The "Triple Take" team breaks down of the interior offensive linemen. In this installment of this draft prospect preview by position, the Steelers Radio Network trio of Matt Williamson, Dale Lolley and Mike Prisuta give their takes on the top prospects at the interior offensive line position. If you want to hear the audio version of "The Triple Take" click here.
The opinions of these Steelers Radio Network personalities do not reflect the views of the Steelers organization.
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Dale's Take ...
Interior offensive linemen aren't quite as in high demand as their cohorts who play out on the edge. But that doesn't mean they're not important.
This year's interior offensive line group includes some very intriguing players and could be bolstered by the inclusion of Northwestern's Peter Skoronski here. Skoronski might be the safest offensive line prospect in this draft and the one with the most upside.
Position flexibility also matters a lot with this group. Are they just a guard? Can they also play center or bump out to tackle in a pinch? That all matters.
#5 - Cody Mauch, North Dakota State (6-5, 302 lbs.) - Arrived at North Dakota State – as many of the school's linemen do – as a tight end who then shifted to offensive line. He's started at different spots along the line and even was asked to play some center at the Senior Bowl. So, he gives some versatility. But he might be a little lighter than you'd like. But his toothless grin – he's missing his front two teeth – adds to his charm.
#4 - John Michael Schmitz, Minnesota (6-3 ½, 301 lbs.) - Schmitz is built like a fire hydrant with a thick chest and that strength shows up in his playing style. He's also athletic enough to get to the second level. Started the past four seasons for the Gophers at center, making all the line calls. Has the look of a longtime starting center.
#3 - Joe Tippmann, Wisconsin (6-6, 313 lbs.) - Is just a monster in the middle who can play center or guard. He's athletic enough that he could even be seen as a right tackle by some. It just so happens, he's lined up at center the past two seasons for the Badgers. Can move and get out on the edge as a blocker. Might be taller than some teams like to handle the center duties, but he's proven he can do it.
#2 - O'Cyrus Torrence, Florida (6-5, 330 lbs.) - Began his career at Louisiana before following head coach Billy Napier to Florida, where his size allowed him to dominate SEC linemen. Has started at both left and right guard, but most of his experience is on the right side the past three years. He's a plug-and-play guard, but he's also only a guard with limited athleticism. He's going to win in a phone booth, not necessarily getting out on the edge.
#1 - Peter Skoronski, Northwestern (6-4, 313 lbs.) - Just a clean prospect, but arm length could push him inside despite Skoronski having started at left tackle for Northwestern. His arms measured 32 ¼ inches at the Combine. His solid technique and movement could allow him to play outside in the NFL, but he might have more success inside, where he could quickly join some of the top guards in the league. Skoronski also has center experience in his background, having started there in high school. He tested very well athletically at the Combine with a position-best 34.5-inch vertical jump. His grandfather was a team captain for the Packers in the '60s, so he has NFL bloodlines, as well.
Mike's Take …
The American Team was lined up five across up front as the Senior Bowl was being contested and NFL Network Analyst Daniel Jeremiah was impressed.
"All five of these players, I think, can be starting players as rookies," Jeremiah contended. "That's how talented this group is."
The interior of that offensive line bookended by offensive tackles Matthew Bergeron of Syracuse and Darnell Wright of Tennessee consisted of TCU guard Steve Avila, Minnesota center John Michael Schmitz and Florida guard O'Cyrus Torrence.
Their names won't be necessarily be called early in the first round of the NFL Draft, if at all in the first 31 selections. But they'll be heard from on Sundays, and they won't be alone as representatives of the 2023 interior offensive line draft class.
#5 - Joe Tippmann, Wisconsin (6-6, 313 lbs.) - Tippmann didn't run or test but he still showed up at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis with an agenda. His intent was to show teams "my brain, getting on the board, all that stuff, show them that I know my X's & O's in and out." He's adept at pulling from his days at guard before switching to center and he's a self-described "technician with speed, power and strength." When Tippmann says he's a confident player, he says it with conviction.
#4 - John Michael Schmitz, Minnesota (6-3 ½, 301 lbs.) - Big Ten experience translates to the NFL, Jeremiah suspects. "I'm willing to say, if you go back in history and look at guys who have started over 40-plus games in the Big Ten, the offensive line, they all stick at the next level." Schmitz started 35 of the 57 career games he played for the Gophers. Close enough, especially after the impression he made during Senior Bowl week. "I thought he entered this week as a second-rounder," Jeremiah assessed. "He might leave this week as a first-rounder."
