2014 NFL Draft: Ben Natan’s Interior Line Rankings

Dec 21, 2013; Albuquerque, NM, USA; Colorado State Rams offensive lineman Weston Richburg (70) against the Washington State Cougars during the Gildan New Mexico Bowl at University Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Though tackles get all the spotlight, it is the interior linemen that due the real heavy lifting for an offensive line. Interior pressure can absolutely ruin a passing game and disruption can make a power running game obsolete. Basically, the need for top notch guards and centers is a must for an offense to be successful. This class has plenty of players that can contribute inside and be an asset for an offense.

1. Xavier Su’a Filo (G, UCLA): Su’a Filo was an absolute monster for the Bruins and an asset to the team, contributing at guard and tackle throughout the year. Su’a Filo moves very well down field, but he is also very strong. He needs to improve quickness in pass protection, but the ability flashes quite a bit. He is a potential top fifteen player and someone who can contribute immediately.

2. Gabe Jackson (G, Miss. State): Simply put, Jackson is a man of enormous size. At 6’4″ and 240 pounds, Jackson uses his size and length incredibly well in not only stone walling guys in pass protection, but knocking them on their butt in the running game. He moves very well for a man his size, but lateral quickness is not a strength. He makes an incredible fit in a power scheme where he can just go out and crash down on defenders and ruin their day.

3. Weston Richburg (C, CSU): Richburg is a decent athlete and has good functional strength, but where he wins is as a nasty technician. From a teaching standpoint, he does everything so well. Uses his hands well, footwork is very good in pass protection and as a run blocker and his spacial awareness is very good. Best of all, he is nasty. He just wants to block people into the ground and that mentality mixed with his ability make for a very good player.

4. Travis Swanson (C, Arkansas): In a pass heavy league, a pass protecting talent like Swanson is going to be a hot commodity. He is a smooth technician and uses his great size to wall off defenders in pass protection. His size and quick feet can make good work in the run game, but he needs to improve his balance. He is going to make an immediate impact for a team due to his size and pass protection, but once he cleans up his run blocking, he should be a good one.

5. Tyler Larsen (C, Utah State): Larsen is a phenomenal athlete at the position and moves incredibly well. His quick feet and lateral and downhill agility make him a valuable player in every part of the game. He needs to improve his functional strength, but he makes up for it in college with quickness and a high motor. If he can add strength, he can be a very good player in the NFL.

6. Trai Turner (G, LSU): Turner needs to clean up his technique in the pass game, but his natural size and anchor lend themselves to be a very good all around blocker. In the run game, Turner is a nasty blocker and uses his strength to create lanes in the run game. He needs to refine himself as a pass blocker, but he is an immediate impact run blcoker.

7. David Yankey (G, Stanford): Yankey is a great technician. Uses his hands very well in pass protection and moves very well in the run game. He is not the strongest player and will have to adjust to working in space a lot more in the NFL. However, he is a very intelligent player and that should translate to the NFL.

8. Jon Halapio (G, Florida): Halapio has a ton to clean up a ton technically, but he is a great athlete with freak strength. His kind of ability can impact immediately all around and if he cleans up his fundamentals, he could be a good player down the line.

9. Cyril Richardson (G, Baylor): Richardson is a phenomenal mover in the open field and that is valuable in a spread offense. Despite his movement ability, there are big questions about his strength and his motor. He needs to find a good playing weight and work on his stamina, but if he can play the way he does in the NFL the way he plays first quarters, he should develop into a good player down the line.

10.  Marcus Martin (C, USC): Martin has phenomenal strength as a center and can move very well downhill. If he can get his hands on a guy, they are most likely done. He needs to improve his quickness and needs to be a little bit more aware in blocking. Despite this, he has a natural ability to anchor and that will be valued for many teams.

Topics: 2014 NFL Draft, Centers, Guards

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