Who is the best offensive lineman to ever play American football?

Who is the best offensive lineman to ever play American football?

Kenneth Mwenda
updated at April 12, 2023 at 8:19 PM

Choosing the best offensive lineman in NFL history may be one of the most exciting things for fans. These men paved the way for numerous championships and Super Bowl rings. Year after year, they have protected Hall of Fame quarterbacks, created massive holes for legendary running backs, and intimidated opposing defenses.

Who is the best offensive lineman to ever play American football?
Anthony Munoz and Bruce Reimers of the Bengals block against defensive lineman Fred Stokes (#65) of the Rams during a pre-season game on July 30, 1988, in Canton, Ohio. Photo: George Gojkovich
Source: Getty Images

The offensive line consists of the centre, who snaps the ball into play, two guards flanking the centre, and two offensive tackles flanking the guards. A complete offensive line may also include a tight end outside one or both tackles.

Top 10 offensive linemen of all-time

Today, we'll recognize the greatest offensive players in NFL history, as ranked by ranker and other different sources. These players will be evaluated based on several factors, including regular-season output, Super Bowl output, and player accolades.

10. Jordan Gross

Best offensive lineman ever
Jordan Gross of the Carolina Panthers against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Bank of America Stadium on August 29, 2013, in Charlotte, North Carolina. Photo: Grant Halverson
Source: Getty Images

Jordan Gross spent his entire 11-year NFL career with the Panthers, where he established himself as possibly the best offensive player in team history. Gross was drafted in the first round in 2003 and was immediately inserted into the starting lineup, beginning Super Bowl XXXVIII as a rookie.

During his career, he made the Pro Bowl three times and was named All-Pro once. He was a very durable player for Carolina Panthers, in addition to his impressive on-field performance. Gross appeared in (and started) 167 of 176 regular-season games from 2003 to 2013.

9. Will Shields

Best offensive lineman ever
Kansas City Chiefs guard Will Shields participates in an AFC squad practice for the 2005 Pro Bowl at Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, on February 11, 2005. Photo: Al Messerschmidt
Source: Getty Images

Webster was the quarterback for one of the greatest dynasties in NFL history, leading the Steelers to four Super Bowl victories. He helped Hall of Famer Franco Harris become one of the greatest rushers in NFL history, and he was an elite pass-protector for another Hall of Famer, Terry Bradshaw.

He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1997. Webster, nicknamed "Iron Mike," anchored the Steelers' offensive line for much of their four Super Bowl victories from 1974 to 1979 and is widely regarded as the greatest centre in NFL history.

8. Cortez Kennedy

Seahawks' best offensive lineman ever
Cortez Kennedy with his bust during the Class of 2012 Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony at Fawcett Stadium on August 4, 2012, in Canton, Ohio. Photo: Jason Miller
Source: Getty Images

During his time with the Seahawks, Kennedy completely transformed the defensive tackle position. Kennedy was only three years old when he was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year after recording 14 sacks in 1992, becoming only the second Seahawk to do so.

He had 58 sacks, eight Pro Bowl appearances, three first-team All-Pro honours, two second-team All-Pro honours, 11 forced fumbles, and three interceptions in his career. The team retired his No. 96 jersey, and he was named to the 1990s All-Decade team. He was later inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2012.

7. John Hannah

Patriots' best offensive lineman ever
John Hannah arriving at the Patriots Practice Facility in Foxborough, Massachusetts on July 29, 2017. Photo: Fred Kfoury III
Source: Getty Images

Hannah, regarded as one of the greatest offensive linemen of all time, was named to nine Pro Bowls and earned seven first-team All-Pro honours. In 1991, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and in 1999, he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.

He was inducted into the New England Patriots Hall of Fame the same year as the former. Hannah was also named to the NFL 1970s All-Decade Team, NFL 1980s All-Decade Team, NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time Team, and NFL 100th Anniversary All-Time Team.

6. Randall McDaniel

Dallas cowboys' best offensive lineman ever
Randall McDaniel during the 2nd day of minicamp on July 30th, 2009. Photo: Jerry Holt
Source: Getty Images

Randall McDaniel was one of the best and most dependable offensive guards during the 1990s. He was named to the Pro Bowl 12 times in a row, spanning the entire decade of the 1990s.

