The big men who play on the edge, those that protect the quarterback’s blind side, the offensive tackle work to defeat edge defenders each and every play.  Not only do they receive most of the attention when it comes to offensive linemen, their value is higher than that of most centers and guards when it comes to salaries and contractual agreements.

Make no mistake about it this group of men must achieve continuity in order for the offense to have success. Playing well together is the common goal, along with protecting the quarterback in passing situations up the middle, but these anchors up front also must dominate the inside running game.

The center position represents the brains of the front five. For the center position, these players must have a high football IQ. In most, though not all, offenses the center will have the responsibility of calling out the middle linebacker (Mike), protections, zone and man blocking schemes, and checks as well as alerts. With that being said, a lot of NFL offensive coordinators are assigning some of those responsibilities to the quarterbacks. The OC (center) must not only be smart, he must have strength at the POA (point of attack), explosion, strong UOH (use of hands) and carry the girth to anchor vs. larger nose tackles or gap defenders aligned head up.

The OG (offensive guard) is viewed differently in certain schemes, which vary from team to team. Several teams like one side of the line to have a power guard and an athletic one. While this is a slightly old-school train of thought, having athletic, smart, powerful, explosive guards surrounding the center is the key to solidifying the middle of the offensive line, and they should be interchangeable. These players need girth, strength and lower-body explosion for drive-blocking capability, and athletic ability to pull and adjust on run plays and screens to attack defenders in space. I blended both centers and guards in the top interior offensive linemen.

 

INTERIOR LINEMEN

Critical Factors

Character: Leader in the locker room, community involvement, off-field issues (arrests, drug abuse, assaulting women, guns etc.).

Football Intelligence: Student of the game, film study, playbook memorization, ability to process and regurgitate information with recall.

Leadership: Natural-born leader, vocal, quiet, leads by example.

Competitiveness: A clutch player with a win-at-all-cost attitude, with a high level of intensity. He is at his best under adverse situations. He is confident in himself, and his teammates have confidence in him.

Toughness: A nasty inline blocker who consistently delivers under pressure and refuses to be defeated. Has the ability to play if injured or hurt when the team needs him.

Production: Produce under pressure in critical situations as a blocker in tight or in open space.

 

Athletic Skill Set

Blocking: Attitude and temperament; three points of contact; strength/explosion; aggressiveness; willingness; flat back, runs feet to finish; works well with other offensive linemen on combination and zone blocking schemes; effort; physical toughness; balance; finish, pin and pancake; upright wall to shield, inline thumper, ability to play from both 2 & 3 point stances.

Inline: Quickness off ball; initial strength and explosion; collision blocker; ability to sustain; foot and hand quickness; balance; cut-off; reach; seal; scoop, drive, fold, wall off and chip to the second level, keep pad level down, good angles.

Second Level: Quickness to linebacker and downfield blocking skills; ability to locate and attack target on the move.

Pass Blocking: Foot quickness to slide and remain frontal of defender; hand punch and replace, strike and recoil, quickness to pass set; solid anchor; base/leverage; ensure balance; natural knee bender and ankle flex; play lower than defender; finish.

Explosion: Uncoil; pad level; hip sink and snap, ankle flex.

Adjust/Recovery: Position and turn defender; maintain contact; quickness to re-position.

Durability: Stamina; endurance; injury history for position and the ability to play hurt.

Pull/Trap: Short-area quickness; body control; long; mobility in space; adjust on the run; ability to attack target in space with production.

Recovery: Regain position to cut off inside charge; inside move; mirror; outside move; foot quickness.

Strong UOH (use of hands): Steer, stab and punch; double arm bar; single arm bar; twist and cork screw, grab inside cloth steer and drive.

Football Intelligence: High football IQ; football instincts; awareness; read reaction quickness on the move; recognition of stunts and blitz packages.

Deep Snapper: Point after/field goal and punt snap ability.

Versatility:  Ability to play multiple positions on the interior front.

Strength: Functional strength and explosion; weight room numbers.
*Underclassmen

Florida State   Cameron Erving   6’5 – 313  (OC, OG, RT)   1st Rd
Iowa   Brandon Scherff   6’4 – 319  (OG/RT)   1st Rd
Penn State   Donavan Smith  6’5 – 338  (OG)   1st Rd – 2nd Rd
Duke   Laken Tomlinson   6’3 – 323  (OG)   2nd Rd
South Carolina   AJ Cann   6’2 – 313  (OG)   2nd Rd – 3rd Rd
Florida State   Tre Jackson  6’3 – 330  (OG)   2nd Rd – 3rd Rd
Others to watch

Texas A&M   Jarvis Harrison   6’4 – 330   (OG/RT)  
Oregon   Horiness Grassu   6’3 – 297  (OC)   
Florida   Max Garcia   (OG)
Florida State   Josue Matias  (OG)
Arizona State  Jimil Douglas    (OG)
Louisville   John Miller   (OG)
Alabama   Arie Kouandjio   (OG)
Auburn   Reese Dismukes   (OC)
Hobart   Ali Marpet   6’3 – 307  (OC/OG)