In a league full of excellent o-linemen, these five are the best.
As we barrel towards the start of the 2022 college football season, let’s take a look at who the top players are in the Big Ten. These lists won’t be biased towards the Badgers in any way although we all know that every player on Wisconsin is better than every player on any other team.
If you thought I wasn’t going to try to force more fat kids in this list than I was supposed to, you don’t know me very well!
Jack Nelson, left tackle, Wisconsin
Trevor Keegan, left guard, Michigan
Dawand Jones, right tackle, Ohio State
Luke Haggard, left tackle, Indiana
Jaelyn Duncan, left tackle Maryland
Alex Palczewski, right tackle, Illinois
Turner Corcoran, left tackle, Nebraska
No. 5: Joe Tippmann, Center, Wisconsin, RS junior
Tippmann burst onto the scene in 2021 as one of the top centers in a conference full of good ones. Initially recruited to Wisconsin as a tackle out of the state of Indiana, he has the athleticism and frame of a tackle on the interior at 6-foot-6, which isn’t overly common. Tippmann is excellent as a puller and getting out in space and locating his targets.
Heading into 2022, Tippmann is among the top centers in the conference, and he should continue to spearhead and lead what should be a continually improving offensive line for the Badgers, with Jack Nelson moving to left tackle and veteran Tyler Beach kicking inside to left guard in front of phenom RB Braelon Allen.
No. 4: John Michael Schmitz, Center, Minnesota, RS senior
While I’m going to take this sentence to deliver a tongue-in-cheek cheap shot at him having two first names and indirectly correlating it to P.J. Fleck despite him having nothing to do with the situation, Schmitz is the real deal as a center. He was considered a draftable prospect in last year’s draft, but opted to spend another season with Fleck (stock down).
In all seriousness, Minnesota has done a great job developing an identity up front of physical and smart linemen, and Schmitz is as good as anyone they have had along the offensive line, which has included NFL players such as Daniel Fa’alele, Blaise Andries, and Donnell Greene, among others. Look for Minnesota to be good up front again this fall with the newly rehabbed RB Mohamed Ibrahim (hoping he stays healthy) running behind Schmitz and co.
No. 3: Luke Wypler, Center, Ohio State, RS sophomore
Wypler started for the first time as a full-time player in 2021 and quickly asserted himself as arguably the top center in the conference behind Tyler Linderbaum, who is now applying his craft as the starting center for the Baltimore Ravens. Wypler took over in Columbus once Harry Green stepped away from the game due to mental health reasons.
Wypler and the next player on this list, along with Dawand Jones, should lead one of the top, and possibly most talented, units in the conference in 2022. With C.J. Stroud, TreVeyon Henderson and a host of former 5-star receivers returning, I regret to inform you that the Buckeyes should once again be a wagon offensively in 2022.
No. 2: Paris Johnson Jr., left tackle, Ohio State, RS sophomore
Paris Johnson is the most talented offensive lineman in the conference. He’s got the ideal size at 6-foot-7 and upwards of 300 pounds with the feet of a dancing bear, he’s had NFL scouts drooling over his potential since he stepped on campus in 2020. A former 5-star recruit (surprise), he played in 2020 when injuries ravaged Ohio State up front during their playoff run.
This past season, he took one for the team, and played right guard, in order to allow Ohio State to play their best five linemen at the same time, but not necessarily where they were best at.
In 2022, Johnson Jr. will take over for Nicholas Petit-Frere, now of the Tennessee Titans, and along with Dawand Jones, could form the most talented tackle combination in the nation. Johnson is a surefire future first round pick based on size and athleticism alone.
No. 1: Peter Skoronski, left tackle, Northwestern, RS sophomore
Fun fact: Skoronski’s grandpa, Bob Skoronski, started at left tackle on all five of Vince Lombardi’s championship teams, Super Bowls and others. So the lineage was clear from the beginning. Skoronski was a 4-star recruit who was considered a huge win for the Wildcats at the time, and they were quickly proven right.
An interior player by trade, Skoronski was forced to play left tackle when future first round pick and current Chargers’ left tackle Rashawn Slater opted out of the 2020 Covid campaign. Skoronski quickly asserted himself, and hasn’t left since.
One of the few watchable aspects of Northwestern’s offense in 2021, Skoronski would likely be the first lineman selected if the 2023 NFL Draft happened today from an NFL readiness perspective. He doesn’t have the size or length of the Ohio State skyscrapers, but Skoronski is the best blocker of the group, which at the end of the day still has to mean something. If Northwestern is any good on offense in 2022, it’ll begin at the left tackle spot with Peter Skoronski.