Position Preview: Offensive Line

CuseNation.com will breakdown each position entering training camp. Today we take a look at the offensive line.

Syracuse will start training camp the first week in August as they prepare for the 2014 season. CuseNation.com takes a look at the offensive line entering camp.

Current Depth Chart

Starters: Sean Hickey, Omari Palmer, John Miller, Nick Robinson, Michael Lasker

Backups: Jamar McGloster, Rob Trudo, Jason Emerich, Aaron Roberts, Ivan Foy

Third String: Denzel Ward, Seamus Shanley, Donnie Foster, Alex Hayes, Jon Burton

The Incumbents

Four of the starting five offensive linemen from last season return in Hickey, Trudo, Robinson and Foy. While two are listed as backups right now, they should be the favorites to start in the opener against Villanova.

Hickey is an NFL prospect who has a chance to get into the first two rounds with a strong season. He is the only Syracuse player on the preseason All-ACC team. Hickey was the best offensive lineman on the team last year and will be that again during the 2014 campaign.

On the inside, Rob Trudo and Nick Robinson are the returning starters. Trudo is a true road grader who may be the best run blocker along the line. He is skilled at opening up interior running lanes, but has to take that next step in pass protection. Specifically, with his footwork in pass protection.

Robinson is a solid all-around offensive lineman who is good in all areas but not great in any one. He may not have as much upside as players like Omari Palmer or Aaron Roberts, but he has a lot of experience. Strength is a concern here, but he is not going to make major mistakes.

Breakout Potential

Omari Palmer has clearly made strides from his sophomore season to his junior year. If either Trudo or Robinson struggle, or suffer an injury, Palmer is in line for major playing time. In fact, he may rotate in regardless because the staff cannot keep him off the field.

Don’t be surprised if he is factor along the offensive line this season and has a breakout year of sorts. That momentum could carry him into a senior campaign as a full-time starter.

Freshman Impact

Syracuse landed two offensive line prospects in the 2014 class in guard Aaron Roberts and tackle Denzel Ward. Ward is a near lock to redshirt this season. Roberts is a likely candidate as well, with quality depth along the interior of the offensive line.

However, if one of the two is going to see action, it will be Roberts. He has a lot of upside to be a multi-year starter for Syracuse, but will only be forced into playing time if there are severe injury issues.

Most Important Player

Macky MacPherson will be tough to replace for Syracuse. But John Miller is doing everything he can to make the Syracuse coaches feel confident in their new center. Miller has earned the praise of the coaching staff throughout spring practice and from tackle Sean Hickey at ACC Media Days.

Miller has shed weight and transformed his body. He is now more mobile, quicker out of his stance and is showing more athleticism in his new frame. He has the potential to be a strong center this season.

How Miller develops will be key for the success of the offensive line this season, as the center makes any adjustments in assignments or protection at the line of scrimmage. With solid veterans at every other position, Miller’s productivity is what will separate a decent offensive line from one of the better ones in the conference.

Projected Starters

Despite what the depth chart may say, it’s hard to see Rob Trudo not in the starting lineup. He has been one of Syracuse’s best offensive linemen over the last three seasons. Ivan Foy will also have a chance to earn his spot back.

The offensive line will ultimately look familiar, with John Miller being the only new face from a year ago. The projected starting five will be Sean Hickey, Rob Trudo, John Miller, Nick Robinson and Ivan Foy.

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