Top Offensive Guards and Centers to Watch 2016

1. Dan Feeney – Indiana: He’s been often described as Indiana’s best player and he very well could be. Feeney could have left after last season, but Guards don’t go very early in the draft, and he stuck around for his senior season. Feeney is about 6-4, 310 and he was a 1st team All American and All Big 10 in 2015. Over the past 2 seasons, the Hoosiers have had one of the better Offensive Lines in the nation. Joining Feeney in 2015 on the Indiana Offensive Line was Left Tackle Jason Spriggs and he went in the 2nd round to the Green Bay Packers.

Feeney has been the bell cow of this Offensive Line for 3 years now.

 

2. Braden Smith – Auburn: Watch the Ole Miss vs Auburn game if you want to see Robert

Nkemdiche getting blown off the line of scrimmage. Braden Smith handled him easily, and Nkemdiche was  a 1st round draft pick in the last draft. Smith is not exactly huge compared to some Offensive Linemen in today’s time and he looks a little odd when he walks. But, he is an outstanding run blocker and he pulls really well. He would have been good in the old Student Body Left or Right offensive plays because he can get outside really quickly. It’s not clear why Smith does not get more publicity. If you want production, this guy can provide production.

3. Ben Braden – Michigan: Braden is a 6-6, 325 physical specimen for the Wolverines. After bouncing all over the line early in his time in Ann Arbor, he found a home at Left Guard and played well there last season. He was only an honorable mention All Big 10, but I think more highly of him than that. Braden is one of those guys that just huge with little fat on him and he can move. He is an outstanding run blocker as well as a pass protector. Not only does have great feet, but he is also blessed with great strength and great coaching. Jim Harbaugh has really transformed this team, and he had a really solid Offensive Line corps returning to work with.

Braden is definitely one of the top Offensive Guards in the country.

Maybe the best thing about Braden is his size alone. q

4. Maea Teuhema – LSU: Teuhema was a 5 star recruit and he started as a true freshman at Left Guard and played very well. In the Spring, the LSU coaches moved him to Left Tackle and he looked like a Guard playing Tackle. He is a road grader that can drive a defender down the field. But, as a pass blocker he seemed to have trouble with the quick Defensive Ends in the Sprig Game. Teuhema is a 6-5, 325 mass of talent from Keller, Texas. Only negative is that I don’t think he possesses the lateral quickness to play at Offensive Tackle. But, he is a monster man at Offensive Guard.


5. Quinton Nelson – Notre Dame: The Irish have had a good Offensive Line lately and Nelson is one of their best returning starters. Nelson is the returning Left Guard and at 6-5, 325 he is a force. The Red Bank, New Jersey native was in his first season as a starter at Guard last season. In spite of his weight, Nelson is lean and mean with excellent feet and quickness. He is deadly when pulling and his talents don’t stop there. He is tough in pass blocking as well.

The junior is one of the top Guards in the country. Even though he is well over 300 pounds, Nelson does not look it. He looks lean and mean.

6. Viane Talamaivao  – USC: Plays Right Guard right beside maybe the biggest man in football, Zach Banner. Even though Talamaivao is 6-2, 320, he is dwarfed by the 6-9, 350 Banner. But, Talamaivao is a player. He started from day one as a true freshman in 2014 along with Damian Mama and Toa Lobendahn. Talamaivao is a road grader able to move most people out of the way. But, he is not a bad pass blocker as well.Talk about quick, Talamaivao can really move for short distances which is all an Offensive Lineman really needs to do. It’s almost scary to watch him run for a short distance, he is super quick. He has had some injury problems, but if he can stay on the field

Talamaivao could be one of the Pac 12’s best in 2016.

7. Martez Ivey – Florida: The top rated Offensive Tackle recruit in the 2015 class.Ivey injured his knee before the season ever even got started, and he had to miss some playing time. He played some at Left Tackle as a true freshman which is pretty much where everyone figured he would wind up. But,  during the season the Gators’ coaches moved him inside to Left Guard and it looks like he has found a home there. Teaming up with Left Tackle David Sharpe, the Gators have a pretty intimidating left side of their Offensive Line. Sharpe is 6-4, 350 and Ivey is 6-6, 320.

With Ivey, Sharpe, tremendous Center prospect Tyler Jordan, and talented Right Tackle Fred Johnson, plus Cameron Dillard, Antonio Riles, and Andrew Mike, the Gators could turn what was once a team weakness into one of the top Offensive Lines in the country.

