Patriots

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Patriots

NFL games often are won in the trenches, and having superior interior offensive line play is key to winning that battle.

A bad offensive line can sink any team, even a contender, while also putting the starting quarterback at risk of taking too many hits. 

This year's 2020 NFL Draft has several standout offensive line prospects, including a few centers and guards who could start in Week 1 next season. 

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With that in mind, let's take a look at the top five interior linemen (centers, left/right guards) in the 2020 draft class.

1. Cesar Ruiz

College: Michigan
Class: Junior
Position: Center 

Ruiz is the best interior offensive lineman in this class and someone who could start as a rookie. He started all 13 games at Michigan last season. Ruiz excelled in pass protection with the Wolverines. He allowed only 19 QB pressures on 985 pass-blocking snaps since 2018, per Pro Football Focus. Ruiz should be one of the safest picks among players projected to be selected in the final third of Round 1.

Projected Round: Late First, Early Second

2. Lloyd Cushenberry III

College: LSU
Class: Redshirt junior
Position: Center

Cushenberry was the rock of an LSU offensive line that dominated opponents and won the Joe Moore Award during its championship-winning 2019 season. He started all 15 games at center for the Tigers last season and did a tremendous job protecting Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Joe Burrow and opening up lanes in the run game for an LSU offense that totaled 2,502 yards and 32 touchdowns. Cushenberry was a second-team 2019 All-American selection and, like Ruiz, is a good bet to start as a rookie depending on the team that drafts him. 

 

Projected Round: Late First, Early Second

3. Matt Hennessy

College: Temple
Class: Redshirt junior
Position: Center

Hennessy was a three-year starter at center for Temple after playing tackle throughout his high school career. He also might have the highest football IQ of any center in the 2020 class, which makes him a good candidate to earn plenty of playing time as a rookie. Hennessy didn't play in many big games at Temple, but he has the strength, size and athleticism to have a long, productive career at the pro level.

Projected Round: Second

4. Tyler Biadasz

College: Wisconsin
Class: Redshirt junior
Position: Center 

It's hard to have a better season than Biadasz did in 2019. He was a unanimous first team All-America selection who also won the Rimington Trophy as college football's most outstanding center. He was a finalist for the Outland Trophy, too, which is awarded to the best interior offensive lineman. In fact, Pro Football Focus rated him as a top three center in the nation in each of the last three seasons. You know what you're going to get from Biadasz, and that's consistently strong play in both pass and run blocking. Wisconson was one of the league's top rushing teams during Biadasz's career, and his impressive performance was a huge reason for that success.

Projected Round: Second

5. Robert Hunt

College: Louisiana-Lafayette
Class: Redshirt senior
Position: Left guard

Hunt missed the last seven games of Louisiana-Lafayette's season due to injury, but he showed enough on tape to still be ranked among the top interior offensive lineman prospects. The Ragin' Cajuns tallied the second most yards per rush in college football last season, and Hunt played an integral part in that success. One of Hunt's best talents is his versatility. He started games at left tackle, left guard and right tackle during his four years at UL-Lafayette. Hunt is an intriguing prospect as one of the most athletic guards in the draft. If he's able to stay healthy, he could be among the steals of the second or third round.  

Projected Round: Second