Bears

Hub Arkush’s 2022 NFL draft positional preview: Interior offensive line

Texas A&M offensive lineman Kenyon Green lines up against Auburn on Nov. 6, 2021 in College Station, Texas.

There is quality and depth on the interior of the offensive line in this year’s draft class. Tyler Linderbaum is the best center prospect we’ve seen in at least five or six years, and there should be a handful of future quality starters at guard available well into the third round, possibly even on Day 3.

Pure center prospects are a special breed. But other than at left tackle, guards and tackles have become somewhat interchangeable these days with so many varied zone-blocking schemes. Some of our top guard prospects will end up at right tackle at the next level, and some of the top tackles we’ve rated will play guard in the NFL.

For purposes of draft projections, we are listing and evaluating these young men at the position they played predominantly in college.

DAY 1 PROSPECTS

1. C Tyler Linderbaum, Iowa (6-2, 296, redshirt junior)

This young man is a bit undersized but such an accomplished athlete and technician we believe he will be the rare center drafted in the first round. Like a lot of great centers, he was also a wrestler growing up and brings that aggression and competitiveness to every snap. He’s not for every offense, and lack of size could be an issue with monster nose tackles, but he’ll be a stud in the right schemes.

2. G Kenyon Green, Texas A&M (6-3¾, 323, junior)

Green played some tackle and guard at A&M but could be special at guard at the next level. He’s an NFL-ready run mauler right now and will need some work in pass protection, but all the tools are there. Green has a great lower body and tremendous raw power. If he wants it bad enough – and there’s no indication he doesn’t – his ceiling is very high.

3. G Zion Johnson, Boston College (6-3, 312, senior)

How many great inside guys have come out of BC? Johnson looks to be the next in line with great intangibles and leadership skills to match with his thick, solid base and huge wingspan for a guy at 6-3. If he gets his hands on you, you may be toast. He’ll need some work handling stunts from quicker and more athletic defensive tackles. He has played some tackle but definitely belongs inside.

DAY 2 PROSPECTS

4. G Jamaree Salyer, Georgia (6-3, 321, senior)

I’m higher on this kid than most because I love Salyer’s frame/size and versatility, having played all five spots along the line. He’s “country strong,” one of my favorite traits for guards and right tackles, and has surprisingly good feet for a guy whose legs look like tree trunks. There are warts to work out, but he’s an NFL-ready guard.

5. G Cole Strange, Chattanooga (6-5, 307, redshirt senior)

Strange isn’t the bruiser Johnson and Salyer are and has a different frame, but he’s an excellent athlete for his size and really sound in his technique. He’s got that nasty you want in your offensive linemen and excellent hands once he gets them on you. If he adds 10 pounds of muscle without losing any agility, he could be really interesting.

6. G/T Darian Kinnard, Kentucky (6-5, 322, senior)

Predominantly a tackle at Kentucky, but I see him inside, a decent athlete but not the fastest or most nimble guy we’ll ever see. He can maul with the best of them, however, and he may have the longest arms and biggest hands in this draft. He has great tools anywhere along the offensive line. Gets by more on sheer size and power than technique, which makes his upside that much more interesting.

7. G Dylan Parham, Memphis (6-3, 311, junior)

Parham is a pure guard with OK-but-not-great size, but he played a lot of football at Memphis and was successful in the run game. He could become a solid 10-year starter in the league without ever getting noticed that much.

8. G/T Luke Goedeke, Central Michigan (6-5, 312, senior)

He’s a former tight end with the temperament of a street fighter who tries to bury opponents after blocking them. Goedeke has decent strength and surprising athleticism for a man his size. Played mostly tackle for the Chippewas but better suited inside at the next level.

DAY 3 PROSPECTS

9. C Cameron Jurgens, Nebraska (6-3, 307, redshirt junior)

10. G Logan Bruss, Wisconsin (6-5, 309, redshirt senior)

11. C Luke Fortner, Kentucky (6-4, 3017, redshirt senior)

12. G Sean Rhyan, UCLA (6-5, 321, junior)

13. C/G Chasen Hines, LSU (6-3, 327, senior)

14. G Justin Shaffer, Georgia (6-4, 314, senior)

15. C Zach Tom, Wake Forest (6- 4, 304, redshirt senior)

16. G Joshua Ezeudu, North Carolina (6-4, 308, redshirt junior)

17. G Spencer Burford, UTSA (6-4, 304, senior)

18. G Spencer Burford, UTSA (6-4, 304, Senior)

Previous entries in this series

Quarterback

Running back

Wide receiver

Tight end

Offensive tackle

Hub Arkush

Hub Arkush

Hub Arkush is the Senior Bears Analyst for Shaw Local News Network and ShawLocal.com.