Pro Football Reference Blog

15 Best Left Guards of All Time

Posted by Darin Hayes on May 17, 2024

The offensive line acts as the wall protecting the quarterback and creating running lanes, and left guards to play a crucial role in this formidable structure. These unsung heroes anchor the left side, locking horns with defensive tackles and linebackers. This post delves into the realm of the NFL’s greatest left guards of all time.

We’ll journey through gridiron history, uncovering the legendary figures whose dominance and skill cemented their place in football lore. From dominant run blockers to impeccable pass protectors, we’ll analyze their impact on the game and dissect their unique play styles.

So, settle down in your best three-point stance, be prepared to fire out, and be awestruck by the feats of these remarkable athletes. Let’s unveil the Best NFL left guards of all time!

How to Recognize the Best Left Guards in the NFL

The statistics and measurables for guards in the League are few and far between. After all, what these men in the trenches do goes almost unnoticed unless they do something wrong or blow an assignment. It is often a thankless job, but as the NFL has progressed over the years, the accolades for offensive linemen, in general, have given us some tangible metrics to see the success of the interior line position and the men who have played the position.

We will look at Pro Bowl selections, All-Pro counts, and Hall of Fame inductions as tangible evidence of the right-side offensive guards, along with Games Started and years played in the NFL in a position to help us along the way.


Seven-Time All-Pro Left Guards

Before we get too far into the accolades, let us look at two men who have earned the status of First Team All-Pro seven times as Left Guards.


John Hannah

John Allen Hannah

Position: G

6-2265lb (188cm, 120kg)

Born: April 4, 1951 in Canton, GA (Age: 72-354d)

College: Alabama  (College Stats)

Weighted Career AV (100-95-…): 112 (67th overall since 1960)

High School: Albertville (AL)

Draft: New England Patriots in the 1st round (4th overall) of the 1973 NFL Draft.

Hall of Fame: Inducted as Player in 1991 (Full List)

Twitter: @hoghannah

Relatives: Brother Charley Hannah; Father Herb Hannah

SUMMARY

Career

G

183

AV

149

GS

183

Drafted fourth overall by the New England Patriots in 1973, John Hannah’s arrival gave way to a new energy in the franchise. Hannah may not have had the opportunity to play on some good teams, but the man stood as a road-grader run blocker and a security fence in the pass block. It took a lot of work for defenders to get around this agile big man, and it was impossible to get through him. Number 73 was named to the Pro Bowl nine times and was enshrined in Canton. He is considered one of the few players to be named to All-Decade Teams for two different decades (1970s and 1980s).


Randall McDaniel

Randall Cornell McDaniel

Position: G

6-3276lb (190cm, 125kg)

Born: December 19, 1964 in Phoenix, AZ (Age: 59-095d)

College: Arizona St.  (College Stats)

Weighted Career AV (100-95-…): 129 (28th overall since 1960)

High School: Agua Fria (AZ)

Draft: Minnesota Vikings in the 1st round (19th overall) of the 1988 NFL Draft.

Hall of Fame: Inducted as Player in 2009 (Full List)

SUMMARY

Career

G

222

AV

175

Rush

2

Yds

1

Y/A

0.5

TD

0

FantPt

6.3

Rec

1

Yds

2

Y/R

2.0

TD

1

FantPt

6.3

Hailing from Arizona State, Randall McDaniel defied expectations. A dominant guard, he revolutionized the position with his blend of power and agility. A key figure in the Minnesota Vikings’ offensive surge of the late 1980s, McDaniel earned seven Pro Bowls and 12 Pro Bowls and a place in the Hall of Fame. At the end of his career, he even tacked on a couple of productive seasons in Tampa Bay. McDaniel’s impact on the game is undeniable, forever etching his name among the gridiron’s greatest offensive linemen.


Most Pro Bowls

Being rewarded by getting a vacation to a beautiful, warm place and playing an All-Star game with the game’s top players is coveted by many NFL ball players. This is especially rewarding for the big men in the trenches as they finally get some credit for a job well done. Here are some left guards who got to the end of the season game more than most.


