Friday, July 5, 2013
Ranking the SEC offensive linemen
By Chris Low
Now that you’ve seen how we ranked the offensive lines as a unit in the SEC, here’s a look at the league’s top 10 offensive linemen for the 2013 season.
Cyrus Kouandjio is already being viewed as a top NFL prospect.
1. Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Jr., Alabama: There's no shortage of tackle talent in the SEC. The 6-foot-6, 310-pound Kouandjio has just scraped the surface of how good he can be and has the frame, footwork and ferocity to be a franchise left tackle. He started in all 13 games last season and returns as the centerpiece of that Alabama line.
2. Jake Matthews, OT, Sr., Texas A&M: Had he left for the NFL draft last year, Matthews would have been a first-round pick, maybe a top-15 pick. Extremely polished and equally talented, Matthews is making the move to left tackle to fill Luke Joeckel's old spot, which means Johnny Manziel's blind side will again be well protected.
3. Antonio “Tiny” Richardson, OT, Jr., Tennessee: Guys who are 6-foot-6 and 325 pounds aren't supposed to be able to move the way Richardson can. The Vols' massive left tackle made a name for himself last season with the job he did on both Jarvis Jones and Jadeveon Clowney.
4. Gabe Jackson, OG, RSr., Mississippi State: The top guard in the SEC going into the season, the 6-foot-4, 335-pound Jackson is a true road-grader. He combines size, power and strength and has been a fixture at left guard for the Bulldogs since his redshirt freshman season.
5. Ja’Wuan James, OT, Sr., Tennessee: He's the "other" tackle at Tennessee and an excellent player in his own right. At 6-foot-6 and 323 pounds, James has started in every game at right tackle for the Vols since stepping onto campus as a true freshman in 2010.
6. Travis Swanson, C, RSr., Arkansas: What sets the 6-foot-5, 305-pound Swanson apart is his mobility and the way he can move. He's one of the top centers in the country and has started all 38 games of his Arkansas career. The Hogs will lean heavily on him this season.
7. Zach Fulton, OG, Sr., Tennessee: Yep, another Tennessee offensive lineman on the list. Fulton hasn't received the same notoriety as Richardson or James, but he's a rock-solid 6-foot-4, 324-pound guard who has everything it takes to play a long time in the NFL.
8. Wesley Johnson, OT, RSr., Vanderbilt: Talk to Vanderbilt offensive line coach Herb Hand for a few minutes, and it's obvious what Johnson has meant to Vanderbilt's program. He returns as the Commodores' left tackle, but has started everywhere but right guard during his career. He's never been called for a holding penalty.
9. Anthony Steen, OG, RSr., Alabama: One of two returning starters for the Tide up front, the 6-foot-3, 309-pound Steen was as underrated as any player on Alabama's team last season. There's a reason he got a third-round NFL draft grade. He's consistent, tough and wins a lot more battles than he loses from his right guard spot.
10. A.J. Cann, OG, RJr., South Carolina: Having started 25 games over the past two seasons, the 6-foot-4, 314-pound Cann is back at left guard and coming off a terrific offseason. He's equally effective as a run-blocker and pass-protector and a big reason the Gamecocks should have one of their best lines under Steve Spurrier.