If you're a diehard SEC football fan, you know how critical every position is. If you have a subpar tackles? Good luck with those defensive linemen and linebackers, right? Ineffective defensive end? Good luck stopping the edge run game or keeping pressure on the quarterback.
So today, we take a look at the top offensive tackles in the SEC — and there are a bunch of them. Who are the guys who make the key block? And who holds their own when that defensive onslaught the SEC is known for comes at them full rush?
HERO Sports will break down every position and let you know what we think. We realize with the tackle, guard and center positions that there is some overlap, and that some players may end up playing a different position on the line when they get to the NFL, but this ranking below indicates what they're slated to play this fall coming out of spring football.
THE SKINNY: Ivey (6-5/305) spent the past two seasons starting at left guard, which may end up being his position in the NFL one day — who knows? But for now? He's made the switch this spring to the all-important blindside left tackle spot. This Apopka, Fla. native was well-known through recruiting and hasn't disappointed. Last year he was a two-time SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week and received all-SEC honors from several media outlets. He has a very bright future ahead of him and could easily end up going pro after this season.
STATS: Started 8 out of 12 games at left guard as a true freshman in 2015, then started 13 out of 14 games at left guard again in 2016.
THE SKINNY: Smith (6-6/305) is in a similar boat with Martez Ivey above, from Florida. He has played guard much of his career and may project at that position when the NFL comes calling, but for now he'll be manning the right tackle position after being asked to move there during the spring. Regardless of whether he's at right guard like in the past or right tackle like he'll be this fall, he's an anchor on the line.
STATS: Has appeared in 39 games with 27 consecutive starts dating back to 2014.
THE SKINNY: Williams (6-5/295) started at right tackle for the Crimson Tide as a true freshman last fall. Now, let that sink in — a true freshman, starting at tackle for the great Nick Saban. That's an incredible and rare feat, but there Williams was, making way for Jalen Hurts and the great season Alabama had last fall. They can count on him for at least another two years, but after that? He may be seeing dollar signs. This is one very talented sophomore.
STATS: Selected as a freshman all-american by several entities. He finished with 29 knockdown blocks last year and started on day one. Was picked offensive player of the week five times by the Alabama staff.
THE SKINNY: Little (6-6/320) was considered by some to be the top prospect in the 2016 signing class, and he didn't disappoint last year. He lined up against Myles Garrett, Carl Lawson and Arden Key and didn't back down last year as a true freshman. He has dropped 20 pounds this past year and looked good in spring ball.
STATS: Little started four games last year but is expected to be a bigger contributor this year and has loads of upside.
THE SKINNY: Richmond (6-5/300) redshirted in 2015 but was a solid contributor last fall and now is primed to be one of the key cogs on the offensive line as a redshirt sophomore in 2017. Considered one of the state of Tennessee's top prospects in 2015, coming out of Memphis, he helped pave the way to a ton of yards in starts against Vanderbilt, Missouri and Kentucky, just to name a few.
STATS: Richmond started five games at left tackle last year and played in eight total games.
Is five not enough? Here's a look at the next best batch of great offensive tackles in the SEC:
HERO Sports is dedicated to college football, with an emphasis on FCS coverage. We are proud to be the go-to site for comprehensive FCS analysis for fans across the country. HERO Sports also publishes betting odds and insights for FBS games.