5. Andrew Whitworth
Whitworth capped off a fabulous hall of fame career with an unprecedented elite season at 40, playing one of the toughest positions in the league. He was a vital part of the Rams having one of the best offenses in the league and ultimately winning the Super Bowl. There was a stretch where Whitworth looked like the best tackle in the NFL even. He was elite in pass pro all season finishing 3rd among tackles in pass-block win rate and 4th in PA%. Wirfs got the nod over Whitworth for pro-bowl and all-pro honors, but I thought Whitworth was close to him in terms of pass pro and a lot better in the run game.
4. Tyron Smith
Tyron Smith comes in 4th on this list, but I can make a case he was the best offensive lineman in the NFL in the first half of the year. However, he was injured in week 8 and never quite returned to that level after returning from injury. He only ended up playing in 11 games. Even with his play falling off, he finished 2nd in PA% among tackles and top 10 in run-block win rate among tackles.
3. Joel Bitonio
It was a photo finish for best guard, and while I think Bitonio finished 2nd in that race, anyone that wants to make the argument he was the best guard of 2021 certainly won’t get a ton of push back from me. Bitonio was elite in both phases of the game, but what truly added a boost to his season was the fact that he started a few games at LT due to injuries to other players, and he played a high level at that position as well. Bitonio was one of the best run-blockers I evaluated on tape this season, and how he didn’t finish higher amongst guards in run-block win rate, I’m not sure. As a pass-blocker, he finished 3rd in pass-block win rate and 5th in PA% among guards.
2. Zach Martin
The man who was slightly better at guard than Bitonio was Zach Martin. Martin missed the first game of the year due to Covid and then stepped in week 2 and never looked back. He was phenomenal in the run game all season, perhaps the only Cowboy upfront that played well in the run game the entire season, as many of the others became inconsistent in the 2nd half of the year. Martin was of only two guards to finish top 10 in pass-block and run-block win rate. He was also top 10 among guards in PA%.
1. Trent Williams
The race for best offensive lineman was tight at the midway point, with all of the gentlemen in the top 4 all in contention. However, by week 17 Trent Williams had separated himself from the rest of the pack and was clearly the best offensive lineman in the NFL for the 2021 season. Trent Williams was the best run-blocker in the NFL in 2021, and him not finishing top 10 in run-block win rate is a little bit of an indictment of the stat, but there isn’t another run-block stat out there so it’s all we got. He was top 10 in pass block win rate, and he finished 6th in PA% among tackles. Beyond the numbers, Williams stood out so much because he was just so much more dominant than anyone else this season. There are multiple highlights from the year of him punishing defensive linemen, linebackers, and defensive backs. He was an equal opportunity punisher, and a case can be made he was the best player in the NFL in 2021 period, regardless of position.