Teams looking for guards, centers and tackles in the 2022 NFL Draft will be very pleased with the wide array of talent this class has to offer. For the inside offensive line, there are quite a few top-50 guys and one particular elite player who sits atop this year’s group. Here are the best centers and guards in this year’s class. Some college tackles are thrown in due to their physical ability and fitness.
CLASSIFICATION OF PREVIOUS POSITIONS: Strategist | wide receiver | Return | tight end | Offensive tackle.
Tyler Linderbaum, Iowa, 6’2″, 296 pounds
What it does well: Tyler Linderbaum has as clean a game at center as any prospect that has come out in recent years. Travis Frederick comes to mind in terms of centers who were so obviously stars coming out of college. Linderbaum is a great mover with a great awareness in the open field. He is a technically consistent pass blocker and his wrestling experience is evident when working in the running game. His blend of consistency, demeanor and athleticism is exactly the type of player who should be in the middle of an offensive line.
Where it can improve: Sitting under 300 pounds, there are fears bigger inside defensemen will push him into the NFL. Linderbaum is strong for his height, but might need to gain some weight in the pros to avoid being overpowered by defensive tackles.
NFL Comparison: Jason Kelce
Kenyon Green, Texas A&M6’4″, 323 pounds
What it does well: Kenyon Green is a well-built guard who has no problem using his size, length and strength to fend off defenders. He is a road running blocker and a true offensive lineman who sets the tone. He has all the physical and mental tools to thrive in a power racing game.
Where it can improve: Green is a solid athlete, but not spectacular. His lack of speed would be offset by better instincts as a pass blocker, but it’s still a place where Green can improve. Green has highlight blocks in the passing game that show he can dominate when turned on, but finding that consistently on the button will be how he thrives in the NFL.
NFL Comparison: Kelechi Osemele
Darian Kinnard, Kentucky, 6’5″, 322 pounds
What it does well: Darian Kinnard is one of the most experienced and famous offensive linemen in Kentucky football history. Kinnard has started 39 straight games, including a first team All-American campaign in 2021. Kinnard played tackle in college and used his length, strength, and wicked style of play to catalyze a resurgent Kentucky team these last years. Kinnard has the experience and mentality you are looking for in a college lineman.
Where it can improve: Lack of foot speed will push Kinnard inside to keep in the NFL where he will have to adapt to playing in a phone booth and improving his pad level. Kinnard makes up for his average athleticism with technique, which will need to be even better in the league to be able to get his hands on defenders and erase them from the equation.
NFL Comparison: Cody Ford
Jamaree Salyer, Georgia, 6’3″, 321 lbs.
What it does well: The UGA defense gets all the shine, but you don’t win a national title without some skill on the other side of the ball. The Bulldogs offense racked up points in 2021 thanks to their strong offensive line play. Jamaree Salyer led that offensive line effort, starting at right tackle for 11 games but sliding inside and thriving where the team needed him. Sayer played all five offensive line positions with some success. He’s a big, mean inside presence and teams will love his versatility and physicality.
Where it can improve: Salyer knows he’s a big guy and tends to want to use that size before anything else. Strengthening his technique and buckling his instincts to treat every snap like a wrestling match will help him become a consistent contributor in any offense.
NFL Comparison: Jacques Charpentier
Thayer Munford, ohio state6’6″, 328 pounds
What it does well: Thayer Munford has seen a ton of starting time at Ohio State, playing well at guard and tackle during his career. His long arms and strong hands have helped him deal with inside defenders in the Big 10 in 2021, especially when it comes to pass protection. His ability to eliminate passers from the equation has played a major role in the success of Ohio State’s passing game.
Where it can improve: On guard, Munford has yet to learn how to bring it into the running game. His height puts him at a disadvantage for leverage against defensive tackles and he will need to improve pad level and chase the ball to become a bigger factor as a run blocker.
NFL Comparison: Isaac Seumalo
Tyler Smith, Tulsa, 6’4″, 324 lbs.
What it does well: Tyler Smith is among the best athletes in this class, especially along the offensive line. Smith’s speed, downhill and strength at the stance is a sight to behold. Mix that with his attitude on the pitch and the makings of a guard are all there.
Where it can improve: Smith has a lot to learn as a technician and he’s letting his aggressive style of play take precedence over the right thing at the right time. That being said, teams will see Smith as a great bet and he could go very high in this draft.
NFL Comparison: JR Sweezy
Chris Paul, Tulsa, 6’3″, 323 pounds
What it does well: Much like his teammate, Tyler Smith, Chris Paul is a phenomenal athlete. His athleticism caused Tulsa to play him at tackle, but he fits in much better at guard. His sturdy build would do well indoors, and he looked much more at home downhill than operating sideways. Particularly high in character and very popular in the locker room.
Where it can improve: His time at guard is a bit of a projection, and coming from Tulsa where he would win with his physical tools, he will need to develop his technique as a pro-level pass protector. Paul should wow teams with his positive side and character, convincing them that he is worth developing.
NFL Comparison: Austin Corbett