After analyzing the top offensive tackles in the 2020 NFL Draft, let’s stay within the offensive trenches; let’s take a look at the top interior offensive linemen prospects. This is a much less valuable position than offensive tackle, but with the recent growth of elite interior pass rushers, it’s definitely a position that is soaring in terms of its value. However, it may also be the most scheme dependent position; some of these prospects are agile and best in a zone-blocking scheme, while others need to be in a gap/power scheme. After compiling as much information of prospects, I’ve ranked the interior linemen prospects int his year’s draft, and I must say, it’s a very interesting group of players- there isn’t a true blue-chip prospect in this class. So, who are the top offensive linemen in the 2020 NFL draft? Let’s take a closer look.
#1: Netane Muti, Fresno State
Year: RS Junior
Height: 6’3″ Weight: 307 lbs
Pro Comparison: Shaq Mason
Best Fits: BAL, SEA, MIA
Overall Grade: 85.42 (Late 1st/Early 2nd)
Netane Muti is the type of interior offensive lineman with tremendous highlights, as his pancakes blocks and power in the running game is extremely fun to watch. With strong hands and elite upper body strength, he’s not going to lose the leverage battle, whether it be as a run blocker or a pass blocker. Plus, even with that power, Muti is also surprisingly nimble on his feet, as he is comfortable in space, and also has great flexibility. He’s got the nasty demeanor that offensive line coaches love, and to top it off, he’s pretty balanced in terms of skills as a run blocker and a pass blocker.
While Muti’s aggressiveness is usually a positive, it also can get the best of him, as he has the tendency to lose balance due to his play style. Additionally, he doesn’t have the length even adequate for a guard, which shows up at times in pass protection, and he’ll some issues versus quicker rushers. Muti is also not an exact fit for a zone-blocking scheme, as he’s not an effective puller in the run game, and he wasn’t tested much at Fresno State. That comes from facing weaker competition, but also because of his severe injury history; durability will be a major question for him.
With his nasty demeanor and power, Netane Muti has a lot of upside on the interior as both a pass blocker and guard. Even though he needs technical refinement, his skillset would warrant a first-round pick if healthy. Even with the injuries, I’d still take him at the end of the first round, but if any team is able to draft him on the second day of the draft, it’ll be a heist. I’d love to see him on the Ravens with his power-rushing blocking ability, though he’ll be an instant starter for whatever team drafts him, assuming he stays healthy- a major assumption.
#2: Nick Harris, Washington
Height: 6’1″ Weight: 302 lbs
Pro Comparison: Brian Allen
Best Fits: SF, CIN, NYG
Overall Grade: 84.94 (Early 2nd)
A smart player with four years of starting experience, Nick Harris has the type of character and leadership needed to play center in the NFL. However, that’s far from all he offers. Harris is extremely agile, which allows him block excellent in space on outside zone runs, and he maintains his balance and positioning well. Additionally, he’s very flexible, has the quick feet you’re looking for as a run blocker and pass blocker, and his experience shows with his excellent anticipation. He also has the mean, tenacious mentality with the type of motor front offices want, and since he’s technically sound, he’ll likely be an immediate starter in the proper scheme.
Though Harris doesn’t get knocked around at the line of scrimmage, he lacks any sort of power, and thus is very scheme limited. Even though he has improved his play strength, he simply won’t be enough of a factor on inside runs, and if he’s tasked with facing a powerful interior rusher, troubles may ensure. Furthermore, with his lack of length, he’s probably a center only, and will need to add mass to his build at the next level; his lightweight nature for the position was on display at Senior Bowl, according to multiple reports.
In a Shanahan style zone-blocking scheme, Nick Harris will be a 10-15 year starter at center. However, being scheme dependant hurts your value, and if Harris couldn’t add weight before the Senior Bowl, it’s tough to assume he’ll be able to do so now. Regardless, his agility and technique are amazing, and just outside the first round, he’s an excellent target for offensive line-needy teams. For the 49ers, in particular, trading out of the first round to acquire more draft capital, and then selecting Harris, makes almost too much sense.
