Top 25 guards and centers in the 2021 NFL season

Top 25 guards and centers in the NFL for the 2021 season | 15-1

Who is the top guard or center in the NFL going into the 2021 season? I’ll give you a hint — he went to Notre Dame.

15. Shaq Mason, OG, New England Patriots

Shaq Mason has an unconventional body type for the position, but he is extremely effective. He has never excelled in protection, but he is an elite run blocker. New England is one of the NFL’s best run-blocking teams, and Mason is a huge reason for that. However, he only played 782 snaps in 2020. 

14. Brandon Linder, OC, Jacksonville Jaguars

Considering where he plays and the lack of success for the Jaguars’ team, Brandon Linder can be overlooked a bit. Yet, he is one of the NFL’s top centers. He is no slouch in the run game, yet Linder is a premier pass protector, which should aid Trevor Lawrence’s transition to the NFL. Still, it should be noted that Linder only played 530 snaps last year. 

13. Rodney Hudson, OC, Arizona Cardinals

Arizona’s trading for Rodney Hudson made a ton of sense. He will immediately upgrade, stabilize, and lead the Cardinals’ offensive line to help Kyler Murray further develop. Soon to turn 32, only Kelce is older amongst the top centers on this list. Hudson has a great head for the game. 

12. Brandon Brooks, OG, Philadelphia Eagles

Brandon Brooks is coming off a major injury and couldn’t help the Eagles last year, logging zero snaps. But he was a beast in 2019. In fact, he might have been the NFL’s best interior offensive linemen if this list was compiled one year ago.

Durability has to be a concern — remember, he tore his Achilles at the end of the 2018 season as well — but when Brooks is right, he is a dominant player. With Brooks out of the lineup last year, Philadelphia gave up 15 more sacks than the second-worst team in the NFL, which is rather startling. 

11. Ali Marpet, OG, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Ali Marpet is the poster boy for investing in prospects from tiny college football programs. Adjusting to the NFL game came easy for Marpet, who can also play center if need be. The Buccaneers were exceptional in short-yardage situations and often ran behind Marpet to get that job done. Additionally, Tampa Bay only allowed a measly 22 sacks in 2020. 

10. Michael Onwenu, OG, New England Patriots

Michael Onwenu was one of the best surprises of the 2020 season. He played tackle for New England last year but looks primed to move to guard. At tackle, Onwenu was fine in the passing game but really shined as a run blocker in his rookie season. With a thick, powerful body, he is perfect for guard, and he should help make New England’s line one of the best in the league going forward. Onwenu is not yet 24 years old. 

9. Frank Ragnow, OC, Detroit Lions

The Lions wisely just extended Frank Ragnow’s contract, and after drafting Penei Sewell, Detroit’s offensive line is clearly the strength of their team right now and the foundation of this franchise’s rebuild. McCoy is the only center on this list that is younger than Ragnow. 

8. Joe Thuney, OG, Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs just paid a small fortune to secure Joe Thuney’s services. Pass protection is Thuney’s calling card, which fits in well with his new home. He was the first piece of Kansas City’s massive rebuild of their offensive line, and it is now a unit that could become one of the top lines in the league. 

7. J.C. Tretter, OC, Cleveland Browns

J.C. Tretter gets overshadowed a little by his linemates on the Cleveland line (the best front five in the NFL). But he is a heck of a center. The Browns don’t throw the ball a ton, but they have one of the NFL’s best centers in protection. He is the glue of Cleveland’s phenomenal line. Deciphering between the Browns’ three amazing interior offensive linemen wasn’t easy, so they got lumped together on this list. 

6. Joel Bitonio, OG, Cleveland Browns

The Browns’ offensive line is just loaded with great players, and Joel Bitonio is absolutely one of them. A former offensive tackle, Bitonio stands out in pass protection. He’s also quite good in the run game as well. On any other offensive line, Bitonio would get the massive credit he deserves. The Browns are known for their great run blocking, but they also are amongst the best offensive lines in protection. 

5. Wyatt Teller, OG, Cleveland Browns

Wyatt Teller has great size and explosion. However, Teller is also outstanding laterally and plays with great balance. He has ideal traits for the guard position at the NFL level. Early in his career, Teller showed great talent but also a lot of inconsistency. That isn’t the case anymore. He was fantastic last year despite missing some time. 

4. Brandon Scherff, OG, Washington Football Team

Playing on back-to-back franchise tags in Washington, Brandon Scherff’s contract is actually a pretty good deal. That is how good of a player this 29-year-old is right now. It would be interesting to see what kind of contract Scherff would demand if he ever hit the open market. 

3. Corey Linsley, OC, Los Angeles Chargers

Corey Linsley is the best center in football and an ideal guy to snap the ball to Justin Herbert for the foreseeable future. Linsley uses his hands extremely well, has a quick understanding of what the defense is trying to accomplish, and communicates well. He is perfect for a zone-based running game and should be a great asset to his new team and second-year quarterback. 

2. Zack Martin, OG, Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys suffered several offensive injuries last year, and that includes their offensive line. That unit didn’t play up to the usual high standards for Dallas, but Martin still was outstanding when he was on the field. Unfortunately, he was only available for 618 snaps last year. Martin could end up in the Hall of Fame someday. 

1. Quenton Nelson, OG, Indianapolis Colts

Quenton Nelson is built like a Coke machine but light on his feet for someone with such dimensions. This is the guy you run behind on crucial down-and-distance situations. Nelson is also able to consistently stymie the NFL’s best interior pass rushers. That is a very rare combination.

The NFL doesn’t have truly elite offensive linemen (think Walter Jones, Steve Hutchinson, Larry Allen, Jonathan Ogden, etc.) like they once did, but Nelson could be the closest thing right now.

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