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2016 NFL Draft rankings: Top 10 interior linemen

Ranking the top 10 interior linemen in this year's NFL Draft class.

Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports
1. Cody Whitehair (Kansas State) | 6-foot-4, 301 pounds

Whitehair has played both tackle and guard for Kansas State during his four-year career. He started in 51 of his 52 career games, including the final two years at left tackle. Many, including myself, believe that Whitehair is capable of playing all five positions on the O-line as long as he can gain some extra muscle. His best position is going to be at guard due to his petite stature and short arms, however, his quickness and movement skills are unparalleled. Same goes for his understanding of the game, showing the ability to keep his head on a swivel and pick up stunts with ease.

2. Joshua Garnett (Stanford) | 6-foot-4, 312 pounds

Josh Garnett is the most physical, "in your face" blocker in this class. He imposes his will on his assignments and once he gets his hands inside and latches onto you in the run game, you're getting a face full of Mother Earth. Garnett has a powerful punch in pass protection and holds his anchor strong and early, although he does tend to have a bad habit of overextending and lowering his head at times.

3. Nick Martin (Notre Dame) | 6-foot-4, 299 pounds

The next two players on this list are the top two centers in the class. While Ryan Kelly may be the best pure center prospect out there, I like Martin more because of his capability of playing all along the interior of the line. He started 10 games at left guard in 2014 while the rest of his career was spent at center for the Irish. A season ending knee injury will surely cause teams to double check on his health, as he hasn't exactly matched his explosiveness since then. If everything checks out, expect Martin to win a starting job along some team's offensive line sooner rather than later.

4. Ryan Kelly (Alabama) | 6-foot-4, 311 pounds

As previously mentioned, Ryan Kelly is the best pure center prospect in this class and he'll likely be off the board early Day 2 (Lions, perhaps?). Kelly is a plus-athlete with a great understanding of technique and fundamentals. He's constantly firing low off the snap, squaring his hips and gaining leverage to wipe defenders out in the run game, though his overzealous approach can get the best of him at times, as he'll occasionally take himself out of the play.

5. Christian Westerman (Arizona State) | 6-foot-3, 298 pounds

Westerman is tremendously undersized for a guard, but he more than makes up for it with his plus-athleticism and brute strength at the point of attack. I can see teams willing to draft him as a guard with the option to start at center as well due to his size and he will be a very nice fit for any run scheme. Westerman exhibits top-notch foot quickness and explosiveness out of his set when pulling and consistently locks onto his targets in the second level.

6. Connor McGovern (Missouri) | 6-foot-4, 306 pounds

Connor McGovern is a weight room warrior and a supreme athlete as made evident by his top-tier combine numbers. I absolutely love his upside and believe that most of his concerns are easily correctable. Much like his former teammate Mitch Morse, McGovern will make the transition from tackle to guard in the NFL. His biggest negative right now are his hands, as he gets into far too many hand fights rather than latching on and controlling. If McGovern can correct a few other bad habits, I see no reason why he can't develop into a very efficient starter down the road.

7. Spencer Drango (Baylor) | 6-foot-6, 315 pounds

Medical checks will be huge for Drango's stock after undergoing back surgery in 2013, but if all is well, it will be hard for teams to pass up on his beastly frame. Drango's size can be overwhelming for defenders because of his dominance when engaged. Though he's spent most of his time at left tackle for the Bears, Drango's best position in the NFL will be at guard. Drango's height can also cause problems for him at times, as it hampers his ability to get low and gain leverage, leaving his chest exposed and allowing defenders to push him back in the pocket.

8. Landon Turner (North Carolina) | 6-foot-4, 330 pounds

Landon Turner's spider graph tells you nearly all you need to know about him. He carries around a lot of weight in that midsection of his and clearly lacks explosiveness and athleticism on tape, which will limit him to playing RG in the NFL. But turn on his tape against Duke last year and you'll see exactly why he made this list. I counted up at least five pancakes in that game alone. Turner, like Josh Garnett, is a physical mauler in the run game, but his struggles in pass protection will likely see his stock fall to the late Day 2/early Day 3 range.

9. Jack Allen (Michigan State) | 6-foot-1, 294 pounds

Welp, you can't teach height, and Jack Allen will be the shortest center to play in the NFL in recent memory. Normally I wouldn't even consider a player draftable at that stature, but Jack Allen is a special breed. As a former high school wrestler, Allen is your quintessential "lunch pail" player and is a natural when in the trenches. He makes up for his physical limitations with his technique, competitive attitude and leadership.

10. Vadal Alexander (LSU) | 6-foot-5, 326 pounds

I'm not as enamored with Vadal's skillset as others, but I do believe that, without a doubt, his best shot in the NFL is to move inside. Despite starting at RT for the Tigers, Alexander is a very poor athlete and I'm not sure if his move inside will mitigate enough of his negatives to make him an effective starter at the next level. On the flip side, Alexander does have a great build for the guard position and his long arms and enormous hands give him an advantage when engaged, but for whatever reason he's unable to sustain blocks for as long as you'd hope.


2016 Positional Rankings: Quarterback, running back, wide receiver, tight endoffensive tackle

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