When looking at the players returning to Arizona’s offensive line next season, there’s little reason to believe it won’t be a position of strength.
Arizona returns starters Layth Friekh, Freddie Tagaloa, Gerhard de Beer, and Jacob Alsadek. It also brings back players with experience such as Zach Hemmila and T.D. Gross.
Looking at the depth chart, we assume that Friekh will hold on to his spot at left tackle. We’re big fans of Gross, but he has yet to be able to get over that hump and earn a starting job.
At the very least, both Friekh and Gross should improve enough where both will see significant time in the rotation at left tackle.
Figuring Tagaloa is healthy, he should get the spot at left guard. He wasn’t nearly as good as people thought he would be, but the benefit of that combined with a late injury is that it would be a major surprise to see him declare early.
Instead, the hope is that he will return next season healthy and take on the job of being one of the senior leaders on the line.
With Cayman Bundage departing, center is a major concern. Sure, Bundage had numerous bad snaps this past season, but he was easily the best option at center.
Now that he is gone, we’re guessing there will be a major position battle there. Hemmila is probably the early favorite, especially when you consider his experience over Levi Walton.
Nathan Eldridge redshirted this past season, but keep an eye out for him. He has experience snapping the ball and spent quite a bit of time at center this season.
With none of the players at center having a clear leg up on the competition, we wouldn’t be surprised if a player like Eldridge made a major push to play.
At right guard, Alsadek has a complete lock at the position. There’s no competition and he is likely the best lineman on the team.
Right tackle is another interesting battle now that Lene Maiava has graduated. Arizona has some options in that it could choose to move Alex Kosinski into the rotation at guard and move Tagaloa back to tackle or simply put Gerhard de Beer in there.
Cody Creason is also likely to push to play somewhere and we have no idea how Keenan Walker and Michael Eletise will come in.
It’s difficult for an offensive lineman to play right away, but if there were two guys that are good enough to do it, it is certainly those two.
At the very least, we know Arizona has some depth and guys to move around, which wasn’t always the case last season.