NFL Draft News & Analysis

2023 NFL Draft: Ranking the top 10 interior offensive line prospects

Columbus, Ohio, United States; Ohio State Buckeyes offensive lineman Luke Wypler (53) prepares the hike the ball during the Toledo game. Mandatory Credit: Doral Chenoweth/The Columbus Dispatch Osu22tol Dc

• One of the weaker iOL classes in recent memory: It takes only five interior offensive linemen on the PFF draft board before we are out of Day 2 draft grades.

• Minnesota's John Michael Schmitz comes in at No. 2: He played snaps in five different seasons and started the past four (2,495 snaps in his career).

• Florida's O'Cyrus Torrence headlines the class: Torrence finished with an 88.0 overall grade and allowed all of eight pressures this past season at Florida after spending three years at Louisiana.

Estimated Reading Time: 7 mins

This is one of the weaker interior offensive line classes since PFF started grading college football in 2014. It takes only five interior offensive linemen on the PFF draft board before we are out of Day 2 draft grades. That will make things tough for teams looking to find immediate starters in the third round.

10. Atonio Mafi, UCLA (RS Senior | 6-4, 339)

  • 2022 Grade: 83.2
  • Initial Round Projection: Day 3

Mafi is the wild card of this interior offensive line class. Before the pandemic, Mafi was starting games at nose tackle for the Bruins. He flipped sides of the ball in that 2020 season before splitting time at guard in 2021 and finally taking over as a starter this past fall. The UCLA guard finished with an 88.3 run-blocking grade in his lone full season in that starting role. While he’s still a massive work in progress with his hand usage, Mafi has the kind of people-moving skills that can excel on the interior. You won’t find a player on this list more physically equipped to handle the play strength of NFL defensive tackles.

9. Braeden Daniels, Utah (RS Senior | 6-4, 297)

  • 2022 Grade: 71.6
  • Initial Round Projection: Day 3

Daniels is an oddity of an interior line prospect. That’s because a) he’s rail thin for an interior lineman, and b) he was a starting left tackle and right tackle the past two seasons. He’s the single most explosive interior lineman on this list, boasting a highlight reel of dominant blocks that tops that of anyone else. He also has a lowlight reel that is unmatched in length, as well.

If Daniels' natural athleticism can be honed by an experienced offensive line coach at the next level, he could be an impact starter. Until then, though, you likely don’t want him seeing the field early on.

8. Jarrett Patterson, Notre Dame (RS Senior | 6-4, 310)

  • 2022 Grade: 70.5
  • Initial Round Projection: Early Day 3

Patterson is the definition of “solid if unspectacular.” He has three-position versatility at his size and started three seasons at center along with this past year at left guard. You can throw out this year’s tape, however, as he played through a sprained foot all season and had only just recovered from an offseason pectoral tear. He’s an extremely steady player who just lacks the kind of physical tools to be a highly coveted draft pick.

7. Olu Oluwatimi, Michigan (6th-Year Senior | 6-3, 307)

  • 2022 Grade: 80.0
  • Initial Round Projection: Early Day 3

Oluwatimi has four years of starting experience — three at Virginia and one at Michigan. He was an integral part of the Wolverines' success on the ground this past fall with the fifth-highest run-blocking grade at the center position in college football. It was his second straight season earning a top-five grade in that regard. 

While Oluwatimi gets by on his craftiness, it’s still worrisome that the sixth-year man's play strength was still getting exposed. Whether it’s the grip strength to consistently stay latched on or the lower-body drive to move someone against their will, Oluwatimi leaves evaluators wanting a little more. 

6. Andrew Vorhees, USC (6th-Year Senior | 6-6, 325)

  • 2022 Grade: 81.9
  • Initial Round Projection: Early Day 3

For Vorhees, this is a long time coming. He has been starting games for the Trojans ever since he was a true freshman in 2017. That’s right, Vorhees has played an absurd 3,491 snaps in his career, between left tackle (402), left guard (1,634), right guard (1,392) and right tackle (61).

