NFL 2022 Draft Positional Rankings: Interior Offensive Linemen

Every team in the NFL is looking to build out a quality offensive line, and while tackle will always take priority, it’s still important to build a strong foundation in the interior of the offensive line as well. Last year, we saw how much of an impact one rookie interior offensive lineman can make when Creed Humphrey was a massive part of the Chiefs’ offensive line turnaround. In this article, I’ll break down my top interior offensive linemen in the 2022 NFL Draft and provide some strengths and weaknesses for each player.

NamePos. RankingCollegeClassOverall GradeDraft Range
Tyler Linderbaum1IowaRS Junior90Top 20
Zion Johnson2Boston CollegeSenior86Late 1st Round
Kenyon Green3Texas A&MJunior85Late 1st Round
Dylan Parham4MemphisRS Senior792nd-3rd Round
Darian Kinnard5KentuckySenior782nd-3rd Round
Cole Strange6ChattanoogaRS Sr.763rd-4th Round
Jamaree Salyer7GeorgiaSenior763rd-4th Round
Luke Fortner8KentuckyRS Senior753rd-4th Round
Sean Rhyan9UCLAJunior753rd-4th Round
Luke Goedeke10Central MichiganSenior743rd-4th Round
Zach Tom11Wake ForestRS Senior734th-5th Round
Marquis Hayes12OklahomaRS Senior734th-5th Round

#1: Tyler Linderbaum – Iowa

Linderbaum has a background as a highly successful high school wrestler, and it shows up in everything he does on the football field. There’s an awesome video of him pinning his much larger former Iowa teammate and current Buccaneers’ offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs. That gives you an idea of the impressive strength Linderbaum carries despite his smaller frame. Linderbaum was the highest-graded center in FBS for PFF in both 2020 and 2021, and he should be highly productive right away in the NFL.

Strengths:

  • Remarkable athleticism for any position, much less center – keep an eye out for Pro Day
  • Excellent core strength, balance, coordination – all stems from wrestling background
  • Very fluid athlete, moves well in space
  • Competitive spirit is infectious for the rest of the line
  • Made strides in play strength throughout his career

Weaknesses:

  • On the smaller size even for centers at 6’2″, 296 lbs
  • Still lacks strength to be a road-grader in a power running scheme
  • Drive base can get narrow at times, hurts his ability to draw power from lower body
  • Lacks positional versatility – center only at his size

Summary: Linderbaum has been one of the most productive players in all of college football over the past couple of seasons, and his tape is entertaining to watch. He’s on the smaller side for the offensive line, and he lacks the power element that some teams see as a pre-requisite to playing on the interior, but he excels at just about everything else. His athleticism, core strength, balance, coordination, and competitive nature will make him a highly productive starting center right away.

Draft Range: Top 20 Picks

#2: Zion Johnson – Boston College

I was starting to get excited about Zion Johnson as one of the top Day 2 offensive line products, and then he put together a stunning combine performance. He ranked top 15 all-time in both the three-cone drill and the 20-yard shuttle, and he led his position group with 32 bench reps. That combine production underscored what we already knew from the film – Johnson combines excellent athleticism with impressive power and is a simple projection to the next level as a highly productive offensive guard.

Strengths:

  • Ideal frame and athleticism for the offensive guard position
  • Plays with wide stance, uses lower body strength well
  • Excellent leverage and hand usage
  • Two-time captain with great intelligence and leadership traits

Weaknesses:

  • Pre-snap stance is a bit unorthodox but not necessarily a limitation
  • Occassional issues reacting to stunts and counters from blitzers
  • Late bloomer after being a zero-star recruit coming out of high school

Summary: Zion Johnson is one of the more polished players in this draft class. He possesses the ideal frame for a guard with excellent play strength, agility, and coordinated movement. Interior offensive linemen aren’t typically valued at a high level, and Johnson doesn’t have a high-end ceiling, but he’s an all-around pro-ready guard. For teams picking later in the first round who want a cost-controlled, reliable starter at the position, he’s a solid selection.

