Rather than break down the players by their specific positions (tackle, guard and center), I’ve decided to compile a top-ten list.
1. Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss
Tunsil was a 5-star recruit coming into Ole Miss, and thought by many to be the best offensive line in his high school recruiting class. Now he seems likely to be the first offensive lineman taken in the NFL draft, possibly one of the top three or four players taken overall. Tunsil has incredible balance and footwork, great arm length and good hand technique. He was also one of the least penalized offensive lineman in the country, though it’s worth noting he missed half the season to suspension after receiving improper benefits (a drama that is still unfolding).
2. Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame
Stanley will probably be the next O-lineman taken. Another athletic lineman with great footwork and hand technique, but a bit on the light side. Physically, Stanley looks much less like a tight end than many of the tackles coming out of the draft this year. His competitiveness really makes him stand out, and he’s played both right and left tackle with success playing one of college football’s toughest schedules with the Fighting Irish.
3. Taylor Decker, OT, Ohio State
In a draft class full of Buckeyes, Decker might be the first one taken. I guess winning a national championship and getting back to the playoffs will do that for you. A former basketball player, Decker has tremendous size and athleticism, and is able to get to rushers from the outside and control their movements with his core strength. The knock against Decker is that he has a tendency to stay too tall and not bend enough at the knees, which could cause problems against rushers who get underneath his pad-level.
4. Vadal Alexander, OT/G, LSU
Vadal played both inside as a guard and outside as a tackle for LSU. He has a great arm length and keeps very good pad level, but has some issues with footwork, which is why he’s most likely to play inside in the pros. He’s got a really good motor and will do well in power and gap scheme run plays.
5. Ryan Kelly, C, Alabama
It can be pretty tough to find highlight tape for a center, so here’s an interview. Kelly is known for his smarts and vision, and his ability to get into the second level in blocks. Durability is a question for him, though, as he’s missed a combined 7 games in the past three season due to injury.
6. Nick Martin, OG/C, Notre Dame
Martin played both center and guard for the Irish. A heady player, Martin has had some injuries in college, so it’s worth keeping an eye on how his medical reports come out. Martin His older brother Zach was a first round draft pick in 2014.
7. Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan State
A former walk-on for the Spartans, Conklin has tremendous size and length for the tackle position, though may move inside in the pros due to fairly average athleticism and footwork. His strength and power will allow him to be impressive in the run game, and he was able to make some elite pass-rushers (DeForrest Buckner comes to mind) disappear in big games.
8. Cody Whitehair, G, Kansas State
Whitehair has off-the-charts balance and great footwork, and actually played all five offensive line positions for the wildcats. He has a great knee bend and a wide base. The biggest knocks against Whitehair is his size (6’3″, 300 lbs) and his arm length (reportedly only 31″), and his tendency to attract laundry with holds.
9. Joshua Garnett, G, Stanford
Garnett (#51 in the video above) is the son of former NFL nose tackle Scott Garnett. As a die-hard Huskies fan, it was tough to lose him to Stanford in recruiting. Winner of the Outland trophy given to the best interior lineman in the country, Garnett has great length and good knee bend, and a high football IQ (and a high IQ overall), as well as a nasty streak that leads to him wanting to pancake opposing players. His athleticism has come into questions at time, and it’ll be worth watching whether he can keep trim enough to keep up with NFL-level defenders on the inside.
10. Max Tuerk, C, USC
Again, it can be tough to find highlight videos of centers, so here’s an interview. Tuerk looked to be a lock for the top center taken in the draft, but questions have arisen since he suffered a season-ending acl tear in October. Tuerk has a body more like a defensive end than a center, but his tremendous strength and quickness in combination with above-average balance had him projected as potential all-pro level player at center. It is possible due to his size and quickness that Tuerk ends up playing guard in the NFL.