Just before his 34th birthday Logan Mankins, the final first round pick in 2005, has decided to call time on a fantastic career. Drafted by the Patriots after their third Super Bowl in four years, Mankins was an immediate starter and quickly became one of the nastiest run blockers in the game. He was a lineman of old school principals – happy to drive you into the ground between the whistles and just as happy to give you a hand up afterwards. He was an enforcer on the Patriots offense for nine years, yanking defenders off of his quarterbacks and running backs after plays and warning them not to touch them again. Frankly he was the kind of player everyone loves to have on their team and hates to play against. He was traded to Tampa Bay a few weeks before the 2014 season began, where after a year of transition, he had a late-career renaissance in 2015 that saw him return to the form he had shown in New England. Throughout his career Mankins was considered one of the best guards in the league, making seven Pro Bowls and earning a First Team All-Pro slot in 2010. He was voted a captain in New England and again after just one year in Tampa Bay. He played the entire 2011 season & play-offs on a torn ACL, saying afterwards: “I could still run, so there was no reason to sit out.” That kind of gritty determination epitomised Mankins career, which bookended Patriots Super Bowls that he didn’t get to be a part of, joining the team after their success against the Eagles in Super Bowl XXXIX and leaving at the start of the 2014 season when they would go on to win their fourth. Bill Belichick described Mankins as the best guard he’d ever coaches after he traded him to Tampa Bay on the back of a protracted contract stalemate. In my opinion Mankins is one of the great unsung Patriot players, his role in keeping Tom Brady alive despite turnover across the offensive line can not be understated, even filling in impressively at left tackle when required. While his two Super Bowl appearances are games he would rather forget there was no better servant under the Belichick era who deserved a Super Bowl ring and didn’t get one. The chances are low that his bust will end up in Canton. Offensive linemen are still heavily underappreciated and underrepresented in the Hall of Fame, but there’s little argument that he would be deserving of eventually having that gold jacket.