Draft Range: Late 1st Round

#3: Kenyon Green – Texas A&M

If positional versatility is what you’re after, Green may be your guy. He spent time at every position except center in 2021 alone, and the projection to center is a possibility if necessary. I love his film, but his combine results didn’t quite live up to the athletic profile I expected. However, there’s still plenty to love about Green as a first-round interior offensive lineman.

Strengths:

  • Plays with a very wide base and excellent contact balance
  • Can anchor against the bull rush with core strength and powerful lower body
  • Experience at tackle taught him impressive mirroring ability
  • Great football IQ – rarely missed assignments despite playing different positions

Weaknesses:

  • Too many holding penalties stemming from hands being too wide
  • Erratic hand usage in general – needs to be more patient
  • Combine testing was disappointing across the board
  • Footwork in inside-zone blocking was lacking at times

Summary: I was expecting more from Kenyon Green’s combine, and it’s the primary reason he falls below Zion Johnson in my interior O-line rankings – Johnson tested better in every category. Green’s positional versatility could lead some teams to see him as a right tackle long-term, but his best film was at guard, where he can use his wide base, core strength, and football IQ to impact both the pass run games.

Draft Range: Late 1st Round

#4: Dylan Parham – Memphis

Dylan Parham’s sub-5-second 40-yard dash at his size was very impressive, and it’s indicative of the athletic talent we knew he had as a former linebacker and tight end who also played basketball and ran track in high school. Parham’s lack of experience against Power 5 opponents hurts his evaluation, but he has some of the cleanest tape in the class.

Strengths:

  • Excellent athletic talent – translates to unique movement ability for an offensive lineman
  • Great processor of the game – I love his adjustments on film
  • Very good core strength helps compensate for smaller frame
  • Coordinated hands and feet, stays patient with weight distribution

Weaknesses:

  • Weighed in at 311 lbs at the combine, better than expected but still smaller than most teams would like
  • Only played one Power-5 school over the past two seasons, jump in competition could give him a sharper learning curve
  • Will struggle to fit in for teams that want to run power schemes
  • Not quite as much range as you’d like for his smaller stature

Summary: When I saw Dylan Parham listed at 285 pounds in this class, I was shocked as there aren’t many offensive linemen under 300 pounds in the NFL. However, he’s already added weight and should only continue to do so over time as he works through an NFL weight program – the size/power concerns are slightly overexaggerated. Parham’s fit in zone-running schemes as an athletic pass-protector at center gives him a very high floor in this class.

Draft Range: 2nd-3rd Round

#5: Darrian Kinnard – Kentucky

Kinnard was one of the highest-graded right tackles in the country last year per PFF, but the projection to guard is cleaner with his inconsistent passing down film. His experience at tackle for 3+ years against SEC opponents is valuable either way. Kinnard isn’t a polished product, but he carries his massive frame very well and should be a mauler in the run game right away.

Strengths:

  • Tons of pancakes on film – I love his competitive aggressiveness
  • Always finishes blocks through the whistle
  • Eye-popping burst off the line of scrimmage
  • 35″ arms – one of the best measurements in his class

Weaknesses:

  • Not a bad athlete but limited by lateral movement at times
  • Pass set technique is nonexistent as Kentucky didn’t run traditional drop-back passing
  • Inside hand placement and footwork need polishing
  • Plays too high at times and has a bad habit of leaning into defenders

Summary: Kinnard is a nasty finisher through blocks with an excellent frame for the position, but his lack of experience in pass sets and overall unpolished technique could be concerning for some teams. However, I love Kinnard’s ability to play in a phone booth right away, and he won’t get bullied in the NFL with his play strength. He can become a high-level starter at guard with emergency right tackle capability if the technique comes along.

Draft Range: 2nd-3rd Round

#6: Cole Strange – Chattanooga

One of my favorite late risers in the draft process has been Cole Strange, and I’ll likely end up a bit higher on him than most. At 24 years old, he’s later in his developmental process, but I love the work he’s put in at the Senior Bowl and the Scouting Combine. Small-school athletic interior offensive linemen seem to always find a home in the NFL, and I believe Strange could be a future starter at center or guard.