#3: Robert Hunt, Louisiana
Year: RS Senior
Height: 6’5″ Weight: 336 lbs
Pro Comparison: Ramon Foster
Best Fits: PIT, SEA, BAL
Overall Grade: 84.33 (2nd)
Especially with offensive line prospects, there seems to be one player from a smaller-level school that stands out every year. This time, it’s Robert Hunt out of Louisiana. He plays with tremendous power with excellent tenacity and core strength, so he’ll be a great fit in a gap/power scheme. He’s got no issues in space creating rushing lanes, as not only is he strong, but he moves pretty well for his size. His strength also allows him to anchor well in pass protection versus bull rushers, and finally, his aggressiveness plays to his advantage. Suffice to say, Hunt’s upside, especially as a run blocker, is very enticing; he did post great grades as a pass protector though, per Pro Football Focus.
Though Hunt’s shown adequate mobility, the same can’t be said for his flexibility, as he doesn’t have natural athletic bend. Furthermore, his footwork has been described as sloppy, and he also appears to overextend and struggle to succeed on reach blocks. His lack of balance and tendency to be too eager in space definitely limit his potential in a zone-rushing scheme, so he’s another scheme dependent prospect.
With strong college production, excellent power, and enough mobility, Robert Hunt has all the makings of a starting guard in the NFL. He has room to grow, but he’s refined enough to make an early impact, and if placed in a team that utilizes a lot of inside runs, his strengths will be magnified. Since he’s essentially a slightly worse version of Muti, his fits are very similar to the Fresno State product, with the Ravens being an intriguing one should he be available at their second-round pick. It’s hard to find an offensive lineman who has upside and a decently high floor outside of the first round, yet that’s what Hunt provides, and I fully expect him to see his stock rise as we get closer to the draft.
#4: Cesar Ruiz, Michigan
Height: 6’4″ Weight: 319 lbs
Pro Comparison: James Daniels
Best Fits: LAR, ATL, CHI
Overall Grade: 83.71 (Late 2nd)
At the moment, a lot of people have Cesar Ruiz as a first-round lock and the top interior offensive lineman in this draft, and it’s easy to see why. He’s superbly athletic, as he’s able to move laterally, work in space, and is an excellent puller on outside zone runs/screens. Unlike Hunt and Muti, he’s also very patient and always seems to keep his balance, and is the type of stable center prospect that teams will covet. His best trait, however, may be his hand placement in pass protection, which will translate tremendously to the NFL, and it’s not as though he doesn’t have power in his game; he has at least adequate strength.
Though Ruiz is strong enough to hold up in the NFL, he’ll never thrive in the power running game. He doesn’t have the greatest of frames, and with average length, he’ll likely have some issues versus bull rushes and winning at the line of scrimmage. Additionally, his run-blocking grades weren’t great at Michigan, per Pro Football Focus, so his main ability right now is to pass block effectively.
Coming from a good school and with tremendous athleticism, Cesar Ruiz probably will be drafted in the first round in this year’s draft. His need to add more strength and inconsistency as a run-blocker concerns me, but if he falls to the second round, his pass blocking prowess makes him an ideal target for a lot of teams. The Rams, for example, run a zone-blocking scheme and have a massive need at the center position, so Ruiz should be a top target for them.
#5: Jonah Jackson, Ohio State
Height: 6’4″ Weight: 305 lbs
Pro Comparison: Josh Sitton
Best Fits: MIN, SF, CIN
Overall Grade: 83.27 (Late 2nd/Early 3rd)
Jonah Jackson may not be the flashy prospect that players like Ruiz or Muti are, but he certainly gets the job done. He’s very athletic, and with strong hand technique, is able to recover quickly versus impact interior pass rushers. He’s also said to be very intelligent at reading stunts and slants, and most importantly, he practically never loses his balance or positioning. In an offense at Ohio State that utilized a lot of pass sets, per Pro Football Focus, he also posted above-average grades, so he will be able to contribute right away.
Jackson doesn’t have any glaring flaws, but his play strength is probably average, so he’s more of a finesse blocker than a power blocker. Meanwhile, he doesn’t hold his weight great, which can be an issue when he’s on the move, especially since his middling strength means he’s probably going to have to play in a zone-blocking scheme.
Jonah Jackson won’t generate a lot of highlights, but he’s the perfect stable option at guard for any team in need of help on the interior of their offensive line, which is nearly every team. He’s a little scheme dependent, is older than your typical prospect, and doesn’t have a super high upside, but he was excellent at Ohio State, and has all the tools of a 10-year starter in a zone-blocking offense. If teams don’t want to splurge on Ruiz or Harris, assuming they don’t need a center, Jackson is another great option. Better yet, he’s projected to be drafted on the third day of the draft right now, so in the end, he may turn out to be one of the biggest steals of the entire draft; getting a starting offensive lineman that late in the draft is rare.
