The skill positions continue to be the main attraction when it comes to touting the career accomplishments of University of Miami stars in the NFL. Running Back U, Wide Receiver U and Tight End U are the rockstars of the University of Miami pro alumni. Yet none of the players created there would have climbed to their heights if it wasn’t for the men who bought them time in the trenches. Today in our Top 5 ProCanes series, we’ll take a look at the offensive linemen who have made their mark in the NFL.
As I’ve done in my previous post about the Top 5 ProCane running backs, I’ll start the countdown with the players who just missed out on making the list.
Brandon Linder — Among modern era considerations, there isn’t a better choice than Brandon Linder. Beginning his career in the league as a right guard, Linder is regarded as one of the best centers in the league. However, the center has been placed on season-ending IR in two of his five seasons in Jacksonville. If he’s able to stay healthy throughout the season, he could crack the top 5 in the near future.
Chris Myers — A sixth round pick for the Denver Broncos in the 2005 NFL Draft, Chris Myers has enjoyed a long career. Myers was seldom used in his first two years with the Broncos. After gradually receiving snaps at left guard, he came into prominence when he slid over to center. Myers would start all 16 games for Denver in his third season before hitting free agency at the end of the season. Signing with the Houston Texans, the Miami Palmetto HS graduate would start 112 games consecutively in a seven-year span for the Texans. Myers announced his retirement before the 2015 season.
Orlando Franklin — Over the course of his seven years in the NFL, Franklin started in 89 of the 90 games he dressed. The bulk of his career was spent in Denver with the Broncos, before joining the San Diego Chargers followed by a short stint with the Washington Redskins. Franklin enjoyed a productive career for a man who was born in Jamaica, grew up in Canada and worked his way to the University of Miami.
A 12-year career working in the NFL trenches is not as glorifying as many of you would like. Nor are 127 starts in 165 games going to send you looking for highlights on Youtube. What is impressive about the NFL career of Eric Winston is leadership and determination to fight on behalf of others. Having anchored the offensive lines for Houston, Kansas City, Arizona, and Cincinnati, Winston has been a shining example of consistency, toughness and, above all, leadership.
Winston was elected by NFL players to head the NFLPA as president of the NFLPA Players Union. His re-election in 2018 was his third successful election in as many years. Advocating for health and safety, financial stability, and improvement of workplace conditions, Winston has been one of the more outspoken voices of change in the NFL. That is why he should go down as one of the best ProCanes to play in the NFL.
Loyal to the soil. This saying means that you’re dedicated to where you grew up. Few have been more loyal to the 305 than Vernon Carey. From his days at Miami Northwestern to his time at UM to getting drafted in the first round of the 2004 NFL Draft by the Miami Dolphins, Carey’s Football Life is forever tied to the city. Carey was part of the record-setting 2004 NFL Draft class for the Canes as one of a select few from UM who were drafted in the first round. . Carey started 107 of his 127 games with the Phins, working as the team’s right tackle and right guard for much of his eight-year career.
Whether it’s walking through a dark alley, protect your blindside in passing situations or looking to just hang with good company, Bryant McKinnie should be your first choice. Regarded as one of the best linemen talent to come from The U, McKinnie was another first-round selection that lived up to his potential — most of the time. McKinnie, who has a reputation for “living his best life”, was also known for walking defensive ends away from the QB consistently. In his 13-year career, the 2001 Outland Trophy winner spent nine years with the Minnesota Vikings. McKinnie was named to the 2009 Pro Bowl after being called for just two penalties all season. After a few controversies that included a back-and-forth with the Vikings regarding his weight, the team released McKinnine in the summer of 2011.
With a strong endorsement from Ed Reed, the Baltimore Ravens would sign McKinnie to a one year long prove-it deal. McKinnie became a key part of the Ravens offensive line as the team’s left tackle, protecting Joe Flacco to win Super Bowl XLVII.
In his eight-year career in the NFL, Leon Searcy started 111 of his 126 total career games for the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Pittsburgh Steelers. One of the earliest draft picks in the Chuck Noll era, Searcy earned the right tackle job in his second season with the team. Searcy was a member of the Steelers team that went on to play in Super Bowl XXX against the Dallas Cowboys. After the 1999 season, Searcy earned recognition as the second-team All-Pro tackle. He also played for the Steelers in Super Bowl XXX. The former first-round pick would return to the state of Florida to play for the Jacksonville Jaguars, starting 63 games for the franchise. Searcy was named a second team All-Pro and went to the Pro Bowl in 1999.
Placing Jim Otto atop our list didn’t even require a cutblock. He’s the only ProCane offensive lineman with a gold bust in Canton, Ohio. In the second half of his career, ‘Double O’ played in all 14 games for the Oakland Raiders for nine straight seasons. Otto started 140 of his 210 career games. The former Hurricane is recognized as one of the best offensive linemen of the 1960s and was named to the All-1960s team.
Otto was named to the first All-AFL team every single year he played by multiple publications such as the Associated Press, Pro Football Weekly and Pro Football Writers. Often playing with a broken nose each game, sporting that old one-bar face mask, he was one of the few offensive linemen who dished out as much pain as he received. Otto would play in 308 straight games before his career was over.
Double O was a first-ballot member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1980.
IT’S ALWAYS ABOUT THE U!