B/R CFB 250: Top 32 Offensive Linemen

Bleacher Report College Football StaffFeatured ColumnistDecember 9, 2015

B/R CFB 250: Top 32 Offensive Linemen

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    Bleacher Report/Associated Press

    Bleacher Report's CFB 250 is an annual ranking of the best players in college football, regardless of NFL potential. Through interviews with B/R Experts Matt Miller, Michael Felder, Barrett Sallee and Adam Kramer, authors Brian Leigh and Brian Pedersen have studied, ranked and graded the top athletes in the country, narrowed that list to 250 and sorted by position. Today, Brian Leigh presents the Top 32 Offensive Linemen.


    Other CFB 250 Positions

     

    Offensive line is the least sexy but most important position in football.

    Especially in college, where size deviates so wildly from high-major rosters to mid-major rosters, it's the key point that separates good teams from average and bad teams.

    Winning up front changes everything an offense can do. Losing up front turns can't-miss quarterbacks such as Christian Hackenberg into punching bags. We don't learn the big uglies' names, but their performance dictates so much of what we see.

    And that's why this article exists.

    But before we dig into that, a disclaimer. The linemen who follow were graded as college prospects, not as NFL prospects. If they get the job done at this level, it's irrelevant how they project to the next level.

    This is all about college performance.

     

    Note: If two players finished with the same grade, the authors made a subjective call on which player they prefer.

32-28. Huettel, Hawkins, Hunt, Hyatt, Brendel

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    Darron Cummings/Associated Press

      32. OG Alex Huettel, Bowling Green

    80/100

    Pass Blocking: 35/45; Run Blocking: 38/45; Lateral Quickness: 7/10

    Alex Huettel has started all 54 games (and counting) of his Bowling Green career. This year's Falcons ranked No. 2 in the country in run blocking, per Football Outsiders' adjusted line yards, and Huettel was the biggest reason why. He's a mauler who can slide inside if necessary but does his best work as a pure run-blocking guard.

      31. OT Jerald Hawkins, LSU

    81/100

    Pass Blocking: 35/45; Run Blocking: 39/45; Lateral Quickness: 7/10.

    One of two LSU linemen on this list, Jerald Hawkins has the frame (6'6", 305 lbs) and skills to perform even better than he has. He's played through a minor ankle injury, which might explain his junior year "struggles," but it still feels like he should be so much more. Regardless, he remains a stout run blocker with the strength and footwork to pave big holes on the edge.

      30. OC Joey Hunt, TCU

    82/100

    Pass Blocking: 38/45; Run Blocking: 37/45; Lateral Quickness: 7/10

    Joey Hunt was a three-year starter on TCU's high-powered offense. He missed the final two games of the season with an injury, and the Horned Frogs, who were also missing receiver Josh Doctson, never quite looked the same. It's a shame he couldn't go up against Oklahoma and Baylor, the two best teams on TCU's schedule, but Hunt has proved a lot in his time in Fort Worth. Those who follow closely know how good he's been.

      29. OT Mitch Hyatt, Clemson

    82/100

    Pass Blocking: 37/45; Run Blocking: 37/45; Lateral Quickness: 8/10

    Mitch Hyatt was a 5-star prospect in the 2015 class, per 247Sports' composite rankings, and wasted little time proving why. He's not on par with previous breakout freshmen such as Cam Robinson in 2014 and Laremy Tunsil in 2013, but the work he's done on the blind side for the No. 1 team in college football deserves recognition. It's scary to think how good he might be once he adds weight to his frame (6'5", 295 lbs).

      28. OC Jake Brendel, UCLA

    82/100

    Pass Blocking: 37/45; Run Blocking: 37/45; Lateral Quickness: 8/10

    Jake Brendel is the heart and soul of UCLA's offense. His leadership up the middle helped an up-and-down unit coalesce, and his presence helped a true freshman quarterback, Josh Rosen, enjoy a breakout debut season. His raw tools are not much to look at, but he's heady, quick and technically sound in both phases.

27-23. Thuney, Whitehair, Theus, Kirkland, Westerman

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    Gerry Broome/Associated Press

      27. OT Joe Thuney, NC State

    83/100

    Pass Blocking: 38/45; Run Blocking: 38/45; Lateral Quickness: 7/10

    Buy low on Joe Thuney while you can. He's come on strong in the second half of the season, and it won't be long before NFL draft geeks catch onto him. His future might lie at guard, where he lined up in 2014, but his thin frame (6'5", 295 lbs) has managed just fine in college. NC State will miss him next season.

