Top 10 iOL in the 2023 NFL Draft: John Michael Schmitz and Joe Tippmann Highlight a Center-Heavy Class

The 2023 NFL Draft class is wide open when it comes to interior offensive linemen. Who's in contention to rise to the top of a crowded group?

Top 10 iOL in the 2023 NFL Draft: John Michael Schmitz and Joe Tippmann Highlight a Center-Heavy Class

The 2022 NFL Draft saw four interior linemen selected in the first round: Kenyon Green, Zion Johnson, Tyler Linderbaum, and Cole Strange. The 2023 class, however, seems to lack Day 1-star power. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t talented prospects worth monitoring. Based on PFN’s Consensus Big Board, here are the top 10 iOL in the 2023 NFL Draft.

Top 10 iOL in the 2023 NFL Draft

10) Braeden Daniels, G, Utah

A 2021 second-team All-Pac-12 member at right tackle and 2022 first-team All-Pac-12 honoree at left tackle, Braeden Daniels is one of the most unique prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft.

Prior to the last two years, he had nearly 1,000 snaps under his belt at left guard. And at 6’4″ and 294 pounds with 33″ arms and the movement skills to hold up on the edge, Daniels can legitimately play both guard and tackle spots, adding to his allure as a mid-round prospect.

9) Sidy Sow, G, Eastern Michigan

Earning back-to-back first-team All-MAC recognition the last two years, Sidy Sow has been a mainstay on Eastern Michigan’s offensive line. Starting 55 of a possible 57 games (11 at left tackle), Sow planted his NFL Draft seed early on.

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Despite his vast experience, the EMU guard is a bit more of a project on the interior. Although he must improve angles in the run game and hand placement in pass protection, Sow has the underlying tools to become a key contributor down the road.

8) Olusegun Oluwatimi, C, Michigan

Let’s address the elephant in Olusegun Oluwatimi‘s profile — or rather, the mouse. Olu has some of the smallest mitts you’ll find in the NFL (8 5/8″), and it doesn’t help that he’s struggled with latching in college.

Still, with 700+ snaps in the last four seasons for Michigan (2022) and Virginia (2019-2021), his mental processing and timing rival anyone in the class. Olu is a power/gap scheme center through and through — you want him knocking back defensive tackles, not operating in space.

7) Ricky Stromberg, C, Arkansas

Ricky Stromberg doesn’t receive enough fanfare compared to other center prospects in this class. A 44-game starter in the SEC (33 at center, nine at RG, and two at LG), he’s displayed the leg drive, instincts, and play strength of an NFL-caliber lineman.

Stromberg’s body control and waist-bending issues knock him outside the top five iOLs in the 2023 NFL Draft, but he’s a worthwhile investment as a potential starting center with guard flexibility in a pinch.

6) Emil Ekiyor Jr., G, Alabama

The son of a former UFC fighter and NFL defensive lineman, Emil Ekiyor Jr. understands how to be physical. And as a three-year starter at Alabama, he comes with the fundamentals and confidence you’d expect. He didn’t allow a single sack the last two years and has been called for just six penalties across 2,700+ career snaps.

Larger and more powerful DTs could give him fits in the pros, and he can be more effective with his punches, but there are few glaring holes in Ekiyor’s game.

5) Luke Wypler, C, Ohio State

Ohio State’s Luke Wypler garnered attention early on in the NFL Draft circuit — even as a redshirt sophomore. He owns a lighter build at 6’3″ and 303 pounds, so larger opponents will naturally provide a mismatch.

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Yet, Wypler owns the footwork, reactive athleticism, and easy leverage acquisition to be a team’s long-term answer at center.

4) O’Cyrus Torrence, G, Florida

O’Cyrus Torrence entered 2022 as a projected top-five interior lineman after transferring from Louisiana to Florida. Troubles with lateral mobility and stiffness have led to some poor reps, but he’s still a force to be reckoned with inside.

Torrence’s brand of physicality fits perfectly along the interior, as his size and strength overpower most defensive tackles he’s faced, even in the SEC. His wide frame, massive hands (11 1/4″), controlled aggressiveness, and natural people-moving ability make him an ideal candidate for power/gap schemes.

3) Steve Avila, OL, TCU

After starting at center in 2021, Steve Avila kicked over to left guard during TCU’s run to the national championship. Heck, in 2019, he recorded snaps at right guard and right tackle.

Versatility is king on the offensive line, and Avila embodies the trait. He can improve his angles and footwork in the run game, but Avila’s pass-blocking anchor could stop the Titanic in its tracks.

2) Joe Tippmann, C, Wisconsin

There are few players on this list with superior physical traits than Joe Tippmann‘s. He shined as a first-year starter in 2021 and provided a similar presence last season, showcasing the foundation to be a dominant center at the next level.

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Tippmann’s combination of size (6’6″, 313 pounds), mobility, and power is rare, landing him on Bruce Feldman’s Freaks list. Tippmann explodes off the snap, operates well as a puller, and stuns defenders at the point of attack. If he can tighten his hand usage and become more consistent, he could end his career as the top interior lineman in this class. But right now, there’s one man above him…

1) John Michael Schmitz, C, Minnesota

John Michael Schmitz was a key cog in a Minnesota rushing machine that was all systems go last season. And while he hasn’t seen a single snap outside of center, Schmitz has the requisite athleticism to fill any interior position.

It is a tad concerning that he’s seemingly shrinking during the pre-draft process — he was listed at 320 pounds on Minnesota’s roster but fell to 306 at the Senior Bowl and 301 at the Combine. Nevertheless, Schmitz is a plug-and-play OL prospect with the football IQ, awareness, and technique you’d expect from a seasoned collegiate veteran.

Honorable Mentions