The offensive line is a football team’s power and backbone, and offensive linemen are one of five players who prevent the opposition from tackling the receivers and quarterback. Offensive linemen, as the term implies, lines up on the offensive side of the line of scrimmage. Two guards, two tackles, and a centre make up the offensive line, while tight ends are a mix of offensive line and receiver.
When the ball is snapped, the offensive line is in charge of carrying out the play’s strategy, and their responsibilities differ based on the play. If it’s a run action, they’ll usually block a certain guy or location (zone blocking), so if it’s a pass play, they’ll settle down to try whatever they can to prevent the defensive linemen from getting to the quarterback.
The offensive line may not be the most attractive spot on the field, but it is unquestionably one of the most crucial in the NFL. We can never remember these players when they make an error that results in a sack or tackles for injury, but you are mindful of their role when such bad plays occur. Here is a list of the best of the best college offensive lineman of all time.
In just two years, Linderbaum went from defensive tackle to the best offensive lineman in college football. He was recruited to play on the interior defensive line after playing both sides of the ball in high school, where he logged 18 snaps in his first season. For the 2019 season, he moved to a centimetre, where he started and had the fifth-best grade in the FBS at the spot (81.7). And this year, Linderbaum took the top spot with a 91.5 PFF rating, despite only allowing three pressures on 280 pass-blocking snaps.
The athleticism box is checked by the Iowa centre with flying colours. There isn’t any interior offensive lineman in the world who can drive as he can. His decision to return to school rather than declare for the 2021 NFL Draft is a big victory for a Hawkeyes offensive line that is losing two core players in Alaric Jackson and Cole Banwart.
Munford is going to school for the 2021 season after taking advantage of his “super senior” year, which is great news for the Buckeyes. In 2018 and 2019, he was a solid starter at left tackle for Ohio State, but in 2020, he elevated his game to elite status. Munford had the fourth-best PFF rating in the FBS this past season, with a 91.8.
In 2020, his pass defence was almost perfect. Munford held his own against quality pass-rush teams like Michigan, Clemson, and Alabama all year, displaying incredible reaction ability against stunts and blitzes. He only allowed three pressures in 264 pass-blocking snaps, none of which were sacks or hits on quarterback Justin Fields.
Kinnard’s pass protection is fine, but his effect in the run game is the reason he’s ranked third. For the last two years, the 6-foot-5, 345-pound right tackle has regularly paved holes for ball carriers, earning run-blocking ratings of 89.1 in 2019 and 91.9 in 2020. Both of their grades were in the top ten in college football.
Kentucky used a lot of inside zone in that time frame, and zone definitions are Kinnard’s bread and butter. Since 2019, no tackle has had a better zone run-blocking grade than him. With a new offensive play-caller town, we’ll see if the trend persists next season, but Kinnard will provide the Wildcats with a quality right tackle.
At 6-foot-7 and 360 pounds, Neal is a complete package who is living up to his recruiting status. According to 247Sports, Neal was a consensus five-star in the 2019 class and ranked No. 7 nationally. He began his career as a left guard in 2019 and earned a 71.2 ranking. Then, for the 2020 season, he switched to right tackle, where he improved his game.
Neal earned an 83.7 PFF grade in 2020, placing him fourth in the Power Five, thanks to his physical strength, length, and respectable agility for his height. In the past, had a total of 12 big-time blocks, which was the second-most by a right tackle in a single season in the seven years since PFF started ranking college football.
After glowing on small reps all over the line in previous seasons, Salyer had “breakout” written all over him in 2020. According to 247Sports, he was ranked 10th nationally and excelled in his first full season as a starter, earning an 81.2 PFF ranking. Salyer earned ratings of 77.0 or higher as a pass blocker and a run blocker this season, which only 10 Power Five tackles did.
He improved during the season and finished the year on a high note, finishing second among all Power Five offensive linemen in pass-blocking grade during his final four games (90.6). Salyer is capable of playing at a high level anywhere on the line.
This fall, Madden will return for his sixth season as the best all-around non-Power Five offensive linemen. For the Thundering Herd, he has started at right guard for the last three years, offering excellent pass scores last year with grades of 84.6, 79.0, and 82.0.
On over 270 pass-blocking snaps in 2020, he allowed just six total pressures, none of which were sacks or hits. We didn’t see Madden succeed at an exceptionally high degree in terms of run blocking until this past year. He ended the season with a 93.0 run-blocking rating, leading all FBS guards in a negatively rated run-block rate.
As star left tackle Rashawn Slater opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19 and qualified for the 2021 NFL Draft, Northwestern was dealt a devastating blow. True freshman Peter Skoronski was thrown into the starting lineup as a result, and the potential four-star prospect we well-exceeded expectations.
He had an 81.4 PFF rating, which placed him ahead of all true freshman offensive linemen by more than six points. However, the ferocious Ohio State defensive line made him look like a first-year starter, with a 21.1 pass-blocking rating and eight pressures. Skoronski, on the other hand, seemed advanced for his age in the remainder of his appearances.
McFadden wowed as a rotational tackle in 2019, averaging an 88.3 PFF rating over 335 snaps, and he continued to impress as a full-time starter in 2020. Heis’ PFF rating of 83.5 put him 11th among all Power Five tackles. As a result, he ranked fifth among returning FBS tackles in PFF wins above average (WAA).
McFadden, on the other hand, struggled against elite edge rushers like Miami’s and Pittsburgh’s, earning a sub-60.0 pass-blocking score in both games. In 2021, how McFadden does against the physical top-tier competition will determine whether he moves up the ladder or even maintains a place in the top ten.
Snyder has been a key member of San Jose State’s offensive line for the past four years, and he’ll be back for his sixth year in 2021 thanks to COVID-19’s extra eligibility. In his first three seasons, he improved steadily, rising from a PFF rating of 64.7 in 2017 to 71.2 in 2018 and 77.0 in 2019.
Snyder earned grades of 88.0 or higher as a pass and run blocker on his way to a 90.9 PFF rating for the season. His play power increased significantly, resulting in much cleaner true pass sets and more effective run blocking. Snyder might be able to hold the top spot among Group of Five linemen in 2021 if he continues to display signs of improvement.
In both 2018 and 2019, Parham was a solid left guard for Memphis, earning a PFF rating of 70.0 in both seasons. For the 2020 season, he switched to right tackle which improved his game. Parham had an incredible 90.6 PFF rating in his first season at right tackle, which ranked fourth among all FBS right tackles.
Week after week, the level of competition wasn’t particularly good, but when it came time to tackle a strong pass rush, such as Cincinnati’s, Parham delivered. His consistency was excellent, as he received a PFF score of at least 70.0 in each of his 11 games.