Joe Thomas is the poster boy for first round offensive tackle success. He is what every coach and personnel man dreams of when it comes to spending a high draft pick on a tackle – a guy you can plug in immediately and then forget about that spot for the next decade.
As you can see, Sam Monson of Pro Football Focus gave a little love to Joe Thomas today in his article: Position Progression: Offensive Tackle. He looked at the somewhat common perception that first round offensive tackles can be expected to step in and be franchise-caliber blind side protectors from day one.
So, as PFF always does, he looked at the grades. It turns out, that first round OTs tend to perform only slightly above average as rookies and that they don't really hit their stride and become above average until year three. Ahh, but Sam points out that there are outliers and exceptions to every rule, with our very own Joe Thomas being one of them:
Thomas started from the outset and has never graded below a +16.9, with his first four seasons in the league all topping a +20.0 grade. He has established himself as the best pass-protecting offensive tackle in football in an era where pass protection has become ever more important and he has done it regardless of the changing scheme, coaches, quarterbacks or guards beside him in Cleveland.
I don't think any of this comes as a surprise to Browns fans. Joe is a 7-time Pro Bowler, has been one of or the top tackle in each of his seasons, has never missed a game or a start, and has been a model of consistency. On top of that, he's been a well-respected role model both on and off the field. Sam's just telling us something we already know: There's only one Joesus, and he happens to wear number 73.