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2018 NFL Draft position preview: Top 5 offensive linemen

The Giants need to continue to build their offensive line. Here are my names to watch

NCAA Football: Notre Dame at Texas Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

If there is one thing that fans of the New York Giants can agree upon, it is that they need to continue to build their offensive line.

Injuries have made evaluating the Giants’ offensive line a bit thorny, as does the impending free agency of Justin Pugh, Weston Richburg, D.J. Fluker, and Brett Jones (restricted) — all of whom have played well for the Giants.

The team will likely re-sign at least two of them, and should sign at least three. But the cost of doing so makes it all the more important for the Giants to draft what could be the crucial final piece to their line.

The 2017 draft featured a shallow offensive line class, and the 2018 offensive tackle class looks similar, particularly after injuries struck the top prospects. In part because of that, in part because the Giants might need a tackle, a guard, or a center (unlikely), and in part for brevity’s sake, I will be lumping all of the offensive linemen together.

1 - Quenton Nelson (OG, Notre Dame)

The top spot on our list is a no-brainer. Nelson is the best lineman in the draft, arguably the top lineman in the country, and the only offensive lineman in my Top 10 list (third on that list). I have raved about him throughout the season, and he should be a top-10 pick in the 2018 draft, if not a top-5. He plays with elite power, technique, and awareness. He has agility and balance in pass protection, and all the “nasty” you could ask for.

2 - Mike McGlinchey (OT, Notre Dame)

With the injuries to Conner Williams (Texas), and Trey Adams (Washington), McGlinchey has a clear claim to the title of top tackle in the draft. He is a long right tackle turned left tackle, with good power and a very solid understanding of angles and leverage. Watching McGlinchey work with Nelson in a Pro Style offense can be a joy. He isn’t as athletic as Ronnie Stanley, and can struggle with speed off the edge, but he is a smooth enough mover and knows how to use angles to minimize the deficiency. His game is somewhat similar to former Michigan State tackle Jack Conklin’s, who was rumored to be a favorite of the Giants in 2016.

3 - Billy Price (C/G, Ohio State)

Price looks like the top center in the draft, but is also versatile enough to be a guard as well. He has solid size, listed at 6 feet, 4 inches, 315 pounds, he has good balance and movement skills, as well as the power to stand up to big nose tackles or create space in the run game.

4- Braden Smith (OG, Auburn)

A former offensive tackle, Smith has moved to guard and it suits him well, a smart move for a young man who was likely destined to play guard in the NFL. At 6’5,” 305, he has an athletic build that would fit well at left guard, but could also play right guard or move out to tackle in a pinch. Smith’s greatest aspect, however, is mental. He plays with consistently solid technique, balanced movement, accurate and heavy hands, and a good understanding of leverage and angles. In short, he is a thoroughly solid and dependable offensive lineman. He also plays with definite mean streak, constantly looking to bury defenders and play through the whistle.

5 - Isaiah Wynn (G/C/T, Georgia)

Because of his size, 6’2,” 300, Wynn will likely be considered an interior lineman by many teams. He has started on the interior before and will likely excel there in the NFL. However, he also has the ability to play on the edges, and could hang on the outside. Wynn is a big part of Georgia’s dangerous run game, consistently opening holes for Nick Chubb and Sony Michel

Other names to watch

Conner Williams (OT, Texas)*, Trey Adams (OT, Washington)*

Note: Williams and Adams could have been on this list, but are both dealing with knee injuries and it is uncertain whether they will declare for the draft.

Mason Cole (C/T/G, Michigan), Mitch Hyatt (OT, Clemson), Will Hernandez (G, UTEP), Martinas Rankin (OT, Mississippi State), Orlando Brown Jr. (OT, Oklahoma),