College News & Analysis

College Football: Top 10 returning interior offensive linemen for the 2024 season

2WBGTDB HOUSTON, TX - JANUARY 08: Washington Huskies offensive lineman Parker Brailsford (72) stands up to block during the CFP National Championship game between the Michigan Wolverines and Washington Huskies on January 8, 2024 at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Daniel Dunn/Icon Sportswire) (Icon Sportswire via AP Images)

 • Alabama’s Parker Brailsford: The Washington transfer is the top returning center in college football — and the top returning interior offensive lineman overall.

• Georgia’s Tate Ratledge: The senior is the top returning guard in the country thanks to his elite pass-protecting chops.

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Estimated Reading Time: 7 minutes

With the 2023 college football season in the books, it’s time to turn our attention to 2024 by ranking the top returning players at every position. 

Next, we combine guards and centers to come up with the best returning interior offensive linemen. This list is dominated by two schools: Alabama and Georgia. The Crimson Tide and the Bulldogs make up five of the top nine players on this list.

Below is a list of PFF’s top 10 returning interior offensive linemen in college football, in addition to an honorable mention. Please note that NFL projections were not taken into account in these rankings.

Click below to view our other position rankings:

QB | RB | WR | TE | OT

1. Parker Brailsford, Alabama Crimson Tide

For the first time in these position rankings, the top returning player will be playing for a new school in 2024. Brailsford followed head coach Kalen DeBoer from Washington to Alabama after a fantastic redshirt freshman season. 

He finished 2023 as the second-most valuable center in the nation, according to PFF’s wins above average metric. Brailsford’s 80.7 run-blocking grade ranked second among Power Five centers, trailing only a projected first-round pick in the 2024 NFL Draft (Oregon’s Jackson Powers-Johnson). He’s at his best when he can utilize his elite athleticism out in space, leading all FBS centers in 2023 with a 90.7 grade on zone runs. 

The transfer portal hurt the Crimson Tide in many ways following Nick Saban’s retirement, with the team losing Caleb Downs, Isaiah Bond and Kadyn Proctor, among others. However, it also helped Alabama to secure the nation’s best interior offensive lineman.

2. Tate Ratledge, Georgia Bulldogs

Ratledge is the top guard on this list for his dominant pass blocking. His 87.4 pass-blocking grade in 2023 ranked third among Power Five guards, as did his 1.3% pressure rate allowed. The right guard also placed third among Power Five guards in pass-blocking grade on true pass sets (83.8).

Ratledge’s excellence in pass protection extends back to 2022, his first year as a starter. He ranked fourth in pass-blocking grade (87.1), third in pressure rate allowed (1.4%) and second in pass-blocking grade on true pass sets (85.6) among Power Five guards that season. The senior is easily the top returning pass-protecting interior offensive lineman in college football.

3. Tyler Booker, Alabama Crimson Tide

Booker saw immediate playing time at Alabama, playing 427 snaps as a true freshman at left and right guard. The former five-star recruit earned an 89.0 pass-blocking grade that season, tying for fourth among FBS guards.

He was the Crimson Tide’s full-time starter at left guard as a sophomore and made major strides in the run game, improving his run-blocking grade by more than 10 points (71.2 in 2023 compared to 59.6 in 2022). 

4. Donovan Jackson, Ohio State Buckeyes

Jackson entered Columbus with a ton of hype as a top-15 recruit in the 2021 class. He impressed on limited snaps during his true freshman season, not allowing any pressure on his 36 pass-blocking snaps. Jackson became Ohio State’s starting right guard as a sophomore and was dominant in the ground game, earning an 80.1 run-blocking grade in 2022, which placed him eighth among Power Five guards.

He took a slight step back as a junior, earning just a 69.9 grade in 2023. Even after a down season, Jackson is still the third-most valuable returning Power Five interior offensive lineman since 2022, according to PFF’s wins above average metric

5. Clay Webb, Jacksonville State Gamecocks

Webb, a five-star recruit out of high school, spent his first three seasons at Georgia before transferring to Jacksonville State. 

