MOBILE, Ala. – The most talented position on offense at the Senior Bowl this year is along the offensive line. Both squads feature a luxury left tackle, very capable guards and plenty of girth in-between.
This while perhaps the most intriguing tackle in the draft, D.J. Fluker from Alabama, weighed in Monday and vanished by Tuesday while another quality tackle, Luke Joeckel, watched from afar since he's entering as an underclassman.
With no elite quarterbacks to speak of, the Senior Bowl kind of turned into an offensive line coach's dream world. It was hard to pick the three best of the group, as well as three who need the most work, but after three practices we made our tough choices.
- Eric Fisher, Central Michigan (6-7 ¼, 305). Everything you've seen/heard/read about this guy is legit. He's ready for the pros now. He hasn't been perfect this week – battles with UCLA's Datone Jones and Texas' Alex Okafor in practice have gone both ways – but everything from his footwork to his hand placement to his explosiveness out of the snap is solid. He won't last past the 15th pick in the draft.
- Lane Johnson, Oklahoma (6-6 ¼, 302 pounds). Like Fisher, Johnson is NFL-ready after a solid three days at work. Occasionally he was pushed into the backfield but otherwise he was dominant against his teammates on the South team. To be fair, the South's defensive linemen aren't quite as good as the North's, which means the game will be a nice test for Johnson as he'll go up against the guys Fisher's been facing in practice all week.
- David Quessenberry, San Jose State (6-5, 294 pounds). Ranking a Senior Bowl lineman third really isn't a slight, especially considering how dominant Fisher and Johnson look. Quessenberry has been a surprise this week at guard and tackle, handling the pass rush all week. He's really a polished blocker with some good quickness. In my opinion he jumped past Oday Aboushi and Brian Winters in the rankings thanks to a crisp, consistent week.
- Dalton Freeman, Clemson (6-4 ¼, 286 pounds). Freeman has been upstaged by Brian Schwenke and Braxston Cave as center candidates. On Tuesday the South team's defensive tackles mauled him, following up an up-and-down Monday. Wednesday wasn't much better.
- Ricky Wagner, Wisconsin (6-6 1/8, 310 pounds). It still feels like he's learning how to play offensive line after a rough couple of days. Teammates Jones and Okafor, who have gone back and forth with Fisher, have gotten past Wagner, particularly when they use speed.
- Hugh Thornton, Illinois (6-3 ¼, 313 pounds). The poor guy got whipped by Datone Jones in Monday's practice and hasn't had a good day since. Thornton has been pushed around a lot and doesn't seem to have a lot of muscle to contain oncoming pass rushers. A positive: His upper body is wide and has room to add muscle.