SEC Position Group Rankings: Offensive Lines
When it comes to the offensive line in the Southeastern Conference this season, there's Alabama and then there's everyone else.
Even though the Crimson Tide no longer has Jedrick Wills Jr., who was the 10th-overall selection in the 2020 NFL Draft, the other four starters are all back.
But that doesn't necessarily mean that Alabama is simply looking to plug someone in at right tackle. Due to the circumstances, and the personnel involved, the coaches may be able to promote the best player at either center, guard or tackle to form the new unit.
It makes sense that Alabama will first try Evan Neal at right tackle. Listed as 6-7, 360 pounds, he was named a Freshman All-American by numerous outlets will playing his first season at left guard. If he has the necessary footwork it's an easy decision, and Scott Lashley transferring out (to likely start at Mississippi State) kind of tells you what he thought of his chances of beating Neal out.
Alex Leatherwood is back at left tackle after not allowing a sack last season, so here's not going anywhere. Deonte Brown and Landon Dickerson both bring girth and attitude, and Dickerson played at center for the first time last season after transferring in from Florida State.
Unless someone like Tommy Brown steps up and challenges, Darrian Dalcourt and Emil Ekiyor Jr. are the players to watch.
Two teams have comparable returning experience up front, but not the same kind of talent. Led by right tackle Darian Kinnard, Kentucky can come close when it comes to run-blocking. Center Drake Jackson, guard Luke Fortner and left tackle Landon Young all stepped up in a big way last season.
Texas A&M's returning four made 52 of 65 possible starts. Carson Green, Dan Moore, Jr. and Jared Hocker anchor the unit, while right guard Kenyon Green was named Freshman All-SEC.
Tennessee could end up in the top two or three, but right now gets an asterisk due to Cade Mays. The son of former Tennessee lineman Kevin Mays transferred in from Georgia and hired a lawyer to push his hopes of being eligible this season. Trey Smith could be a first-round pick in 2021 NFL Draft. Yes, former Alabama center Brandon Kennedy is still in Knoxville, after being granted a sixth year of eligibility.
Finally, Georgia has to be mentioned. Even though the Bulldogs lost a lot to the NFL (as did LSU), former Ole Miss head coach Matt Luke is the new position coach and has some impressive talent to work with around center Trey Hill. How fast can he mold a new unit up front?
3. Texas A&M
6. South Carolina
This is the third story in a series that will appear throughout June, previewing SEC position groups for the 2020 season.