8. Dorian Johnson – Pittsburgh: The 6-5, 315 Johnson was considered one of the top recruits in the country when he signed with the Panthers. He may not have lived up to that hype, but he’s still a very solid Offensive Guard for Pittsburgh. He teams up with Left Tackle Adam Bisnowaty to form a really tough left side of the Panther Offensive Line.

Johnson is really athletic and able to pull quickly, or do anything required of him. The Panthers have had a great running game over the past few seasons and they have had great Guard play out of Johnson and Alex Officer. Officer moved to Center to replace their only loss to graduation. The Pitt left side of their Offensive Line will be simply awesome with Adam Bisnowaty at Left Tackle, Dorian Johnson at Left Guard and Officer at Center.

9. Tyrone Crowder – Clemson: Marston, North Carolina product Crowder was one of the top

Offensive Line recruits in the country in the 2013 Recruiting class. He redshirted as a true freshman in 2013. As a redshirt freshman in 2014, Crowder started one game and played really well in back up situations. He started in 2015, but was injured against Florida State and he missed most of that game and the Syracuse and Wake Forest games. He was back by South Carolina rivalry game and he played really well against the Game Cocks. Crowder was named 3rd team All ACC, but he will finish much higher this time around. Crowder is 6-2, 330 and he can move some defenders out of the way. He’s got really quick feet, too, and is a good pass blocker. Crowder should be one of the best Guards in the ACC this season and maybe the nation.

10. Damian Mama – USC: Mama doesn’t only have a unique name, he is also a talent. The man is huge at 6-4, 325, however he is not as huge as he used to be since he’s lost about 30 pounds. Mama has been starting at Guard for the Trojans since his freshman season in 2014 and he is a beast. In 2015, the USC coaches didn’t play Mama every snap to give him some rest. But, with the loss of some weight, maybe he can go the entire game more effectively. He was only Honorable Mention All Pac 12 last season, but he is better than that.

11. KC McDermott – Miami: McDermott comes from a family of Offensive Linemen as he is the third to play college football. He had offers from just about every big time school in the country, but he chose to stay close to home and attend the school where his older brother, Shane, was playing.

McDermott has been a Tackle and a Guard for the Hurricanes, but he has seemingly found a home at Left Guard. Before all is said and done, KC might be the best brother of them all.

12. Hjalte Froholdt – Arkansas: Froholdt is originally from Denmark Denmark

He played Defensive Tackle as a freshman and moved to Offensive Guard in the Spring. At first, I opposed the move. But, then I saw him in action in the Spring Game. You can’t put complete faith in Spring Game results, but Froholdt looked phenomenal. He looks like a natural at Guard. He is super quick and appears to be a great run blocker. He moves well laterally and with his feet he looks to be an excellent pass protector. Of course, he played very little on Defense as a freshman last season and he hasn’t played at all on Offense at the college level. But, even with his lack of experience he is 6-4, 310 and has already proven to be a hard worker. Expect great things out of Hjalte Froholdt in the future.

13. Billy Price – Ohio State: Price enters his third season as a starter at Offensive Guard for the Buckeyes. He has been at Left Guard and he moved to Right Guard in the Spring to play where Pat Elfein has been a long time starter. Price might be the strongest of the Buckeyes and he is a bull in run blocking. Price was a highly regarded Defensive Tackle coming out of high school which is often where you find your best Offensive Linemen because they tend to be more athletic. The Buckeyes quickly converted Price to the Offensive Line and redshirted him as a freshman in 2013. He started at Left Guard all season during the Buckeyes National Championship run. He started at Left Guard again last season and blocked for one of the top Running Backs in the nation in Ezekiel Elliott. With Pat Elfein moving to Center, the Buckeye coaches felt Price would be better at Right Guard. Price is

about 6-4, 315.

14. Dan Voltz – Wisconsin: Voltz is a long time starter at Center for the Badgers, but he missed much of last season with a knee injury. Dieter was really good as his replacement and Voltz may move to Offensive Guard for his last season at Wisconsin to make room for Dieter. He is more than willing to help the team.

You just know that the Badgers will always have a solid Offensive Line and Voltz is like a cover boy for Wisconsin Linemen. He is versatile and could play all along the line if needed. But, he is best at Center or Guard. Dieter is good enough that Voltz can use his talents at Guard. Or, Voltz might return to Center and Dieter will play Left Guard. Both are tremendous talents up front for the Badgers.

Voltz is the uncontested leader of this Offensive Line and he is a coach on the field.

Others: 

Wyatt Teller – Virginia Tech: Rough and rugged guard, very impressive athletic ability and he’s 6-5, 305.