      26. OT Cody Whitehair, Kansas State

    83/100

    Pass Blocking: 36/45; Run Blocking: 40/45; Lateral Quickness: 7/10

    Kansas State's offense has no business being respectable, but Cody Whitehair has helped it get there anyway. Despite losing so many playmakers from last year's unit, his run blocking paved regular holes against defenses stacking the box. He owned Baylor defensive end Shawn Oakman when the Wildcats played the Bears in November.

      25. OT John Theus, Georgia

    83/100

    Pass Blocking: 36/45; Run Blocking: 40/45; Lateral Quickness: 7/10

    Georgia's offense struggled this year, but John Theus played well enough to earn All-SEC first team honors. He's still trying to figure out pass-blocking, which he'll need if he wants to play tackle in the NFL, but he's a mauling run blocker with a big frame (6'6", 303 lbs) and room to fill out. The former blue-chip prospect took a while to find his footing, but once he did, he made an impact for the Bulldogs.

      24. OT Denver Kirkland, Arkansas

    84/100

    Pass Blocking: 36/45; Run Blocking: 41/45; Lateral Quickness: 7/10

    Denver Kirkland is a mountain of a man, tipping the scales at 6'5", 340 pounds. Amazingly, that makes him the smaller of Arkansas' tackles—Dan Skipper checks in at 6'10", 331 pounds—but he's been the stronger option this season. The former guard has translated well to tackle and improved with added reps as a pass-blocker. Unless that improvement plateaus, there's an NFL future ahead of him.

      23. OG Christian Westerman, Arizona State

    84/100

    Pass Blocking: 36/45; Run Blocking: 40/45; Lateral Quickness: 8/10

    Christian Westerman has been around the block. He started his career as a 5-star recruit at Auburn, per 247Sports' composite ratings, before transferring and finding a home in the desert. He slowly progressed for the Sun Devils and emerged this year as one of the Pac-12's best run-blockers. His blend of raw tools and intensity is what great guards are made of.

22-18. Lamp, Crosby, Skura, Dahl, Alexander

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

      22. OT Forrest Lamp, Western Kentucky

    84/100

    Pass Blocking: 38/45; Run Blocking: 38/45; Lateral Quickness: 8/10

    Forrest Lamp is a redshirt junior who has started every game of his career. His addition to the lineup coincides, not coincidentally, with Western Kentucky becoming an offensive juggernaut. His frame needs extra bulk (6'4", 300 lbs) and makes him look more like a guard than a tackle, but his technique works fine on the edge.

      21. OT Tyrell Crosby, Oregon

    84/100

    Pass Blocking: 38/45; Run Blocking: 38/45; Lateral Quickness: 8/10

    Tyrell Crosby is the next—and might eventually become the best—star Oregon tackle. He's a fluid athlete with length to play near the line and wheels to play in space. He fits Oregon's scheme like a glove and will enter next year with All-America love. He won't land outside the top 20 linemen for long.

      20. OC Matt Skura, Duke

    84/100

    Pass Blocking: 36/45; Run Blocking: 40/45; Lateral Quickness: 8/10

    Matt Skura paves holes for an offense that needs holes desperately. Duke has no semblance of a passing game, but even though opponents know what's coming, Skura ensures the running game moves forward. Nothing he does is sexy, but that's par for the course with centers. His awareness sets him apart.

      19. OT Joe Dahl, Washington State

    84/100

    Pass Blocking: 41/45; Run Blocking: 35/45; Lateral Quickness: 8/10

    Joe Dahl is the anchor of Washington State's passing game. Quarterback Luke Falk and receiver Gabe Marks post the numbers, but neither would light up the stat sheet without protection. His run blocking is underdeveloped—the result of playing for Mike Leach—but for now, at least, Dahl does something elite on the blind side. That's enough to crack the top 20.

      18. OT Vadal Alexander, LSU

    85/100

    Pass Blocking: 36/45; Run Blocking: 41/45; Lateral Quickness: 8/10

    Vadal Alexander is a wrecking ball on LSU's line. He's the perfect blocking tackle for running back Leonard Fournette and a staple of the Tigers' pro-style running game. Like everything associated with LSU's passing game, his pass protection needs work. But when you do one thing this well, it hardly matters.

17. OC Ryan Kelly, Alabama

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    Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

      B/R Expert Scouting

    “He’s Alabama’s most important player—and he has been for a couple years now. His ability to recognize what a defensive front is doing, get the offensive line in the right protection and adjust at the line of scrimmage is a big reason (running back) Derrick Henry has been successful.”

