With the rest of the offense all ranked, we finish up that side of the ball by looking at the "big uglies" upfront. Overall I would say that the nation is loaded with really high-upside tackles, while the guard class is rather weak and the centers are spearheaded by two excellent players, including my top guy on the O-line altogether.
Once again, I evaluate these players as college athletes instead of solely judging them as NFL prospects and used last year's tape to put my list together. So this is how my top five looks like.
#1 Tyler Biadasz, C, Wisconsin
Ever since I first watched the 2017 Wisconsin tape and saw this kid play center, I knew he would be great. These last two years Biadasz has started all 27 games right in the middle of that Badger O-line.
During that stretch running back Jonathan Taylor has set the freshman rushing record and even improved on his numbers in year two, earning him the Doak Walker Award for almost his 2194 yards on the ground.
The 6’3”, 320-pound center returns to Madison as a consensus first-team All-Big Ten selection and the most highly graded offensive linemen returning to the conference in 2019 according to Pro Football Focus.
To me, the mobile center is at his best running those inside/outside zone schemes, where he can attack and control or reach D-linemen, but I have also seen him drive 320-pounders backwards by five yards on simple dive plays. In pass pro, Biadasz likes to use an initial stab against nose tackles and 1-techs to take away that initial burst and then settles in with patient feet. I expect Wisconsin to field one of the most feared rushing attacks once again and Biadasz to be the first center drafted in 2020.
#2 Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia
This former four-star recruit started all 15 games at right tackle as a true freshman and was named to the Freshman All-American team by multiple outlets. Last season he moved to the left side and was voted All-SEC first team by the league’s coaches.
At 6’5”, 320 pounds, Thomas shows patient feet in protection and you see him hand out some punches to just shoot guys beyond the arc and not bother his QB. He also uses that on draw plays, where you him let edge rushers get upfield and then they just fly several yards towards the end-zone.
Moreover, he is excellent at transitioning on twists. Thomas has led the way for two separate 1000-yard rushers in each of the last two years. His mobility to work down the line in the zone run game is off the charts and you see him use sort of a hook technique on the backside at times, where he pins the inside arm of the defender and doesn’t allow him to cross his face.
He initiates that first thump with good pad-level and brings his hips through on the contact, while also continuing to reposition his hands in the run game.
#3 Walker Little, OT, Stanford
A former five-star recruit, Little became the first true freshman since 2000 to start at left tackle for Stanford and despite playing in just nine games he received Freshman All-American honors by ESPN before becoming a full-time starter at left tackle last season and immediately being named to the All-Pac 12 first team.
The 6’7” giant might not just blow guys off the ball, but he can torque bodies and get in front of defenders, who are forced to go through him. He looks to come off combo-blocks quickly and consistently gets his hands on smaller guys at the second level. Little’s jump off the snap is outstanding and he is just awaiting edge rushers.
Even when you think the defender has an angle, the Cardinal tackle seems to always recover with his length and guide him past the arc. He’s really tough to get away from once he puts his mitts on somebody and seems to have perfected the art of holding without being flagged for it. However, I think he has to do a little better job at protecting his chest and keeping that post-leg ready to counter inside moves.
#4 Calvin Throckmorton, OT, Oregon
There is no more versatile offensive linemen in the country than this Oregon standout. Overall, Throckmorton has started all 38 games in his career for the Ducks – all at right tackle as a freshman, 10 at RT and three at right guard as a sophomore and last season he started everywhere but left tackle.
Throckmorton has excellent thickness throughout his frame and looks more like an entire guy body-wise despite being 6’5”, 310 pounds. The O-line chess piece has allowed just three combined QB sacks and hits in almost 900 pass-pro snaps since the start of the 2017 season and didn’t surrender a single sack for 27 straight games until late last season. He stays under good balance and has a tight grip on pass-rushers.
In the run game, Throckmorton has the agility to work the inside and outside zone game, was utilized plenty as a puller on gap schemes and does the load of the work on combo-blocks by creating a ton of movement at the point of attack.
As I have said plenty of times, the Oregon O-line has a chance to be special this season. Throckmorton doesn’t quite have the athletic ability of the two guys I have ahead of him, but his technique and smarts for the position are excellent.
#5 Creed Humphrey, C, Oklahoma
This is the only starter on that Oklahoma O-line returning from last season, which won the Joe Moore Award for the top unit in the country after leading the way for three 1000-yard rushers almost and giving the eventual Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray time to firebombs downfield.
A redshirt freshman only, Humphrey immediately was named second-team All-Big XII. The 6’5”, the 315-pound center gets underneath the pads of defenders, which gives him leverage on them in the run game and stymies their momentum in pass pro. He is light on his feet when it comes to mirroring guys at the line or getting his hands on linebackers in the run and screen game.
Humphrey quickly gets around to reach defenders and put his body in front of them and allow the ball-carrier to get to the outside. In protection, he matches and re-positions his hands constantly with a rusher in his face and uses kind of a pedal technique when uncovered and looking for work. In that area, his background as a wrestling standout really shows up.
Humphrey was highly impressive versus Quinnen Williams and Alabama in the Orange Bowl, where he was the best offensive lineman and probably overall player for the Sooners.
Just outside: Ben Bredeson (G, Michigan), Alaric Jackson & Tristan Wirfs (OT, Iowa), Trey Adams (OT, Washington), Penei Sewell & Shane Lemieux (OT & G, Oregon) and Cole Van Lanen (Wisconsin)