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2017 NFL draft offensive line rankings: A bad year for blockers

Ryan Ramczyk is the draft’s best tackle but may not be a top 10 pick.

NCAA Football: Cotton Bowl-Wisconsin vs Western Michigan Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

In most years offensive line rankings would be broken down by position. But with it being a down year for tackles, guards, and centers, we combined them all into one. Suffice to say, it’s not a good year to need an offensive lineman in the NFL draft.

Unless Wisconsin Ryan Ramczyk goes higher than expected, this could be the first year since 1987 where an offensive tackle doesn’t get taken in the first 15 picks. The positional value might push him up, but otherwise he grades out as more of a player in the 20s. That’s not a huge knock on Ramczyk. He’s a good player who just happens to not be elite in any particular area and his experience is limited.

The same can be said for Utah’s Garett Bolles. He offers a lot, especially as a pass blocker, but he played just a season at Utah and will be 25 as a rookie. Alabama’s Cam Robinson should be the top tackle, but he never developed as a pass blocker as expected.

There are two guards this year — Forrest Lamp of Western Kentucky and Dan Feeney of Indiana — who should be top-50 picks. Lamp is a lock for the first round, in fact. But after them, the talent at guard is thin. The same can be said for center. Ohio State’s Pat Elflein is the clear standout player, but it’s hard to get excited about much after him.

OFFENSIVE TACKLE

1. Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin

Meet the latest Wisconsin blocking product. As is the case with most Badgers offensive linemen, Ramczyk enters the NFL with sound technique both with his hands and feet. In pass protection, Ramczyk has quick enough feet to slide out and take care of speed rushers. He neutralized future first-round pick Arden Key of LSU, who is as speedy of a speed rusher as you’ll find. Against power rushers, Ramczyk does a good job of maintaining his balance and keeping his feet under him. He shuffles his feet better than any blocker in this class and it helps him mirror pass rushers on the outside. Spin moves just don’t seem to work on Ramczyk at all.

In the run game, Ramczyk plays with good power and keeps his head up when contact is initiated. Many blockers lower their head and lose sight of the defender. Ramczyk is comfortable staying in his area and letting run stoppers come to him, but he can also get out and move. Started just a season at Wisconsin. Suffered a torn labrum in his hip that kept him out of offseason workouts.

2. Garett Bolles, OT, Utah

Bolles is the most athletic offensive lineman in this year’s draft, and he combines that with a nasty demeanor. Those traits are what makes him not only a first-round pick but a player who should start straight away as a rookie. Bolles is quick to get into his set and he has the footwork of a skill-position player. A big, plodding lineman he is not. Bolles uses his athleticism to neutralize speed on the edge, stunts to the inside, and to pick up late blitzes. As a pass blocker he’s as pro ready as you can get.

At the NFL Scouting Combine Bolles said he wants to be a “nasty prick” and that’s a good way to describe him as a run blocker. On run plays he’ll drive opponents backward and finish. Bolles will block through the whistle and don’t be shocked when he gets into fights on the field because he gets under the skin of defenders. The bad with Bolles is lack of experience with just a year at an FBS school and his age (he’ll be 25 as a rookie).

3. Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama

Although he’s not quite as big, Robinson’s playing style is similar in many ways to former Crimson Tide blocker D.J. Fluker. Robinson is a physical offensive tackle who started three seasons at left tackle for Alabama. There he utilized his power and physical blocking style to engulf defenders and take them out of plays. Power rushers who have little more than a bull rush are easy targets for Robinson. Speed can give Robinson trouble. He doesn’t always maintain a good base and when a speed rusher can catch him off balance, Robinson can be run around.

If you watch him against Myles Garrett — the draft’s top player — you’d think Robinson would be a top-five pick. However, his inconsistency as a pass blocker is holding him back. There’s enough to develop with him to think he can be a left tackle in the NFL if he pushes himself.

4. Dion Dawkins, OT/G, Temple

Some teams will be considering Dawkins a guard while others will leave him at offensive tackle where he started 39 games for Temple. Dawkins is a solid athlete with long arms, so I’m keeping him at tackle. Against speed rushers, Dawkins shows a good kickslide to stop speed players and is comfortable in space without any help blocks. Dawkins’ footwork is good. Where he needs to work is his hands. He can be all over the place with his hands and needs to tighten up his technique.

5. Antonio Garcia, OT, Troy

If teams are looking for a fleet-of-foot blocker who will fit in a zone system, it’s Garcia. He moves freely when going laterally and maintains his balance better than most while on the move. He can mirror edge rushers nicely and has the quickness to engage and not let them past him. When a play works back to the inside, his foot quickness takes over to put him in good position. Garcia may not be a great fit in a power-run system because he’s more of a finesse blocker.

