To download this week's edition of the 'Sun Devil Source Report' podcast and listen to our 'Pac-12 Preview: Wide receivers and tight ends' episode, click here.
As the spring comes to a close and the summer arrives, SunDevilSource will provide broader context for our Arizona State player capsules and player preparedness and potential grades by embarking on a podcast series that compares the Sun Devils' depth at various position groups to the rest of the teams around the Pac-12 conference.
Each week, SunDevilSource analysts Chris Karpman and Kerry Crowley will review position groups for each Pac-12 team, and draft the players from those groups in order of which players they would most like to have on their own hypothetical rosters. In each podcast, Chris and Kerry trade off picks in an effort to build the deepest team.
After releasing their wide receiver and tight end rankings last week, the next installment of the series features SunDevilSource's offensive line rankings. With only four of the 12 offensive linemen who received First or Second-Team All-Pac-12 recognition returning to college this season, there's significant turnover on many of the offensive lines around the conference this season.
Offensive line rankings
1. Washington-- Even though the Huskies lose First Team All-Pac-12 guard Jake Eldrenkamp, Washington returns First Team All-Pac-12 left tackle Trey Adams and Second Team All-Pac-12 center Coleman Shelton. Adams accomplished a rare feat during the 2016 season, becoming the first non junior or senior to be recognized as a First-Team All-Conference offensive lineman in the Pac-12 since 2013. The Huskies were fifth in the conference in sacks allowed and sixth in rushing yards last season, but the return of Adams and Shelton coupled with the Kaleb McGary's presence at the right tackle position makes this unit our top offensive line heading into the 2017 season.
2. Colorado-- The Buffaloes are still quite young up front, but they pack as much of a punch as any front five in the conference. Led by Second Team All-Pac-12 left tackle Jeromy Irwin, the Buffaloes should have no trouble protecting starting quarterback Steven Montez and paving the way for running back Phillip Lindsey. Honorable Mention All-Conference honoree Gerrad Kough returns as the team's starter at the left guard position, which gives the left side of the Buffaloes' line one of the best tackle-guard combos in the Pac-12. The key for Colorado is replacing center Alex Kelley, who was regarded as one of the smartest linemen in the league and will be one of the team's most significant personnel losses.
3. Washington State-- The Cougars aren't going to blow anyone off the ball in the run game, and they didn't do an especially admirable job of protecting Luke Falk last season, but the return of left guard Cody O'Connell and right tackle Cole Madison gives Washington State two of the most dependable linemen in the conference. Like Colorado, Washington State will have trouble finding a replacement at the center position for Riley Sorenson, but the Cougars have recruited the trenches well enough to do exactly what head coach Mike Leach asks of them. Washington State isn't going to produce NFL-caliber linemen at an impressive rate, but Leach has a number of big-bodied players who are more than capable of fending off pass rushers to help make the program's Air Raid scheme work.
4. USC-- The Trojans' quarterback, running back, wide receiver and tight end units all slotted into the top three of our position group ratings, which is why it's surprising to see USC all the way back at fourth in our offensive line preview. USC is one of the teams hit hardest by key personnel losses in 2017, as First Team All-Conference tackles Chad Wheeler and Zach Banner and Second Team All-Conference guard Damien Mama have all moved on. Nevertheless, the Trojans always find a way to reload up front, and Chuma Edoga and Clayton Johnston are both capable replacements at the tackle positions. Nico Falah and Viane Talamaivao should be able to give the Trojans what they're looking for on the interior of a line that will be tested early in the season, but could still wind up being one of the league's best by the end of the year.
5. Oregon-- At times during the 2016 season, the Ducks were forced to start four redshirt freshmen along their offensive front. While Oregon certainly experienced growing pains, new head coach Willie Taggart will be the beneficiary of a group that should be seasoned beyond its years come 2018 and 2019. This season, the Ducks should field one of the conference's better units thanks to the return of All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention honorees Calvin Throckmorton and Jake Hanson, who both have excellent upside and could develop into some of the league's most consistent linemen by the time their careers come to an end.
6. UCLA-- Perhaps it's a leap of faith ranking the Bruins this high after UCLA finished with a conference-worst 84 rushing yards per game last season, but much of the unit's struggles were a result of poor coaching. Though UCLA loses Conor McDermott at the left tackle position, the Bruins do have First-Team All-Pac-12 center Scott Quessenberry back in the fold. Former Phoenix Mountain Pointe standout Kenny Lacy is the returning starter at left guard, while Najee Toran projects as the starter at right guard. UCLA has players who are physically capable of playing at a high level, but the Bruins will need better coaching to take a step forward in 2017.
7. Stanford-- The 2016 season was a down year for Stanford's offensive line, which is a unit that has traditionally ranked near the top of the conference since the Jim Harbaugh/David Shaw era began. The Cardinal didn't produce even a single Honorable Mention All-Conference player a season ago, but the unit only loses senior guard Johnny Caspers. Aside from Caspers' graduation, Stanford has nearly every other asset back in the fold from a group that struggled near the beginning of the season but began to come together later on in the year.
8. Arizona State-- The Sun Devils finished dead last in the Pac-12 in sacks allowed last year and just 10th in rushing yards, but ASU returns a number of promising pieces up front including juniors Sam Jones and Quinn Bailey, who figure to anchor the team's ground attack. Sophomore left tackle Cohl Cabral and sophomore right guard Steve Miller are inexperienced, but both players have NFL upside and could find themselves in the conversation for All-Conference honors later on in their career. The Sun Devils still have to decide between A.J. McCollum and Tyler McClure at the center position, but both players are seniors and neither should be a liability up front.
9. Utah--While USC lost three First or Second Team All-Pac-12 linemen this offseason, Utah lost four starters from a season ago to the NFL Draft this April. Led by Denver Broncos' first round draft choice Garett Bolles, the Utes watched as Sam Tevi, Isaac Asiata and J.J. Dielman all heard their names called during the selection process. Though having four draft choices is a ringing endorsement for the way the Utes develop their talent, it also leaves the cupboard somewhat barren. Still, the Utes recruit extremely well in the trenches, and players like Jackson Barton, Darrin Paulo and Salesi Uhatafe are all expected to pick up where their predecessors left off.
10. Arizona-- The Wildcats aren't especially physical or athletic up front, but like Washington State, Arizona has found linemen who are able to execute well within their offensive system. Arizona didn't enjoy the type of offensive success the Cougars did last season, but the Wildcats still finished No. 1 in the conference in rushing yards per game thanks to the play of returning starters like Layth Friekh and Jacob Alsadek. The only key loss for Arizona is Freddie Tagaloa, so Rich Rodriguez still has some pieces to work with.
11. Oregon State-- The Beavers lose three starters up front including Second Team All-Conference guard and NFL Draft selection Sean Harlow, which means Oregon State will largely be starting from scratch with this unit. The Beavers' best returning piece is left guard Gus Lavaka, who was an Honorable Mention All-Conference player a season ago.
12. Cal-- The Bears didn't have a great offensive line last season, and like the Beavers, they're also losing three starters. Aaron Cochran's decision to transfer away from the program takes away a potential left tackle option for new offensive coordinator Beau Baldwin, who will need to be creative with the way he structures his unit this fall.