    —Barrett Sallee

     

      Pass Blocking


    38/45

    Ryan Kelly is the point guard of Alabama's offense. That starts with his pre-snap reads and delegation of blocking assignments. Once the ball is snapped, he uses his long frame (6'5", 297 lbs) to latch and hurry interior rushers. The Crimson Tide have been strong up the middle in pass protection, and Kelly has been a big reason why.

      Run Blocking


    39/45

    Alabama likes running left, behind tackle Cameron Robinson, but Kelly opens holes up the middle as well. You won't see his blocks on the highlight reel—he's not the type to plant a defender on the ground—but he locks up his man and moves him off his spot. He also does decent work at the second level and when Alabama asks him to pull.

      Lateral Quickness


    8/10

    Kelly is light on his feet and moves with smooth athleticism. He's comfortable in the open field but also off the line. The quickest interior rushers can beat him, but the list of players who fit that bill is short. He's exactly as quick as he needs to be—no more, no less.

      Overall


    85/100

    Kelly looks good on tape, but his biggest positive traits are intangible. The point Barrett Sallee made above, about how bad Alabama looks without him, is not without merit. He is not Alabama's best player, but you could make the case he is its most important. The splits when he doesn't play are that dramatic.

16. OC Nick Martin, Notre Dame

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    Jeff Haynes/Associated Press

      B/R Expert Scouting

    "I love the way he handles the offensive line there. They’re running a pro-style offense, but he doesn’t miss a beat. I don’t think he’s as good as his brother was, obviously, but I think he’ll start in the NFL."

    —Matt Miller

     

      Pass Blocking


    39/45

    Nick Martin plays a calming role on Notre Dame's offensive line. He is always in control, which opens what the Irish can call through the air. He has good size for a center (6'4 ½", 301 lbs) and can stand up against the bull rush. Even in hostile road environments, Martin keeps his quarterback clean.

      Run Blocking


    39/45

    Notre Dame's offense requires versatile run-blockers. Whether plowing up the middle in a pro-style formation or pulling around the corner in the spread, Martin gets the job done on the ground. Notre Dame lost two starting running backs and triple-option quarterback Malik Zaire to injury but still ranked No. 6 in the country with 5.76 yards per carry in the regular season. For that, Martin deserves a ton of credit.

      Lateral Quickness


    8/10

    Martin has the quickness to produce at the second level. He's not a freakish athlete, but he's balanced on the run and moves well from side to side. His strength and quickness are equal, roughly, and combine to make him a sound all-around blocker. There is no exploitable weakness in his game.

      Overall


    86/100

    A poor man's version of his brother, Dallas Cowboys guard Zack Martin, Nick has forged a memorable career in South Bend. He's a two-year offensive captain with the scalable ability to play guard, where he started 10 games in 2014. Center suits him better, however, because it adds to his responsibility. The more he's asked to do for an offense, the better.

15. OT Le'Raven Clark, Texas Tech

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    Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

      B/R Expert Scouting

    “He does well out on an island. Texas Tech puts a lot of pressure on him with those big splits, and he holds his own. I’m not crazy in love with him, but I think he’s a pretty good player.”

    —Matt Miller

     

      Pass Blocking


    38/45

    Because of Texas Tech's offense, it's hard to gauge Le'Raven Clark's pass blocking. The air raid relies on quick, timing-based passes, so the blockers only protect for so long. Clark has flashed star power in bunches, especially when he's able to win with length. But he's also suffered bouts of poor hand usage, and he doesn't have the size (6'6", 308 lbs) to be anything less than perfect.

      Run Blocking


    40/45

    Clark fares better in run blocking than pass blocking. He's a hunter in space who loves to get downhill and open creases. Texas Tech uses wide splits and asks each blocker to win individual battles. Clark has proved he can do that, although he needs to add bulk for the short area on obvious running downs.

      Lateral Quickness


    8/10

    Clark has quick feet in pass protection, where he gains good depth off the line and puts himself in position to succeed. He's even better moving laterally in the running game, where he seals the edge and stays in front of linebackers and safeties. All in all, he's a very good athlete.

      Overall


    86/100

    Texas Tech's system makes Clark a hard player to scout. What's clear as day, however, is that he's good. Questions exist as to how good, but there's no denying his impact on Texas Tech's offense. Especially in the running game, where the Red Raiders have quietly excelled, Clark makes his presence felt.