Tom Mack

Thomas Lee Mack

Position: G

6-3250lb (190cm, 113kg)

Born: November 1, 1943 in Cleveland, OH (Age: 80-143d)

College: Michigan

Weighted Career AV (100-95-…): 91 (252nd overall since 1960)

High School: Cleveland Heights (OH)

Draft: Los Angeles Rams in the 1st round (2nd overall) of the 1966 NFL Draft.

Hall of Fame: Inducted as Player in 1999 (Full List)

SUMMARY

Career

G

184

AV

123

GS

176

Mack was a dominant blocker who paved the way for the Los Angeles Rams’ runners. His exceptional blocking skills were instrumental in the Rams’ offensive success of the 1970s. Tom was invited to eleven Pro Bowls and had his bust bronzed and displayed in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.


Mike Munchak

Michael Anthony Munchak

Position: G

6-3281lb (190cm, 127kg)

Born: March 5, 1960 in Scranton, PA (Age: 64-018d)

College: Penn St.

Weighted Career AV (100-95-…): 93 (234th overall since 1960)

High School: Scranton (PA)

Draft: Houston Oilers in the 1st round (8th overall) of the 1982 NFL Draft.

Hall of Fame: Inducted as Player in 2001 (Full List)

As Coach: 3 Yrs (Full Record)

SUMMARY

Career

G

159

AV

118

GS

156

Munchak excelled in run blocking and pass protection. He spent his entire NFL career with the Houston Oilers after being drafted in the first round by the franchise out of Penn State. In 12 seasons, he earned nine Pro Bowl selections, was twice named a First Team All-Pro Left Guard, and a Gold Jacket from a certain Museum in Canton, Ohio.


Ruben Brown

Ruben Pernell Brown

Position: G

6-3300lb (190cm, 136kg)

Born: February 13, 1972 in Englewood, NJ (Age: 52-039d)

College: Pittsburgh  (College Stats)

Weighted Career AV (100-95-…): 78 (470th overall since 1960)

High School: E.C. Glass (VA)

Draft: Buffalo Bills in the 1st round (14th overall) of the 1995 NFL Draft.

Relatives: Brother Cornell Brown

SUMMARY

Career

G

181

AV

101

GS

181

While not a household name, Ruben Brown carved a niche in professional football history. Brown played collegiate ball at Pitt and was picked by the Buffalo Bills in the first round of the 1995 NFL Draft. Ruben spent thirteen seasons in the NFL with the Bills and later the Chicago Bears. His nine Pro Bowls and consistent above-the-line play earned him respect from teammates and opponents.


Larry Allen

Larry Christopher Allen

Position: G-T

6-3335lb (190cm, 151kg)

Born: November 27, 1971 in Los Angeles, CA (Age: 52-117d)

College: Butte JC (CA), Sonoma St.

Weighted Career AV (100-95-…): 101 (143rd overall since 1960)

High School: Centennial (CA), Vintage (CA)

Draft: Dallas Cowboys in the 2nd round (46th overall) of the 1994 NFL Draft.

Hall of Fame: Inducted as Player in 2013 (Full List)

SUMMARY

Career

G

203

AV

134

GS

197

Larry Allen carved a legendary path as a dominant offensive lineman in the NFL from 1983 to 1997. Renowned for his raw power and punishing blocks, he anchored the Dallas Cowboys offensive line during their dynasty years, leading the way for Emmitt Smith’s rushing dominance. Allen earned eleven Pro Bowls and a Super Bowl ring throughout his career. These and being honored with the distinction of enshrinement into the Pro Football Hall of Fame for his dominant line play solidify him as one of the greatest guards ever to play the game.


