NFL Draft 100: Matt Miller's Top Interior Offensive Linemen

Matt MillerNFL Draft Lead WriterApril 25, 2014

NFL Draft 100: Matt Miller's Top Interior Offensive Linemen

0 of 5

    Michael Conroy

    The 2013 draft saw a record for the first guard taken—Jonathan Cooper to the Arizona Cardinals at pick No. 7. That was followed by Chance Warmack (No. 10 to Tennessee), Kyle Long (No. 20 to Chicago) and Travis Frederick (No. 31 to Dallas). That was quite a year for interior offensive linemen—but don't expect a repeat in 2014.

    While the guard class is good, it's not great. The goal of the NFL Draft 100 is to identify the best players based purely on film study and analysis. 

    The B/R NFL Draft 100 metric is based on scouting each player and grading the key criteria for each position. The criteria are weighted according to importance on a 100-point scale. Unlike our NFL 1000 series, this project factors in upside for each player, as the NFL draft is as much about upside as it is about production.

    Interior linemen are judged on run blocking (40 points), pass blocking (40 points), upside (20) and all of the technique, athletic ability and football intelligence needed to play the position.

    In the case of ties, the ranking is based on which player I prefer personally.

    Subjective? Yes. But ties are no fun.

    I scouted each player with these key criteria in mind. The following scouting reports and grades are the work of months of film study and in-person evaluation.

5. Gabe Jackson, Guard, Mississippi State

1 of 5

    Nam Y. Huh

    Pass Block

    35/40

    Gabe Jackson passes the eye test at 6'3", 336 pounds and with 33.75" arms, but that bulk isn't ideal to many NFL schemes in today's passing league, which demands athleticism. On film, you see him move well up and out of his stance, and he uses those long arms to fan out defenders with a quick, strong punch. He reloads well too and doesn't give up ground in terms of angles and leverage. Jackson can try to physically dominate too often and must learn to sink his weight and arch his back to absorb a bull rush. He's too thick in the lower body to give up ground like he does against a good inside-rusher. He's not the type of player with great movement skills in space and will struggle to reach stunts and shade rushers.

    Run Block

    32/40

    Despite being a massive man, Jackson doesn't mow over defenders in the run game. He has the body type and natural leverage to get underneath defenders and drive block but doesn't show that power or burst. In an NFL scheme that is designed around movement—pulls, traps, etc.—he will struggle to show quickness and balance in space. He does show good hand use and knows what angles to take to wall off in the run game, but the lack of agility is a concern. 

    Upside

    15/20

    Jackson has some easily identifiable talents, but his lack of athleticism makes his upside questionable. He could be maxed out as a player. 

    Overall

    82/100

4. Trai Turner, Guard, LSU

2 of 5

    USA TODAY Sports

    Pass Block

    30/40

    A top-tier athlete at the position, Trai Turner turned heads with a 4.93 in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine. That athleticism doesn't always flash in the passing game. He doesn't show ideal balance when asked to punch, slide his feet and redirect defenders. And while he has a good, solid base to handle one-on-one matchups, he has a bad habit of waist-bending in pass protection—which gives up leverage and causes him to lose his feet. Turner has the athletic profile to improve here, but he needs a good season of coaching and strength training first. 

    Run Block

    38/40

    Turner immediately jumps off the screen as a run-blocker. He's thickly built with the legs and rear to drive block defenders. He's angry in the run game too and lives off dumping defenders. He's agile and quick when moving laterally and shows high accuracy in making contact with defenders outside the box when he's asked to move to the second level of the defense. His hips are a bit stiff and, like his pass protection, balance can be an issue, but he's a straight-line steamroller in the run game. If he can learn to hook his hands faster and control his balance/weight transfer, he could be elite.

    Upside

    17/20

    Turner needs a good season of coaching and strength training, but that's what he'll get in the NFL. He has the potential to be a top-tier right guard in the pros. 

    Overall

    85/100

3. Weston Richburg, Center, Colorado State

3 of 5

    Michael Conroy

    Pass Block

    37/40

    Coming out of Colorado State, Weston Richburg is pro-ready. At 6'3", 298 pounds, he shows the body to be a mover coming out of his stance and can easily reach rushers outside his frame. He has very good quickness from the snap to his pass-pro set and gets balanced right away. He shows high awareness and instincts. You'd like him to be more fluid and flexible in his hips and lower body, and he isn't a high-level athlete. Teams drafting Richburg will love his experience and leadership skills as the anchor of the offensive line. 

    Run Block

    34/40

    Richburg does struggle some in the run game, as he's not overly powerful or agile. He does move well through trash and traffic but doesn't have the strength to drive block a nose tackle or shaded 1-technique. His angles and leverage can be better—and that's a coachable trait—but he could struggle to maintain consistency if a quick defensive tackle is lined up on him.  

    Upside

    18/20

    Richburg is an NFL-ready center, but he can still improve once drafted. With coaching in the run game, he has all the tools to be a high-level starter for a decade. 

    Overall

    89/100

2. Marcus Martin, Center, USC

4 of 5

    Rich Schultz/Getty Images

    Pass Block

    36/40

    USC's Marcus Martin is a high-level athlete with the natural skills to play well in the pass game. He has long arms (34") and a thick body (320 pounds), but moves well laterally for this size. In the passing game, he can be a bit timid with his punch, but when he lands a right jab, it is strong. He's aware and makes quick, instinctive decisions in pass protection that are rarely wrong. His best asset is his strength when bull rushed, as he can sit and squat on a rush to stop it. Martin was asked to anchor a raw group of linemen and emerged as a leader on offense in his junior season.  

    Run Block

    33/40

    Martin has the ideal body type for a punisher at center. He is strong enough to redirect defenders, and when the defense aligns with a head-up nose tackle, he can wall off and drive block with high success. He doesn't show great accuracy when asked to move and pick up defenders in space and could stand to get better at dumping defenders when finishing his blocks. Athletically, he's gifted and will shine, but he could stand to be more consistent.  

    Upside

    20/20

    A high-level athlete with instant starting skills, Martin can still develop as a technician once he gets into the NFL. He has high-end potential and upside. 

    Overall

    89/100

1. Xavier Su'a-Filo, Guard, UCLA

5 of 5

    Alex Gallardo

    Pass Block

    35/40

    If you want athleticism from the guard position, Xavier Su'a-Filo is your type of player. At 6'4" and 307 pounds, he's a talented mover in space. He's very quick and fluid out of his stance and shows the knee bend and balance to handle quickness or power from a defender. He doesn't have great length, but makes up for that with patience and agility. You won't see him lunging at defenders or back-bending in space. His footwork allows him to get in position to take on rushers, but he could stand to get stronger in his base to anchor against a bull rush. He shows good hand placement when locking horns with a defender, but isn't great in space with his punch. At guard, he won't have to worry about that as much, but his home in the NFL is definitely on the inside.

    Run Block

    35/40

    In the run game, Su'a-Filo shows the agility, movement and balance you want from a left or right guard. He could get stronger here—like in the passing game—but already wins with his ability to drive his hips and feet and push upfield. He's an experienced technician with the skills to already step in and execute NFL-style blocks (pulls, traps, etc.). Gaining strength and trimming up his body will allow him to become a much better player. As it stands, he has value as a left or right guard in any type of NFL blocking scheme.

    Upside

    19/20

    The top-ranked interior offensive lineman, Su'a-Filo has to be considered as a late first-round talent. His balanced toolset and the fact that he's still developing as a technician make him very exciting as a prospect. 

    Overall

    89/100