Coming off one of the best interior offensive line classes I've ever scouted, we were due for a drop-off in 2019. Eight months out from the draft, that is exactly what it appears we'll get. The SEC probably has better interior offensive line prospects than most conferences, but still nobody that I would consider in the first or even early second round range.
There is potential with several members of the group however, and a few starters could still come from the conference. There's a couple players I still want to watch that I think could work their way into this group, but for now, these are my top 5 draft-eligible SEC interior offensive linemen.
1. Garrett Brumfield, Senior, LSU
Offensive linemen who play with an edge, talk trash and look to finish their opponents hold a special place in my heart. If a player can not only accept the physicality of the game, especially on the offensive line, but actually thrive in it, their chances to succeed go up significantly.
It also helps that Brumfield is a terrific athlete, sporting a frame and movement skills that not many guards can offer. His upside is significant, but his tape has some ups-and-downs because his technique is still finding its' way. I think Brumfield has top 60 potential, but this is a big year for him to make that leap. The smart decision was to go back to school, and now all eyes will be on the LSU senior to see if he can polish up his game for the NFL level.
2. Lester Cotton, Senior, Alabama
Cotton is gonna get sooooo many Gabe Jackson comparisons, which is very fair considering the two players' similarities. Both are finishers who play nasty and have incredible grip strength and power, but issues in pass protection manifest themselves at times too.
Cotton isn't ideal in space, and is going to struggle against quicker techniques in the NFL. If he can find an archaic offense like Mike Mularkey's, or even some of the stuff Jacksonville does, he would be a top 100 lock. But the fit will be important for Cotton, as his lack of athleticism will probably always leave something to be desired on the field.
3. Darryl Williams, Junior, Mississippi State
Williams is a smaller version of Cotton, with maybe a little bit more mobility. He won't wow you as an athlete, but when his hands are inside, Williams consistently shows the ability to create torque and maneuever his opponent out of gaps.
I'm sure speed and quickness on the interior will challenge him in the NFL, as he isn't the most laterally agile blocker. At 6-foot-2, 305 pounds, a lot of the physicals tools like length and size aren't there, but Williams is still plenty powerful. I'm not sure he has the profile to enter the draft as a junior, but I'm a fan of his game.
4. Ross Pierschbacher, RS Senior, Alabama
Meh. Honestly, I don't get the hype. Pierschbacher is a solid player who has the size, length and explosiveness you want on the inside, but he's passive in his approach and rarely dictates terms in the trenches. He's a good fit for a zone scheme, and a move to center this season for Alabama could be a better spot for him than guard.
You just don't see Pierschbacher dominate many reps, instead often getting push-pulled and dragged around in pass protection. In the run game he'll fall off contact too frequently, and almost never creates movement at the point of attack. I could see Pierschabacher getting eaten up in the NFL, where defensive linemen are far more dynamic and consistent than even the ones he sees in the SEC.
5. Hjalte Froholdt, Senior, Arkansas
Honestly, I think I prefer Lamont Gaillard from Georgia to Froholdt, but I need to watch more of the Bulldogs center before I go there (there are some significant inconsistencies in his game), and I've gotten tons of Froholdt questions this offseason, so I figured y'all would wanna see him highlighted.
He's not a bad player, but you're not getting any of the urgency, physicality and finishing that you got with Frank Ragnow. Froholdt is passive, smooth and king of the stalemates, hanging onto his opponent until the going gets rough. I'm just not sure I see his style translating well to the NFL, as he consistently lost ground at Arkansas, often getting knocked back a yard or two deep.
Froholdt moves well and has impressive flashes out in space as a blocker. I just wish his reaction timing was better, as he too often plays at a lethargic speed that pro-level competition and schemes will just eat up. He's respected in Arkansas' locker room, but I wonder if there is another level of intensity we haven't seen yet from Froholdt.
Also add to watch list: Lamont Gaillard, Georgia. Zach Bailey, South Carolina. Elgton Jenkins, Mississippi State. T.J. McCoy, Florida. Erik McCoy, Texas A&M. Colton Prater, Texas A&M. Jordan Sims, Ole Miss. Kendall Baker, Georgia.