College Football: Top 10 offensive lines in the country

2MAK5H5 Michigan offensive lineman Zak Zinter (65) protects quarterback J.J. McCarthy as he prepares to snap the ball against Hawaii during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, in Ann Arbor, Mich. (AP Photo/Jose Juarez)

• Michigan leads the pack: The two-time defending Joe Moore Award winners are the favorites to three-peat in 2023.

• Georgia comes in second: Speaking of three-peat, the Bulldogs will try to do just that this season behind another stellar offensive line.

• Oregon State rounds out the top three: One of the most physically dominant offensive lines from a year ago returns nearly all of its main contributors. 

Estimated Reading Time: 10 minutes

While certainly the least glamorous part of an offense, the offensive line serves as, essentially, an engine for the unit. It’s nearly impossible to get any points on the board without at least some sort of competency up front.

Unlike the other position groups we’ve ranked so far, the strength of an offensive line is dependent on the quality of all five starters, rather than just one or two stars. With that being said, here are the 10 best offensive lines heading into the 2023 college football season.

Read more on our top-10 quarterback rooms, top-10 running back units and top-10 receiving corps in college football heading into the 2023 season.

1. Michigan Wolverines

Last season, Michigan became the first school to win two consecutive Joe Moore Awards, given to the nation’s best offensive line. The Wolverines should be the favorites to three-peat in 2023.

Zak Zinter is back at right guard and is my No. 3 interior offensive lineman in the country. The senior was the second-most-valuable Power Five guard last season, according to PFF’s wins above average metric. Drake Nugent transfers in from Stanford and is one of the best centers in the nation. His 84.1 run-blocking grade last year ranked third among FBS centers.

Michigan also returns another two starters in left guard Trevor Keegan and right tackle Karsen Barnhart. Meanwhile, Arizona State transfer LaDarius Henderson is the favorite to take over at left tackle for the departed Ryan Hayes. Over the past two seasons, Henderson’s 2.0% pressure rate allowed ranked fifth among Pac-12 guards.

As for depth, the Wolverines brought in Stanford tackle Myles Hinton, who placed fourth among Power Five tackles in 2022 with a 1.8% pressure rate allowed. Trente Jones also returns and ranked sixth among Big Ten tackles last season with a 78.1 grade.

2. Georgia Bulldogs

The defending back-to-back champs return all three starters along the interior offensive line in Tate Ratledge, Sedrick Van Pran and Xavier Truss. Ratledge is my No. 7 interior offensive lineman in college football and earned an 85.6 pass-blocking grade on true pass sets in 2022, second among all FBS guards. Over the past two seasons, Van Pran has allowed a sack or hit on just 0.2% of his pass-blocking snaps, tied for seventh among Power Five centers. Truss is entering Year 2 as the starting left guard and tied for sixth among SEC guards with a 68.9 run-blocking grade last year.

Georgia will have two new tackles in Amarius Mims and Earnest Greene, although expectations for both are very high. Mims earned a 77.5 grade on 482 snaps last season and is currently a projected Day 2 pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. With another impressive season, he could have a Broderick Jones-esque leap into the first round. Meanwhile, Greene was a top-50 recruit in the 2022 class and is the favorite to start at left tackle.

3. Oregon State Beavers

Oregon State’s offensive line earned the best run-blocking grade (92.5) and the third-highest overall grade (85.9) in the nation last year. The Beavers return four starters from that unit, making it one of the safest bets to produce elite play once again.

Taliese Fuaga is one of the 10 best tackles in college football. Last year, he picked up 10 big-time blocks (PFF’s highest-graded blocks), which tied for fifth among all FBS tackles. Joshua Gray is entering his third season as Oregon State’s starting left tackle. His 90.2 run-blocking grade over the past two years trails only Joe Alt among returning Power Five tackles. Jake Levengood was one of the 10 highest-graded centers in the country last year, earning a 79.2 mark. Heneli Bloomfield returns at left guard and earned the sixth-best run-blocking grade among Power Five guards in 2022 (81.3).

The only spot where the Beavers don’t return a 2022 starter is at right guard, and that was only because Marco Brewer missed seven games due to injury. The year before, he led all Power Five guards with a 93.3 run-blocking grade and placed second with an 88.6 overall grade. Now healthy, he’ll try to return to his elite ways.

The Beavers also added Nevada’s Grant Starck via the transfer portal. His 80.3 pass-blocking grade last season ranked third among Mountain West tackles.

4. Alabama Crimson Tide

JC Latham returns at right tackle for the Crimson Tide and is my No. 3 offensive tackle in the country, as well as a projected top-15 pick in the 2024  NFL Draft. He earned an 84.5 pass-blocking grade on true pass sets last season, fourth among FBS tackles. Alabama also brings back Seth McLaughlin, whose 74.3 grade in 2022 ranked second among SEC centers.

While they’re the only returning starters for the Crimson Tide, there’s reason to still expect a lot out of the other three positions. Tyler Booker is projected to start at right guard and looked impressive in 2021 on 429 snaps. As a true freshman, the former five-star recruit earned an 89.0 pass-blocking grade, fourth among FBS guards. Darrian Dalcourt should take over at left guard and earned a 77.6 grade on 299 snaps last season. Elijah Pritchett is the favorite to start at left tackle and was a top-35 recruit in the 2022 class. He’s currently battling Kadyn Proctor, a top-10 recruit in the 2023 cycle, for that job.

5. USC Trojans

When Caleb Williams won the Heisman Trophy last year, he made sure to bring his offensive line with him to the ceremony and recognize them. For good reason, too. USC’s line was the only unit in the country in 2022  that posted 85.0-plus grades both in pass blocking and run blocking. 

