American football isn't an Olympic sport -- yet. But with the world's best athletes set to compete in the 2016 Olympics in Rio, we thought we'd get in on the fun by holding a medal competition at nine key positions. NFL Media analysts ranked the top three players at each spot, with points assigned accordingly -- three points for each first-place ranking, two for each second-place ranking and one for each third-place ranking. The points were totaled, resulting in final gold-, silver- and bronze-medal finishers. Below, you'll find the results -- and each analyst's individual ballot -- for offensive line.
The Offensive Line Podium
Also receiving votes:Maurkice Pouncey, Pittsburgh Steelers (8 total points); Marshal Yanda, Baltimore Ravens (8); Andrew Whitworth, Cincinnati Bengals (7); Zack Martin, Dallas Cowboys (4); Ryan Kalil, Carolina Panthers (3); Kelechi Osemele, Oakland Raiders (3); Terron Armstead, New Orleans Saints (2); Alex Mack, Atlanta Falcons (2); Jason Peters, Philadelphia Eagles (2); Josh Sitton, Green Bay Packers (1).
Whitworth is probably one of the best offensive linemen -- if not the best -- and he's received far less in the way of accolades than his play merits. Thomas hasn't missed a game -- or a Pro Bowl -- in his nine-year career. The only question with these three is if the awards stand will be strong enough to hold them.
Smith is extremely athletic and the most in-shape O-lineman in the league. He is very patient and has great footwork. Thomas is a technician, which is why he's so consistent. Williams is tenacious and very agile for his size. I wouldn't want to line up across any of these guys.
All three of these choices are listed for mastery of their respective positions. Yanda is a well-known commodity across the league and tops the list for his consistency. Whitworth doesn't seem to receive the national acclaim, yet continues to deliver. And Thomas ... Well, tell me a better player on a crummier team in league history.
Smith is the best offensive lineman in the game right now and makes the position look easy. I haven't seen someone play tackle that effortlessly at times since Jonathan Ogden and Tony Boselli. Peters is one of the most athletic tackles in football. When Peters is healthy, there isn't a pass rusher that he can't handle one-on-one. Williams is just a mauler.
Williams is a unique find at the position as an athletic pass protector with outstanding feet and a nasty demeanor. He mauls rushers at the point and finishes like a mad man. With few rushers capable of cracking the code against Williams, he deserves the top spot on the podium.
Smith is the heart and soul of the best offensive line in the league. That unit needs him. Pouncey is the most athletic center and protects a future Hall of Famer at quarterback. Osemele is athletic, tenacious and nasty, which is what you want in a guard.
Dave Dameshek: 1) N/A 2) N/A 3) N/A
Instead of pretentiously weighing in on something most humans (including NFL players who don't play OL, QB or RB) don't honestly understand, I'll defer to O'Hara and Baldy here.
Smith is the best left tackle in the game. He is durable and plays the entirety of every play. Williams is a monster for the Redskins. And Yanda is a tremendous run blocker -- he can line up against any tackle and hold his own one-on-one.
Oh man, the Cowboys come so close to just sweeping this competition because Travis Frederick is a damn good center. That's the one thing you have to love about Jerry Jones The GM: He's done a pretty great job of building a solid offensive line. The group is like an underappreciated indie rock band that is very popular in its hometown and with hipsters. This is the season everybody comes to recognize this line. Which seems weird to say about the Cowboys when you consider every fourth fan you meet is a fan of the Dallas Cowboys. But still.