Dec 28, 2014; Baltimore, MD, USA; Cleveland Browns lineman Joe Thomas (73) blocks Baltimore Ravens linebacker Pernell McPhee (90) at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports
Cleveland Browns left tackle Joe Thomas came in at No. 25 on the NFL Network’s list of the Top 100 players of 2015.
The results are from voting by the league’s players.
The longest-tenured player on the roster, and without question former general manager Phil Savage’s best move while he was in charge, Thomas is the first offensive lineman in NFL history to earn Pro Bowl honors in each of his first eight seasons. He has also been a First-Team All-Pro selection five times.
Thomas is also one of just 10 players in league history to have made the Pro Bowl in each of their first seven seasons. The other nine are players you may have heard of as they all are Hall of Famers: Jim Brown, Dick Butkus, Joe Greene, Franco Harris, Merlin Olsen, Mel Renfro, Barry Sanders, Lawrence Taylor and Derrick Thomas.
Playing for a franchise that has seen nothing but change since he entered the league in 2007 out of Wisconsin – Thomas has played for five head coaches, 14 starting quarterbacks and too many offensive coordinators to count — the 6-foot-6, 312-pound Thomas has been a constant as he has not missed an offensive snap since walking onto the field for the season opener against Pittsburgh on Sept. 9, 2007.
“From an NFL player standpoint and beyond that, he’s just the total package, very professional, high character,” head coach Mike Pettine told the team’s website. “Sometimes you have superstar players that are at the top of their game and there’s a sense of entitlement or they don’t practice as hard. He’s the exact opposite of that.”
The addition of Thomas to the NFL’s list is consistent with his ranking from Pro Football Focus, which placed Thomas as the 20th best player in the NFL for 2014.
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According to the site, the eight-year veteran’s “couple of shaky games aside (by his standards), Thomas was at his imperious best. The picture of consistency since entering the league, he graded positively in all but three games. As ever, with Thomas it’s his pass protection that really stands out, but there’s no denying that the introduction of Kyle Shanahan got him in a run blocking scheme that really played to his strengths.”
While Thomas obviously has the respect of his peers, seeing him work every day in practice reveals just how much work goes into his craft, said teammate Karlos Dansby.
“Before I got here I used to hear about him,” the veteran inside linebacker told ESPN. “‘Joe Thomas is the best tackle in the game.’ I said, ‘Yeah?’ I never saw him play, but that’s what I heard. Now since I’m here, and I see his work ethic, what he’s able to do in the game … he takes it from the practice field to the game and it’s real. It is real.”
Where does Joe Thomas rank on the list of the Browns’ all-time greats?