August 22, 2010

Preseason power rankings: Interior linemen


Here is part three of our preseason power rankings at each position.

We will update the power rankings each week during the regular season and release the final rankings for the season after the BCS title game.

The rating of a player and coach can fluctuate each week during the season depending on how they fared the previous week, but the power rankings measure overall career performances as well as their most recent results.

Here are the nation's top 20 interior offensive linemen. Next up: offensive tackles.


1. G Rodney Hudson, Florida State (6-2/282, Sr.)
BUZZ: Hudson will be a four-year starter for the Seminoles and heads what should be one of the nation's 10-best lines.

2. G Justin Boren, Ohio State (6-3/320, Sr.)
BUZZ: Boren, who began his career at Michigan, is a mauler in the middle of the line for the Buckeyes, whose line still could stand to get more physical. He is a punishing run blocker.

3. G Andrew Jackson, Fresno State (6-5/295, Sr.)
BUZZ: Jackson will be a four-year starter and should be a three-time All-WAC pick. The Bulldogs are a physical running team and Jackson is a great fit for that offense. Coach Pat Hill has said Jackson might be the best lineman in his 11-season tenure at the school.

4. C Mike Pouncey, Florida (6-4/310, Sr.)
BUZZ: He's a road-grader with a mean streak, and will be the second consecutive Pouncey to start at center for the Gators; his twin, Maurkice, was a three-year starter and was a first-round pick by Pittsburgh. Mike was a starting guard the past two seasons who moved into the middle during spring drills.

5. G Stefen Wisniewski, Penn State (6-3/297, Sr.)
BUZZ: Wisniewski has developed into a dominant blocker and may be the most versatile lineman in the nation. In 2008, Wisniewski was a second-team All-Big Ten guard. He switched to center last season and was a consensus All-Big Ten selection. He's back at guard this season.

6. C Colin Baxter, Arizona (6-4/295, Sr.)
BUZZ: Baxter has made 37 consecutive starts and is the anchor of a line that last season allowed just 13 sacks. The Wildcats had a productive quarterback, four receivers with more than 40 catches and two breakaway running backs, yet Baxter was named the team's offensive MVP last fall.

7. G John Moffitt, Wisconsin (6-5/323, Sr.)
BUZZ: He was a consensus first-team All-Big Ten choice in 2009, and is cut from the true road-grader Wisconsin mold. Last fall, he started eight games at left guard and two at center - where he spent all of 2008 - after missing the first two contests with injury. He will be a key part of what should be one of the nation's top two or three lines this season.

8. C Kris O'Dowd, USC (6-5/300, Sr.)
BUZZ: If not for a long injury history, O'Dowd would be much higher on this list. He's technically sound and has good strength. He started just seven games last season because of shoulder and knee injuries, and has been healthy for a full season just once in his career.

9. G Zach Hurd, Connecticut (6-7/323, Sr.)
BUZZ: Hurd is a huge presence in the middle of a physical UConn front. He is heading into his third season as a starter for a Huskies team whose offense is based on its ground attack.

10. C Jake Kirkpatrick, TCU (6-3/305, Sr.)
BUZZ: Kirkpatrick blossomed last season, his first as a starter. He sets the blocking scheme on every play for the Horned Frogs, who have a big, physical line.

11. G Carl Johnson, Florida (6-5/355, Sr.)
BUZZ: Johnson settled in as a full-time starter at guard last season. He also has played at center and tackle for the Gators, but his size and brawler attitude fits best at guard. He is a huge man and blows people up in the running game.

12. G Stephen Schilling, Michigan (6-5/308, Sr.)
BUZZ: The Wolverines may have struggled the past two seasons, but Schilling has played at a consistently high level. He will be a four-year starter for the Wolverines; the first two of those were at tackle before he moved inside last season.

13. G Thomas Claiborne, Boston College (6-3/325, Sr.)
BUZZ: This third-year starter could be the next player to continue BC's tradition of sending interior linemen to the NFL. He earned second-team All-ACC honors in 2008 and opened enough holes to help Montel Harris rush for 1,457 yards last season.

14. G David DeCastro, Stanford (6-5/310, Soph.)
BUZZ: DeCastro took over as Stanford's starting right guard as a redshirt freshman last year and earned honorable mention All-Pac-10 honors. He opened up plenty of holes for Heisman runner-up Toby Gerhart last season and helped Stanford give up just seven sacks.

15. G Nate Potter, Boise State (6-6/293, Jr.)
BUZZ: After earning first-team All-WAC honors as a left tackle last season, Potter is moving to left guard this year. Potter is making the switch because Boise State has more depth at tackle than at guard. Potter's presence last season helped Boise State allow just five sacks, the lowest total in the nation.

16. G Caleb Schlauderaff, Utah (6-4/302, Sr.)
BUZZ: Schlauderaff earned a job as Utah's starting left guard as a redshirt freshman and has remained there ever since. He recorded a team-high 46 pancake blocks during the regular season in Utah's perfect 2008 campaign. He earned second-team All-Mountain West honors last year. He's been an academic All-MWC performer each of the past three seasons.

17. G Barrett Jones, Alabama (6-5/301, Soph.)
BUZZ: Jones started each of Alabama's 14 games at right guard last season while opening up holes for Heisman winner Mark Ingram. He followed up a productive redshirt freshman season with an equally productive offseason, as he spent spring break in Haiti helping earthquake victims.

18. C Chase Beeler, Stanford (6-3/285, Sr.)
BUZZ: During Beeler's two years in Stanford's starting lineup, the Cardinal have posted their two highest single-season rushing totals in school history. The Oklahoma transfer played left guard in 2008 before finding a home at center last season.

19. C Sean Bedford, Georgia Tech (6-1/281, Sr.)
BUZZ: This former walk-on earned first-team All-ACC honors last season while helping Georgia Tech rank second in the nation with 295.4 rushing yards per game. The hard-working Bedford is equally tenacious in the classroom: He majors in aerospace engineering.

20. C Ryan McMahon, Florida State (6-5/284, Sr.)
BUZZ: McMahon has made 39 consecutive starts over the past three seasons. He has committed just six penalties during his career. McMahon, who already has his economics degree, is the first two-time winner of the Crenshaw Award, given annually to the Florida State player with the biggest heart.

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