He improved his grade steadily over time, peaking with a career-high 90.1 overall mark back in 2021. Vorhees' average feet are always going to limit him to a degree, but he has the versatile size and NFL-caliber play strength to make you think he can be a consistent starter at the next level.

5. Joe Tippmann, Wisconsin (RS Junior | 6-6, 317)

  • 2022 Grade: 78.4
  • Initial Round Projection: Late Day 2

Tippmann is a 317-pounder who is more than comfortable playing on the move. Some of his most impressive blocks came when pulling to the edge over the past two seasons as a starter. His quick feet at that size make me think he could play other positions along the line than just center, where he slotted in at Wisconsin.

While Tippmann is on the very top end of the position for height (there are only four starting NFL centers who are 6-foot-6 or taller), the Wisconsin center is still able to consistently play low. If he can just cut out his bad habit of getting overextended into contact, Tippmann can be a high-end starting center.

4. Luke Wypler, Ohio State (RS Sophomore | 6-3, 300)

  • 2022 Grade: 82.4
  • Initial Round Projection: Late Day 2

Wypler is the only third-year interior offensive lineman prospect who declared in this draft class. It shouldn’t be surprising after how consistently he played in his two seasons as a starter. He allowed all of eight pressures in each of those campaigns and earned run-blocking grades above 80.0 in both, as well.

He’s on the smaller end for the position at 300 pounds yet wins with consistent leverage and hand placement. He’s very advanced in that regard for only a redshirt sophomore. While he could still stand to get a little stronger, one can expect a younger prospect like Wypler to mature more physically than the fifth- and sixth-year seniors who litter this list.

3. Steve Avila, TCU (RS Senior | 6-4, 330)

  • 2022 Grade: 71.0
  • Initial Round Projection: Day 2

Avila is such an easy mover that it’s difficult to believe he’s 330 pounds. His agility at his size is what made him one of the best pass-protecting guards in the country this past season. He allowed only 11 pressures on 540 pass-blocking snaps for an 83.6 grade in that regard. While TCU’s scheme didn't exactly feature pro-style concepts, Avila still showed the kind of consistency to think he can be a day-one starter.

2. John Michael Schmitz, Minnesota (6th-Year Senior | 6-4, 320)

  • 2022 Grade: 92.3
  • Initial Round Projection: Day 2

You won’t find a more experienced and productive center in PFF College history than Schmitz. He played snaps in five different seasons and started the past four (2,495 snaps in his career). The Minnesota center earned an overall grade higher than 82.0 in all four of those campaigns, culminating in an FBS-high 92.3 overall mark this past season.

He’s on the larger side for the position at 6-foot-4 and 320 pounds — around 20 pounds more than the first two centers off the board last year in Tyler Linderbaum and Cam Jurgens. Despite that weight, he still excelled in a primarily outside-zone scheme. Of his 465 run-blocking snaps last season, 207 were outside-zone runs, and he earned a 95.7 run-blocking grade on those plays. He is still a far cry from the top two centers in last year’s class athletically, so I wouldn’t be expecting him to play on the move consistently in the NFL.

1. O’Cyrus Torrence, Florida (Senior | 6-5, 357)

  • 2022 Grade: 88.0
  • Initial Round Projection: 1-2

After three years starting at Louisiana, Torrence followed Billy Napier to Florida, where he firmly proved he belonged with a tremendous senior season. Torrence finished with an 88.0 overall grade and allowed all of eight pressures all season. 

Torrence’s career path isn’t the only thing that makes him a unique guard prospect, though. He is not your typical guard at a whopping 6-foot-5, 347 pounds. To say you won’t find too many other top guard prospects tipping the scales in that range is an understatement. There hasn’t been a single other 340-plus-pound guard taken in the first two rounds of the draft since PFF started grading in 2006. It’s incredible how balanced he is for a man that size.

Usually, jumbo guards have a tendency to get top-heavy, but you’ll rarely see Torrence on the floor. That’s a necessary trait for an interior lineman. While I project him to be a  late first- to early second-round draft pick, Torrence may very well go higher than that for the simple fact that there are so few quality guards in this class.

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