Strengths:

  • Coaches will love his intelligence, feel for the game, and starting experience
  • Excellent motor and power in the run game – 31 bench reps just one behind Zion Johnson
  • Ideal balance between competitive aggression and control
  • Plays with a great pad level, strong hands, and full arm extension

Weaknesses:

  • Lean body for a guard, below-average core strength
  • Needs to learn to be more reactive with his hands and movement
  • Will be 24 years old by the time next season starts

Summary: For any FCS player, there’s always going to be the concern of a considerable jump in competition level, but Strange dominated his FCS opponents and played very well in his game against Kentucky last season. Strange may not have the same great long-term trajectory as some of his younger peers in this class, but his starting experience and well-developed awareness and IQ make him an easy projection as a Day One starter at center or guard if need be. He’s a late riser to keep an eye on.

Draft Range: 3rd-4th Round

#7: Jamaree Salyer – Georgia

Salyer is a former five-star recruit who never quite developed the way his college program would have wanted. His experience at all five offensive line positions gives him additional value. Still, Salyer was protected by an elite Georgia pass-protection scheme, and I have concerns about his lack of technique across the board. Still, teams will buy into him as a developmental prospect with his athletic tools and raw strength.

Strengths:

  • Positional versatility – likely a guard but teams can move him around
  • Powerful upper body will help him push through opposing defenders
  • High-level functional strength – put up 31 reps at the combine
  • Active, independent hand usage with great timing and coordination

Weaknesses:

  • Plays very high-cut and lacks functional bend
  • Bends with his waist not his knees, will be exposed in the NFL
  • Base is too narrow which limits his range and mobility
  • Below-average flexibility and short-area quickness

Summary: The film is special from time to time, and the clip of him pushing through Aidan Hutchinson in the College Football Playoff Semi-Final will be shown time and again when he’s drafted. However, you can’t win on functional strength alone, and Salyer’s technique is seriously lacking in several areas. Teams will covet his strength and positional versatility, perhaps even enough to make him a Day 2 pick, but he’s much more of a project than some will believe.

Draft Range: 3rd-4th Round

#8: Luke Fortner – Kentucky

Fortner checks a lot of boxes for his intangibles. For starters, he’s smart – he graduated with his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering in 2019 and is on track to earn to master’s in the spring of 2022 (mechanical engineering and business administration). He’s also an awesome leader who has been a highly valuable team captain for Kentucky. What about his football acumen? Let’s dive in.

Strengths:

  • Coaches will love his intelligence and awesome personality on and off the field
  • Pro-level balance, body control, and awareness
  • Plays with a wide base which allows him to anchor with solid contact balance
  • Excellent hand usage to maximize his leverage against defenders

Weaknesses:

  • Timing is off sometimes, hurts his second-level production
  • Play strength is just adequate, could be hampered against bull rushes
  • Range is somewhat limited compared to his peers

Summary: A first-team All-SEC selection last season, Fortner is as technically sound as it gets as a rookie, and he’s an ideal target for teams looking for a starting-caliber guard or center to help improve their offensive line’s baseline play. His long-term upside isn’t the same as some other players in this class, but you know exactly what you’re getting with him, and there’s value in that too. He can have long-term staying power with his strong character and commitment to improving.

Draft Range: 3rd-4th Round

#9: Sean Rhyan – UCLA

It’s always good to lead your position group in a category at the combine, and Sean Rhyan clocked in with the best vertical jump in the combine. That underscored his excellent mobility and lateral movement, and it will be fun to see how it translates to his play on the field. A three-year starter at left inside with his smaller frame, Rhyan is destined to kick inside in the NFL, but that pass-protection experience should translate quite nicely.

Strengths:

  • Very fluid movement in pass sets – should translate to guard
  • Explosive short-area movement, helps him succeed in run-blocking fits
  • Solid hand accuracy and footwork
  • Tackle-guard versatility

Weaknesses:

  • Too many false start penalties on film
  • Over-sets – seems like he’s scared of getting beaten by speed and tries to overcompensate
  • Decent toughness but certainly not a mauler
  • Bit of a jack of all trades, master of none feel to him

Summary: Rhyan’s experience at tackle could lead teams to try him at that position early in his career, but he lacks the necessary speed to keep up with the league’s elite pass-rushers. His fluid movement and explosive short-area quickness should translate to the guard position, where he will likely spend the majority of his career. Rhyan isn’t an elite athlete, isn’t the strongest player, and his length could be problematic, but he has solid traits to build on.

