Ranking Donovan Jackson, Cooper Beebe, Sedrick Van Pran, and Others

Which centers and guards populate the list of the best iOL prospects in the 2024 NFL Draft cycle off preliminary viewings? Whether you’re looking for established veterans, versatile glue pieces, or young guns still making their mark, the 2024 class has plenty to offer in the summer months.

Ranking the Top iOL in the 2024 NFL Draft

It’ll be a few years before we truly get a read on how good the 2023 NFL Draft’s interior offensive line class was. There weren’t many guarantees across the class, but there were many tackle-to-guard converts, positionally-flexible prospects, and players with notable transitions still to come.

Position switches are a constant caveat in the iOL discussion every NFL Draft cycle, but the 2024 NFL Draft class may have more prospects who are settled into guard or center designations. And with that clarity should come a heightened degree of security — at least at the very top.

Here’s a look at how the 2024 NFL Draft iOL group looks right now and which prospects are in play for potential Round 1 capital.

10) Zak Zinter, G, Michigan

The Michigan Wolverines will remain champions of the offensive line in the 2023 college football season after the team’s blocking unit won the Joe Moore Award in both 2021 and 2022. The additions of LaDarius Henderson and Drake Nugent in the transfer portal will help compensate for the losses of Ryan Hayes and Olusegun Oluwatimi, and Zak Zinter is a returning impact player at guard.

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Zinter was a first-team All-Big Ten selection in 2022, and he could also go on to be a solid offensive lineman at the NFL level. He doesn’t have great length, but at 6’6″, 315 pounds, he does have very good size and mass. He’s an intelligent blocker who understands moving angles and can handle stunt exchanges, and he actively uses his frame to wall off lanes.

9) Kyle Hergel, G, Boston College

Kyle Hergel’s college football journey began all the way back in 2019 when he first played at North Dakota with the Fighting Hawks. He leveraged several years of success there to a transfer opportunity with the Texas State Bobcats. Two seasons of starting reps at right guard later, he’s transferring again, this time to Boston College, looking to hone his skills.

At 6’2″, 314 pounds, Hergel should work seamlessly into the rotation at guard for the Eagles. He’ll be an older prospect in the 2024 cycle, but he has a high floor and some projected versatility between guard and center. He’s well-leveraged, with solid proportional length, and he has active hands to go along with ample foot speed on the attack.

8) Isaiah Adams, G, Illinois

The Illinois Fighting Illini are slowly becoming reliable producers of NFL Draft talent on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. Illinois’ offensive line was one of the best composite units in college football in 2022. Players like Julian Pearl, Alex Pihlstrom, and Alex Palczewski heavily contributed to that reputation, and so did left guard Isaiah Adams.

Both Adams and Pearl return in 2023, and Adams, in particular, might have the most exciting upside of the previously mentioned group when projecting to the NFL. At 6’5″, 315 pounds, the former JUCO transfer has a powerful frame and can generate immense force at contact. He routinely stays square in pass protection but also has the athleticism to match and block in space.

7) Matthew Lee, C, Miami (FL)

The Miami Hurricanes have almost entirely revamped their offensive line entering the 2023 season. They added Javion Cohen from Alabama at guard, who you’ll see on this list shortly. They also added Matthew Lee from UCF — a second-team All-AAC performer in 2022, who brings his tantalizing talent and playstyle to the Atlantic shore in 2023.

What you’ll find watching Lee is that he simply plays at a different tempo. He’s a quick athlete, and he’s incredibly urgent off the line, carrying relentless energy into contact. He may not be the biggest center at 6’4″, 295 pounds, but he has solid proportional length and power capacity, and he unleashes all of it in one-on-one situations.

6) Christian Mahogany, G, Boston College

You naturally look to the blue-blood programs for the highest-quality offensive line talent. But there are also a few under-the-radar programs sprinkled across the nation that have claims to quality OL production. Boston College is one of those teams. They can boast Chris Lindstrom and Zion Johnson as their own, and Christian Mahogany is next in line.

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A torn ACL in the 2022 offseason prevented Mahogany from entering the 2023 NFL Draft group, but he’s now expected to return to form across from Hergel. At 6’3″, 335 pounds, Mahogany isn’t quite the athlete that Johnson was coming out, but Mahogany is an absolute mauler who combines terse physicality and overwhelming frame density to impose his will.

