Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Playing in the trenches is far from a glamorous job, but the guys who do it exceptionally well on Saturdays get rewarded with handsome professional contracts that reflect their true worth to an NFL franchise.
Here are the top offensive linemen heading into the 2014 FBS season:
CEDRIC OGBUEHI: For four straight years, Texas A&M has had a player drafted among the top 10 picks, and the 6-foot-5, 300-pound Ogbuehi should continue the streak. While not as fundamentally sound as former teammates Luke Joeckel and Jake Matthews, Ogbuehi has more athleticism. He has made a smooth transition from guard to right tackle and is now poised to move over to the left side, where he should flourish. College Station is a conveyor belt of talent at the tackle position and that trend will continue in 2014.
BRANDON SCHERFF: A complete package with great size (6-5, 320), stellar technique and plenty of experience, Iowa's Scherff should be able to make a swift transition from the college game to the pro game and continue to perform well. He earned All-America second-team honors and was an All-Big Ten first- team member as a junior in 2013. Equally adept at run and pass blocking, he is the anchor of the Hawkeyes' offensive front and should soon be providing the same kind of support at the NFL level.
CAMERON ERVING: Florida State won the national title last season thanks to a Heisman-winning quarterback and playmakers all around. That includes a dominant offensive front, anchored by the All-American Erving. The 6-6, 305- pounder was named to the All-ACC first team and was awarded the Jacobs Blocking Trophy as the conference's top offensive lineman. A converted defensive tackle, Erving plays with an aggressive nature. Quick feet and above-average athleticism have him ranked among the best at his position. He has come a long way in such a short time that the already proficient bookend could actually get better with another season in Tallahassee.
ANDRUS PEAT: Regarded by some as the best college football recruit in 2012, the 6-7, 315-pound Peat has not disappointed since stepping on the campus at Stanford. He earned All-Pac 12 second-team honors in 2013 and picked up some All-America accolades as well despite being just a sophomore. Son of former NFL lineman Todd Peat, Andrus continues to develop and could be one of the first players off the board when the 2015 NFL Draft gets underway.
LA'EL COLLINS: After starting all of LSU's games at left guard in 2012, the 6-5, 315-pound Collins jumped outside to left tackle in 2013, earning All-SEC second-team honors. One of the most powerful run blockers in the college game, Collins decided to return to Baton Rouge to fine-tune his technique and improve his draft stock. That shouldn't be hard for a guy who has played in 32 career games, with 25 starts both inside and out.
TRE' JACKSON: Like his teammate (Erving), Jackson played a major role in Florida State's run to the national title. The 6-4, 340-pounder was an All-ACC first-team member and picked up All-America honors in 2013 as well. He could have opted for the NFL after last season but has returned to the college ranks and should once again dominate the opposition. Great size, solid athleticism and a mauler's mentality make Jackson a can't-miss prospect who should put the finishing touches on a great college career in 2014.
A.J. CANN: South Carolina has never produced an All-SEC first-team member along the offensive line, but with a veteran group returning to Columbia, that may just change in 2014. The likely candidate to get the job done is Cann (6-4, 320), who earned third-team honors in 2013. A seasoned veteran with 38 career starts under his belt, Cann represents the top interior lineman in the SEC heading into the 2014 campaign.
LAKEN TOMLINSON: Duke has become relevant again in college football under David Cutcliffe and here is yet another list with a Blue Devil on it. The 6-3, 320-pound Tomlinson has been a fixture along Duke's offensive front over the last couple of years, being named a Freshman All-American in 2011 and earning All-ACC second-team honors in 2013. The decision to take up football after coming to America from Jamaica has paid off for this Blue Devil, who continues to improve his NFL stock with each successful season.
JOSUE MATIAS: Heisman winner Jameis Winston's job was made a little easier at Florida State with an offensive front that rivaled any in the nation, and Matias is yet another supremely gifted lineman residing in Tallahassee. At 6-6, 331 pounds, the senior has started the last two seasons inside for FSU and has started 29 consecutive games dating back to the 2011 bowl season. Unlike Jackson, Matias relies more on his technique to move his defensive counterparts around. He should be able to continue improving his craft as FSU makes another run at a national crown in 2014.
ARIE KOUANDJIO: The older brother of Cyrus Kouandjio, who was selected in the second round of this year's NFL Draft, Arie (6-5, 315) hasn't exactly lived up to expectations at Alabama. Injuries have derailed his ascent to the top of the class, but he could put it all together in his last year in Tuscaloosa, provided he stays on the field. While not the road-grader that is his younger brother, Arie may be a better athlete and has won rave revues for his passion and determination. While those kind of intangibles are important, his status will ultimately come down to his surgically repaired knees and how they hold up over the course of the season.
HRONISS GRASU: The 6-3, 300-pound Grasu took over the starting duties at center for Oregon as a redshirt freshman and hasn't relinquished the role since, starting 40 straight games for the Ducks. Many feel he should have won the Rimington Award last season after earning All-America honors and being tabbed an All-Pac 12 first-teamer. Grasu is perfect for the Ducks' zone- blocking scheme and is the poster child for consistency at the FBS level.
REESE DISMUKES: An All-SEC first-team member in 2013, playing the pivot for Auburn during its run to the national championship game, Dismukes (6-3, 295) has now started 37 games under center over the last three seasons. A true leader up front, Dismukes is a complete athlete, with quickness, strength and a feel for the game. He is rarely caught out of position and plays with great balance, making him one of the top center prospects heading into the season.
B.J. FINNEY: After earning Freshman All-America honors in 2011, the 6-4, 300- pound Finney has followed that up by finding a place on the All-Big 12 first team the last two seasons. A former walk-on at Kansas State, Finney has evolved into a contender for the Rimington Trophy annually and started 38 straight games for the Wildcats. A true leader, he is the only offensive lineman in school history to be a team captain for three seasons. Consistency and durability are trademarks of his game and should serve him well at the next level.
JAKE BRENDEL: A First-Team Freshman All-American in 2012, the 6-4, 285-pound Brendel picked up All-Pac 12 honorable mention honors in 2013 and has now started 27 games over the last two seasons at UCLA. Brendel has done a nice job leading the way up front for the Bruins and their star quarterback Brett Hundley. He may need to add some bulk to maximize his NFL potential, but the third-year player has been a picture of consistency thus far.
EVAN BOEHM: Another Freshman All-American in 2012, this Missouri Tiger started 12 games at left guard. The 6-3, 315-pounder successfully transitioned to the center position in 2013 and is a cerebral player with natural leadership qualities. A big part of Missouri's run to the SEC East title last year, more is expected from the talented pivot in 2014.