Is Marshal Yanda The NFL's Best Offensive Lineman?

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Marshal Yanda looks short standing next to right tackle Rick Wagner. He looks shrimpy compared to left guard Kelechi Osemele. He looks portly next to Eugene Monroe.

If the Ravens' starting offensive line were in a lineup, the average football fan almost assuredly would not point to the 6-foot-3, 305-pound Yanda as being the best of the bunch. 

But not only is the four-time Pro Bowler the Ravens' best blocker. Now he's getting national recognition as the NFL's best offensive lineman, and his head coach sees an even higher honor in Yanda's future.

"He's a special human being and a special player, and he's a Hall of Famer someday," Harbaugh said after Thursday's first training camp practice. "I'm sure glad he's on our team."

Grantland.com recently ranked Yanda as the league's top offensive lineman of 2014, ahead of Philadelphia left tackle Jason Peters and Cleveland left tackle Joe Thomas, and it wasn't even close.

"I'd be willing to argue that aside from J.J. Watt and Aaron Rodgers, no one in the league had a more comfortable margin as the best player at his position than Yanda," Robert Mays wrote.

EA Sports' Madden video game gave Yanda a rating of a 98, just one point shy of a perfect mark and the highest rating for any NFL offensive lineman. Yanda has a 99 rating in run blocking.

The local Baltimore media agrees. They were polled by ESPN's Jamison Hensley and the votes were tallied to determine the Ravens' top 20 players based on talent alone. Yanda ranked first, one spot ahead of quarterback Joe Flacco.

On Thursday, Flacco was asked whether Yanda is the best offensive lineman he's seen.

"Yes, I mean come on, this is at the highest level, and he's one of the best guys out there in the league," Flacco said.

"The way he just goes out there and how tough he is and how he, every single play, just physically gets after you, gets after you, gets after you. [He] does everything he can from the beginning of the first quarter to the end of whenever it is. It's very impressive. The physicality that he brings to the game, it's kind of weird to say because that's all playing offensive line is, but he obviously just takes it up to a whole nother level."

At age 30, Yanda is entering his ninth season with the Ravens and final year of his contract. There's been buzz about Baltimore re-signing him once again, something the Iowa product didn't seem too worried about during minicamp.

Yanda doesn't express a whole lot of interest in any topic other than winning and manhandling his opponent. So as expected, he said being recognized as the league's best offensive lineman didn't matter much to him either.

"Obviously, I take pride in working hard and being the best player I can be, but I'm more worried about the football team and us as an offensive line and us as an offense more than that," he said.

"You just go out here and do your job every day to the best of your ability, and you try to be great. I'm not going to lie, I come out here, and I want to be great in everything I do, so you just work your tail off and you hope that happens."

The Ravens took the field Wednesday morning for the first practice of 2015 training camp.

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