HOF Profile: Walter Jones

walter-jonesThe foundation of a good team can be drawn back to any number of positions based on the biases of who is speaking. Some say that with the passing game in the NFL that it is the quarterback while others list off a number of defensive positions, citing that Defence wins championships. There is one position that does not have the same glory but is widely considered one of the most important positions on the field, the left tackle. The left tackle is far from glory as they rarely get a lot of attention unless they do something wrong. Yet they are the one of the most important positions on the offence as they protect the biggest names and the highest paid players in football. The left tackle takes on the best players on the defensive line and protects a quarterback’s blindside. That is the side, for most quarterbacks, where they cannot see as they are facing the other way and can get hit without realizing anyone is coming. That can lead to major injuries and turnovers as the quarterbacks do not have the time to brace for the hit. So to protect that side of the line teams look for a big lineman that has the mobility to deal with fast linebackers coming from the outside and strong enough to deal with bigger defensive lineman. It is a tough task on the left side as teams generally put their best players on that side of the defence in order to get a better shot at the quarterback. Teams are always seeking a great left tackle and when one goes down it gets difficult to replace that player. So when a team finds a lineman that fits the mold and can stay on the field they have found the foundation to their offence. That is what the Seattle Seahawks would find in Walter Jones when they drafted the big tackle in 1997. Jones become one of the most consistent players in the NFL and would lock down the left side to the line for years. Jones was the prototype for a left tackle and is still the prototype for a left tackle in the MLB as the position continues to be one of the most important positions in the league.

Jones was not a superstar coming out of high school as he would attend Holmes Community College to begin his collegiate career. After staring at Community College Jones transferred to Florida State University where he redshirted his first year before starting as a junior. After earning all-ACC honours and only allowing two sacks in that season Jones decided to go to the NFL. He only spent one year with the Seminoles but it was enough to impress NFL teams. His size would help a lot too as the 6’5” 300 lbs tackle became a highly scouted player. He would be wanted so badly that the Seattle Seahawks moved up in the 1996 draft to take Jones as the 6th overall pick. The move up in the draft order was the right move for the Seahawks as they saw Jones become a staple on the offensive line. It wouldn’t take long for his ability to shine through either as he won the starting role in his first training camp. His rookie year, Jones was named to multiple all-rookie teams and solidified himself as a great tackle. While protecting for Warren Moon in ’96 Jones helped the Seahawks to one of the best passing offences in the league and only three years later received his first Pro Bowl nomination. The next 11 seasons saw much of the same as Jones continued to be one of the best lineman in the game and continued to protect his quarterback. Rarely missing a game, Jones proved to be one of the best earning 9 Pro Bowl selections and an Offensive Lineman of the Year Award in 2005. His ability to stay on the field and consistently perform made him one of the best ever and that is why he enters the Hall of Fame as a member of the Class of 2014.

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