Look at the two teams in the Super Bowl this past year and you might think to yourself, "wow, their defenses are pretty good," or, "wow, their offenses are magnificent." In reality, the game was won and lost on the interior line. Baltimore's offensive line protected Joe Flacco on their historic run and made that great San Francisco pass rush look nonexistent in the biggest game of the year. Big athletes can always be converted into offensive linemen, but the truly special ones come with technique, physicality and instincts. Here are the 2013 NFL Draft offensive linemen prospects who have been showing these skills throughout college.
5) Barrett Jones, Alabama Barrett Jones made a statement during the National Championship game, making it clear to Notre Dame that he was the only one allowed to touch Alabama's quarterback. Jones isn't overly physical and one look at him leaves you wondering if he's an oversized teddy bear or an NFL offensive lineman. Playing either tackle positions would mean leaving a guy with little athletic ability to go up against the best pass rushers in the game. Fortunately for the team that does choose to draft Jones, his ability to play all 5 offensive line positions will give them versatility.
4) Lane Johnson, Oklahoma Did you know Lane was a former quarterback? Yeah, that didn't last long, and with that came confusion to where he would play. He's going to be a project, but purely skill and talent wise, he's shown that he is athletic and smart enough to play the position. To think he started playing offensive line is 2011 is absurd. There's a reason he was voted all Big 12 in 2011, and now that he doesn't have to worry about learning how to play tight end or defensive tackle, the sky's the limit.
3) D.J. Fluker, Alabama There's no fluke in D.J's game and in all honesty, we might be able to make a case that all 5 of Alabama's starters on the O-line deserve a spot on here after what they did to N.D.'s best defensive line in the country. Fluker is a punisher on run blocks; just ask Manti Te'o. He won't be able to handle speed rushers at the next level, which means he projects to be a right tackle or an interior lineman, but his imposing stature and pedigree will allow him to open plenty of eyes. Weight questions have come into play, as he weighed 20 pounds heavier than what he was originally listed at, but his pro day left scouts drooling.
2) Eric Fisher, Central Michigan According to CBSsports.com, 28 different representatives showed up to watch Eric Fisher's pro day and they left very pleased with what they saw. Most of the other offensive tackles coming out in this year's draft are underclassmen, but Eric is a senior who played at a school that lacks the same name recognition that an Alabama or Oklahoma could garner. His quick feet should help him be recognized as one of the best offensive linemen in the country, so don't be fooled by his 3rd team All-American honors. He could have easily jumped into the 1st or 2nd team if he had played around more offensive talent.
1) Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M It's not really an argument on who the best offensive lineman coming out of this draft is. Joeckel helped anchor the best offensive line in the country, while playing blindside protector for Heisman winner Johnny Manziel. Technique will always triumph over raw athletic ability and that's exactly where Joeckel separates himself from his counterparts. For people who didn't follow the 2012 Outland Trophy winner, just know that he held his own against top pass rushers in the SEC in what was his first year in the power conference. Any similarities to Joe Thomas are well warranted.
Honorable Mention: Kyle Long, Oregon
By: Mike Barbosa