Interior Offensive Linemen refers to both guards and centers. This year’s class is headlined by Texas A&M standout Kenyon Green. After him, it’s a mixed bag. Once again, athletic ability at any offensive line position is crucial for individual success. This class has a lot of it.
Best Player: Kenyon Green, Texas A&M
It isn’t easy to pick apart Green’s film. He hasn’t allowed a sack in over 600 consecutive passing downs and his in-game skills are nothing short of remarkable. He’s aggressive, stout, powerful, and packs a punch. He’ll easily take defenders to the ground and find somebody else to block after.
Green is one of the best pass-protectors in this class. He sets a very strong anchor in the pocket and isn’t fazed by pressure. Most of the time, defenders appear to just bounce right off of him when pursuing the quarterback. He keeps his head on a swivel and might be one of the most well-rounded guard prospects in a while.
Most Overrated: Ed Ingram, LSU
Some people like Ingram as a prospect, others don’t. He was a serviceable starter with high upside during LSU’s National Championship run but has been falling off since. Some people will note that although LSU’s offense was inconsistent last year, Ingram was a bright spot.
Ingram’s problem lies in his athleticism and his explosiveness. He isn’t quick off the snap and often gets heavy feet in open space. In a league where quick, agile, and crafty defensive linemen are slowly taking over, Ingram might struggle. He has issues with recovery and setting his ground against quicker players, which won’t bode well for him in the pros.
Most Underrated: Jaxson Kirkland, Washington
Kirkland will actually be receiving snaps at left tackle this upcoming season. Despite this, I still see him as a better guard prospect until I witness otherwise. He stands at 6 foot 7 inches and weighs in at 295 lbs. He’s definitely on the lighter side of NFL offensive linemen, but his quickness and swift reactions make up for it.
He has excellent range and a well-balanced skill set. He has a wide frame and can cover a lot of ground in pass protection, which helps set the pocket and pick up blitzes or incoming pressure. Kirkland is swift and possesses pro-ready technical abilities.
Watch Out For: Jamaree Salyer, Georgia
Being a former five-star recruit, Salyer has a lot of potentials that still hasn’t been tapped into yet. He was a starter for the first time in his career in 2020. He mostly played left tackle but moved inside to guard during the final few games. Salyer is a big-bodied blocker that can make his presence known in the run game.
He still has work to do as a pass protector. His lack of length on the edge was part of the reason he made the move inside, however, he still has tons of physical tools we haven’t seen him display yet, and his toughness could be of use to run-heavy NFL teams.
Preseason Top Five:
1. Kenyon Green, G, Texas A&M – An athletic freak with no true weakness to his game. Plays with his head on a swivel and hasn’t allowed a sack in over 600 passing downs.
2. Tyler Linderbaum, C, Iowa – The best center in the class. He possesses incredible intelligence and isn’t bothered at the point of attack. He’s quick out of his stance and equally proficient in the run and pass game.
3. Chasen Hines, G, LSU – A big-bodied blocker that has no problem getting low and anchoring down. He creates massive holes in the run game and has great athletic abilities for his monstrous size.
4. Jaxson Kirkland, G/T, Washington – One of the lengthiest blockers in this draft class, Kirkland covers an insane amount of ground and can deliver consistent protection inside.
5. Jamaree Salyer, G, Georgia – A former 5-star recruit, Salyer has tons of untapped potential that we could see him use during his 2021-22 season.
It’s not that big of a class outside of Kenyon Green. A lot of players have the potential to be great, but only time will tell whether or not this is a group of athletes that can dominate the draft.