14. OT Shon Coleman, Auburn

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    Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

      B/R Expert Scouting

    “He struggles in pass blocking against speed-rushers, but he’s really good in run blocking. He’s a perfect fit for what Auburn used to do under Gus Malzahn. If they got back to that, he could be one of the best tackles in the country.”

    —Barrett Sallee

     

      Pass Blocking


    39/45

    Shon Coleman has emerged as a viable pass-blocker. He punches defensive linemen with strong hands and has a long frame (6’6”, 313 lbs) to keep them engaged. Despite his lack of bulk, he keeps a solid base and swallows most power-rushers.

      Run Blocking


    40/45

    While not as good as former Auburn tackle Greg Robinson, Coleman still gets the job done as a run-blocker. He explodes off the ball and does a better job than expected in the short area, and then also makes plays down the field. Pure power linemen can push him off his line and seal the edge, but not many players are strong enough to do so. Coleman also plays with a mean streak that’s encouraging to see in the running game.

      Lateral Quickness


    8/10

    There’s a smoothness and fluidity to Coleman that makes him, again, comparable to Robinson. He translates it more to pass blocking than run blocking, but it’s evident in everything he does. Smooth, long and angry is a great combination for linemen. Coleman is all three.

      Overall


    87/100

    Coleman has enjoyed a breakout season. That sounds wrong considering how badly Auburn’s offense has struggled, but it’s the truth. His story is as good as his performance—he overcame a 2010 leukemia diagnosis to return after years away from the game—but he’s not here because of sentiment. He’s here because he’s earned it. And he can still be so much better in the future.

13. OT Jason Spriggs, Indiana

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    Darron Cummings/Associated Press

      B/R Expert Scouting

    “The word that comes up with him is ‘athlete.’ I don’t think he has great strength for the NFL right now, but for a college left tackle, he’s pretty dang good.”

    —Matt Miller

     

      Pass Blocking


    38/45

    Jason Spriggs has long arms and works well in Indiana's spread passing offense. He's quick and rarely allows pressure off the edge but sometimes leaves the inside gap open. Although he lacks massive bulk (6'7", 305 lbs), he uses leverage to avoid getting bulled into the pocket. Most pressures he allows are technique issues, not strength issues.

      Run Blocking


    40/45

    Again, Spriggs works well in Indiana's spread offense. The running game relies on stretch runs to the outside, where Spriggs has the length and quickness to excel. He raises his game against top competition and played a big role in Indiana's near-upset of Michigan. Tevin Coleman last year and Jordan Howard this year have been lucky to run behind Spriggs.

      Lateral Quickness


    9/10

    Spriggs is a converted tight end, and it shows. He's a fluid athlete who wins with initial quickness off the line and sustained quickness in space. He has great feet and gains depth off the snap in pass protection. Again, he's a perfect fit for Indiana's spread offense.

      Overall


    87/100

    Indiana had a sneaky-good season and has had a good offense for years. Spriggs has played an integral role in all of that. He's the anchor of a strong offensive line and gives the Hoosiers a chance to score against any defense. Rebuilding once he and quarterback Nate Sudfeld leave will be difficult.

12. OC Austin Blythe, Iowa

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    Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press

      B/R Expert Scouting

    “In the run game, he’s like a junkyard dog. If he gets a hold of you, it’s kind of game over.”

    —Matt Miller

     

      Pass Blocking


    38/45

    Austin Blythe is a four-year starter and the ballast of Iowa's offense. As a pass-blocker, his most valuable contribution comes before the snap, when he diagnoses potential blitz packages, but he also hold his own against bigger defensive tackles despite lacking ideal size (6'3", 290 lbs).

      Run Blocking


    42/45

    Blythe is a superlative run-blocker who started seven games at guard last year. He plays with excellent leverage and delivers the first shot on linemen, which allows him to get a push on bigger players. He also has strong hands—it's mentioned on every Iowa broadcast that he wrestled in high school—and controls blocks through the whistle once he latches.

      Lateral Quickness


    7/10

    Quickness can give Blythe problems. He played well against Nebraska, for example, but there were times when defensive tackle Maliek Collins, a superior athlete, blew past him. Because he's a limited athlete, Blythe has to win with technique and strategy. Fortunately, those are areas of strength. 

      Overall


    87/100

    Blythe is an Iowa lineman. That's the best way to describe him. He flew under the radar last season, when former teammate Brandon Scherff, the No. 5 overall pick in the NFL draft, stole headlines, but he's been holding this line together for years. The only difference this year was team success.