Augie Conte – Virginia Tech: The Hokies have had the talent and the question becomes why they have been so average the past few seasons. Conte is 6-6, 305 and very strong. Either Hokie Guard could be on the list.

Jesse Robinson – Oklahoma State: 6-5, 315 from LD Bell High School in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Robinson is solid for the Cowboys. A dependable guy.

Kyle Bosch – West Virginia: Former Michigan Wolverine that transferred to West Virginia and sat out last season. 6-5, 310

Adam Pankey – West Virginia: The 6-5, 315 Pankey is a guy to keep an eye on in 2016. He will be a 5th year senior and has started 25 games and played in 33.

Alphonse Taylor – Alabama: Taylor was recently arrested, but that means little to Nick Saban and Alabama and I am sure he will be back. Just ask Cam Robinson. Hey, I am a football fan and I want the best on the field, so whatever. A huge Guard at 6-5, 335, Taylor should be a beast in the running game.

Sean Walsh – Iowa: The Hawkeyes always have good Offensive Linemen and Walsh could be their best right now. He’s not anywhere near in the same class as the Hawkeyes last year’s best Offensive Lineman Brandon Scherff, but Walsh is still really good and especially as a run blocker.Walsh started at Guard last year, but played some at Right Tackle as well.

Boone Myers – Iowa: formerly Left Tackle moved to Guard where he is more suited. The 6-5, 300 Myers is a former walk-on.

Brandon Fanaika – Stanford: The Cardinal always seem to produce great Offensive Linemen and Fanaika is probably going to be one of the next group. Slated to start at Left Guard in place of departed Joshua Garnett who was a 1st round draft pick by the San Francisco 49ers. Fanaika played his high school football in Pleasant Grove, Utah. Being from Utah, Fanaika is a Mormon and he signed with Stanford in the class of 2011 and then went on a 2 year church mission. Rivals.com had him as the top recruit in the state of Utah in 2011.

He will be older and probably much more mature than a lot of college football players. He has a cousin in the NFL and another playing college football. Fanaika is 6-3, 320.

Centers:

1. Ethan Pocic – LSU Center: A dominating Center that gets very little publicity. Pocic is 6-7, 305 and he led the Tigers in pancake blocks in 2015. The Chicago area native started at Guard as a sophomore before moving to Center. He has been an excellent Guard and Center for the Tigers and has great feet and quickness. Pocic was very impressive at Offensive Guard, and maybe even more so at Center. As all LSU Offensive Linemen tend to be he’s just an outstanding run blocker.

2. Pat Elflein – Ohio State: Probably the best returning Offensive Lineman for the Buckeyes and he  moved to Center in the spring. Now, he probably figures into the discussion as the top Center in the Country. Elfein was a high school wrestler which is always a good thing for an Offensive Lineman. He was one of the more highly recruited Offensive Guards in the country, but he was Buckeye all along. As a true freshman, he injured his foot, so he redshirted in 2012. He played very little in 2013, but moved into the starting role at Right Guard in 2014 and he started every game. He also started every game in 2015 and he was All Big 10 and got some All American mention. Elfein is a really hard worker off the field, in the weight room and in film study. He is 6-3, 300 and definitely one of the best at his position out there.

3. Frank Ragnow – Arkansas: The Razorbacks may have a big mouth for a coach, but they have had a really good Offensive Line for the last couple of seasons. Denver Kirkland played Right Guard in 2013 and 2014, but he moved to Left Tackle for the 2015 season and then he left for the NFL.

Ragnow, replaced Kirkland at Right Guard in 2015 after playing as a back up at Center during his freshman season of 2014. For the 2016 season, Ragnow has been moved back to Center and will start there. The 6-5, 315 junior was an All State Lineman at Chanhassen, Minnesota before he picked Arkansas over Minnesota, Ohio State, Florida State and Wisconsin to name a few.

Ragnow will lead a formidable Offensive Line along with Hjalte Froholdt and Dan Skipper.

4. Toa Lobendahn – USC: This guy can play every position in the Offensive Line and play it well. As a true freshman, Lobendahn started at Left Guard up until Chad Wheeler was injured at Left Tackle and he moved there. He also played Right Guard when needed. Max Tuerk was a senior last year and one of the top Centers in the country. But, he was injured and lost for the season. Lobendahn moved in to the Center position and was then also lost for the season. Khaliel Rodgers took his spot and finished up the year. Lobendahn is expected to take the Center job for 2016 if he can remain healthy and can fight off Rodgers. The Trojans had Lobendahn, Talamavao, and Mama all starting as freshmen in 2014. With the return of Lobendahn and Rodgers at Center, and Left Tackle Chad Wheeler, Right Tackle Zach Banner who is a man mountain at 6-9, 350, plus Talamavao and Mama at the Guards, the Trojans will be pretty solid up front and if they don’t win a lot more than 8 games this season, they should seriously look at what they are doing wrong.

