Our position previews of the 2022 NFL Draft continue with the offensive line — a role that doesn’t necessarily move the meter in terms of panache, but one that is going to be one of the most important aspects of the first round this Thursday.
A good offensive line will mostly always be at the foundation of Super Bowl contenders and for teams on the cusp of taking that next step, ensuring the protection of their valuable playmaking assets will be a must.
On Pro Football Focus’ list of the 250 top NFL Draft prospects, three of the top 10 are offensive linemen along with seven in the top 32. So there is a chance that we can see plenty of protectors taken off the board on Thursday night.
Here are the top 10 offensive linemen ranked by PFF along with their overall ranks on the 250-name big board.
2022 NFL Draft Offensive Lineman Rankings
- Charles Cross, T, Mississippi State (ranked 3rd overall)
- Ikem Ekwonu, T, NC State (5th overall)
- Evan Neal, T, Alabama (6th overall)
- Tyler Linderbaum, C, Iowa (16th overall)
- Bernhard Raimann, T, Central Michigan (18th overall)
- Zion Johnson, G, Boston College (24th overall)
- Tyler Smith, T, Tulsa (25th overall)
- Trevor Penning, T, Northern Iowa (35th overall)
- Kenyon Green, G, Texas A&M (39th overall)
- Abraham Lucas, T, Washington State (49th overall)
2022 NFL Draft: Odds on first Offensive Lineman drafted
While Charles Cross might be rated higher, Ikem Ekwonu is seen as the favorite to be the first offensive lineman taken in the draft. Granted, Evan Neal and Cross aren’t too far behind.
Odds courtesy of DraftKings. New users who bet $5 on the NFL Draft will receive $150 in free bets. To claim this offer from DraftKings, click here.
Potential Landing Spots
Where might each of these offensive linemen go? The oddsmakers at DraftKings have the top five favorites (any position) for each of the first 24 picks available. Here is where offensive linemen appeared:
- No. 1 (Jaguars): Ikem Ekwonu (+500), Evan Neal (+2500)
- Urban Meyer’s scheme didn’t do much to help the Jaguars’ offensive line last year, but protecting Trevor Lawrence is as much a priority as getting a playmaker which is why an O-lineman is an appealing pick for Jacksonville.
- No. 3 (Texans): Ikem Ekwonu (+350)
- Houston saw 11 different offensive lineman play at least 58 snaps last season. Ten of them played at least 200. There needs to be continuity as much as there has to be a legitimate quarterback under center.
- No. 4 (Jets): Ikem Ekwonu (+450)
- Joe Douglas’ revamping of the offensive line has paid dividends. Add one more bona fide prospect and the Jets have the foundation to build a scary offense should they make big moves in free agency and the trade market.
- No. 5 (Giants): Ikem Ekwonu (+175), Charles Cross (+250), Evan Neal (+380)
- Injuries gutted the Giants, including the loss of Shane Lemieux and the sporadic absences of Andrew Thomas. If Daniel Jones wants a fair shake of the starting job and Saquon Barkley wants to prove that he can still be an explosive playmaker, they desperately need help on the O-line.
- No. 6 (Panthers): Ikem Ekwonu (+350), Charles Cross (+400), Evan Neal (+500)
- The Panthers need help on the line just as much as they need a quarterback upgrade — meaning the organization has to actually prioritize the position, which they didn’t do last year.
- No. 7 (Giants): Charles Cross (+400), Evan Neal (+500)
- No. 9 (Seahawks): Evan Neal (+350), Charles Cross (+500), Trevor Penning (+900)
- Seattle’s inability to build an offensive line is what drove Russell Wilson out of town. Now their situation under center is uncertain, but it likely won’t be better than what they had.
- No. 13 (Texans): Charles Cross (+850)
- No. 14 (Ravens): Trevor Penning (+600)
- Baltimore could bolster its spot at left tackle after Alejandro Villanueva allowed 55 presures last season.
- No. 16 (Saints): Trevor Penning (+1000), Charles Cross (+1100)
- Depth is key for a Saints team that used 13 different offensive linemen last season.
- No. 17 (Chargers): Trevor Penning (+800), Charles Cross (+1000)
- LA needs to address the right side of its line after releasing Bryan Bulaga this offseason. Oday Aboushi is still a free agent, too.
- No. 19 (Saints): Trevor Penning (+1000)
- No. 20 (Steelers): Trevor Penning (+1100)
- The Steelers offense won’t have to worry about Ben Roethlisberger holding onto the ball too long now that he’s retired, but the run-blocking was suspect, too, last year.