In addition, he was a First-Team All-Pro selection for nine consecutive seasons. It's difficult to imagine someone maintaining that level of performance for that long. He did just that, starting 220 games in his 14-year Hall of Fame career, rarely missing a game and rarely missing a block.

5. Willie Roaf

Best offensive lineman ever in the NFL
William Roaf of the New Orleans Saints during a game against the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, California, on 25th September 1994. Photo: Stephen Dunn
Source: Getty Images

Willie Roaf went on to become one of the greatest football players in Arkansas history, as well as one of the best offensive linemen in NFL history. He also appeared in seven Pro Bowls with the New Orleans Saints. During his nine-year career with the team, he was named All-Pro four times and was later named to the 1990s All-Decade Team and the 2000s All-Decade Team.

Roaf was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2012. In addition to the New Orleans Saints Hall of Fame, Roaf has been inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame, the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame, the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame, and the College Football Hall of Fame.

4. Jonathan Ogden

Cowboys best offensive lineman ever
Jonathan Ogden during the Michael Rubin's Fanatics Super Bowl Party at the College Football Hall of Fame on February 2, 2019, in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo: Aaron J. Thornton
Source: Getty Images

The Baltimore Ravens selected Jonathan Ogden, the top offensive lineman in the 1996 NFL draught, fourth overall. His rookie year was the only time in his 12-year career that he did not make the Pro Bowl, but he did start all 16 games, earning him a spot on the All-Rookie team.

Ogden never started fewer than ten games in his entire career. In only his second season, he made the All-Pro team for the first of four times, establishing the tone for a successful career.

3. Larry Allen

Best offensive lineman of all-time
49ers guard Larry Allen in action against the Seattle Seahawks at Monster Park, San Francisco, California, on November 19, 2006. Photo: Robert B. Stanton
Source: Getty Images

Larry Allen was not only the best offensive lineman in Dallas Cowboys' history, but he was also one of the best in the NFL. He made an immediate impact in the league after being drafted in 1994. Known for his raw strength—he could bench press 700 pounds, and squat more than 900 pounds—he was regarded as one of the league's strongest players.

Allen was a freak of nature, anchoring the Cowboys' offensive line for 12 seasons. He was selected to an all-time high of 11 Pro Bowls (10 with the Cowboys and one with the Niners). He is a 1996 Super Bowl champion and one of the most recent inductees into the Dallas Ring of Honor.

2. Bruce Matthews

Best offensive lineman ever NFL
Bruce Matthews of the Houston Oilers during a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Three Rivers on September 29, 1996, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Photo: George Gojkovich
Source: Getty Images

He is one of the league's most decorated offensive linemen. At each of the five starting positions, the California native started at least 17 games. The Houston Oilers drafted him in 1983.

Matthews appeared in 14 Pro Bowls and was a nine-time All-Pro selection during his career. Despite starting 293 games, which ranks third in NFL history behind Tom Brady and Brett Favre, perhaps the most intriguing statistic from the USC graduate's career is that he forced five fumbles and recovered ten others. In 2007, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

1. Anthony Munoz

Best offensive lineman ever ranker
Former NFL Player Anthony Munoz attends the NFL Honors at University of Minnesota on February 3, 2018, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Photo: Christopher Polk
Source: Getty Images

Anthony Munoz is the greatest offensive lineman in NFL history. He played 13 seasons for the Bengals (1980-92), compiling a dominant career that included a team-record 11 Pro Bowls and 11 All-Pro selections. In his first year of eligibility, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and he is widely credited with helping to define the art of playing offensive tackle in the modern NFL.

Munoz won at least one major award as NFL Offensive Lineman of the Year in six of his thirteen Bengals seasons. His long-respected community service was recognized in 1991 when he received the NFL's Man of the Year Award, long regarded as the league's highest honour for off-the-field efforts. Though there are other Pro Football Hall of Fame members with Hispanic ancestry, Munoz is widely regarded as the first player of primarily Hispanic descent to be inducted.

Players on the best offensive lineman list have meant a lot to the NFL and their fans. Running over those defensive backs gives any offensive player the greatest rush in football.

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Kenneth Mwenda photo
Kenneth Mwenda
Kenneth Mwenda is a business and sports writer with over five years of experience. At Sportsbrief, he contributes to writing biographies and listicles.