5. Nick Linder – Miami: Younger brother of former Cane and current Jacksonville Jaguar Offensive Lineman Brandon Linder. The 6-3, 300 Linder will be a junior this season and a product of the famous St Thomas Aquinas High School in Ft Lauderdale. He started at Offensive Guard as a true freshman and then moved to Center as a sophomore and started every game there. The Hurricanes have run upon hard times in recent years and the Offensive Line has been a part of the problems. But, the Line has experience now and new coaching. The Offensive Line has every starter back from 2015 and they should be one of the top Offensive Lines in the country in 2016. Best Offensive Lines 2016

With the return of so many starters, the Hurricanes could be a dangerous opponent for anyone in 2016. That’s not good news for Seminole fans.

6. Jay Guillermo – Clemson: He was the backup at Center at the beginning of the 2015 but starter Ryan Norton was lost for the season and Guillermo stepped up big time. He was named second team All ACC for 2015 and he was the most improved player on Clemson’s offense. Guillermo is 6-3, 325 and the Maryville, Tennessee product was the top rated Center in the country coming in to Clemson.

He’s a road grader in the run game and can clear out the middle pretty efficiently. He also has the feet and the quickness to be an effective pass protector as well. Deshaun Watson is in good shape behind this Clemson Offensive Line.

7. Mason Cole – Michigan: Center: Cole came to Michigan from Tarpon Springs, Florida. Freshmen have been eligible to play varsity football since 1972 and Cole is the first ever true freshman to start his first game as  Michigan Wolverine. Cole was a solid performer at Left Tackle for 2 seasons. Cole has the talent and ability to play Left Tackle. But, the emergence of outstanding redshirt freshman Grant Newsome allowed the Wolverine coaches the luxury of moving Cole inside to Center. At 6-5, 305, Cole has the ability to become an outstanding Center. Cole was a 4 year starter in high school and should be again at Michigan unless he leaves early.

8. Brian Allen – Michigan State: Allen is the younger brother of last year’s Center and he moved there to take over for his brother this year. Allen started at Left Guard some this past season, but he also filled in for his brother at Center when he was injured. Allen is supposedly 6-2, 305 but he looks shorter. The Spartans just signed another Allen brother in this past recruiting class and all of them were high school wrestlers in Illinois.

9. Tyler Jordan – Florida: Jordan was rated as one of the top Centers in the country, but he played some at Guard as a true freshman for the Gators last season.The Gator coaching staff supposedly love Jordan and they think he’s going to be really good. I tend to agree.

Right now, Jordan is supposed to be 6-4, 290 and he has really good feet. He should be a long time

starter for the Gators and an anchor inside.


10. Michael Dieter – Wisconsin: Dieter moved into the lineup at Center when Voltz was lost for the season. Dieter is about 6-6, 320 and is super quick for his size. Before moving to Center, Dieter started at Left Guard for the Badgers. But, Wisconsin had a lot of injury problems last season and especially in their Offensive Line.

I was very impressed with all that I have seen out of Dieter. But, will he return to Left Guard, or will he stay at Center is the question.

Austin Golson – Auburn: From Prattville, Alabama Golson was the 3rd rated Offensive Tackle in the 2013 recruiting class. He signed with the Ole Miss Rebels in 2013 and he played in every game as a true freshman. He left after the season and transferred to Auburn. He sat out the 2014 season and then started at Center in 2015.

In the Spring, Golson moved to Left Tackle and he may start there this season which explains why he is not ranked.

Ross Pierschbacher – Alabama: Cedar Falls, Iowa native redshirted as a true freshman in 2014. As a redshirt freshman, Pierschbacher started every game for the Tide at Left Guard. He was outstanding for a first time starter and gave up 1 1/2 Quarterback sacks on the season while providing excellent protection for Jake Coker most every other play. Plus, he blocked for Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry. The Tide lost their Center from last year, Ryan Kelly, who was a 1st round selection by the Indianapolis Colts, and Pierschbacher moves to Center for 2016.

Tyler Orlosky – West Virginia: Smart player that’s made the All Academic team for 3 seasons. He signed with West Virginia out of Cleveland, Ohio and then redshirted in 2012. He played some in 2013, and started every game in 2014 and 2015. He was All Big 12 last season as well as being Academic All American. Orlosky is 6-4, 300 and a solid blocker in an offense that is always explosive.

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