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Prospect Profiles: The Offensive Line Class

In order to familiarize fans with some of the top names in the 2018 NFL Draft, will be highlighting top prospects by position each week leading up to the first day of the draft on April 26th.

*Next up is a look at some of the premiere offensive linemen according to pundits. *

Will Hernandez

Position: GuardSchool: Texas-El Paso
Height: 6-2
Weight: 348 pounds
NFL Network Pro Comparison: Richie Incognito

Few, if any, fans knew Will Hernandez's name throughout his four-year collegiate career.

Now he's one of the most buzzworthy prospects in this year's draft.

The 6-2, 348-pound Las Vegas native boasts an impressive blend of power and athleticism.  Hernandez has nimble feet to give opposing pass rushers fits when protecting the quarterback while getting after defenders at multiple levels in the run game. Coaches also love his aggressive nature as he plays through the whistle on every snap.

Hernandez has started all 49 games the past four years at left guard for Texas-El Paso (UTEP). During that span, the Miners gave up only 1.47 sacks per game including 27 games in which the team gave up one or zero sacks. After two solid seasons, he really came into his own as a junior in 2016 when he was named a second-team All-American, becoming the first UTEP offensive lineman to ever earn the honor.  He also became just the sixth player in school history to ever make an All-America team, and the first since 2006.

As a result, it's easy to see why the most decorated lineman in UTEP history has a strong chance to be selected in the first round come draft day.

Combine Metrics
40-Yard Dash:5.15 seconds
Bench Press: 37 reps
Vertical Jump: 24.0 inches
Broad Jump: 104.0 inches

Mike McGlinchey

Position: TackleSchool: Notre Dame
Height: 6-8
Weight: 312 pounds
NFL Network Pro Comparison: Jared Veldheer

It's not a question of if Mike McGlinchey will be a first round pick per the majority of draft pundits.

It's a matter of how high he'll go.

In fact, some believe the Notre Dame tackle is a surefire bet to go in the top 10 following four standout seasons in South Bend.

McGlinchey played in 51 games over his collegiate career, making his first start as a redshirt freshman in Notre Dame's 31-28 Music City Bowl victory over LSU.  Entrenched as a full-time started in 2015, Notre Dame was one of only 11 schools to average 205 yards rushing and 250 passing per game.  It was the first time the school had accomplished that feat since 1970.

Overall, McGlinchey spent his three seasons as a starter at right and left tackle, and really made a name for himself in 2016 when he was recognized as a second-team All-American.  He's also the type of leader teams crave as he served as a captain his final two seasons as a Golden Domer.

A massive 6-8, 312-pound prospect, McGlinchey checks all the boxes you look for in a tackle.  He is a good athlete for someone his size as experts praise his ability to bend low.  He is also considered a superb technician who thrives with excellent upper body strength. Football also runs in McGlinchey's blood as he's a first cousin of Atlanta Falcons QB Matt Ryan.

Combine Metrics
Bench Press: 24 reps
Vertical Jump: 28.5 inches
Broad Jump: 105.0 inches

Kolton Miller

Position: TackleSchool: UCLA
Height: 6-9
Weight: 310 pounds
NFL Network Pro Comparison: Nate Solder

Kolton Miller is a 6-9, 310-pound behemoth pundits predict has the tools to anchor an offensive line for the next decade.

Miller arrived on campus as a highly-regarded four-star recruit. He made his mark as a redshirt sophomore in 2015 as UCLA gave up only 14 sacks all year, which was the second-lowest total in Bruins history.  

After an injury-shortened sophomore campaign, UCLA moved him to left tackle last year as he was tasked with protecting Josh Rosen.  He rewarded that decision with an impressive season in which he was named a second-team All-Pac-12 selection.  Per Pro Football Focus, Miller allowed only 15 QB pressures on 544 pass-block attempts last season, which ranked as the 10th most efficient score among 121 qualifying offensive tackles.

Miller uses every bit of his massive frame to his advantage. He has a powerful first punch to knock his man back at the point of attack and plays with a mean streak scouts look for in a lineman. Miller also has quick enough feet to stay with edge rushers' speed around the outside or counter moves inside.

With room to grow as he continues to learn the game and improve his technique, some experts believe he's only scratching the surface of his potential.

Combine Metrics
40-Yard Dash:4.95 seconds
Bench Press: 24 reps
Vertical Jump: 31.5 inches
Broad Jump: 121.0 inches

Quenton Nelson

Position: GuardSchool: Notre Dame
Height: 6-5
Weight: 329 pounds
NFL Network Pro Comparison: Larry Allen

Just how high are draft experts on Quenton Nelson?

A few have predicted he is already a surefire bet for the Pro Football Hall of Fame before he's even taken an NFL snap.

While that is quite the bold prediction, it's easy to see why so many are praising the Notre Dame star.

In fact, while it is at times hard to quantify an offensive lineman's contributions, consider the fact that he is the first offensive lineman to be named Notre Dame's team MVP since 1975.

Nelson is an intimidating force in the middle as defenders know they are in for a long day as soon as they take the field. Strong as an ox, the 6-5, 329-pounder is impossible to move once he anchors down thanks to his rare, pure power. He is equally effectively at the second level, wiping away linebackers to open lanes in the run game.

With some saying his floor is that of a perennial All-Pro or Pro Bowler, it's safe to say Nelson will be one of the first players off the board as soon as the draft begins.

Combine Metrics
Bench Press: 35 reps
Vertical Jump: 26.5 inches
Broad Jump: 105.0 inches

Connor Williams

Position: Guard/TackleSchool: Texas
Height: 6-5
Weight: 320 pounds
*NFL Network Pro Comparison: Jake Matthews *

It can sometimes be hard for offensive linemen to make immediate impacts right off the bat, but most draft experts believe Connor Williams is up for the task.

After all, he did just that as a true freshman in 2014 when he started all 12 games at left tackle for Texas.

However, it was his standout sophomore season in which Williams truly made a name for himself.  A consensus first-team All-American in 2016, he became only the fourth sophomore in Texas history, and the first since Earl Thomas in 2009, to accomplish that feat. With little left to prove, Williams declared for the draft following a knee injury that cost him most of his junior season.

The 6-5, 320-pounder is regarded as one of the draft's top technicians. He plays with the nasty edge teams covet, consistently finishing his blocks through the whistle.  He also boasts impressive footwork as well as strong initial jolt off the snap.

While he was a tackle throughout his Longhorns career, pundits believe some teams may eye Williams at guard in the NFL.  Wherever he plays, whoever drafts him is getting a plug-and-play starter and leader in the locker room from day one.

Combine Metrics
40-Yard Dash:5.05 seconds
Bench Press: 26 reps
Vertical Jump: 34.0 inches
Broad Jump: 112.0 inches

The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed above represent those of individual authors and do not represent the opinions or policies of the Chargers' organization, front office staff, coaches and executives.

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