11. OT Tyler Johnstone, Oregon

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    Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

      B/R Expert Scouting

    “I think he’s a good athlete, but I’ve always wanted to see more from him. He’s got great height and length, but he’s gonna have to gain like 15 pounds for the NFL.”

    —Matt Miller

     

      Pass Blocking


    39/45

    Tyler Johnstone is a prototypical Oregon tackle: lean and athletic. He lacks both the frame (6'6", 295 lbs) and technique to block power pass-rushers, but he fares well against speedy ends and outside linebackers. This will be a problem for NFL scouting departments, but that's not what this article is measuring. As far as being a college left tackle, his pass blocking does the job.

      Run Blocking


    39/45

    The same physical qualities define Johnstone's run blocking. He can't drive bigger 5-techniques off their spots—he would struggle, for example, against teammate DeForest Buckner—but is great in the open field, where Oregon asks him to do the most work. He's not who you want to run behind on 4th-and-1 at the goal line, but he's perfect for springing long gains between the 20s.

      Lateral Quickness


    9/10

    Johnstone is a poor man's Joe Staley (that's a compliment). He moves like an oversized tight end and gives freedom to what Oregon can call on offense. It's nice to have a tackle who can play so well in space, especially after injuries threatened to ruin that. He's still not back to pre-injury levels, but Johnstone remains one of the nation's quickest blockers.

      Overall


    87/100

    Johnstone played a big role in Oregon's strong finish. The offense took off once quarterback Vernon Adams found his rhythm, and a big part of his rhythm was forged by Johnstone and Tyrell Crosby on the line. If he adds strength without sacrificing quickness, Johnstone will play for a long time in the NFL. Even if he doesn't, he's been a heck of a college tackle.

10. OT Taylor Decker, Ohio State

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    Jay LaPrete/Associated Press

      B/R Expert Scouting

    “He’s pro-ready. He can do it all. Surprisingly quick, good agility, really good length. He might be a late-first, early-second-round guy who starts for eight or nine years (in the NFL).”

    —Matt Miller

     

      Pass Blocking


    37/45

    Taylor Decker has taken a step back in pass protection. He slumped at the start of last season and improved during the Buckeyes' national title run but has reverted to some of his stand-up-too-straight tendencies as a senior. He has size (6'8", 315 lbs), length and strength to be better but needs to refine his technique and play more consistently.

      Run Blocking


    42/45

    Fortunately, Decker has not regressed as a run-blocker. He continues to pave holes for Ezekiel Elliott, J.T. Barrett and the rest of Ohio State's ball-carriers. He controls defenders with length and stretches them off the edge, a skill that's hard to teach and even harder to defend. Ohio State loves running left.

      Lateral Quickness


    8/10

    Decker looks stiff in pass protection, but that has more to do with flexibility than lateral quickness. As a pure, explosive athlete, he's impressive. He fires from his stance and explodes off the ball as a run-blocker, and he gains enough depth against speed rushers.

      Overall


    87/100

    Decker should be better than he is. He peaked at the end of last season, when he appeared to master his tools and become a complete tackle, but has struggled once again in the passing game. Maybe that has something to do with the change of scheme in Columbus? No one knows. For now, he is mostly one-dimensional, but that one dimension—run blocking—is so good he remains a top-10 lineman.

9. OG Sebastian Tretola, Arkansas

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    Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

      B/R Expert Scouting

    “He is such an important piece of that puzzle from a run perspective, but he just gets after it. He opens holes the size of the Grand Canyon.”

    —Barrett Sallee

     

      Pass Blocking


    38/45

    Just as Arkansas' passing game has grown, so has Sebastian Tretola's pass blocking. That's impressive considering where he started: allowing zero sacks as a junior in 2013. This year, the Razorbacks asked even more of him, and the 6'5", 334-pounder has been up to the task. Quicker interior rushers can still dart past him, but he's learning how to keep them in check.

      Run Blocking


    42/45

    This is where Tretola will make a living. He's a run-blocking machine with the strength to dominate inside and surprising skills in space. Any team which adds him becomes immediately formidable on the ground. Pairing him with head coach Bret Bielema, who turned lesser guards into stars at Wisconsin, was perfect for all involved parties.

      Lateral Quickness


    8/10

    Tretola might surprise you with his quickness. He won't clock a sub-5.00 40-yard dash, but he's spry when he rumbles down the field. He can pull around the corner and plow the first man he sees on the edge. His quickness doesn't translate as much to the passing game, but even there, he is not a liability.

