The interior offensive line was widely considered one of the weakest position groups in 2020. However, 2021 is a completely different story. I currently grade three players as first-round talents and up to 15 as day two talents. For comparison, only one interior offensive lineman was taken in the first round last year and a total of seven were taken in the first two days. With so much talent in this year’s class, here are my 2021 interior offensive line rankings.

You’ll notice a few of the listed players have predominantly played tackle in college. Whether it be because of a lack of size, athletic ability, or other factors, I have chosen to project them to the interior.

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Top 10 interior offensive linemen in the 2021 NFL Draft class

10) Josh Sills, Oklahoma State

As a redshirt sophomore at West Virginia, Josh Sills cemented himself as one of the top linemen in the Big-12. However, a shoulder injury ended his season early last year, and Sills would end up transferring to Oklahoma State to pursue a graduate degree. He is dominant at the point of attack, creates movement off the ball, and is a nasty finisher. His play strength and consistency are undeniable, but he has a limited athletic ceiling and a shoulder injury that could nag him for the rest of his career.

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9) Sadarius Hutcherson, South Carolina

Sadarius Hutcherson played almost the entirety of the 2019 season at left tackle, but prior to that was an excellent guard for the South Carolina Gamecocks. Hutcherson’s frame and athletic ability profile best to the interior where he can take advantage of his natural power and size and his slower feet are less likely to be abused. He’s a quality pass protector thanks to his experience at tackle, and he’s a high floor plug and play starter at the next level.

8) Rashawn Slater, Northwestern

One of the top tackles in the country, Rashawn Slater has been one of the most consistent players out there. Profiling Slater as an interior offensive lineman goes against my personal rule that tackles are tackles until proven otherwise, however, it is impossible for me to ignore the obvious length deficit Slater faces on the outside.

Slater is a strong athlete and his feet are as smooth as they come. He possesses a high football IQ, something that will benefit him on the interior as he’ll commonly be asked to block stunts and delayed blitzes. To win consistently on the interior, he will need to add play strength and improve his anchor.

7) Josh Myers, Ohio State

In 2019, Ohio State possessed the best interior offensive line trio I’ve ever seen. In the middle of the unit was center Josh Myers. Myers displayed excellent athletic ability, nimble feet, and a high football IQ. He struggles with providing consistent movement off the line of scrimmage but has the requisite grip strength to face stronger interior defenders. Expect another strong season from Myers as the Buckeyes vie for a national championship.

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6) Wyatt Davis, Ohio State

Wyatt Davis is the second Buckeye on this list. The duo of Davis and Myers is the best center-guard duo in the nation, and it’s not even particularly close. Davis is dominant at the point of attack and possesses a very smooth and refined pass set. However, he’s not overly explosive and can struggle when asked to move on to the second level of a defense. Similar to 2020 third-round selection and former teammate Jonah Jackson, Davis is a high floor prospect, with a limited ceiling.

5) Deonte Brown, Alabama

Every bit of his 6’4″, 338-pound frame, makes Deonte Brown an absolute beast. His game against Derrick Brown was a true testament to his play strength. Despite being a heavier player, Brown is a smooth athlete who gets to his spots on time. Alabama was very willing to pull him in open space. If Brown is to grow, he must improve his pass protection, especially against quicker pass rushers. He’s very liable to lose to pass rush counters like spins and dips.

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4) Alijah Vera-Tucker, USC

As an excellent athlete with elite balance, quick feet, and active hands; Alijah Vera-Tucker is a candidate for the Trojans’ open left tackle spot. He played guard for the entirety of the 2019 season, but his physical abilities make him a viable option to replace Austin Jackson as USC’s blindside protector. His frame profiles best as an interior offensive line, but I do have some questions about his play strength and ability to finish. A high upside player, but might take some time to reach his full potential.

3) Trey Smith, Tennessee

As a former five-star tackle prospect, I’m not convinced that Trey Smith wouldn’t be a better tackle than guard in the NFL. He has dominant length, excellent athletic ability, and is one of the top pass protectors in the nation regardless of position. Reservations about his anchor and ability to create movement off the ball lead me to believe Smith could be better suited for the outside.

Either way, he is a supreme prospect that can likely play anywhere on the line. After nearly losing his career to medical issues, expect Smith to build on his first-team All-SEC campaign last year.

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2) Tyler Linderbaum, Iowa

You may not know who Tyler Linderbaum is yet, but you should. After coming to Iowa as a defensive tackle, and redshirting his first year, Linderbaum took over the starting center job as a redshirt freshman. A truly nasty finisher, you can see the sparkle in his eyes as he takes another man to the ground.

His upside is truly palpable, but only playing the position for a single year has its downsides. Linderbaum lacks down to down consistency, and must improve his technique before moving on to the NFL. Once he cleans up his technical deficiencies, he’ll be a truly terrifying player.

1) Creed Humphrey, Oklahoma

The best lineman in the nation not named Penei Sewell, Oklahoma’s Creed Humphrey is a mixture of physical and technical dominance. He possesses the elite play strength to toss a defender like a rag doll, but his experience playing along the offensive line has developed him into a refined prospect. Humphrey lacks above average athletic ability, which slightly limits his ceiling. However, as he is now, Humphrey would likely enter the league as one of the 10 best centers in the NFL.

It’s no secret, the 2020 iOL class was disappointing. However, 2021 delivers a beacon of hope. A well-rounded unit with excellent upside, the class has the talent to produce multiple rookie starters. Humphrey and Linderbaum are both top-20 players in my eyes, and Smith isn’t far behind. The trio has a high likelihood of being first-round selections next April.

1 COMMENT

  1. Nolan Laufenberg is seriously not better than half of these guys?

    Maybe you only reviewed power 5. I get that if that’s the case

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