Going into this collegiate season, it’s wise to remember that when evaluating draft-eligible offensive linemen – particularly along the interior – how they physically project to translate to the pro game. Size and length are crucial so some of the better collegiate blockers may not make for the best pro prospects. That said, this class of interior linemen is full of experience and grit. The 2018 class seemed to possess more plug and play talent atop the board, but the polish of many 2019 blockers should produce a handful of early contributors.
1. Hjalte Froholdt, Arkansas (6’5″ 315lbs.)
• The Denmark native transitioned from defensive tackle to left guard as a Sophomore in 2016 where he’s since made 25 starts. His combination of desirable size and length are supplemented by his mean streak and brute strength. Froholdt has immersed himself in the guard position rather quickly and considerably cut down penalties in 2017, committing only two. He’s primed for a big year and subsequent first-round consideration.
2. Beau Benzschawel, Wisconsin (6’6″ 317lbs.)
• The epitome of a Badger lineman, Benzschawel is tough, polished, highly experienced and physically mature. Moved from right tackle to right guard as a redshirt-freshman and has started there ever since. Possessing the ideal length, he also played through injuries and remained a reliable cog at Wisconsin. After receiving a “return to school grade” he opted against entering the 2018 draft, which was the right decision – he has a chance to be a top 60 pick in 2019.
3. Connor McGovern, Penn State (6’5″ 320lbs.)
• Not to be confused with the Denver Broncos guard of exactly the same name. McGovern is a physically mature true Junior with advanced abilities. As a Freshman in 2016, he took hold of the right guard job early on, making nine starts, prior to becoming Penn State’s full-time starter at center as a Sophomore. His bigger, longer frame aligns with the modern profile of NFL centers and accruing one more strong season would leave him with little left to prove at the college level.
4. Ross Pierschbacher, Alabama (6’4″ 303lbs.)
• Perhaps the most experienced and distinguished blocker in this entire class, Pierschbacher – a redshirt-Senior – has 43 career starts under his belt (42 at left guard, one at right guard). Bama has many moving pieces along it’s offensive line, but he will be shifting to center for the 2018 season, further adding to his pro appeal.
5. Elgton Jenkins, Mississippi State (6’4″ 313lbs.)
• A well-built, industrious interior blocker with excellent mobility and prototype dimension. Jenkins comes from an offensive tackle background, but his genuine ability was unlocked when kicked inside. At center, he’ll be a key figure in new head coach Joe Moorehead’s multi-tempo spread employing modern RPO looks. He’s featured on the 2018 Rimington Trophy watch list.
Honorable Mention: Dalton Risner, Kansas State (6’5″ 300lbs.)
• Keeping with the theme of experience, Risner – a redshirt-Senior – has started 38 games in his Wildcat career (13 at center, 25 at right tackle). A team captain who moved to right tackle after a Freshman season at center that landed him on the 2016 Rimington Trophy watch list, his best fit at the pro level will come on the interior. Intangibles are off the chart and teams will like his attitude. The only remaining question for Risner is whether or not he can return to full effectiveness after surgically repairing his left shoulder prior to the 2017 Cactus Bowl.