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PFF ranks Florida Gators among the nation's top 10 offensive lines

On3 imageby:Zach Abolverdi06/06/24

ZachAbolverdi

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Billy Napier called the Florida Gators’ offensive line a bright spot in the spring. Pro Football Focus projects the unit to be one of the nation’s best in 2024.

PFF analyst Max Chadwick released his rankings Thursday of the 10 best offensive lines in the country. The Gators checked in at No. 10 on the list as one of six SEC teams.

UF will also face five of the top nine O-lines this season, per PFF: Georgia (2), LSU (3), Texas (4), Miami (8) and Florida State (9).

Here’s what Chadwick had to say about Florida up front:

“Florida’s offensive line was dominant in the run game last season. The Gators’ front five earned an 82.2 run-blocking grade, fourth among Power Five offensive lines. Florida returns three starters from that line, with its star coming from the middle. Jake Slaughter is my No. 8 returning interior offensive lineman in college football after posting an 81.2 overall grade, second among Power Five centers.”

While Slaughter is the headliner of the group, his return doesn’t tell the full story of how the Florida Gators could potentially improve along the offensive line after allowing 39 sacks last season, which ranked 115th nationally.

According to Pro Football Focus, the Gators brought in two of the top six transfer offensive tackles in Brandon Crenshaw-Dickson and Devon Manuel to compete with redshirt junior tackles Austin Barber and Kamryn Waites for starting jobs.

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Returning starter Damieon George will start at right guard after making the move from right tackle, while sophomore Knijeah Harris takes over at left guard. UF also signed the No. 5-ranked portal guard Jason Zandamela, a top-100 overall transfer.

Four of Florida’s offensive linemen are ranked among the top 20 players on the team based on their PFF grades.

“Some of them a little better than I thought, to be quite honest with you,” Napier said of the offensive line’s progress. “The pocket’s been cleaner. I think that’s one of the bright spots so far. The length on the edge has just been the major difference maker. The two portal tackles, Devon and Brandon, have done a great job. And they’re getting quality work because of Kam and Austin being banged up, right? So that forces Fletcher [Westphal] and Caden [Jones] into the action with the twos and they’ve done a great job. So, you’re literally, you’re out there with the first and second group and you’re 6-7, 6-7, 6-8, 6-7 and a half.

“You know, we’re just much better on the edges and you get Austin and Kam back for the summer, so yeah. Jake and Knijeah and Damieon, obviously have experience. Bryce Lovett has been a bright spot. He has developed nicely. He’s been one of more impressive young linemen. Christian Williams is doing good things. Rod Kearney showed some position flexibility, being able to play center and guard. So, Rob [Sale]’s good job with that group. You know, we’ve added some quality players. And I think John [Decoster], just in a short amount of time, coach Decoster’s helped our group improve.”

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