#6: Matt Hennessy, Temple
Year: RS Junior
Height: 6’4″ Weight: 295 lbs
Pro Comparison: Matt Paradis
Best Fits: NYG, ARI, KC
Overall Grade: 82.37 (3rd)
For whatever reason, there are a lot of intriguing center prospects in this year’s draft class, and Temple’s Matt Hennessy fits the bill. With excellent body control, strong short-area quickness, and marvelous lateral agility, he’s the type of mobile blocker that will thrive in a zone-blocking scheme. He has no wasted movements coming out of his stance or in space, and his savviness allows him to play beyond his athletic capabilities. He’s not very strong, but he is able to compensate for that with great technique and a strong feel for winning the leverage battle at the line of scrimmage.
As mentioned, Hennessy isn’t a very powerful blocker, as he weighs under 300 pounds and won’t bulldoze any NFL defenders. He also faced weak competition, and with poor length and extension, may not have the size needed to be a starter in the NFL.
There is good reason to be concerned with Matt Hennessy’s size, but at the same time, it’s hard not to fall for all his strengths. He’s an extremely athletic and technically sound blocker in both the passing game and run game, and earned amazing pass-blocking grades from Pro Football Focus. He’ll need to add some weight, but I believe he can be a starting center within a year, which is well worth a third-round pick.
#7: Calvin Throckmorton, Oregon
Year: RS Senior
Height 6’5″ Weight: 310 lbs
Pro Comparison: Justin Pugh
Best Fits: SEA, PIT, LAC
Overall Grade: 82.14 (Late 3rd)
Versatility is a good trait to have, and although he will have to play guard at the NFL level, Calvin Throckmorton’s experience at tackle can be seen as a bonus. On the interior, he displays tremendous power with very strong hands, and his length will play much better at his new position than at tackle. Though he doesn’t have the athletic traits to play tackle, he was able to hold up there due to excellent pass-blocking technique, and he figures to thrive versus bull rushes at the next level. As a run blocker, his thick lower half allows him to create plenty of movement, and when he’s able to attack second-level defenders, they stand no chance versus his brute strength.
Throckmorton has all the power necessary to stick inside, but don’t expect him to do well in a zone-blocking scheme. His agility is a massive concern, as he has zero balance whatsoever, and he’s unable to move laterally with tight hips. Though he’ll fare well versus bull rushers, his lack of quickness out of his stance may also plague him against quick pass rushers, as he simply doesn’t have the bend you’re looking for. All said, he’s a prospect with some legitimate limitations.
As someone with experience at tackle, Calvin Throckmorton has the versatility, power, and pass-blocking grades that may let him be a starter in a gap/power scheme in the NFL. Unfortunately, his complete lack of functional mobility will always limit him, making him scheme dependent. He doesn’t have a high upside whatsoever, but for a team like the Seahawks, who need a plug and play starter, someone technically sound like Throckmorton may fit them better than a developmental prospect.
#8: Logan Stenberg, Kentucky
Height: 6’6″ Weight: 322
Pro Comparison: Mike Iupati
Best Fits: BAL, IND, BUF
Overall Grade: 82.09 (Late 3rd)
In a way, Logan Stenberg is what all offensive line coaches dream of. His nasty demeanor is unparalleled, as he loves to engage with defenders, and is utterly fearless. That shows up in his run-blocking, as he’s a true bulldozer that was meant to block on inside runs, and creates plenty of vertical movement. That power will also help him as a pass blocker, as he’ll be very difficult to bull rush him, and he’s tremendous at the point of attack. He’s someone that fans will fall in love with in no time.
Though Stenberg’s demeanor is mostly a strength, it can get the best of him, as he tends to play out of control and struggled with egregious penalties. Additionally, for all the power he has, he lacks lateral mobility, or any sort of athleticism for that matter. Therefore, he plays with zero leverage and bend, so he’ll struggle with same aspects of blocking that Throckmorton will. He’ll have to be in a gap/power scheme, because he simply can’t survive in any other offense.
Logan Stenberg’s nastiness and run-blocking ability make him one of my personal favorite prospects in this year’s draft, as in the right scheme, he’s the type of tone-setter that many offenses are looking for. His limitations are severe, but if you put him with the Ravens or Colts, who relish players of his skillset, he’s going to be so much fun to watch. He’s another prospect that deserves a look on day two, but certainly by the fourth round.
