To put it mildly, offensive linemen in the NFL these days are massive. Some of them are so large they almost take up two positions on the line.
The offensive line is certainly one of the most important parts of any NFL team. It's a line that protects the quarterback and opens spaces for running backs to squeeze through. Offensive linemen are also known for being the largest players on a typical football team. It's not unusual for teams to have offensive lines where the five players total at least 1,500 lbs in combined weight.
In fact, even the college ranks have massive lines. It's estimated that the average SEC team has an offensive line averaging 308 lbs each. Utah boasts an average o-line player weight of 328 lbs and LSU's average is 322 lbs.
Even the developmental and minor football leagues have huge players. This includes John Taylor of the Central Penn Piranha in the GDFL, a lineman who is 6'11" and an incredible 500 pounds.
Players of this size won't normally be found in the NFL, as a certain level of athleticism is also needed to compete with the speed and power found in the league'd d-lines. It should be noted that the largest offensive lineman in NFL history was Aaron Gibson. At 410 pounds, he played for the Chicago Bears in the 2003 season. Leonard Davis is another big boy who played in the NFL for twelve seasons and came very close to tipping the 400 lb mark.
O-line stars can make plenty of money with some pulling in at least $10 million a year. This listing of the highest-paid guys on the offensive line in the NFL is based on how much they make pound for pound. This puts into consideration a big question - do teams always have to pay more money for the biggest guys in the game?
10 Jordan Gross - Carolina Panthers - $9.5 million, 300 lbs - $31,666 per pound
Having been with the Carolina Panthers since 2003, Jordan Gross has been a mainstay at the left tackle position for the team. He's currently making $9.5 million per year thanks to his seniority in the NFL. Gross has reached two Pro Bowls in his career and made it to the Super Bowl once, with the Panthers losing to the Patriots in 2003. In addition, he hasn't missed a game since 2010 and has become a trusted protector for quarterback Cam Newton.
9 Joe Thomas - Cleveland Browns - $10.2 million, 311 lbs - $32,797 per pound
Joe Thomas got an eight-year deal in 2011 worth $92 million. He is getting $10.2 million in 2013 as the terms of his contract currently dictate. Thomas has played with the Browns since 2007 and has started in nearly a hundred games at the left tackle position. His consistency at LT is more than what can be said for Cleveland's quarterback situation. Thomas has dealt with twelve different QBs since first coming to Cleveland, undoubtedly one of the main reasons why the team continues to struggle.
8 Trent Williams - Washington Redskins - $11 million, 315 lbs - $34,920 per pound
Trent Williams has started the majority of his NFL games at left tackle since 2010 when he was drafted by the Washington Redskins out of Oklahoma. He made the Pro Bowl in 2012 and has been critical in opening up running space for QB Robert Griffin III. His $11 million annual salary is huge for an offensive lineman, but there are concerns over what could happen to him and other Redskin players as RG3 has struggled with injuries and the coaching situation has fallen in disarray.
7 Jake Long - St. Louis Rams - $11.2 million, 315 lbs - $35,555 per pound
Jake Long was the top pick out of Michigan in the 2008 NFL draft. He played for the Miami Dolphins for five years and signed a four-year contract with the St. Louis Rams in 2013. With a salary of $11.2 million for the start of his deal, he's been trusted to work at the left tackle position. However, even his best play could not have kept Sam Bradford from injuring his knee midway through the season, thus putting him out for the year.
6 Carl Nicks - Tampa Bay Buccaneers - $12.5 million, 343 lbs - $36,443 per pound
After playing with the New Orleans Saints for four years and winning a Super Bowl with the team in 2009, Carl Nicks left for Tampa Bay in 2012. His $12.5 million annual salary was well-earned with Nicks being considered a first-team All-NFL player according to pro football writers, the Sporting News and the Associated Press in 2011. Still, injuries have taken a toll on him as he's only played in nine games with the Buccaneers and has yet to work alongside new quarterback Mike Glennon.
5 Andy Levitre - Tennessee Titans - $13 million, 306 lbs - $42,483 per pound
After starting four seasons at left guard for the Buffalo Bills, Andy Levitre joined the Tennessee Titans in 2013 at the same position with a six-year deal worth $46.8 million. Levitre earns $13 million in his first year of the contract. He's continued to be a reliable player for the Titans and has yet to miss a single game. Whether or not he'll be blocking for Jake Locker in 2014 is a totally different story due to some of Locker's struggles at QB.
4 Lane Johnson - Philadelphia Eagles - $13.2 million, 303 lbs - $43,564 per pound
As the fourth overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, Lane Johnson will get $13.2 million for his first year with the Eagles. All top players in the draft will get guaranteed salaries that are comparable with those of last year's players who got picked around the same part of the draft. Therefore, he's able to get around $43,500 for each of his 303 lbs in his first year out of Oklahoma. Johnson has earned it well as he's started every game at right tackle and has helped ease Nick Foles into the spotlight at QB.
3 Luke Joeckel - Jacksonville Jaguars - $14.2 million, 306 lbs - $46,405 per pound
2 Ryan Clady - Denver Broncos - $15 million, 316 lbs - $47,468 per pound
The Denver Broncos took Ryan Clady in the first round out of Boise State in 2008. Since then he's made the Pro Bowl three times, became a two-time First-Team All-Pro player and was a key part of Peyton Manning's comeback in 2012. While a foot injury has sidelined him for much of the 2013 season, he is still the highest-paid offensive lineman in the NFL thanks to a five-year, $52.5 million deal.
1 Eric Fisher - Kansas City Chiefs - $14.9 million, 306 lbs - $48,962 per pound
Eric Fisher earned a massive salary as the top draft pick in 2013 NFL Draft. He's getting $14.9 million this year as part of his guaranteed contract. The former Central Michigan stud has been a huge part of what has made the Chiefs come back from being the worst team in 2012 to a Wild Card contender in 2013-14. However, there are still concerns about him and the Chiefs' offensive line at large as Alex Smith was sacked nearly forty times in 2013.