Pro Football Reference Blog

Archive for March, 2024

11 Best Centers of All Time

29th March 2024

From snapping plays to anchoring the offensive line, the center position commands respect and responsibility in the NFL. In the heart of the trenches, they’re the silent quarterbacks, orchestrating plays, protecting their fellow linemen, and paving the way for legendary runs and game-winning throws. But who reigns supreme in this realm of snapping giants?

Joining us today is a quest to uncover NFL history’s most dominant, impactful, and celebrated centers. We’ll dive into their legacies, examining not just statistics and accolades but their leadership, versatility, and undeniable impact on the game to try and determine the highest NFL center rankings. Whether it’s the legendary leadership of Mike Webster or the sheer dominance of Jim Ringo, prepare to be transported through decades of gridiron battles as we uncover the actual dominant snap initiators and the best center of all time in the NFL.

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10 Best Nose Tackles of All Time

27th March 2024


In the trenches of professional football, a battle rages on every snap. The nose tackle stands as an immovable force among the gladiators in this clash. These behemoths are the defensive line’s anchors, occupying multiple blockers, disrupting plays, and freeing up their teammates to make tackles. But who, among these giants, have cemented their place as the greatest nose tackles of all time?

This article delves into the annals of NFL history, analyzing the careers of legendary nose tackles. We’ll explore their dominance on the field, their impact on the game, and the unique skill sets that separated them. From the immovable walls that clogged running lanes to the disruptive forces that wreaked havoc in opposing backfields, prepare to be introduced to the pantheon of the NFL’s best nose tackles.

The nose guard goes by multiple monikers in football circles. Common alias’ to the defensive line player positioned between the “A” gaps are nose tackle, “zero technique,” nose guard, and middle guard.

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10 Best Free Safeties of All Time

23rd March 2024

Generally speaking, the safety position in the NFL is broken into two roles: a strong safety and a free safety. Both of these defenders have to be just about the most athletic guy on the field. A strong safety is typically a little bigger than a free safety. They tend to play closer to the line of scrimmage and be more involved in stopping the run. Usually they line up on the strong side, where the tight end starts off for the offense, and they at times cover tight ends and/or fullbacks. A free safety is usually faster and a little rangier than a strong safety. In addition to providing run support, they are expected to help cornerbacks in pass coverage more often, and they even have to shadow slot receivers occasionally. A lot of the time they are the center fielders of the defense.

We are going to identify the best free safeties of all time. Keep in mind that many defensive backs rotate positions throughout their careers, so classifying these elite athletes can be difficult. To be eligible for this list, a player had to be listed as a free safety for the majority of their career, not a corner or a strong safety. Without further delay, here are some of the fiercest hitters and most versatile players to ever grace the gridiron: ten of the best free safeties in NFL history.

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10 Best Defensive Tackles of All Time

22nd March 2024

Defensive tackle is not one of the most glamorous positions in football but it is crucial in any defensive scheme. NFL defenses need strong defensive tackles to pressure the quarterback and stop the run. Across eras in the NFL, some of the biggest, strongest and toughest defenders have played defensive tackle. Here is who we think are the 10 best defensive tackles of all time.

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10 Best NFL Teams of All Time

12th March 2024

There are varying opinions as to which aspect of a team is most vital to its success. What is commonly known is that to be considered among the greatest teams to ever play in the NFL, you can’t sail smoothly without a leak in the ship. All the choices below made it through to a championship…except for one.

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14 Best Left Tackles of All Time

10th March 2024

Protecting the Blind Side: A Salute to the Greatest Left Tackles in NFL History

They stand tall and resolute, guardians of the quarterback’s blind side, facing the fiercest pass rushers with unwavering determination. Left tackles: the unsung heroes of the gridiron, their impact often measured in silence averted rather than sacks recorded. With this in mind, we embark on a journey through the trenches of NFL history, celebrating the titans who have mastered this demanding position, the men who have redefined the art of pass protection.

From the pioneering prowess of Rosey Brown and Art Shell to modern marvels like Walter Jones and Jonathan Ogden, we’ll delve into the careers of these legendary blockers. We’ll dissect their techniques, analyze their impact on their teams’ success, and relive the iconic moments that cemented their place among the game’s elite.

But this isn’t just a nostalgic trip down memory lane. We’ll also explore the evolution of the left tackle position, examining how the changing landscapes of offensive and defensive schemes have shaped the skillset required for dominance. Along the way, we’ll uncover hidden gems, debate controversial selections, and spark lively discussions about who deserves the title of “Best Left Tackle in the NFL.”

So, buckle up, football fans, as we gear up for an in-depth exploration of the men who stood their ground, blew open running lanes, and kept quarterbacks upright.

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10 Best Strong Safeties of All Time

9th March 2024

In the defensive backfield, the aptly named safety is the last line of defense. In order to be one of the top strong safeties in the NFL, a player needs the speed to cover receivers, and strength and tackling ability to cover tight ends and stop the run. Here is our list of the 10 best strong safeties of all time, using data and statistics from the Pro Football Reference database.

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