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NFL Draft Prospect Rankings: Interior offensive line

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 04 Big Ten Championship Game - Michigan v Iowa Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Teams looking for guards, centers and tackles in the 2022 NFL Draft will be very pleased with the wide range of talent this class has to offer. For the interior offensive line, there are quite a few top 50 types and one especially elite player that sit atop this year’s group. Here are the best centers and guards in this year’s class. Some college tackles are projected to the inside due to physical abilities and fit.

PREVIOUS POSITION RANKINGS: Quarterback | Wide receiver | Running back | Tight end | Offensive tackle.

Tyler Linderbaum, Iowa, 6’2”, 296 Pounds

What he does well: Tyler Linderbaum has as clean a game at center as any prospect that has come out in the last few years. Travis Frederick comes to mind in terms of centers that were so obviously stars coming out of the college level. Linderbaum is a great mover with great awareness in the open field. He is a technically consistent pass blocker and his wrestling background is obvious when he is working in the run game. His blend of consistency, demeanor and athleticism is exactly the type of player that should be in the middle of an offensive line.

Where he can improve: Sitting under 300 pounds, there is concern that bigger interior defenders will push him around in the NFL. Linderbaum is strong for his size, but might need to put on some good weight in the pros to avoid being overpowered by defensive tackles.

NFL Comparison: Jason Kelce

Kenyon Green, Texas A&M, 6’4”, 323 Pounds

What he does well: Kenyon Green is a well built guard who has no problem using his size, length and strength to push around defenders. He is a road-grading run blocker and a true tone setting offensive lineman. He has all the physical and mental tools to thrive in a power running game.

Where he can improve: Green is a solid, but not spectacular athlete. His lack of quickness would be offset with better instincts as a pass blocker, but that is still a place where Green can improve. Green has highlight blocks in the passing game that show he can dominate when he is on, but finding that on button regularly will be how he thrives in the NFL.

NFL Comparison: Kelechi Osemele

Darian Kinnard, Kentucky, 6’5”, 322 Pounds

What he does well: Darian Kinnard is one of the most experienced, most celebrated offensive linemen in Kentucky’s football history. Kinnard started 39 consecutive games, including a first team All-American campaign in 2021. Kinnard played tackle in college and used his length, strength and nasty play style to catalyze a resurgent Kentucky team the last few years. Kinnard has the experience and mentality you want in a college lineman.

Where he can improve: Lack of foot quickness will push Kinnard inside to guard in the NFL where he will need to adjust to playing in a phone booth and improving his pad level. Kinnard makes up for his average athleticism with technique, which will need to be even better in the league so he can get hands on defenders and erase them from the equation.

NFL Comparison: Cody Ford

Jamaree Salyer, Georgia, 6’3”, 321 Pounds

What he does well: UGA’s defense gets all the shine, but you do not win a national title without some competence on the other side of the ball. The Bulldogs offense put points up in 2021 thanks to their solid offensive line play. Jamaree Salyer led that offensive line effort, starting at right tackle for 11 games but sliding inside and thriving where the team needed him to. Salyer has played all five offensive line positions to some success. He is a big, mean presence inside and teams will love his versatility and physicality.

Where he can improve: Salyer knows he is a big guy and tends to want to use that size before anything else. Shoring up his technique and reeling in his instinct to treat every snap like a wrestling match will help him become a consistent contributor in any offensive.

NFL Comparison: James Carpenter

Thayer Munford, Ohio State, 6’6”, 328 Pounds

What he does well: Thayer Munford saw a ton of starting time at Ohio State, playing well at guard and tackle over the course of his career. His long arms, strong hands helped him handle Big 10 interior defenders in 2021, especially when it came to pass protection. His ability to take pass rushers out of the equation was a major part in Ohio State’s passing game success.

Where he can improve: At guard, Munford still needs to learn how to bring it in the run game. His height puts him at a disadvantage gaining leverage against defensive tackles and he will need to improve pad level and drive off the ball to become a bigger factor as a run blocker.

NFL Comparison: Isaac Seumalo

Tyler Smith, Tulsa, 6’4”, 324 Pounds

What he does well: Tyler Smith is among the best athletes in this class, especially along the offensive line. Smith’s speed, get off, and strength at the position is a sight to see. Meld that with his on-field attitude and the makings of a guard are all there.

Where he can improve: Smith has much to learn in terms of being a technician and he lets his aggressive playing style get ahead of doing the right thing at the right time. That being said, teams will see Smith as a great bet and he could go very high in this draft.

NFL Comparison: JR Sweezy

Chris Paul, Tulsa, 6’3”, 323 Pounds

What he does well: Much like his teammate, Tyler Smith, Chris Paul is a phenomenal athlete. His athleticism had Tulsa playing him at tackle but he fits much better in at guard. His stout build would fare well inside and he looked much more comfortable coming downhill than operating laterally. Notably high character and well liked in the locker room.

Where he can improve: His move to guard is a bit of a projection, and coming from Tulsa where he would win with his physical tools, he will need to develop his technique as a pass protector at the pro level. Paul should wow teams with his upside and character, convincing them he is worth developing.

NFL Comparison: Austin Corbett