Deeper Look at the 2013 NFL Draft Offensive Line

For the casual fan, college football offenses are about flashy aerial attacks, or the elusive running backs that seem to make every defender miss on their path to a highlight reel touchdown. However, if you are truly a fan of the game, you know that those offensive juggernauts hinge on the ability of the offensive line to either sustain their pass protection, or clear a path for the running back. You can have all the offensive weapons in the world, but without players like these your team will always be leaving plays on the field.

Top Offensive Tackle regardless of side (by a nose): Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M
Luke Joeckel is a stone wall against elite pass rushers, and while his name may not hold Hall of Fame weight like his teammate’s (Jake Mathews), he is a stellar player. Long arms, a powerful punch, and a smooth athlete, Joeckel makes it easy to be a fan of his. If I had one criticism, it would be that he hasn’t faced top defenders consistently. Fortunately, that will be solved after a move to the SEC and a tough 2012 schedule where he is set to face talented defenders like Barkevious Mingo, Sam Montgomery, Corey Lemonier, Margus Hunt, and Sharrif Floyd. While I am about 90% certain he will be up to the task, don’t be surprised if he is talked about in the same breath as Matt Kalil.

On his tail: Taylor Lewan, Michigan
For those of you unfamiliar with the behemoth that is Taylor Lewan, he stands at 6’8” and weighs an athletic 302 lbs. While most offensive tackles struggle with technique and the ability to gain leverage at that size, Lewan is the rare exception. In a conference devoid of any top tier pass rushers and a quarterback that runs an offense that is foreign to the NFL, I had to give the nod to Luke Joeckel because I think there is there will be less for him to learn. While, that concept may not seem fair to any Michigan fans, take solace in the fact that if Joeckel slips up or if Lewan continues to improve then there could very easily be a changing in my rankings. This is one of the closes matchups to watch so I encourage everyone to watch these two as often as they can.

Top Guard regardless of side: Chance Warmack, Alabama
I am one of the few that I believe has seen just how dominant Chance Warmack can be. While Barrett Jones and D.J. Fluker get all the love on the offensive line, Warmack is in the trenches doing the dirty work at a near-elite level. While I try not to use that word (elite) too often, I feel he has earned it. Against teams like LSU, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Mississippi State Warmack has gone against talented opponents and not only kept them at bay, but he generally dominates them. With a strong punch and a consistent effort to block his target until the whistle blows, Warmack has an amazing combination of talent and work ethic that makes him a truly special guard.
On his tail: Jonathan Cooper, UNC

If you haven’t heard his name yet, allow me to introduce you to the consensus top OG in college football now. He is big, strong, and is a force in the interior of the North Carolina offensive line. I think that Cooper could do a better job not overextending when he is pass blocking, but other than that he is as good as it gets. I would love to see him against top level competition, but unless a serious sleeper DT emerges from his opponents on the schedule I think he will have to stay at the #2 spot on my list of guards baring injury or bad play from Warmack.

Top Center: Khaled Holmes, USC
The USC lineman really cemented his status as the number one center in his matchup against Utah’s Star Lotulelei last year. While he has had a number of other impressive performances, Star is really the only standout DT in the conference and he is a preseason favorite by most to be the top defense player taken in the 2013 NFL Draft. While Holmes wasn’t dominant against Star, he did manage to prevent him from making any splash plays like TFLs, sacks, or QB pressures, which is more than any other center can say.

On his tail: Barrett Jones, Alabama
While I am thoroughly unimpressed by Barrett’s lack of lateral athleticism and his soft hands, I think his has tons of versatility and he has the physical attributes to improve this year. Unlike Holmes, I can’t recall seeing Jones truly neutralize a great defender without the help of his extremely talented guard or his massive tight end beside him. If Jones can prove me wrong and bring more power when he makes initial contact then I could see him making a push towards being a first round lineman. If he doesn’t improve I can’t see his floor being any lower than the late 2nd-early 3rd given his size, versatility, and experience against top competition.

About Will Lomas

Grew up in a town in Tennessee named Dyersburg, and played ball there. When I realized I was too small to play college ball, I found my passion in breaking down game film, analyzing athletes, and finding the little things that decides whether a player is good, bad, or great.

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