Alan Faneca

Alan Joseph Faneca

Position: G-T

6-5316lb (196cm, 143kg)

Born: December 7, 1976 in New Orleans, LA (Age: 47-107d)

College: LSU  (College Stats)

Weighted Career AV (100-95-…): 108 (86th overall since 1960)

High School: Lamar Consolidated (TX)

Draft: Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1st round (26th overall) of the 1998 NFL Draft.

Hall of Fame: Inducted as Player in 2021 (Full List)

Pronunciation: \FAN-ee-kuh\

Twitter: @afan66

SUMMARY

Career

G

206

AV

140

GS

201

Faneca earned nine Pro Bowls, six All-Pro selections, and a Super Bowl ring with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2006. His relentless blocking, uncanny agility, and fierce competitiveness solidified him as a Hall of Fame inductee, a testament to the impact of a dominant offensive lineman.


Lou Creekmur

Louis Creekmur

Position: T-G-DG-DT

6-4246lb (193cm, 111kg)

Born: January 22, 1927 in Hopelawn, NJ

Died: July 5, 2009 (Aged 82-164d) in Tamarac, FL

College: William & Mary

High School: Woodbridge (NJ)

Draft: Philadelphia Eagles in the 26th round (243rd overall) of the 1948 NFL Draft.

Hall of Fame: Inducted as Player in 1996 (Full List)

SUMMARY

Career

G

116

AV

GS

107

Lou Creekmur may not be a name familiar to the modern NFL fan, but his outstanding play as a guard for the Detroit Lions during the 1950s is one for the ages. He was a six-time All-Pro, won eight Pro Bowls, and won three NFL Championships, making him a shoo-in for Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinement.


Billy Shaw

William Lewis Shaw

Position: G

6-2258lb (188cm, 117kg)

Born: December 15, 1938 in Natchez, MS (Age: 85-099d)

College: Georgia Tech  (College Stats)

Weighted Career AV (100-95-…): 60 (1071st overall since 1960)

High School: Carr Central (MS)

Draft: Buffalo Bills in the 2nd round (9th overall) of the 1961 AFL Draft., Dallas Cowboys in the 14th round (184th overall) of the 1961 NFL Draft.

Hall of Fame: Inducted as Player in 1999 (Full List)

SUMMARY

Career

G

119

AV

71

GS

116

Shaw played for the Buffalo Bills, mostly in the American Football League, prior to the merger. This dominant blocker helped the Bill win two AFL Championships as the five-time All-Pro earned eight Pro Bowl bids. Billy was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame for his outstanding contributions to the game.


Steve Wisniewski

Stephen Adam Wisniewski

Position: G

6-4305lb (193cm, 138kg)

Born: April 7, 1967 in Rutland, VT (Age: 56-351d)

College: Penn St.  (College Stats)

Weighted Career AV (100-95-…): 102 (129th overall since 1960)

High School: Westfield (TX)

Draft: Dallas Cowboys in the 2nd round (29th overall) of the 1989 NFL Draft.

Pronunciation: \wizz-NEW-skee\

Relatives: Brother Leo Wisniewski; Nephew Stefen Wisniewski

SUMMARY

Career

G

206

AV

138

GS

206

Wisniewski spent his entire pro career in silver and black. Steve anchored offensive lines in LA and Oakland and was rewarded with eight Pro Bowls and two All-Pro selections.


Steve Hutchinson

Steven J. Hutchinson

Position: G

6-5313lb (196cm, 141kg)

Born: November 1, 1977 in Fort Lauderdale, FL (Age: 46-143d)

College: Michigan  (College Stats)

Weighted Career AV (100-95-…): 94 (222nd overall since 1960)

High School: Coral Springs (FL)

Draft: Seattle Seahawks in the 1st round (17th overall) of the 2001 NFL Draft.

Hall of Fame: Inducted as Player in 2020 (Full List)

SUMMARY

Career

G

169

AV

117

GS

169

Over a brilliant career, Hutch made it to the Pro Football Hall of Fame elite with his great play on multiple teams. Seattle, Minnesota, and Tennessee were all teams that Steve made better, as he earned seven Pro Bowls and five All-Pro selections.


