The widespread thought that the LT position is the second most important position on the field is THE biggest misconception in the game today.
I remember when this phenomenon started on a national scale...around the mid 1990s. I was a left tackle in my junior year of HS, and I have a photographic memory of myself standing in a grocery store looking at an article (I think it was a SI King or Dr Z piece) that said how overlooked the importance of the LT was in the NFL.
Before that, in a general fan's eye, the line was thought of as a whole unit. Since that time, there has been a steady change in the general culture of NFL fans and media. Now, if someone wants to judge a team's OL, they simply mention the LT an move on. One example is a fan post on BR this spring that rated teams based mainly on the QB/LT. I know the Tuna has been referred to as a "LT head & shoulders above all" guy, but my guess is if you ask him or the SI author mentioned above, the whole thought has ballooned to a point where it shadows more pertinent truths about how an O should be built.
Fans argue that the QB's blind side must be protected and then stop talking about the line. Listen folks, a brutal his will come from anywhere on the field. Where did Adrian Wilson's KO on Trent come from? How about the Jet defenders that took Trent out last year? How about the play that sidelined Tom Brady? These cases are not meant to prove my point, since they are anecdotal, and any one of you could list (in two seconds) blind-side hits that did as much damage. I wouldn't know where to find the numbers to make a scientific case. But the general fan seems to think that once you have a Pro-Bowl LT, you have a great line, regardless of other line positions. It's like the discussion of QB protection begins and ends at the LT, and that's just a lazy way to talk football.
Again, the widespread thought that the LT position is the second most important position on the field (and a top-tier guy is a make-or-break factor on offense) is THE biggest misconception in the game today.
As I've seen one or two articles around the web that are trying to debunk this overblown theory, I'm sure it's just a matter of time before the LT craze cycles back to where it was before the mid 90's. There will be some new "truism" that takes over, I'm sure, and convinces entire fan bases that their team's GM doesn't know a football from a dog turd.
This, by no means, is an opinion that's trying to justify Nix/Gailey skipping a LT in the high rounds. What the Bills have on the roster isn't even average (yet.) They could really use some help at almost all line positions, be it depth at the interior, or a solid option at one/both tackles. To make the entire line better, one excellent prospect at LT, RT, or C would no doubt make a huge difference. I'm addressing the entire NFL fan base and the national media's cliched thought process.
As this is all just part of the noise that surrounds the game, here is my point: when a fan thinks about football, and which positions carry the most importance, it might benefit one's overall understanding of the game if he/she can try to compensate for the irrational hype that surrounds the LT position. It is an important position, for sure, but so are the other 4 along the line, and are not significantly less important than the LT.
My HS O line coach used to love the analogy "you have to have all fingers clenched to throw a punch."
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