Top Five Greatest Offensive Linemen In New England Patriots History

Who is the greatest offensive lineman in Patriots history?


Mar 7, 2023

The history of the New England Patriots is made up of all-time talent.

Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback who ever lived. Rob Gronkowski had the most dominant stretch the NFL has ever seen out of a tight end. Sports Illustrated proclaimed John Hannah the “Greatest Offensive Lineman of All Time” halfway through his playing career. New England’s history at offensive line beyond one of the greatest ever is less than obvious, however.

The Patriots haven’t had a wealth of Hall of Fame talent play on the offensive line, but they’ve always been solid. That’s why the anchors of those lines, who protected some very important people, deserve some recognition.

Here it is.

5. Dan Koppen (2003-2011)
There are a select few that can say they experienced the amount that Dan Koppen did in his tenure as Brady’s center.

Koppen caught the back end of New England’s first dynastic run, started every game in their undefeated 2007 regular season and capped things off alongside the next dynastic corps of Gronkowski, Julian Edelman, Matthew Slater, Devin McCourty and company in 2011. Who else can say they did all of those things? A handful of people, including Brady and Bill Belichick.

The one-time Pro Bowl center started 134 of a possible 161 games, including three Super Bowls across nine seasons with the Patriots. He was the anchor to the offensive line of the second-highest-scoring team in NFL history. In terms of experience, few in team history can say they have more, regardless of position.

4. Matt Light (2001-2011)
A former second-round pick, Matt Light was everything that the Patriots expected and more throughout his 11 seasons in New England.

Everything that was said about Koppen can be applied to Light, who won three Super Bowls and started 173 games across a tenure that ended the same season. The difference, Light was tasked with protecting Brady’s blindside, and was the best player to ever do it across the legendary quarterback’s 23 seasons.

Light came in as a rookie and started Super Bowl XXXVI and held his spot at left tackle until his retirement following Super Bowl XLVI, making three Pro Bowls and being named first-team All-Pro in 2007.

3. Logan Mankins (2005-2013)
It is a shame that Logan Mankins never won a Super Bowl with the Patriots.

There were 162 games between the Patriots’ Super Bowl-winning seasons of 2004 and 2014. Mankins started 147 of them, including the entire 2015 season with a torn ACL. He wasn’t just New England’s best offensive lineman, there was no better lineman in the NFL over that nine-season stretch in which he made six Pro Bowls.

One of those Pro Bowl berths came after the rough-and-tumble guard missed seven games in 2010 for holding out. There simply was no one better than Mankins in his prime.

2. Bruce Armstrong (1987-2000)
Mankins may have missed out on winning a Super Bowl, but Bruce Armstrong’s story may be even more disappointing.

Armstrong started 212 games across 14 seasons, calling it quits just one year before the Patriots won their first Super Bowl in franchise history. In that stretch, he was on both the worst team in franchise history (1990; 1-15 record) and the 1996 AFC Champion who ended up losing in Super Bowl XXXI to the Green Bay Packers.

The six-time Pro Bowler protected Drew Bledsoe’s blindside throughout the vast majority of his Patriots career, and had his No. 78 retired by the franchise in 2001. The Patriots Hall of Famer barely missed out on making it into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The next man did not.

1. John Hannah (1973-1985)
Each entry into this series has highlighted John Hannah. The reason for that? He is one of the greatest offensive linemen in the history of football.

The Pro Football Hall of Famer made nine Pro Bowls and was named first-team All-Pro seven times. He started each of the 190 games he played in, made the NFL’s All-Decade Team in both the 1970s and 1980s, had his No. 73 retired and was the first player inducted into the Patriots Hall of Fame.

If it wasn’t for Brady — the greatest player in NFL history, Hannah would be considered the best in franchise history. Even then, he’s not far off.

Honorable Mention: Nate Solder (2011-2017), Jon Morris (1964-1974), Sebastian Vollmer (2009-2015), David Andrews (2015-Present), Dante Scarnecchia (Coach – 1999-2013; 2016-2019)

Thumbnail photo via Tommy Gilligan/USA TODAY Sports Images
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