He proved dominant for the Gamecocks in their first season as an FBS school. The left guard’s 87.5 grade tied for first among FBS interior offensive linemen with Oregon center Jackson Powers-Johnson. They were the only interior linemen in the nation with 85.0-plus grades both in pass blocking and run blocking. Webb was also the most valuable interior offensive lineman in 2023, according to PFF’s wins above average metric. He was named a PFF second-team All-American.

While Webb’s Conference USA competition pales in comparison to the four above him on this list, his sheer dominance earns him a top-five ranking entering 2024.

6. Luke Kandra, Cincinnati Bearcats

Kandra was a standout right guard for Louisville in 2022. He was one of 11 Power Five guards who didn’t concede a sack or pressure on at least 150 pass-blocking snaps that season.

The junior then followed head coach Scott Satterfield to Cincinnati and established himself as one of the best guards in college football. Kandra’s 81.9 PFF grade ranked third among Power Five guards in 2023, while his 82.1 run-blocking grade placed second. He earned an 86.1 grade on zone runs, which ranked second among Power Five guards. Kandra was named to PFF’s All-Big 12 team following the season and is the conference's best returning interior lineman.

7. Jaeden Roberts, Alabama Crimson Tide

All three of Alabama’s projected 2024 interior offensive line starters land in the top seven of this list, showing how dominant the Crimson Tide should be in the trenches.

Roberts took full advantage of his first season as a starter, earning a 78.3 grade that tied for fourth among Power Five guards. The redshirt sophomore was a people-mover in the run game, pacing all Power Five guards in 2023 with a 78.9 run-blocking grade on gap runs. 

8. Jake Slaughter, Florida Gators

Slaughter played sparingly for Florida over his first couple of seasons before breaking out in his redshirt sophomore campaign. His 81.2 grade in 2023 ranked second among Power Five centers to Oregon's Jackson Powers-Johnson. Slaughter’s 82.4 run-blocking grade on zone runs tied for fifth among that same group.

The only reason Slaughter doesn’t place higher on this list is because he wasn’t the Gators’ preferred option at center. In fact, his breakout year was a result of initial starter Kingsley Eguakun missing most of the season due to injury. In the four games when Eguakun was healthy, Slaughter was relegated to the bench. With Eguakun now off to the NFL, expect Slaughter to build on his eye-opening 2023 as a full-time starter.

9. Dylan Fairchild, Georgia Bulldogs

Georgia and Alabama are the only schools with multiple interior offensive linemen gracing this list. While it’s debatable which guard duo is better between the two, what’s not arguable is that the best pass-blocking guard tandem resides in Athens.

Fairchild’s 86.8 pass-blocking grade in 2023 ranked fourth among Power Five guards. One of the three above him was his teammate and the No. 2 player on this list, Tate Ratledge. Fairchild didn’t allow a sack or hit on any of his 286 pass-blocking snaps this past season. While the Bulldogs must replace star center Sedrick Van Pran, they can rest easy knowing that Ratledge and Fairchild are anchoring the interior in 2024.

10. Willie Lampkin, North Carolina Tar Heels

Lampkin was a successful center while at Coastal Carolina, placing fourth in the Group of Five in run-blocking grade (76.3) in 2022.

A change of scenery in 2023 coincided with a position change. The junior moved to right guard in his first year with the Tar Heels, and it paid dividends. Lampkin’s 78.3 grade tied for fourth among Power Five guards in 2023. He and Kansas State's Cooper Beebe were the only Power Five guards to rank in the top 10 for both pass-blocking and run-blocking grades. Lampkin’s 449 pass-blocking snaps without allowing a sack or hit were the third most, as well.

Honorable Mention: Michael Ford Jr., Kansas Jayhawks

Ford is entering his third season as one of Kansas’ starting guards and has been pivotal to the Jayhawks’ success over the past two years. No returning Power Five interior offensive lineman has been more valuable since 2022 than Ford, according to PFF's wins above average metric.

The redshirt junior was one of five Power Five guards in 2023 who was in the top 20 for both pass-blocking and run-blocking grades.

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