#NFLRank: No. 63 Jake Long

EARTH CITY, Mo. -- The annual #NFLRank project got underway Monday morning as a panel of 85 NFL analysts across our many platforms went through the process of ranking the top 100 players in the league on each side of the ball.

St. Louis Rams linebacker James Laurinaitis checked in at No. 93 on the list as he appears for the second year in a row on the defensive side. Laurinaitis was No. 57 on the list in 2013.

On Wednesday, we revealed the players ranked Nos. 70-61 on offense and defense. Another repeat Ram makes the list, this time on offense in the form of left tackle Jake Long. Long is No. 63 on the list, just two spots down from where he was in 2013.

Offense, No. 63, Jake Long

Stats & Info: Long has made the Pro Bowl in four of his five seasons, with last season being the first time he missed out. With Long on the field in 2012 for the Dolphins, Ryan Tannehill was sacked once every 18.3 dropbacks compared to once every 10.9 dropbacks when Long was off the field.

My take: At this point in his career, it's not a question of Long's ability so much as it is his durability. Long has missed games with fairly serious injuries in each of the past three seasons. He played all of 14 games last year before suffering a torn ACL and MCL early in the 15th. After a rough start before the Rams figured out some sort of offensive identity, Long put together another strong season. He's still one of the best run-blocking tackles in the league and was mostly solid in pass protection. Considering the going rate for left tackles, Long looks like a relative bargain at a 2014 cap hit of $9.25 million. But whether that turns out to be the case will depend on how he performs coming off the knee injury and whether he can stay on the field for all 16 games.