Credit: Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

5) Javion Cohen, G, Miami (FL)

Javion Cohen started 14 games for the Alabama Crimson Tide as a redshirt freshman in 2021, then came back to start 10 more games in 2022. The former four-star recruit now takes his talents to Mario Cristobal’s squad in Miami, where he’ll aim to make a name for himself on a newly-formed blocking unit. He has the talent to distinguish himself.

Cohen’s 6’4″, 305-pound frame has the ideal density, but he also has solid proportional length and power capacity when torquing defenders. He’s a physical blocker who also has the necessary straight-line burst to get in space as a pulling lineman and cover ground. He has room to keep developing, but his athleticism and build carry immense upside.

4) Layden Robinson, G, Texas A&M

There was a time in the 2023 NFL Draft cycle when Layden Robinson was anticipated as a potential early-round prospect. But the Texas A&M Aggies took their lumps in 2022, and Robinson himself was not immune on the interior. He’ll return in 2023 with his sights set on rebounding. He has 22 games of starting experience, and his tools remain a selling point.

At around 6’4″, 330 pounds, Robinson has one of the most imposing builds in the upcoming guard class. He’s very well-leveraged at his size, but he also has elite proportional length and knockback power to go with his sheer mass. There is some measured stiffness that comes with his specific build, but his hands and power can be suffocating at contact.

3) Cooper Beebe, G, Kansas State

Had he declared for the 2023 NFL Draft, Cooper Beebe would’ve been graded higher than O’Cyrus Torrence and Steve Avila on my board. He was a standout tackle in 2021, then moved to guard in 2022, where his traits translated in dominant fashion. He ultimately won Big 12 Offensive Lineman of the Year, and he’s back again in 2023 to impose his will.

At 6’4″, 332 pounds, Beebe has tremendous size, width, and mass as an interior blocker. He’s not an elite athlete, but he’s mobile enough to get out in space as a pulling blocker, and he maximizes his opportunities with stellar angle awareness and football IQ. And at contact, he has the strength, power, and length to torque his opponents into submission.

2) Sedrick Van Pran, C, Georgia

For all 30 games of the Georgia Bulldogs’ back-to-back Championship seasons, Sedrick Van Pran was the starting center. After redshirting in 2020, Van Pran took the starting role and ran with it, and he returns in 2023 as arguably the best center prospect in the nation. In fact, he might’ve challenged Joe Tippmann and John Michael Schmitz in the 2023 cycle.

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Van Pran doesn’t quite have the power that Tippmann boasts, and Schmitz was a bit stronger and more refined. But Van Pran has excellent natural leverage at 6’4″, 310 pounds, and he’s one of the most explosive athletes you’ll see at the center spot. He moves at a different pace off the line, and he brings a finishing brand of physicality through reps.

Who Is the Best iOL in the 2024 NFL Draft?

It’s been some time since we’ve had a blue-chip guard prospect in the NFL Draft. The 2024 NFL Draft cycle might not have that caliber of player, but there is a guard in college football who can reasonably be projected into the first-round range. He has the pedigree, and so far, he has the tape to back it up.

1) Donovan Jackson, G, Ohio State

Ohio State has PFN’s preliminary top prospect at three positions — running back, wide receiver, and offensive guard. The Buckeyes have become a pipeline for NFL talent across the board, and Donovan Jackson follows up Paris Johnson Jr., Dawand Jones, and Luke Wypler as the next OL prospect destined to make a professional imprint.

Jackson was a five-star recruit coming out of high school, and it’s easy to see his natural talent. At 6’4″, 320 pounds, he reportedly has arms nearly 36″ long. That’s an absurd combination of leverage and proportional length, and Jackson also has the lateral mobility and combative hand usage to gather rushers as they work across-face.

Jackson might not have quantifiably elite athleticism like Johnson, and he might not have elite flexibility, either. But in a phone booth, his build can be devastating for opposing rushers. He plays low and consistently keeps linemen from getting inside his frame.

Honorable Mentions

  • Kingsley Eguakun, C, Florida
  • Andrew Raym, G, Oklahoma
  • Clark Barrington, G, Baylor
  • Michael Jurgens, C, Wake Forest
  • Drake Nugent, C, Michigan
  • Mike Novitsky, C, Kansas
  • Landon Tengwall, G, Penn State
  • Micah Mazzccua, G, Florida
  • Joshua Gray, G, Oregon State

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