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Position preview: Offensive Line

Offensive Line
or Schilling
or Ortmann



Changes since spring: Schifano removed from team for unspecified medical issue.

The left 3/5 of the line is as close to set in stone as it can be. Jake Long was a first-team All-American last year, and has a pretty good chance of being the first lineman taken in the 20 NFL Draft. Adam Kraus is a likely first-team All-Big Ten performer this year as well. Justin Boren seems like a future All-American, but for now he probably won't be. However, he will be in the All-Conference discussion this year.

The right side of the line is a little less firm. Alex Mitchell has struggled with his weight throughout his career, and this year is no different. He got burned a bunch of time in the Rose Bowl, though that doesn't appear to have motivated him enough. He needs to get down to a more suitable playing weight if he wants to start this year. He is a good run blocker (though with his build not perfectly suited for the zone game), but lacks in pass protection. If he cannot, redshirt freshman Steve Schilling (who would have probably started at right tackle last year if not for mono and a separated shoulder) will step in to provide a far more athletic option at the guard position. At tackle, Schilling is in the mix if Mitchell is able to earn the RG position. It is a Schilling v. Ortmann battle over there, with Schilling being the more athletic of the two. UPDATE - Mitchell has injured himself in fall camp, and will miss the first couple games. Ciulla has taken over the RG spot, and I don't see it likely that Mitchell will be able to get back into shape to reclaim his role.

The depth along the lone is good but not spectacular. Ortmann is probably the left tackle next year, so if Jake Long goes down (or is taken out in junk-time situations) Ortmann will get play over there (les likely if he starts at RT, in order to avoid injury to a starter). Tim McAvoy and provides solid-but-unspectacular depth at both guard positions. At center, Dave Moosman was close to Justin Boren in the race for the starting job, so he will be a good backup there. At right tackle, there is a host of players waiting to get their shot, including highly-recruited Corey Zirbel and Perry Dorrestein.

It's hard to rate the position entirely accurately without knowing how the right side will shake out. However, the coaches will choose the best unit they can, and it's hard to pick against 3 future NFLers on the left.

Rating: 8.5/10

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“Position preview: Offensive Line”