      Overall


    88/100

    Tretola broke into the mainstream when he threw a trick-play touchdown last season. He's never matched that moment's virality, but Arkansas fans will remember his weekly dominance more than one amazing pass. After coming to the Razorbacks from community college, he quickly earned his role as a leader and helped them forge a high-powered offense. He'll go down as one of Bielema's finest creations. 

8. OG Pat Elflein, Ohio State

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    Paul Vernon/Associated Press

      B/R Expert Scouting

    “Tremendous run-blocker. He’s a little compact, but that’s OK with a guard. He’s like a boxer: He’s just gonna stand there and punch, and he’s usually gonna win.”

    —Matt Miller

     

      Pass Blocking


    37/45

    Pat Elflein is a good but not great pass-blocker. He gets the job done, but that’s not why he’s in there. His frame (6’3”, 300 lbs) allows him to hold off defensive and nose tackles, although he sometimes stands too straight and gets pushed back. His motor, however, will never be questioned.

      Run Blocking


    43/45

    Elflein was the star of last year’s College Football Playoff National Championship Game, springing many of Ezekiel Elliott’s long runs. He’s carried that over into 2015, when he’s played, once again, like one of the two best run-blockers in America. His strength and understanding of leverage allow him to bounce linemen off their spots and pave massive chasms for Elliott.

      Lateral Quickness


    8/10

    Elflein is better in the short area than in space, but he’s comfortable wherever you put him. His attitude and motor make him dangerous at the second level, where his appetite for contact outweighs any athletic drawbacks. He outplayed Penn State defensive tackle Anthony Zettel, a converted defensive end and one of the quickest interior rushers in the country, when the Buckeyes beat the Nittany Lions this season.

      Overall


    88/100

    Elflein is an OSU favorite—and with good reason. He’s the type of player fans love to rally around. His toughness at the line is as important to the Buckeyes running game as Elliott’s speed and vision, and he always brings his best in big games.

7. OT Cam Robinson, Alabama

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    Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

      B/R Expert Scouting

    “He’s been inconsistent at times this year, but most of that has been due to health. He hasn’t reached his peak yet. As a junior [next season], he has a chance to be the best tackle in the country.”

    —Barrett Sallee

     

      Pass Blocking


    38/45

    Cam Robinson has struggled in pass protection. He improved in the second half of the season, helping quarterback Jake Coker grow more comfortable, but that early-season tape still exists. The size (6'6", 326 lbs), length and quickness are there, and you can see it come together in spots, but he needs to become a technician and make fewer mental mistakes.

      Run Blocking


    43/45

    No sight in college football frightens defenses more than Derrick Henry on the edge with Robinson lead blocking. If Henry wins the Heisman Trophy, he should saw off an appendage for Robinson's trophy case. It's crazy to think a sophomore can be this physically dominant, but Robinson is. He's a monster blocking down in the short area.

      Lateral Quickness


    8/10

    Robinson moves well for a player his size. He does his best work near the line of scrimmage but can rumble to the next level and connect with safeties and linebackers. His struggles against the pass have had more to do with mental lapses and technique than a lack of quickness, too.

      Overall


    89/100

    Robinson was the No. 4 overall prospect in the 2014 recruiting class, per 247Sports' composite rankings. He started from Day 1 as a freshman and has lived up to expectations, although it still feels like he hasn't reached his ceiling. He never made that leap from his first year to his second, which is fine because of how good he was as a freshman. But more will be expected next season.

6. OC Jack Allen, Michigan State

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    Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

      B/R Expert Scouting

    "Kid is just about one of the smartest centers we've seen on the interior of a line. He makes his calls, he gets his guys set and then once the ball is snapped, he blends his technical skill with his power and athleticism to just root defenders out of their spots."

    —Michael Felder

     

      Pass Blocking


    39/45

    Jack Allen is the captain of Michigan State’s offensive line. He’s not the most talented player—more on that to come—but his pre-snap reads and leadership define MSU’s protection and keep quarterback Connor Cook clean. He plays bigger than his size (6’2”, 296 lbs) against power-rushers and is mobile enough to fend off twists and stunts. All in all, he’s crucial to MSU’s passing game.

      Run Blocking


    41/45

    It’s hard to quantify, but even harder to overstate, the impact Allen has on Michigan State’s running game. He is tough and plays with leverage in the A-gap, which allows him to open holes against stronger defensive tackles, even if he doesn’t overwhelm them. You won’t see him bury defenders like pancakes, but you also won’t see him get pushed back off the line. You will see him pull and spring running backs.

