ANN ARBOR, MI - APRIL 01: Head coach Jim Harbaugh of the Michigan Wolverines listens in on a huddle during the Michigan Football Spring Game on April 1, 2016 at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Michigan's offensive line receives high praise as a potentially elite group


Though the program is well known for producing top-tier offensive line play on an annual basis, the Michigan Wolverines have really struggled in that area in recent years. Under the leadership of Rich Rodriguez and Brady Hoke, Michigan's talent level dipped considerably up front and, as a result, the team did not field elite line play despite the presence of players like Taylor Lewan and Jake Long.

Phil Steele of ESPN predicts a strong comeback for Michigan's offensive line in 2016, however, as he broke down the best groups in the country at the position. Here is what Steele had to say in placing the Wolverines at number six nationally:

The Wolverines' O-line continues to gain experience. Last year, all five starters did start all 13 games.This year they lose their center but return 105 career starts (most in the Big Ten). This should be the best Michigan O-line in years.

For good measure, Steele projects Michigan to deploy the best offensive line in the Big Ten and that is high praise. There is still some level of uncertainty as to the five players that will begin the season in the starting lineup for Jim Harbaugh and company, but Mason Cole's move from tackle to center is the biggest news item from the offseason.

Cole, who stands at 6-foot-5 and 305 pounds, has the profile of a potentially elite center and this move should facilitate Michigan's improvement. Elsewhere, the likely starters at guard, Kyle Kalis and Ben Braden, have considerable experience, and the duo of tackles, Grant Newsome and Erik Magnuson, bring talent, skill and size to the table in a big way.



Because Michigan's offense could be predicated more on the passing game than most fans are used to, keeping quarterbacks John O'Korn and/or Wilton Speight upright will be a tall task for this offensive line. Beyond that, though, run blocking is always something that Harbaugh and his staff will dwell on, and expectations are quite high that the team's rushing offense will take a step forward behind this collection of blockers in 2016.