Photo of Logan Mankins

Logan Mankins

Logan Lee Mankins

Position: G

6-4308lb (193cm, 139kg)

Born: March 10, 1982 in Catheys Valley, CA (Age: 42-013d)

College: Fresno St.

Weighted Career AV (100-95-…): 102 (129th overall since 1960)

High School: Mariposa (CA)

Draft: New England Patriots in the 1st round (32nd overall) of the 2005 NFL Draft.

SUMMARY

Career

G

161

AV

129

GS

161

A stalwart on the offensive line, Logan Mankins anchored some of the most dominant teams of the 21st century. Drafted by the New England Patriots in 2005, Mankins quickly established himself as a force, earning Pro Bowl honors and Super Bowl rings alongside Tom Brady. His exceptional blocking and leadership paved the way for a lethal Patriots offense and, later, a stint with the Tampa Bay Bucs.


Gene Upshaw

Eugene Thurman Upshaw Jr.

Position: G

6-5255lb (196cm, 115kg)

Born: August 15, 1945 in Robstown, TX

Died: August 20, 2008 (Aged 63-005d) in Truckee, CA

College: Texas A&M-Kingsville

Weighted Career AV (100-95-…): 108 (86th overall since 1960)

High School: Robstown (TX)

Draft: Oakland Raiders in the 1st round (17th overall) of the 1967 NFL Draft.

Hall of Fame: Inducted as Player in 1987 (Full List)

Relatives: Brother Marvin Upshaw

SUMMARY

Career

G

217

AV

149

GS

207

Drafted by the Oakland Raiders in 1967, Gene Upshaw anchored the offensive line for 15 seasons, protecting legends like Ken Stabler and helping the Raiders win Super Bowl XI.  His dominance earned him six Pro Bowl selections and a place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. 


A Few More to Recognize

Joe Jacoby

Joseph Erwin Jacoby

Position: T-G

6-7305lb (201cm, 138kg)

Born: July 6, 1959 in Louisville, KY (Age: 64-261d)

College: Louisville

Weighted Career AV (100-95-…): 84 (354th overall since 1960)

High School: Western (KY)

SUMMARY

Career

G

170

AV

106

GS

148

One player we must include in this list is Joe Jacoby. Although Jacoby also made some tackles and four Pro Bowl appearances, his dominating play makes him one of the most well-respected left guards in NFL history.


Nate Newton

Nathaniel Newton Jr.  (The Kitchen)

Position: G-T

6-3318lb (190cm, 144kg)

Born: December 20, 1961 in Orlando, FL (Age: 62-094d)

College: Florida A&M

Weighted Career AV (100-95-…): 85 (341st overall since 1960)

High School: Jones (FL)

Relatives: Brother Tim Newton

SUMMARY

Career

G

198

AV

109

GS

180

Nate Newton is another titan of left guard play, who played many seasons anchoring the Dallas Cowboys lines. This versatile player also played some tackle but earned a total of three Super Bowl rings, six Pro Bowl invitations, and a couple of All-Pro honors.


Conclusion

The legacy of these 15 left guards is undeniable. They paved the way for the modern passing game, protected franchise quarterbacks, and opened holes for some of the most prolific running backs in NFL history.  From the early days of John Hannah to the dominance of Alan Faneca, these players have redefined their position and solidified their place among the gridiron’s elite. The best-left guards in NFL history may not always be in the spotlight, but for those who understand the game’s intricacies, the impact of these giants on the field is undeniable.


Who are the best left guards in the NFL?

It is hard to deny Zack Martin of this honor based on his great play of the past few seasons

Who are the best left guards in the NFL 2023 season?

Besides the aforementioned Zack Martin, Quenton Nelson of the Colts, and Cleveland’s Joel Bitonio are in the discussion.

Who is the best left guard in the NFL ever?

A very wide-open question indeed but John Hannah, Lou Creekmur, and Randall McDaniel are popular choices.


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