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AFC East's best: No. 8 Jake Long

By Tim Graham

LongMugThe countdown of my top 25 AFC East players continues, one weekday at a time ...

The choice

Of all the AFC Easterners on the NFL Network's Top 100 Players of 2012 list, Miami Dolphins left tackle Jake Long was ranked fifth by the players and sixth by the fans. Players and fans also voted him the league's second-best tackle behind former Buffalo Bills star Jason Peters and the third-best offensive lineman.

Long has been a star since the day he joined the Dolphins, signing his contract as the top selection before the 2008 draft. He has been named to the Pro Bowl in each of his four seasons and selected to be a starter three years running. He was first-team All-Pro in 2010, a year after being voted second-team All-Pro.

Long, at 6-foot-7, has remarkable reach on pass blocking and tremendous strength to clear paths for running backs. But shoulder and back injuries have hindered him the past couple seasons. He started his first 61 NFL games -- all at left tackle -- before getting scratched against the Bills in December. STATS Inc. marked him down for 5.5 sacks allowed in 14 games last season.

Fast fact

Long became the first Dolphins offensive lineman to make four consecutive Pro Bowls since Richmond Webb made seven straight in the 1990s.

How acquired

Selected in the first round (first overall) of the 2008 draft.

Hint about No. 7

He was a record-setter on his college's track and field team.

Picks to date

8. Jake Long, Dolphins left tackle
9. Logan Mankins, Patriots left guard
10. Cameron Wake, Dolphins outside linebacker
11. Fred Jackson, Bills running back
12. D'Brickashaw Ferguson, Jets left tackle
13. Kyle Williams, Bills defensive tackle
14. Sione Pouha, Jets defensive tackle
15. Jairus Byrd, Bills safety
16. Brandon Lloyd, Patriots receiver
17. Stevie Johnson, Bills receiver
18. Reggie Bush, Dolphins running back
19. Jerod Mayo, Patriots inside linebacker
20. Randy Starks, Dolphins defensive lineman
21. Sebastian Vollmer, Patriots right tackle
22. Aaron Hernandez, Patriots tight end
23. Marcell Dareus, Bills defensive tackle
24. Antonio Cromartie, Jets cornerback
25. Eric Wood, Bills center

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About Press Coverage

Tim Graham

Tim Graham

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

@ByTimGraham |

Mark Gaughan

Mark Gaughan

Buffalo native Mark Gaughan started working at The News in 1980 and has been covering the Bills exclusively since 1992. He is a former president of the Pro Football Writers of America, and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

@gggaughan |

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida. He writes a weekly Fantasy column in addition to his beat writing duties.

@JaySkurski |