You need an interior offensive linemen to boost your run game and protect your quarterback against the increasing number of high-caliber pass-rushing defensive tackles in today's NFL.

And there's a top-end prospect or two regardless of how you prefer your guard or center. 

Below I've ranked each of the consensus top interior offensive linemen -- both guards and centers --  in the qualities I deem most necessary to be successful at those positions in the pros (listed in order of importance). I've also added one player who should be available a bit later in the draft that excels at each particular trait.

Other installments in this series: Quarterbacks, Running Backs, Wide Receivers, Tight Ends, Offensive Tackles

Pass Protection/Anchoring

  1. Quenton Nelson
  2. Isaiah Wynn
  3. Will Hernandez
  4. Frank Ragnow
  5. Billy Price
  6. James Daniels

In essence, this category pertains to the ability to sustain a bull rush, anchor then allow your back to bend without surrendering ground. Nelson is immensely strong and rarely, if ever allows himself to be beaten by sheer power. He dominated with his heavy hands and fantastic leverage at the collegiate level, and those two attributes are already at the caliber of an NFL starter. Wynn has the best back bend of any interior linemen I've watched in this class, and Hernandez grows roots quickly in pass protection. The same goes for Ragnow, who is the most effortless blocker in this group.

Sleeper: Wyatt Teller

Teller is a mauler, who seemingly wants a serious battle on every snap. With his wide base and loads of experience, he's ready to handle anything that comes his way in the power department. 

Pass Protection/Grip

  1. Hernandez
  2. Nelson
  3. Ragnow
  4. Wynn
  5. Price
  6. Daniels

If Hernandez gets his hands on you, it's over. Donzo. Nelson and Ragnow have noticeably a strong grip too, and Wynn locked down edge-rushers with a fast and powerful punch. Price recovers well if he's initially beaten and displays outstanding technique with his hand placement. Daniels' game isn't about overpowering with his upper body, it's winning with his lower half.

Sleeper: Austin Corbett

Corbett has some of the most violent and powerful hands in the class at the interior line spot. He's not overanxious but loves delivering a stunning first blow. With his hands on you, chances are you're not going anywhere.

Awareness

  1. Nelson
  2. Ragnow
  3. Hernandez
  4. Price
  5. Daniels
  6. Wynn

Nelson's film is littered with insane plays in which he demonstrates what seems to be a sixth sense to find delayed blitzers and slower twists and demolish them before they can impact the quarterback. Ragnow is quick to help his teammates on the inside, as is Hernandez. None of these players is particularly bad in this area, but Price can be slow reacting to stunts, and Wynn played left tackle at Georgia, so he was on an island often. 

Sleeper: Will Clapp

Clapp is a super-experienced center who faced plenty of future NFLers in his time at the pivot with the LSU Tigers. He's the type of center who'll call out exotic blitzes before the snap and get his line properly adjusted.

Mobility/Second-Level Blocking Accuracy

  1. Daniels
  2. Price
  3. Nelson
  4. Wynn
  5. Ragnow
  6. Hernandez

Daniels is a special mover, probably the most athletic center prospect I've ever scouted. Price is a close second in this class, which says a lot about the insane depth of this interior offensive linemen in this class. Nelson is mobile for his size and rarely misses a linebacker at the second level. With left tackle feet, Wynn is quick to get out in front of pitches and sweeps, and Ragnow is very accurate locating and contacting linebackers. The same goes for Hernandez.

Sleeper: Braden Smith

Smith wants to combo block a defense to oblivion, and he did that often at Auburn with an impressive blend of power, balance, and explosiveness. 

Man-on-Man Run-Blocking

  1. Nelson
  2. Hernandez
  3. Ragnow
  4. Price
  5. Wynn
  6. Daniels

Nelson is a pulverizer. So is Hernandez. Ragnow is an Evan Mathis type who doesn't pancake many defenders but simply blocks them with ease. Price really gets after it one-on-one, and Wynn has the ability to man up as well. Daniels' equilibrium can be shaken if he's heads up with polished defensive tackle. 

Sleeper: Bradley Bozeman

At Alabama, the Crimson Tide incorporated a variety of power concepts, and Bozeman executed the middle of those plays wonderfully with subtle but effective down blocks. He's big and strong enough to handle massive nose tackles too. 

Position Fits 

Power/Gap Scheme

  1. Nelson
  2. Hernandez
  3. Ragnow
  4. Price
  5. Wynn
  6. Daniels

You want Nelson or Hernandez in your power scheme. Believe me. Their combination of strength and pulling ability will create many running lanes. Ragnow will get the job done here too. Price is a fantastic puller as well, and is a gritty fighter on the inside. Wynn and Daniels are on the lighter side, so they may not have the type of mass a team would want in a power-heavy scheme.

Sleeper: Taylor Hearn

Hearn is a phone-booth brawler who's impactful in tight spaces due to his plus strength and active hands. He probably shouldn't be a team's primary pulling guard, yet he'll destroy the front side defensive tackle often. Hearn is best in straight up, man-to-man situations.

Zone Scheme

  1. Daniels
  2. Wynn
  3. Price
  4. Nelson
  5. Ragnow 
  6. Hernandez

Because of his elite athletic gifts, Daniels will likely be a first-round prospect on the boards of teams that run a lot of inside and outside zone. The mobility of Wynn and Price would make them nice fits in a zone-based scheme. Nelson, Ragnow, and Hernandez are players you want deploying their power on every play, not flowing laterally down the line of scrimmage.  

Sleeper: Skyler Phillips

At Idaho State, Phillips frequently sent a devastating punch and did so while displaying quick feet to get down the line of scrimmage. He's not the type to hold a block for three seconds, and that's fine. In a zone scheme, he's someone who can get his hands on two or three defenders on one play and stop them in their tracks.