NFL Draft: Top Five Offensive Linemen
Joe Skinner with Joe Murphy and Hunter Pitcoff break down the top-five offensive linemen prospects in the 2018 NFL Draft:
Some would say you build your NFL franchise from the trenches outward, and the best way to develop that talent is through the draft. There are several offensive linemen in this year’s class who could be staples for years to come, along with one generational talent in my top five offensive linemen in this year’s draft.
Quenton Nelson, Notre Dame:
The former Notre Dame guard is the draft’s top offensive linemen, and frankly, the gap between numbers one and two is massive. At 6’5” and weighing 329 pounds, Nelson already has the physical size to match up with NFL defensive linemen. He’s aggressive at the point of attack and moves very well for his size. I have Nelson falling just outside the top five overall picks to the Colts but don’t be surprised to see the Browns pull the trigger at four to get solid protection for the franchise quarterback.
Connor Williams, Texas:
Williams, despite missing seven games in the 2017 season for the Longhorns, is still a top option at linemen in this draft. Unlike Nelson, Williams can be placed at guard or tackle and would be the first primary tackle to go off the board. The consensus first-team All-American is the same height as Nelson at 6’5”, but a little lighter at 320 pounds. Williams had a top vertical jump number at the combine, and scouts agree his elite athleticism will allow him to be a mid-first round pick.
Isaiah Wynn, Georgia:
The SEC is a little shallow this year at offensive line in terms of NFL prospects, but the Georgia talent should be an instant starter next season. Compared to Nelson and Williams, Wynn is undersized at 6’3” and 313 pounds. However, he makes up for the lack of size in quickness and discipline. Wynn is very strong for his smaller frame, but blocks extremely well in pass protection and controls his body well. He’s going to have to prove that he can hold off NFL defensive linemen in order to have a long and successful career.
Kolton Miller, UCLA:
After protecting Josh Rosen’s blind side at UCLA, I have Miller higher on my rankings than some others at number four. At 6’9”, he is by far the tallest prospect in my top five, but still has the flexibility to drop low and block quicker defensemen. Many scouts are comparing Miller to Giants lineman Nate Solder with his athleticism in a large frame. I see Miller as the ‘Josh Allen’ of the offensive linemen, with a massive boom and bust potential, but with good coaching could improve his ceiling in the NFL.
Will Hernandez, Texas-El Paso:
Coming out of Texas-El Paso, Hernandez didn’t play much NFL competition with the Miners. But a solid Combine for the 6’2”, 348-pound prospect shot him up draft boards. Hernandez did 37 reps on the bench and ran a 5.15-second 40-yard dash, and combined with his experience as a four-year starter at UTEP makes him another solid player at the position. The size will turn away some teams, but Hernandez is flexible and athletic with a wide base in pass protection.
Joe Skinner is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Hunter Pitcoff is involved in multiple clubs and organizations in the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications. He is the executive producer and an on-camera personality for Penn State Sports Night, the news producer for PSN News, and a member of the Centre County Report. Hunter holds a part-time live events support position with Penn State Athletics too. On top of that, he also does a weekly radio show with CommRadio called The Shootaround and hosts the podcasts “Ball Don’t Lie” and “Run N’Gun” with Penn State Sports Night. Hunter hopes to pursue a career in the sports media industry when he graduates in 2021.