Two starters from that unit return in Jonah Monheim and Justin Dedich. Monheim is a top-five offensive tackle in the nation and totaled the most pass-blocking snaps among FBS tackles last season without allowing a sack or hit (570). Dedich is a top-five interior offensive lineman in the nation and posted the highest pass-blocking grade among Power Five guards (90.0) last year. He’s likely moving to center in 2023.

No offensive line benefited from the transfer portal more than USC’s this offseason, as the Trojans acquired a projected three new starters. Washington State’s Jarrett Kingston should start at right guard and was third among Pac-12 tackles in 2022 with an 80.9 pass-blocking grade. Wyoming’s Emmanuel Pregnon will likely be the starter at left guard and placed third among Mountain West guards with a 73.9 grade last season. Michael Tarquin will likely protect Williams’ blindside, where he excelled last year for Florida, as he was one of only two SEC tackles who didn’t allow a sack or hit on at least 150 pass-blocking snaps.

6. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Notre Dame features the best offensive tackle duo in the country, Joe Alt and Blake Fisher. As a sophomore last season, Alt was both the highest-graded (91.4) and most valuable tackle in college football, according to PFF’s wins above average metric. He is the best offensive lineman in college football and could be a top-five pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. Meanwhile, Fisher is a projected second-round pick in 2024 and earned an impressive 78.3 grade across the final 10 games of the season.

While the interior isn’t as star-studded, it should still be solid. Zeke Correll returns at center, where he earned a 64.6 grade last season. Notre Dame loses both of its starters at guard in Josh Lugg and Jarrett Patterson. Replacing them will likely be Andrew Kristofic and Billy Schrauth. Kristofic was actually a starter in 2021 and earned a 67.6 grade that season. Schrauth is coming off a redshirt year and was a top-10 interior offensive lineman in the 2022 recruiting class.

7. Texas Longhorns

Texas is the only school on this list that returns all five starters from a year ago. However, it was a unit that finished just 73rd in the country last season in PFF grade (61.6), so improvements are needed.

There are bright spots, though, particularly at offensive tackle. Kelvin Banks Jr. is a top-10 tackle in the country and was stellar as a true freshman in 2022. His 3.5% pressure rate allowed on true pass sets ranked sixth among Power Five tackles. Christian Jones will once again start on the right side and finished third among Big 12 tackles last year with a 2.7% pressure rate allowed.

Jake Majors is entering his third season as the Longhorns’ starting center and was seventh among Power Five ones last year with an 81.9 pass-blocking grade. The weakness of this group is at guard, as both Hayden Conner and Cole Hutson earned sub-55.0 grades in 2022. Hutson was just a true freshman, to be fair. If he and Conner don’t take a leap, though, Texas could turn to DJ Campbell, a five-star recruit in the 2022 class who earned an 83.1 pass-blocking grade on limited snaps last season.

8. LSU Tigers

LSU started two true freshmen at offensive tackle in 2022, with varying results. Will Campbell thrived on the left side and earned an 85.6 pass-blocking grade on true pass sets, trailing only Peter Skoronski among Power Five tackles. He’s a top-10 tackle in the country heading into 2023 and is the early favorite to be No. 1 heading into 2024. Emery Jones, on the other hand, surrendered a pressure on 7.6% of his pass-blocking snaps, the worst rate among SEC tackles. If he doesn’t improve, the Tigers could give five-star true freshman Lance Heard a shot.

LSU also returns two starters on the interior in left guard Miles Frazier and center Charles Turner, who each posted 70.0-plus pass-blocking grades in 2022. The right guard spot will likely be occupied by Garrett Dellinger, whose 1.6% pressure rate allowed last year ranked sixth among Power Five guards. The Tigers also brought in Maryland transfer Mason Lunsford, who earned the third-best pass-blocking grade among Big Ten guards a year ago (79.8). 

9. Texas A&M Aggies

The only spot on the offensive line where Texas A&M doesn’t return a 2022 starter is at center, and that was only because Bryce Foster missed eight games with a knee injury. The year before, he led all true freshman centers with a 73.0 run-blocking grade. Next to him at right guard is Layden Robinson, whose best tape also came from the 2021 season. That year, his 85.0 run-blocking grade was a top-10 mark among Power Five guards. He’ll have to improve as a pass protector, though, earning just a 40.9 mark in that department this past season.

Kam Dewberry is back at left guard after earning a 63.4 grade as a true freshman in 2022. Reuben Fatheree II enters his third season as the starting right tackle and posted a 77.5 pass-blocking grade in 2022 — a top-10 mark among SEC tackles. The blindside will be protected once again by Trey Zuhn III, who earned a 69.3 grade last year as a redshirt freshman. 

10. Florida State Seminoles

Florida State has a bevy of options along the offensive line. The Seminoles return three starters from 2022 in left tackle Robert Scott Jr., center Maurice Smith and right guard D’Mitri Emmanuel. Smith was perhaps the most impressive last year, as he was one of only two ACC centers who didn’t allow a sack or a hit.

Florida State also hit the transfer portal hard this offseason, bringing in another three players. UTEP’s Jeremiah Byers was one of only five FBS tackles to earn top-20 grades as both a pass blocker (82.6) and run blocker (79.9) in 2022. He’s projected to start at right tackle for the Seminoles. Colorado’s Casey Roddick should be one of the starting guards and ranked second among Pac-12 players at the position last season with a 1.5% pressure rate allowed. Auburn’s Keiondre Jones provides depth along the interior and earned a 77.5 pass-blocking grade in 2021, fifth among SEC guards. 

That’s not even mentioning offensive guard Darius Washington and offensive tackle Bless Harris, who many feel could push for starting roles this season.

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