Top Five 2020 NFL Draft Prospects- Interior Lineman
These guys will look to open up holes for the franchise's workhorse and anchor the center of the offensive line. Today I rank the top five interior linemen prospects for the upcoming NFL Draft.
1. Cesar Ruiz- Michigan
Bio: The top center recruit out of high school, Cesar Ruiz came to Michigan to continue the tradition of great Wolverine o-linemen. As true freshman, he played in 10 games at right guard. By his sophomore season, he moved to center and became one of the best centers in the Big Ten.
Strengths: Great quickness from play to play. Waits for defender to make his move before reaching to secure the block. Keeps feet moving through double teams and down blocks. Plays with ideal leverage and knee bend. Smooth on the move and leads the way on pull blocks and screen passes. Nasty attitude from snap to snap. Fast into pass protection with solid hand placement. Quickly timed punches with good arm extension. Good vision for blitz recognition. Maintains base throughout the play. Feet give good lateral slide to mirror.
Weaknesses: Lacks the wide frame most teams look for. Needs a better burst to deliver blocks with more power. Ability to move blocks in position needs work. Stands his ground as a blocker rather than drive defenders away. Average core strength. Could struggle to maintain anchor against NFL bull rushers.
Pro Comparison: James Daniels
Projected Round: 1-2
Possible Landing Spot: Kansas City Chiefs
2. Jonah Jackson- Ohio State
Bio: After playing four years at Rutgers, Jonah Jackson decide to transfer and play his final year of eligibility at Ohio State. He was named the starting left guard in the spring and was named third team AP All-American and first team All-BigTen
Strengths: Versatility to play guard or center. Continued improvement from game to game. Good base and lateral slides on pass plays. Very effective at handling inside twists. Good awareness to punch and redirect defenders. Smooth footwork on pull blocks. Gets vertical to the second level on zone runs. Locates targets and running lanes as a move blocker. Shows good aggression in his play style.
Weaknesses: Plays too tall in the running game, landing blocks through his fame. Doesn't get low to create leverage. Inconsistent adjustments to stall defenders. Slow hand quickness leads to poor placement. Narrow base on single man duties lead to loses. Erratic body control at times. Could struggle against length at the pro level.
Pro Comparison: Michael Jordan
Projected Round: 2
Possible Landing Spot: Denver Broncos
3. Netane Muti- Fresno State
Bio: An all-state offensive and defensive lineman in Hawaii, Natane Muti played left tackle and left guard at Fresno State. In 2017, he was named to the honorable mention 2017 All-Mountain West Conference team as a left guard.
Strengths: Prototype NFL size for a guard. Thick bones with ideal distributed mass around his body. Elite upper body strength. Gets under defenders shoulder pads when drive blocking. Power to put defensive linemen on their backs off the snap. Maintains punch from block to block. Serviceable hands to land punches into the frame in pass protection. Heavy, strong hands. Grip strength to latch on and neutralize opponent until the whistle blows. Holds anchor against bull rushers.
Weaknesses: Undisciplined footwork off the snap. Not a great knee bender. Feet turn outward in stance and goes too low. Slow and limited as a stretch and screen blocker. Forward lean in pass sets needs addressed. Rough body control at the point of contact. Lower body flow doesn't match upper body. Extra wide base in pass protection hinders balance and recovery ability. Could struggle against quick inside counter moves. Injury concerns. Played in just 19 games in four years. Tore his Achilles twice in three years and had foot surgery in 2019.
Pro Comparison: Mike Iupati
Projected Round: 2-3
Possible Landing Spot: Detroit Lions
4. Damien Lewis- LSU
Bio: After playing two years in junior college, Damien Lewis joined LSU in 2018. He started every game at right guard over the next two seasons and helped the Tigers offensive line win the Joe Moore Award as the top front five in the country while also helping LSU win the National Championship.
Strengths: Heavy frame with not a lot of dead weight. Technically sound and controlled in his play. Wide base with stellar power. Strong hands to latch on and secure blocks. Rolls hips into defenders and drive through. Runaway tank as a down blocker. Held his own against elite defensive tackles in the SEC. Bull rushes won't work on him. Looks for someone to hit after initial man is neutralized.
Weaknesses: Lacks the length teams look for in guards. Poor athleticism to get to the edge on outside zones and pulls. Hand placement is too far outside by pro standards. Below average quickness for second level climbs. Could struggle to adjust to linebacker speed on move blocks. Slow to regain his feet once rushers get outside his frame. Poor mirror due to insufficient lateral quickness. Slow to recognize blitzes and stunts.
Pro Comparison: Gabe Jackson
Projected Round: 3
Possible Landing Spot: Miami Dolphins
5. Tyler Biadasz- Wisconsin
Bio: Wisconsin's top high school defensive lineman, Tyler Biadasz was pegged to be the Badgers next great offensive lineman.
Strengths: Three year starter as the anchor for the top rushing team in the Big Ten. Very fluid hips. Quick and accurate hand punches into first contact. Bear trap hands to grab and finish plays. Technique is consistent from play to play. Comfortable in double team blocks. Takes smart angles on second level climbs and able to adjust in space. Good body control and contact balance. Stays wide and level to the second level. Enough recovery footwork to force opponents past the ball carrier. Knows how to identify and call out formations pre snap.
Weaknesses: A little top heavy. Not a lot of push generated as a drive man. Loses base to power rushers. Needs to firmly secure blocks before moving up to second level. Average core strength. Pocket gets breached due to inconsistent anchor. Leverage is too far forward to deliver punches. Gets off balanced against stunt rushers. Overextends on lateral slides when trying to assist on blitz pickup.
Pro Comparison: Travis Frederick
Projected Round: 3
Possible Landing Spot: New York Jets
Other Notable Prospects
Ben Bredeson- Michigan
- Tough mentality, not a great athlete
Shane Lemieux- Oregon
- Great on pulls and traps, average hand strength
Logan Stenberg- Kentucky
- Dominant run blocker, heavy lower half
John Simpson- Clemson
- Classic power blocker, inconsistent off the snap
Ben Bartch- St. John's
- Great on the second level, weak level of competition
Solomon Kindley- Georgia
- Motor won't be an issue, relies on body rather than technique
Tremayne Anchrum- Clemson
- Natural knee bender, slow to react to counter moves
Simon Stepaniak- Indiana
- Built like a brick house, short limbs
Cohl Cabral- Arizona State
- Five position versatility, poor footwork against bull rushers
Daishawn Dixon- San Diego State
- Long arms and strides, slow hands will draw penalties
Steven González- Penn State
- Powerful drive blocker, may be too top heavy
Zack Johnson- North Dakota State
- Played tackle and guard, weak competition level
Dallas Warmack- Oregon
- Brother of former first round pick Chance Warmack, slightly undersized
Tre'Vour Wallace-Simms- Missouri
- Three year starter, struggles against elite defenders
Matt Hennessy- Temple
- Light on his feet, Not great size
Lloyd Cushenberry III- LSU
- Unquestioned locker room leader, doesn't play to his size
Nick Harris- Washington
- Great quickness, short and stocky frame
Zach Shackelford- Texas
- Phenomenal in pass protection, heavy feet leave him vulnerable
Jaken Hanson- Oregon
- Solid downfield blocker, more strong than explosive
Darryl Williams- Mississippi State
- Classic build, below average quickness
Keith Ismail- San Diego State
- Played both guard spots and center, stubby length and build
Trystan Colon-Castillo- Missouri
- Gritty in the trenches, poor contact balance