6. Taylor Moton, OT, Western Michigan

There’s value in the right tackle, and Moton should show it on draft weekend. Making 39 of his 52 starts at right tackle, Moton is a solid athlete who can be a devastating run blocker. He plays with a lot of power and will simply stonewall defenders. He’s probably going to stay on the right side because his kickslide in pass protection can leave him susceptible to quick inside moves. Moton will at times be caught off balance, which neutralizes his power.

Best of the rest:

7. Roderick Johnson, OT, Florida State

8. Adam Bisnowaty, OT, Pittsburgh

9. Julie’n Davenport, OT, Bucknell

10. Avery Gennesy, OT, Texas A&M

11. Zach Banner, OT, Southern California

12. Conor McDermott, OT, UCLA

13. Erik Magnuson, OT, Michigan

14. Dan Skipper, OT, Arkansas

15. Justin Senior, OT, Mississippi State

16. Collin Buchanan, OT, Miami (Ohio)

GUARD

1. Forrest Lamp, G/OT, Western Kentucky

Get your Zack Martin and Joel Bitonio comparisons ready. Like those two, Lamp will make the transition from experienced college left tackle to NFL guard. The only thing pushing Lamp inside is shorter-than-ideal arm length. Lamp is a technically perfect blocker. That especially shows in the run game where he knows how to get low and use leverage and power to his advantage. Has a really good punch to jolt defenders backward in the run game.

At left tackle, Lamp showed he’s a good athlete for the position. He handled speed rushers pretty well thanks to a quick kickslide that helps him counter not only outside speed, but also rushers who like to spin inside. Lamp has quick feet to shuffle around and maintains his balance on contact. As a pro he’ll have to get used to blocking in tighter space and could get a little better as a drive blocker in the run game.

2. Dan Feeney, G, Indiana

Although he doesn’t have a lot of experience on the left side, Feeney offers much of the same as Lamp. Playing the majority of his college career at right guard, Feeney is a powerful blocker who has good handwork. Also like Lamp, he knows how to get low in his set and get the proper body positioning to get underneath defenders. Feeney plays with a good mean streak and can get physical in the run game. He’s a good zone blocker thanks to his quick feet and ability to read and understand proper angles.

3. Dorian Johnson, G, Pittsburgh

There’s just something to like about no-nonsense, consistent blockers. That’s Johnson. Starting 42 games mostly at left guard for Pittsburgh, Johnson was consistently very good and has the power and length teams covet in a guard. If you want a drive blocker in a power scheme, Johnson is your man. He maintains a good base and when he gets his hands latched on and his feet moving Johnson can obliterate defensive tackles. He can get out on the move fairly well, but his aggressive playing style can get the better of him when he targets a defender in space.

Best of the rest:

4. Nico Siragusa, G, San Diego State

5. Damien Mama, G, Southern California

6. Isaac Asiata, G, Utah7. Danny Isidora, G, Miami

8. Jermaine Eluemunor, G, Texas A&M

9. Jordan Morgan, G, Kutztown

10. Kyle Kalis, G, Michigan

CENTER

1. Pat Elflein, C/G, Ohio State

Elflein started 42 games at Ohio State, and took over the coveted center spot as a senior. As a pro, Elflein should make an immediate impact as a starter at either position. At just under 6’3 and 303 pounds, Elflein has the build of an interior blocker. He’s not too tall that he loses leverage, but he has good enough length to keep defenders out of his pads.

The first thing you notice with Elflein is how aggressive he is with his hands. A former wrestler, Elflein can use his upper body strength to push defenders around and has a nasty demeanor to drive tackles into the ground. As a run blocker, Elflein can handle himself in one-on-one situations and should immediately boost a team’s play in that area. Speed will sometimes give him an issue because Elflein’s footwork is good but not great. If he wants to stay at center, Elflein will have to be more consistent with his snaps. Coaches will love Elflein’s aggressive nature and leadership. Called the line protections at Ohio State. Won the Rimington Trophy in 2016 as college football’s top center.

2. Ethan Pocic, C, LSU

At 6’6 and 310 pounds, Pocic would be one of the taller centers in the NFL if the stays at the position. Pocic’s height will cause him to lose some leverage battles and he doesn’t always stay low when he gets moving. Started 27 games at center at LSU but also has experience at guard and tackle. Some teams may look at Pocic as a versatile player who can line up anywhere on the line.

Pocic is an easy mover in space and will target and block defenders on the second level. His ability to change direction and move makes him scheme versatile. He plays with good power and when he engages a block he can be hard to shake. Plays with good patience and doesn’t get overaggressive as a run blocker. Made the line calls at LSU and voted a team captain.

Best of the rest:

3. Tyler Orlosky, C, West Virginia

4. Jon Toth, C, Kentucky

5. Chad Wheeler, C, Southern California

6. Chase Roullier, C, Wyoming