The look at the best of the SEC for the 2014 season continues by turning our attention to offensive guards. Offensive line play is so important for teams to compete and win in the SEC. There is depth and talent at the position with multiple guys who have loads of experience and the size to play in the NFL now.
While there are many deserving candidates, as with all of the positions I’ve looked at, the two that I’d want manning my inside positions are Vadal Alexander of the LSU Tigers and Chad Slade of the Auburn Tigers.
Alexander is a behemoth, at 6-foot-6 and close to 350 pounds. He was part of a line last season that was one of the top-20 in the nation according to Football Study Hall. Alexander will be called upon heavily if the Tigers hope to compete for the SEC West.
LSU will be replacing their quarterback, best running back and a load on defense. They need some dominance and stability somewhere, and that’s where Alexander comes in. He can help blow open holes for highly touted freshman back Leonard Fournette to run through. A strong running game will help take the pressure off the new quarterback, which will probably be freshman Brandon Harris. Alexander has been a huge part of the Tigers’ success the last couple of seasons and he will be a key player for the fall.
For me, Chad Slade of the defending champion Auburn Tigers is worthy of the nod for our other All-SEC guard position. Slade is a prototypical guard at 6-foot-5, 313 pounds. Last season he was a key cog in the Tigers’ dominant rushing attack.
He will enter this season having made 36 career starts and gained the incredible experience from Auburn’s championship run a season ago. The amount of experience combined with the pressure of big moments last season should prime Slade to have a big year.
Auburn will count on him to solidify their line, as they will be replacing NFL first-rounder Greg Robinson at left tackle. For the Tigers to repeat their success, they need the experience in the middle of their line to hold up. Look for Slade to rise to the challenge this season and dominate opposing defensive lines.
Both Alexander and Slade will be anchors on their respective offensive lines and help power their teams’ running games to big numbers in 2014.