      Lateral Quickness


    9/10

    Allen plays well in space, although you probably don’t need us to tell you that. He proved it in the spring game and the regular-season finale against Penn State, when he lined up in the backfield, sprinted through a hole and scored a rushing touchdown. That speed translates to his regular position, as he seeks and destroys defenders at the second level. It also allows him to mirror and stay in front of speed-rushing tackles.

      Overall


    89/100

    It’s hard to scout Allen without reciting tired cliches. You see him and want to call him “tough” and “scrappy” and “blue-collar” and “a leader.” Try as you might to avoid those buzzwords, they’ll keep coming up in Allen’s profile—but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. He really is a tough, scrappy, blue-collar leader. What team doesn’t need one of those at center?

5. OG Landon Turner, North Carolina

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    Keith Srakocic/Associated Press

      B/R Expert Scouting

    “I love him. He’s really powerful in the run game. Great leverage, low center of gravity. He’s one of the best guards I’ve seen all year.”

    —Matt Miller

     

      Pass Blocking


    39/45

    Landon Turner has gotten better as a pass-blocker, although it’s obviously where his game still needs work—if any work is needed. He has power to handle bull-rushers and quickness to handle speed-rushers but occasionally drops his hands. Still, he has gotten much better, and North Carolina, as a team, allowed just 1.08 sacks per game during the regular season. Turner was a big reason why.

      Run Blocking


    42/45

    Here is where Turner excels. Like former teammate Jonathan Cooper, across from whom he started two years ago, he’s a road-grading blocker who can toss around linemen or get to the second level and bulldoze linebackers. His squat but powerful frame (6’4”, 325 lbs) makes him the ideal interior run-blocker, especially when combined with his footwork. His attitude and technique don’t hurt, either.

      Lateral Quickness


    8/10

    Turner is not a speedster, but he’s nimble for a player his size. He fires off the line and takes the action to his opponent, which prevents quicker linemen from darting past him. He is scary when he gets to the second level, and he’s barreling toward opponents like a boulder rolling down a mountain. Good luck trying to get in front of that.

      Overall


    89/100

    You may not have heard of Turner, but that makes him the fitting symbol of UNC’s season. He deserved more attention before the year and deserved even more attention during the year but never really earned it because he plays an unsexy position for an ACC Coastal team that typically kicks off at noon. But even if the county wasn’t watching, NFL scouts were. He won’t go as high as Cooper, the No. 7 overall pick in the 2013 draft, but he’ll threaten to crack the top 50.

4. OT Spencer Drango, Baylor

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    Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

      B/R Expert Scouting

    “I like him more [than I did in the preseason]. I think he’s had a better year. He’s one of the more athletic big guys I’ve seen this year and does everything that’s asked in that scheme.”

    —Matt Miller

     

      Pass Blocking


    41/45

    Spencer Drango protects the blind side in Baylor’s vertical offense, which is vital for obvious reasons. The Bears throw deep early and often, and throwing deep requires protection. Even with his gunslinger tendencies, head coach Art Briles would rein things in if he didn’t trust his line to hold up. Drango is the key to Baylor’s line being trusted to hold up.

      Run Blocking


    40/45

    Drango has played with a mean streak this season, and Baylor’s whole offense has followed. The Bears don’t mind playing physical and ramming the ball down opponents’ throats, and Drango is one of the keys to that effort. He is built like an oversized guard with a thick frame (6’6”, 320 lbs) and stocky arms, which helps him control defenders in the running game.

      Lateral Quickness


    8/10

    Drango is a fluid athlete with natural quickness. His kickslide is the key to his pass blocking, as he fires out of his stance and gains great depth against speed-rushers. He might not always reach linebackers as soon as he should, but for the most part, he checks out as an athlete.

      Overall


    89/100

    Drango turned B/R’s Matt Miller—and, one assumes, plenty of other NFL draft scouts—into a bigger believer this season. He proved he could play mean and finish reps with toughness, which, along with his obvious pass-blocking skills, makes him a hard player to criticize. The secret of Baylor’s offense is that the line is, and always has been, the lynchpin. Drango is the lynchpin of the line, and therefore the engine that makes Baylor’s offense go.

3. OG Joshua Garnett, Stanford

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    Young Kwak/Associated Press

      B/R Expert Scouting

    “He’s meaner than I’m used to seeing from Stanford guys. Sometimes they’re finesse blockers, but he’s really not. I think he has that mean streak in him that some of his predecessors lacked.”

