The final group for the offense in my final position rankings for the 2023 NFL draft: the interior offensive linemen. Before the season started, this group looked to be strong at center and weak at guard. However, there are a number of tackles who project to guard in the NFL, and a few guards who stepped up this season, so that seems to have switched.
With this group, since the NFL sees a lot of theses guys interchangeable, I will be listing guards and centers in the same group. Be sure to check out my previous mid-season rankings, and if you want to check out the draft database that I help update almost daily, you can find it at risendraft.
2023 NFL Draft Interior Offensive linemen: 1-5
- Peter Skoronski, Northwestern: Skoronski has been a really good college left tackle. His technique and his athleticism stand out, but his short arms are a worry. They were measured in at 32 1/4″, which is below the minimum accepted threshold for the NFL. Very rarely does a guy make it as a good tackle in the NFL with short arms like that. His potential is higher at guard than at tackle. With how much of a passing league it is now, he could be a Pro Bowl guard.
- Ricky Stromberg, Arkansas: Stromberg is everything you look for in a center. He is big, strong, mobile, and smart. He can even play some guard. He was a starter there in 2019. For a center, his arm length is solid at 33 1/4″. His hand placement and technique are really good. No sacks and just 11 hurries given up this season.
- O’Cyrus Torrence, Florida: Torrence transferred from University of Louisiana- Lafayette. He is a mountain of a man at 6’5, 330 pounds. He has gotten better every year, and the jump from Sun Belt to SEC didn’t seemed to phase him at all. Reportedly, he had been close to 400 pounds early in his career; but he’s really dropped a lot of weight in the last 12-18 months, his weight will need to be monitored. Still, even at his size he has been really good in both the pass and the run.
- Cody Mauch, North Dakota State: Mauch is in a similar situation to Skoronski, in that he played tackle in college, but because of his arm length and demeanor he will end up playing guard in the NFL. He was very good at NDSU, only giving up two sacks in his career. Mauch plays with a mauler’s mentality, but also has 32 3/8″ arms. Put those two together and you got a killer guard. It may take him a year to adjust to the competition jump and position change.
- John Michael Schmitz, Minnesota: Schmitz has been a three-year starter at Minnesota and has been there for six seasons, so he is on the older side. He will be a 24-year-old rookie. The former Gopher only allowed two sacks in his career, allowing just a total of 15 hurries in five plus seasons. He’s not the biggest or strongest or most athletic, but he is a very good all-around blocker. Dependable.
Best of the Rest 6-10
6. Jon Gaines II, UCLA: Gaines has been one of the biggest risers this season. His first four seasons he was okay. He would show flashes here and there, but didn’t look like someone who would get drafted. Gaines really improved by leaps and bounds in 2022, and a lot of it had to do with UCLA’s new offensive line coach. He really showed his athleticism at the combine with a 9.63 RAS. Gaines can play both guard and center.
7. Nick Broeker, Mississippi: Broeker started out playing left tackle his first three season at Ole Miss. He had been projected as a guard in the NFL for what seems forever. They finally moved him inside this past season. He looks less exposed and better fit at guard, and didn’t allow a sack. There was still an adjustment early in the season to the move. He has flashed his athleticism on pulls and blocking on the second level. He still has some work to do as a run blocker, but he has the size (6’4, 305 pounds) and upside to be a really good one.
8. Jordan McFadden, Clemson: This seems to be a Clemson thing: to put guys who are obviously guards at left tackle. He has consistently played well since 2019, except for giving up four sacks this past season. We haven’t seen massive growth from him, but that is probably from him playing out of position. For being just 6’2 he has long arms (34″) and could be an injury fill-in at tackle in the NFL. He should be a solid all-around player in the NFL.
9. Steve Avila, TCU: Avila is one of the biggest centers out there at 6’3 1/2 and 332 pounds, and very strong. He became a starter in 2020 and hasn’t looked back. An ultimate team player, he switched to guard this season; to his credit he has had his best overall season, not giving up any sacks. The question has become is center really his future position? Or should he be a guard?
10. Jaylon Thomas, SMU: Thomas is a guy who hasn’t gotten much, if any, national media hype — but he deserves it. He has the size at 6’3, 317 pounds and athleticism (5.2 range) to be a very good guard at the NFL level. He has allowed nine sacks in his career, but five were as a true freshman and just one in the last two seasons combined. Thomas has finally found the consistency he needed this current season. Also, the current Mustang is probably one of the most versatile linemen in the draft. He has started at every position on the line. Mostly left tackle and right tackle.
2023 NFL Draft Interior Offensive Linemen Honorable Mentions:
Antonio Mafi-UCLA, McClendon Curtis-Chattanooga, Sidy Sow-Eastern Michigan, Joe Tippman-Wisconsin, Luke Wypler-OSU, Nick Saldiveri-Old Dominion