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Top interior lineman prospects heading into the NFL Combine

We’re continuing our look at positions of need for the Niners heading into the Combine. This time around it’s the interior of the offensive line that we’ll be examining.

NCAA Football: Senior Bowl Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Hello 49ers faithful! We're back once again with another look at prospects who could make a difference for San Francisco - this time it’s interior offensive linemen we will be looking at. I recently broke down offensive tackles and Cody Ford, who could potentially make the move from tackle to safety. He belongs near the top of this list but, for posterity’s sake, he won’t be included in these rankings - if you'd like to read up on him, though, take a gander at our list of top offensive tackles.

As always, let us know what you think in the comments below!

1. Elgton Jenkins, C, Mississippi State
Height: 6’4” - Weight: 310 lbs
Round Projection: Late 1st/early 2nd

Elgton Jenkins is my top center. Talk about a mauler - he had some heavyweight battles with stellar SEC defensive linemen over the years, and almost always matched their power with a colossally heavy anchor. While I’d rather have him move in straight lines than flow laterally down the line of scrimmage, Jenkins is a good athlete. The transition to the next level shouldn't be too rough as he has the typical size, quickness, and toughness you want to see in a player. Definitely has what it takes to be a very solid starter for years to come.

San Francisco, having just come off a season in which Weston Richburg was lining up at center for the red and gold, may be in line to shore up the interior of the offensive line. If they choose to do so in the draft then I think Jenkins make a lot of sense for the Niners.

2. Beau Benzschawel, OG, Wisconsin
Height: 6’6” - Weight: 315 lbs
Round Projection: 2

Beau Benzschawel is a solid, well-rounded guard prospect. His height hurts him at times and I’m concerned about him getting out-leveraged by short, powerful defensive tackles in the NFL. Other than that, though, he’s very likable just from the standpoint of sheer talent: he’s mobile, has a heavy anchor, and is a stellar combo blocker.

Benzschawel projects most favorably as a gap/power right guard at the NFL level. He provides ample push in the run game but in order to be a consistent starter in the NFL he will need to focus on not over-extending himself and finding more functional strength in his hands. Benzschawel is a frustrating talent who clearly has traits that can make an impact but his restrictions in mobility will make him very scheme specific in a power run heavy scheme. Maybe not the best fit for San Francisco but there’s potential for the Niners to make a trade with another team who may find themselves coveting the former Badger.

3. Chris Lindstrom, OG, Boston College
Height: 6’4” - Weight: 310 lbs
Round Projection: 2

Chris Lindstrom made an awesome decision by moving from tackle to guard in his senior year at Boston College, and he dominated in the ACC. He has tackle feet - duh - and demonstrated the point-of-attack power and mean streak needed to win inside in the run game. Lindstrom’s fundamentally sound with his hands. Stunts don’t confuse him either. All around just a pretty solid prospect.

There really isn’t much to dislike. He has no major flaws in his game, is extremely consistent in his approach and has the experience needed to make an easy transition to the NFL. Few guards offer his combination of size, movement skills and technique, as Lindstrom rarely loses any 1v1 battles and consistently creates movement in the run game. He may not be an elite prospect, but Lindstrom looks like an immediate starter with enough scheme versatility to work for almost any NFL team.

4. Garrett Bradbury, C, NC State
Height: 6’3” - Weight: 300 lbs
Round Projection: 2/3

Bradbury has the most upside of any of the center prospects because, as a former tight end, he’s crazy athletic for the center spot. Some reach blocks -- getting to the outside shoulder of a defensive lineman across a gap -- he put on film in college were unreal, blocks most NFL centers don’t have the quickness and loose hips to accomplish.

I’m just worried about his lack of anchoring, weight, and overall power. He has to make a sizable step in those related areas at the NFL level. There is a lot of intrigue surrounding him, though, and it’s based on the aforementioned level of athleticism he possesses. If he can round himself out as a player then he has the potential to be a really, really solid contributor as a starter for years to come.

5. Erik McCoy, C, Texas A&M
Height: 6’4” - Weight: 315 lbs
Round Projection: 3

McCoy is another battler at center and has above-average athleticism for the position. Low center of gravity and great grip strength too. Counter moves get the better of him a little too often for my liking but with more strength, he can be a quality pivot for a long time. He is a thickly built, powerful guy who can handle the strength of nose tackles one one one. He also often drives his man with short choppy steps and opens up holes in the running game. And while his strength might not be elite, it’s still very good and he should be able to step in and see similar results in the NFL.

His quickness and agility are a great compliment to his power and he can move well enough to thrive in a zone blocking scheme where he’d be required to do more than just try to push the man in front of him. Very good with run and pass blocking. Listed at 6’3, but his length doesn’t always show up because he doesn’t extend his arms. This is perhaps a sign that his upper body could be stronger. Overall, he has all the tools and is technically sound to the point where he can step into the NFL and be a starter next season.