#3 - Steve Avila, TCU (6-31/2, 332 lbs.) - Avila can play all three interior line spots. He can road grade in the running game and he can anchor and set a pocket in the passing game. Avila might best fit with "a heavy run team that wants to beat you up," Jeremiah suggested. TCU's run to the National Champion Game was fueled from the trenches as well as by big plays.
#2 - O'Cyrus Torrence, Florida (6-5, 330 lbs.) - It's been a steady progression, from three years at Louisiana in the Sun Belt Conference to one season at Florida in the SEC, that's gotten Torrence into the first-round conversation. His tape resonates at both places. "It's hard to find plays where he's out of position and it's hard to find plays where he gets beat," Jeremiah reported. O'Torrence has even blocked Georgia's Jalen Carter.
#1 - Cody Mauch, North Dakota State (6-5, 302 lbs.) "Whoever drafts him, to me he is plug and play," Jeremiah asserted. The question is where? Mauch was a left tackle the past two seasons for the Bison but he's a former tight end who played tackle, guard and center, not just at the Senior Bowl but in the Senior Bowl game. His 323/8-inch arm length suggests guard is perhaps the most likely destination at the next level. Mauch will make it work wherever as an invaluable player with five-position value. "He's toothless and his ruthless," Jeremiah assessed.
Matt's Take …
This is a strong interior offensive line class. There looks to be several future starting centers in this group and a wealth of guards as well.
As usual, there are several high-profile offensive tackles that project inside at the next level, but those players also could get a shot at staying at their original position during their rookie seasons.
#5 - Steve Avila, TCU (6-31/2, 332 lbs.) - If you are looking for a mauler in the middle, Avila is your guy. A guard by trade, he also has experience at center and is a three-year starter. Avila is a tough guy that abuses his opponent and likes to finish blocks. He has lighter feet than you might image for someone his size and can adjust to moving targets in the run and pass game. While he wasn't a great tester in Indianapolis, Avila has some snap in his hips and shows decent change of direction skills. But battling in tight quarters is what Avila does best.
#4 - Cody Mauch, North Dakota State (6-5, 302 lbs.) - Mauch came to North Dakota State as a tight end and you can see that type of athletic ability in his game. He was a left tackle in college and could possibly play that position in the NFL, but most likely, Mauch will bump inside to guard. He might actually be able to play any of the five offensive line positions at the next level. His arm length isn't ideal for tackle, but he does move well. Mauch brings attitude to the field that is infectious to his teammates.
#2 - O'Cyrus Torrence, Florida (6-5, 330 lbs.) - Torrence is a throwback old-school guard. He doesn't have position versatility, but projects as an immediate starter as a rookie. He is a big powerful human being that consistently mauls his opponent. He was a three-year starter at the University of Louisiana and then transferred to Florida, where he excelled last season. This is a wide-bodied guard that can engulf his opponent in the run and pass game and has a finisher's mentality. Torrence bends at the waist more than you would like and is somewhat heavy-legged, but teams that stress size and physicality will adore him.
#2 - John Michael Schmitz, Minnesota (6-3 ½, 301 lbs.) - It is tough to poke holes in Schmitz's game. Schmitz spent six years at Minnesota and that experience shows on tape. He is just so solid, reliable, and consistent. Schmitz has a great head and feel for the game, is obviously smart, and well coached. He doesn't have great length and is a good, not great, athlete, but Schmitz is highly effective in both the run and pass game and was outstanding at the Senior Bowl. This is a player that projects as an immediate and long-time starter at the next level. Schmitz weighed in at the Combine at 301 pounds but looks much heavier and denser on tape.
#1 - Peter Skoronski, Northwestern (6-4, 313 lbs.) - A left tackle at Northwestern, there is much debate if Skoronski belongs on the offensive tackle list or amongst the interior offensive linemen. His arm measurements (32 ¼") and overall length are a concern for tackle, but most likely, the team that drafts Skoronski will start him outside and kick him in if that doesn't work out. Either way, he is a fantastic player and quite possibly the best blocker in all of college football last year. He is a good athlete and very fundamentally sound. Skoronski will certainly find a home at some spot on the offensive line next year and will likely excel. He started 33 games at Northwestern.