College Football Predictions: Matt Kalil and 10 Top Offensive Linemen
The most overlooked position in college football is the offensive line. Quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers are always getting the credit, but it's the big men up front that make everything possible.
This past year we saw Tyron Smith, Mike Pouncey, Nate Solder, Anthony Castonzo, Danny Watkins, James Carpenter, Gabe Carimi and Derek Sherrod all go in the first round of the NFL Draft.
This year might not be much different with plenty of offensive linemen to choose from.
Some come from elite programs, while others come from the smaller guys, but either way it's the linemen in the trenches that make offenses possible.
Here are the top 10 offensive linemen in the country in 2011.
10. Riley Reiff: Tackle, Iowa
Riley Reiff has started the past 24 games for the Iowa Hawkeyes at left tackle. He's been the anchor to a line that has been one of the best in the Big Ten and as usual Kirk Ferentz knows how to mold linemen.
Reiff is 6'6", 300 pounds and has more of an athletic build than a large overpowering build, but he still gets the job done.
Iowa running backs have benefited from the large tackle for the past two seasons and that won't change next year. With a brand new quarterback to break in, Reiff will need to protect the blindside, but judging by his recent success, that shouldn't be a problem.
Reiff makes this list for his ability to not only protect the quarterback, but to be a dominating force in the rushing attack for the Hawkeyes.
9. Blake DeChristopher: Tackle, Virginia Tech
Blake DeChristopher enters his senior season with 37 career starts. He's on almost every pre-season All-American team and rightfully so.
The 6'5", 312-pound tackle has been dominated the ACC for three years now and that doesn't look to change in 2011 either.
DeChristopher will have task of protecting new Hokie quarterback Logan Thomas. Much like Tyrod Taylor, Thomas has the ability to run when needed to, which makes the linemen's job harder at times.
DeChristopher along with three other returning starters on the Hokie offensive line will be large contributors in Virginia Tech's run at another conference title.
8. David DeCastro: Guard, Stanford
David DeCastro is just one piece of the great offensive line in Stanford, but he's a giant piece.
At 6'5", 312 pounds, DeCastro is massive for a right guard and his play shows it. He's a classic mauler, a nasty lineman that runs through anything that gets in his way.
He has started every single game the past two seasons and he helped pave the way for Stanford's record-breaking rush attack in 2009.
DeCastro will once again by a focal point on an offensive line that will be protecting Heisman hopeful Andrew Luck and will also be paving the way for the Stanford running back.s
DeCastro is one of the best linemen in the country and he is in the argument for being the best guard.
7. Andrew Datko: Tackle, Florida State
Andrew Datko is entering his fourth season as being the starter at left tackle.
He has been the starter at that position since his true freshman season and has been one of the main reasons why this line has turned from being embarrassing, to being one of the best in the country.
Datko is 6'6", 311 and is now the man of the Florida State offensive line after Rodney Hudson and Ryan McMahon's graduation.
Datko started 27 games straight before a shoulder injury sidelined him for three games last season.
He will need to stay healthy if the Seminoles national dreams are to become a reality. Datko will also be protecting the blindside of new quarterback E.J. Manuel.
The offensive line will be revamped this season for the Seminoles and Datko will be the glue that holds them together.
6. Jonathan Martin: Tackle, Stanford
Much like fellow linemen David DeCastro, Jonathan Martin has been nothing but impressive in his two years as a starter for the Stanford line.
The 6'6", 306-pound redshirt junior is on plenty of NFL Draft boards and rightfully so.
Martin is responsible for protecting the blindside of the best quarterback in the country, Andrew Luck.
Martin has started 24 games total for Stanford, but he continues to excel at the left tackle position. Martin may be the most talked about by the time the 2011 season concludes, but right now he is on this list for his excellent play.
Martin is without a doubt one of the best linemen in the country and by the team this season is over, he may just be the best overall.
5. Matt Reynolds: Tackle, Brigham Young University
Matt Reynolds is without a doubt one of the best tackles in the country. The BYU standout decided to return to college football after flirting with the NFL and he returns to man a solid offensive line unit.
The 6'6", 322-pound senior is already on the Outland Trophy and Lombardi Award watch list as well as being on almost every pre-season All-American team.
Reynolds has started every single game for the past three seasons at left tackle for the Cougars and he will be a key factor in the offensive success for BYU this season.
Reynolds will most certainly be one of the linemen whose name will be called in the first round of next year's NFL draft.
4. Mike Brewster: Center, Ohio State
Mike Brewster is without question the best center in college football. The 6'5, 305 pound senior has been the anchor for the Ohio State offensive line for the past three years.
A highly touted recruit out of high school, Brewster started 10 games as true freshman in 2008 and has continued to evolve ever since.
Brewster has started 36 games for the Buckeyes and will be the leader of an offensive line that will be one of the best in the Big Ten this season.
Brewster could be this years version of Mike Pouncey and could also hear his name called in next year's first round of the NFL Draft.
3. Nate Potter-Tackle, Boise State
Nate Potter has been one of the best left tackles in the country for the past two seasons and he enters his senior season as one of the best.
Potter has been the anchor to the offensive line at Boise State and has contributed to their offensive success.
The 6'6", 300-pound tackle has been flying across the NFL Draft boards for the 2012 draft and many think that he will be the first linemen taken in next year's draft.
Potter will once again anchor the line in hopes of helping Boise State return to a BCS bowl.
2. Barrett Jones: Guard, Alabama
Barrett Jones is the best linemen on arguably the best line in the country.
The 6'5", 311-pound red-shirt junior has started every single game the past two seasons and has been one of the main contributing factors the the rushing success of Alabama.
Jones is a huge guard with a mean streak. Watch him play and he will remind you of the classic NFL linemen who were nasty and ruthless.
Jones is so good on the line, the Alabama coaching staff has considered moving him to left tackle to take over for the departed James Carpenter.
While guards don't usually garner as much attention as tackles, Jones is too good to look over and his name will be called in the first round of next year's NFL draft.
1. Matt Kalil: Tackle, USC
Matt Kalil finally had his breakout season last year in his first season as a full-time starter at left tackle. Kalil is massive at 6'7" and 300 pounds, but it's his footwork that is the most impressive.
Kalil is light on his feet and hard for opposing defensive ends to get around. He's very large, but plays small in a sense. He has a certain finesse that combines with his power.
His qualities blend together to form an elite left tackle prospect that NFL scouts are drooling over.
Judging by the success of his older brother Ryan, who is now playing center for the Carolina Panthers, there's no doubt that Matt is poised for an NFL future.
Kalil was a highly touted recruit coming out of high school and he proved why last year. Kalil will get to show why he's the best linemen in the country this season.