Every year the NFL Network does its top 100 countdown based on the previous season. However, that’s the past, and we want to look forward to the future. Four of our writers have put together a 14 part series, predicting our top 10 at each position. We’ve also included the most under and overrated at each position. Today, we continue the series with our top 10 interior offensive linemen.
10) Brandon Linder, Jacksonville Jaguars
A hidden gem in the NFL, Linder is one of the better centers in the league. He gets overlooked largely because he’s on the Jaguars and because of the play from his guards. While the rest of this offensive line is questionable, Linder has power and mobility, which make him a top 10 player.
9) Ali Marpet, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Marpet is arguably one of the better guards in the NFL. He only gave up two sacks while protecting Jameis Winston. Winston held the ball for so long, so expect Marpet and the rest of the line to be better with Tom Brady, who throws the ball quicker and with rhythm. Brady can also maneuver the pocket much better than Winston.
8) Joe Thuney, New England Patriots
Speaking of Patriots, Thuney may have a more difficult time if Jarrett Stidham is starting, with Cam Newton, he will be better off. Newton thrives on the quick game which will mitigate the pressure on the Patriots offensive line. Thuney, himself is impressive with only one sack given up in 2019 and was consistently the best offensive linemen on the Patriots, game in and game out. The crazy thing is, Thuney had zero penalties with his high level of play in the run and pass game.
7) Erik McCoy, New Orleans Saints
The first rookie from 2019 featured on the list, McCoy can be one of the best centers in the league. With his mobility skills and intelligence, McCoy makes blocks others cannot. Overall, McCoy will be a top center for the remainder of his career.
6) Elgton Jenkins, Green Bay Packers
As a rookie, Jenkins was fundamentally sound all last year. He was in positions to succeed with leverage and his movement skills. As a blocker, he’s reliable against stunts and double teams. With another year of experience and increased awareness, Jenkins can push his way up this list.
5) Jason Kelce, Philadelphia Eagles
Fast, for a lineman, allowing him to make reach blocks no other person can make. Yet, Kelce is also the brains of the offensive line, being the main players who call out the line calls and incoming blitz. Kelce is the crux of the Eagles line, and with Brandon Brooks out for the year, Kelce will have to pick up the slack for the play of each guard. That aside, I’m excited to see him lead an explosive rushing attack with Miles Sanders this year.
4) David DeCastro, Pittsburgh Steelers
Easily the best player on the Steelers, his play is consistent week to week. With a good blend of power and mobility, DeCastro makes every block on the interior but can also lead blocks on pulls and counters. DeCastro is one of those players who makes everyone else’s job easier – including center Maurkice Pouncey and second year starting right tackle, Matt Feiler.
3) Zach Martin, Dallas Cowboys
A perennially underrated player in the NFL as Martin is going to be a Hall of Famer once he retires. He’s all pro for a reason, consistent play at a high level. In pass blocking he’s great, giving players like Fletcher Cox a problem. In the run game, he’s mobile and understands leverages making him one of, if not the best run blocker in the game.
2) Rodney Hudson, Las Vegas Raiders
The most underrated player in the NFL, Hudson didn’t give up a single sack all 2019 season, while making the play of Richie Incognito and Gabe Jackson better. He reliable in one-on-one in pass and run blocking with his fundamental technique. Also, with his movement skills, he’ll be elite during the 2020 season.
1) Quenton Nelson, Indianapolis Colts
Nelson gets the edge over everyone else for the top interior player largely for his awareness and mobility. When you watch the Colts offensive line, Nelson will stand out. He’s the best interior linemen in the league and is still getting better. Nelson’s dominance can not be understated, his pass blocking is unmatched as a guard, but his run blocking is some of the best film out there.
Most Underrated – Ryan Jensen, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Jensen is highly underrated, only given up one sack with three penalties in 2019. He doesn’t make the list because he doesn’t have enough one on one opportunities compared to Marpet. Yet Jensen has the power and mobility to be consistently above average center for the Buccaneers.
Most Overrated – Gabe Jackson, Las Vegas, Raiders
Jackson isn’t as good as some claim him to be. Jackson is a great run blocker but will get beat when pass blocking when he’s one on one. With support, Jackson is an excellent complimentary piece, but at the same time is highly reliant on the talent around him.
Check us out on our socials:
Follow Brady Podloski on Twitter @BpodNFL
Main Image Credit:
Embed from Getty Images