#9: Tyler Biadasz, Wisconsin
Year: RS Junior
Height: 6’3″ Weight: 321 lbs
Pro Comparison: Ben Jones
Best Fits: NYG, LAC, PIT
Overall Grade: 81.96 (Late 3rd/Early 4th)
Wisconsin seems to spit out offensive lineman every year, and this year, that prospect is Tyler Biadasz. As you’d expect for a prospect from that school, Biadasz is very technically refined, is super smart, and is the type of leader you need to be in order to start at the center position. He’s pretty mobile and plays with a lot of tenacity, so as you’d expect, he posted great run-blocking grades in college, per Pro Football Focus. Since run blocking matters a lot as a center, that’s encouraging, as is the fact he pairs his athleticism with good intelligence.
Although Biadasz is pretty mobile, his overall movement skills aren’t as strong as you’d like. A major reason for that is his tendency to get off balance, which forces him to play in an unathletic fashion. That hurts his lateral agility, especially in pass protection, as in college, his pass blocking grades from Pro Football Focus were pretty underwhelming.
Many see Tyler Biadasz as a first-round prospect, based on his technique and run blocking. I, on the other hand, believe that he is a player who is a work in progress as a pass protector, and doesn’t play an athlete overall. He probably can work in any scheme as a center and may be a starter in the NFL, and is interchangeable with Hennessy, Throckmorton, and Stenberg, but I’d much rather select Ruiz or Harris- they are much better prospects for teams in need of a center.
#10: Ben Bredeson, Michigan
Height: 6’5″ Weight: 320 lbs
Pro Comparison: John Greco
Best Fits: HOU, TB, PIT
Overall Grade: 81.83 (Early 4th)
Similarly to Biadasz, Ben Bredeson comes from a very well-regarded university in Michigan, and per Pro Football Focus, he played 3219 snaps in college. Therefore, as you’d expect, his technique is tremendous, and he displays all the intangibles scouts are searching for. He wins with power, as he creates plenty of movement in the run game, as he’s aggressive and super strong. That shows up as a pass protector especially; he posted an 88.7 pass-blocking grade in his final year at Michigan, per Pro Football Focus, and is very tough to bull rush.
Bredeson is incredibly strong, but he plays at such a high pad level, that it often doesn’t matter. Maybe that can be coached out of him, but if it can’t, it severely limits his impact as a run-blocker, which is displayed in his mediocre 66.3 run-block grade from Pro Football Focus. He also deals with some significant athletic limitations, so he won’t work well in a zone-blocking scheme, and he doesn’t play with the quick feet you’d hope for. Hi
Ben Bredeson is a very seasoned pass protector, but his lack of athleticism means he doesn’t have much upside, and based on how he high he plays, he doesn’t have the run-blocking ability to start right away. Therefore, he may end up just being a depth offensive lineman in a pass-heavy scheme, which is fine, but not warranted a selection on the first two days of the draft.
Let’s take a look at the other players that I compiled information on, ranked with their overall grade:
11) Michael Onwenu, Michigan (78.89, Late 5th)
12) Solomon Kindley, Georgia (78.47, Late 5th/Early 6th)
13) Damien Lewis, LSU (78, Late 5th/Early 6th)
14) Lloyd Cushenberry, LSU (77.92, Late 5th/Early 6th)
15) Jake Hanson, Oregon (76.88, Late 6th)
16) Shane Lemieux, Oregon (76.57, Late 6th)
17) John Simpson, Clemson (75.34, 7th)
18) Tremayne Anchrum, Clemson (75.12, 7th)
19) Zach Shackelford, Texas (74.86, 7th)
20) Darryl Williams, Mississippi State (74.84, 7th)
21) Tommy Kraemer, Notre Dame (71.98, UDFA)
There isn’t a true blue-chip prospect in this interior offensive line class, but still, it contains a lot of depth. Each of the top ten players could end up being starters, and the first five appear to be locks to do so in short order. Muti is the only one I would take in the first round, but on day two, there should be a major run of interior offensive linemen selected; many teams have needs at the position. This is probably the list that’ll vary the most from others, as I’m much lower on Biadasz and Bredeson, and much higher on Hunt and Jackson than most. Regardless, if you need a zone-blocker or a power-blocker, there are plenty of intriguing options; there’s no excuse to not draft these players to stabilize the offensive trenches.