Draft Range: 3rd-4th Round

#10: Luke Goedeke – Central Michigan

When I was watching Bernhard Raimann’s film, Goedeke constantly stood out to me as well, and he should be discussed more as a solid prospect in this class. While he played tackle in college, his final landing spot will likely be guard due to his shorter arms. However, the former tight end is a great athlete who checks the boxes in several categories in projecting his talent to the next level.

Strengths:

  • Excellent contact balance and body control to finish through blocks
  • Hard worker in the weight room and film room, constantly improving
  • Hand placement and footwork are sharp, excellent instincts
  • Decent enough anchor to handle bull rushers in the NFL

Weaknesses:

  • Lack of length is somewhat of a problem, why he needs to kick inside
  • Timing on releases to second level is inconsistent, needs work
  • Lunges against speed rushers, probably to compensate for lack of length
  • Jump in competition could slow his progress

Summary: Goedeke is solid across the board, and I’ll be excited to see the results of his pro day so we can find out what kind of an athlete he is. On film, his athletic traits look very solid, and as a former tight end, he knows how to use his hands to maximum effectiveness. His lack of length won’t be as much of an issue on the inside, and a move to guard should help him iron out some of his technical deficiencies. Goedeke is a very solid long-term prospect with decent starting potential right away.

Draft Range: 3rd-4th Round

#11: Zach Tom – Wake Forest

A two-year starter at left tackle who projects inside at center, Tom made himself some money at the combine. Tom finished inside the top five in his class in five different categories, including one of the only sub-5 second 40-yard dash times among interior offensive linemen. Tom’s impressive tape at left tackle belies his lack of length and size, and that proven pass-protection ability will serve him well as he kicks inside.

Strengths:

  • Great pass-protection film in an ACC with solid defensive talent
  • Fluid athlete who moves very well in space, will make an impact in the screen game
  • Solid hand usage on film, throws tough punches
  • Quick feet to get inside defensive tackles and reach linebackers at the second level

Weaknesses:

  • Lacks violent edge to his game, not the firey competitor some teams want on the inside
  • Lacks some anchor ability, will need to boost lower body strength
  • Bad habit of leaning into opposing pass-rushers, bends at the waist, not the knees

Summary: Zach Tom made himself some money between his strong Senior Bowl and combine showings, and his mobility will be coveted by teams who focus on zone-run schemes and short-area passing. Tom’s below-average mass and core strength will limit what he can do as a power blocker. Still, his pass-protection film was very impressive despite his physical limitations, and it’s easy to see his game translating to the modern NFL.

Draft Range: 4th-5th Round

#12: Marquis Hayes – Oklahoma

Hayes has a lot working in his favor from a physical profile perspective with his 6’5″, 318-lb frame, and long 34 7/8″ arms. However, that’s about where the pros stop as his tape is very inconsistent with a lack of body control, limiting his ability to stay upright throughout a game. Some team will take a chance on him for his measurables, but will his game ever develop beyond that?

Strengths:

  • Massive frame with great lean mass
  • Upper-body power to maul through defensive linemen
  • Solid get-off in run-blocking, can make plays at the second level

Weaknesses:

  • Body control is rough on film – hands and feet far too disconnected
  • Very high-cut player with limited lower-body anchor ability
  • Plays too upright and too wide – NFL defenders will take advantage

Summary: There’s honestly not a ton I like about Hayes’s projection aside from the fact that he has the build that teams look for in an offensive guard. However, if his build is so ideal, why did it never show up in his production at Oklahoma? There’s a ton for Hayes to work on to get to a competent level as a potential starter, and the technique is all over the place for him. I don’t love spending more than a Day 3 pick on a player with this many holes in their game.

Draft Range: 4th-5th Round

I've been writing about sports for Lineups since the beginning of 2020 and on my own website since 2018. In May 2021, I graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in sport management. With my educational background in the sports business and a strong knowledge of the inner workings of professional and collegiate sports, I hope to tell enthralling stories about the world of sports as it unfolds around me.

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