By the (star) numbers: offensive line

This week we're going through every position and analyzing the accuracy of Scout.com's star ratings on Alabama's actual performance at that position. Up next: offensive line. Again these stories are about players who have already seen time on the field.

D.J. Fluker – four-star

Barrett Jones – four-star

Arie Kouandjio – four-star

Cyrus Kouandjio – five-star

Austin Shepherd – three-star

Anthony Steen – three-star

Chance Warmack – three-star

Kellen Williams – three-star

One of the strongest parts of Alabama's 2012 squad is its offensive line.

Size, speed, experience, athleticism—the Crimson Tide has those necessary intangibles to be better than they were last year at this position, and last year, they were pretty good.

In 2011, Alabama's offense averaged almost 430 yards per game, while allowing the fewest sacks (13) in the SEC.

The starting line consists of sophomore left tackle Cyrus Kouandjio (6-foot-5, 311 lbs.), senior left guard Chance Warmack (6-3, 320), senior center Barrett Jones (6-5, 302), junior right guard Anthony Steen (6-3, 303) and junior right tackle D.J. Fluker (6-6, 335), and all but Kouandjio—who played in eight games as a true freshman before tearing his ACL last season—are returning starters.

This line has size, averaging a height of 6-foot-4 and a weight of 314 lbs. Those numbers notwithstanding, head coach Nick Saban says this group is athletic, a deadly combination, especially for a veteran group. Jones will be a fourth year starter, Fluker and Warmack third year, and Steen a second year.

With Jones, the 2011 Outland Trophy winner, leading the line—who have all lived up/are living up to their Scout.com star ratings, by the way—quarterback A.J. McCarron will have enough time to make a sandwich after he takes a snap.

Jones, who played left tackle last year, has been moved to center, Steen suffered a concussion last year and Kouandjio has been recovering from his knee injury, but aside from those minor details, probably the biggest question here is depth, and even that isn't a glaring issue with Arie Kouandjio, Austin Shepherd and Kellen Williams, plus a few strong others waiting their turn.

The Crimson Tide could have the best offensive line in the SEC in 2012. And perhaps one of the most stout in the country, too.

It's also worth noting that NFL scouts suggest Jones, Fluker and Warmack could all be first round draft choices next spring.


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