in at 15th place. He scored a 75 out of 100.
In breaking him down, Manyweather writes:
“Villanueva is one of the best stories in the NFL, from his service in the U.S. Army to being cut from or never signed to multiple practice squads to now becoming the Pittsburgh Steelers starting left tackle. Villanueva has gotten better every season since he became the starter in 2015, and it isn’t always pretty, but it has proved to be effective for the massive 6’9″ 320-pound tackle.”
Not a ton of info here about his play but he sums Villanueva up well. He’s especially struggled at the beginning of years and evened out after the fact.
By our charting, Villanueva allowed a team-high six sacks this season, though some of that can be attributed to his position and the fact he was so available. No other Steeler played more snaps along the line.
In specific categories, Villanueva graded out with a 18/25 for his pass protection and a 16/20 as a run blocker. He graded worst in his power, just a 14/20, which makes sense given his tall frame.
Villanueva is in a tough class of AFC North blindside protectors, coming in third place behind Joe Thomas (2nd) and Ronnie Stanley (12th). Chris Hubbard was not ranked with this group; I assume he’ll be with the right tackles.
If you’re curious, the Green Bay Packers David Bakhtiari finished at the top with a score of 83, so the gap between 1st and 15th isn’t substantial.
In all, a fair ranking. Hopefully Villanueva will even out next year. If he does, he’s certainly capable of cracking the top ten.