    —Matt Miller

     

      Pass Blocking


    39/45

    Joshua Garnett does a solid job in pass protection. He collaborates with center Graham Shuler to stuff the interior rush and keep quarterback Kevin Hogan clean. His headiness and strength make him difficult to surprise or bull rush up the middle. Improved technique would push him over the edge from very good to great as a pass-blocker.

      Run Blocking


    43/45

    Garnett is one of the best run-blockers—if not the single best run-blocker—in college football. A large part of Christian McCaffrey’s record-breaking output came as a result of holes Garnett plowed open. He is big (6’5”, 321 lbs), strong and meaner than previous Stanford offensive linemen: the type who likes to brawl in the trenches. Watching him emerge as a senior has been a pleasure.

      Lateral Quickness


    8/10

    Garnett is quick for a guard and moves well enough to contribute down the field. He won’t be mistaken for an Oregon offensive lineman—the type specifically molded to play in space—but he’s a capable enough athlete. Sprightly defensive tackles and linebackers can exploit him, but those instances are rare.

      Overall


    90/100

    Garnett played well in 12 of 13 games this season, struggling only against Oregon, when defensive end DeForest Buckner ate his lunch. But Buckner ate just about every lineman’s lunch this season, and Garnett returned the favor against every other defense Stanford played. He and Buckner were seniors in 2015, but there’s a good chance they see each other again. Both should be high NFL draft picks.

2. OT Jack Conklin, Michigan State

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    Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

      B/R Expert Scouting

    “I love Jack Conklin. High-character guy, very smart and tough as hell playing through injuries this year. He’s one of those guys who if he busts [in the NFL], I’ll be shocked.”

    —Matt Miller

     

      Pass Blocking


    42/45

    Jack Conklin is one of the best pass-blockers in America. As a freshman in 2013, he famously allowed zero sacks, and he’s continued to protect Connor Cook these past two seasons. He is smart, sound and tough on the blind side, which is, in many ways, the key to Michigan State’s offense. It’s hard to say where MSU would be without him.

      Run Blocking


    41/45

    Conklin has come a long way in the running game. As a former walk-on freshman, he was slightly undersized, but he now checks in 6’6”, 325 pounds, and he uses that strength to own the line of scrimmage and drive defensive ends backward. He finishes with authority and makes plays at the second level for an offense that, despite its all-world quarterback, prefers to run a balanced, pro-style system.

      Lateral Quickness


    8/10

    Conklin is not an “elite” athlete, but he’s close. He moves better than a 325-pounder should, which is impressive considering how new the extra weight is on his frame. That he mixes speed with power is what makes him such a versatile pass-blocker. He has really great footwork and mirroring skills.

      Overall


    91/100

    Football fans are trained to watch the quarterback. Cook is the star of the team, the face at the head of everything, so he of course receives all the credit. But Conklin is at his best when the broadcast doesn’t mention him—the sign of a great offensive lineman. It’s hard to say whether he or Cook is the “best” player on MSU’s offense, but both men are equally important.

1. OT Ronnie Stanley, Notre Dame

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

      B/R Expert Scouting

    “He’s almost perfect in my opinion, because he’s so athletic and patient. I want a lineman who always looks like he’s in control, and I think that’s what Stanley does best.”

    —Matt Miller

     

      Pass Blocking


    42/45

    Ronnie Stanley is a pass-blocking prototype. He could stand to add some bulk but still has workable size (6'5 ½", 315 lbs) to go with the feet of a former basketball player. He’s active and flexible in pass protection, with long arms and mirroring skills to hold off all types of rushers.

      Run Blocking


    40/45

    Stanley has improved as a run-blocker and excelled in what the Irish ask him to do. He paves holes between himself and the left guard, seals the edge on stretch plays and contributes at the second level. No matter who Notre Dame plugs in at running back—Tarean Folston, C.J. Prosise or Josh Adams—it always finds success running left. Stanley is a big reason why.

      Lateral Quickness


    9/10

    Here is where Stanley stands out. His basketball background is obvious in space and when he goes against speed-rushers. Players with his size, length and functional power should not move around like tight ends. Stanley does, which makes him both a rare and important commodity.

      Overall


    91/100

    Laremy Tunsil’s suspension at Ole Miss, which cost him more than half of the season, made Stanley an obvious choice for No. 1 on this list. He and Tunsil were supposed to battle for the throne all season and will likely battle for NFL draft position all winter, but Stanley won this round by default. It’s hard to find a fault with his game.