Andy Heck was a left tackle for 12 seasons in the NFL, during an era dominated by Anthony Munoz. "Best ever," Heck said of Munoz.
The Jaguars offensive line coach wasn't done throwing out superlatives: "He's as gifted a pass-protector as I've ever seen," Heck said of Eugene Monroe, the Jaguars' second-year left tackle and Heck's prized pupil.
Monroe will have another high-profile opportunity to prove his pedigree this Sunday when he expects to get his fair share of opportunities to pass-block against Texans defensive end Mario Williams. For Monroe, it'll be another stiff challenge from one of the NFL's premier pass-rushers.
"That's the nature of the left tackle position. I remember as a player that it seemed like there were 32 Pro-Bowlers, because you seemed to face one every week," Heck said.
So far this season, Monroe has gone up against Trent Cole, Dwight Freeney, Tamba Hali and DeMarcus Ware, a group of pass-rushers that have accounted for 28 sacks so far this season. Monroe had a long day against Cole.
"Show me a tackle that didn't have trouble against Trent Cole," Heck said.
In Monroe, the Jaguars believe they have a feature pass-blocker around whom they can build their offensive line of the future, much as the team did with Tony Boselli.
"Eugene has Pro-Bowl potential. He certainly does," Heck said.
For offensive linemen, recognition comes slowly. Monroe hopes he's in the process of earning league-wide respect.
"Each one of those players presents a different challenge. That's why I play, to go against guys of that caliber," Monroe said. "I know what's expected of me around here."
Jaguars defensive end Aaron Kampman has seen the best the league has had to offer over the last 10 years. He singled out Jordan Gross, Walter Jones, Jonathan Ogden and Flozell Adams as the best he's faced.
"I think he's working to get in that class. I don't think any second-year player gets put in that category of lock-down, 10-year guys," Kampman said.
Monroe grew up admiring Boselli, Willie Roaf, Walter Jones and Orlando Pace. Those players represent the next level of performance for Monroe.
"That means a lot coming from a guy who played over a decade in the league," Monroe said of his coach's praise. "I know I'm going to get better because I am going to work to get better."