Trench warfare is the way of the SEC. Defensive lines get most of the love, but you can't ignore the big bodies on the offensive side, either.
This week we’re looking at the best position groups in the conference, and today we assess the offensive lines:
Best of the best: Surprise, surprise, we have Alabama in the No. 1 spot. It feels like a broken record for this series, and it feels like a broken record in general. But Alabama reloads better than anyone in this league when it comes to the offensive line, and 2017 is no different. The Tide returns three starters in guard Ross Pierschbacher, center Bradley Bozeman and tackle Jonah Williams. Williams is the best of the bunch, and he's moving over to left tackle and replacing Cam Robinson. Williams was an all-SEC performer at RT last year and should be the strength of this line its most important position. Lester Cotton gives Alabama versatility at either right guard or right tackle, while true freshman Alex Leatherwood, a five-star prospect, might have the most upside up front, despite a relatively quiet spring. There is a fifth spot open at either right guard or right tackle, but Alabama has plenty of bodies to fill one of those positions before facing Florida State in Atlanta.
Next in line: LSU's line didn't exactly have a great performance in the weather-shortened spring game, but this line doesn't expect to look like that come September. The Tigers should get back two-year starter Will Clapp from a shoulder injury and also projected tackle right tackle starter Toby Weathersby, who dealt with a knee injury this spring. Clapp will be pegged to replace All-American talent Ethan Pocic at center, but as one of the SEC's best linemen, all indications are that he should be fine there. Versatile senior left tackle K.J. Malone, who has trained at all five offensive line positions, returns after starting all 12 games last year. Junior Maea Teuhema should take over the right guard spot but can play tackle as well, and he had a solid spring after starting 10 games last year. Junior Garrett Brumfield had an impressive spring at the left guard spot.
Don't sleep on: Auburn and Florida have pretty good talent coming back in 2017. Auburn is certainly getting a little more love than the Gators, and for good reason. Three quality starters are back in Austin Golson, Darius James and Braden Smith. Losing Alex Kozan and Robert Leff hurts, but the depth the Tigers have should help out a lot. Smith is one of the league's best players, and he's moving back to his old position at right tackle after playing guard the previous two seasons. Smith has started 27 straight games for the Tigers.
The Gators return four starters in Martez Ivey, T.J. McCoy, Tyler Jordan and Jawaan Taylor. Taylor was a pleasant surprise during his freshman All-American 2016 season. Ivey was the No. 1 OL recruit in 2015, and while he's started 19 straight games at left guard, he's moving out to tackle this year. T.J. McCoy might be undersized, but he's one of the league's toughest linemen.