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Syracuse Football 2016 Preview: Ranking Top Five Opposing Offensive Linemen

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Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

In past years, we've come up with some creative ways to rank ACC players, Syracuse Orange football opponents and more, in the lead-up to the new season. This year, we're going position by position, ranking the top five players SU faces at each. These are obviously just pulled from the 12 scheduled opponents, and only those. So when you ask "where is ACC player X?" or "how can you skip ACC player Y?"... that's how.

Today:

Top Five Opposing Offensive Linemen

1. Roderick Johnson, Left Tackle, Florida State Seminoles

A returning 1st-team All-ACC player, the junior could very well be on of the top offensive tackles in the country. Johnson is a massive body on the line, at 6-foot-7 and 307 pounds, and already has a year-and-a-half of starts under his belt. He was instrumental when Florida State's quarterbacks stayed up right (26 sacks against ranked about middle of the country), and obviously helped facilitate Dalvin Cook's breakout year at running back too. This line brings a good deal of experience (ahem: everyone's back), but none more crucial than Johnson's.

2. Mitch Hyatt, Left Tackle, Clemson Tigers

Hyatt isn't the elder statesman of Clemson's retooled line, but that's all relative when you're one of just two or three starters to return. Last year, teammates Eric MacLain and Jay Guillermo got more headlines, sure. This year, however, Hyatt, just a sophomore, could be poised to break out. The Tigers protected Deshaun Watson very well in 2015, and this season's youth on the line could put a slight dent in that record. Hyatt, though, should still be one of the group's rocks (along with Guillermo), and is in line for national attention as he likely makes a big leap in year two.

3. Adam Bisnowaty, Left Tackle, Pittsburgh Panthers

With 31 starts in his career, Bisnowaty is one of the ACC's most tenured offensive linemen, and the results -- especially in the run game -- will show as much once again in 2016. Like all of these players, Bisnowaty's got a ton of size (6-foot-6, 300 pounds), but his technique and footwork have had him on NFL teams' radars for at least a year now. Again, having as many capable rushing options as Pitt certainly helps make matters easier for a line. But that can't discount what Bisnowaty's contributed either. Along with the rest of the Pitt lines of the last three years, he's helped six different players run for 400 yards in one season now.

4. Mike McGlinchey, Left Tackle, Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Another tall (6-foot-8), large wing-spanned tackle for an inexperienced Syracuse defensive front to go up against. "Great." McGlinchey has grown gradually into his role as a leader for Notre Dame. After earning his first starting role last year, the top three offensive linemen from last year disappear, leaving him (and fellow junior Quenton Nelson) as the new stars of a rebuilt line. Notre Dame's never really had trouble recruiting linemen, so the reinforcements will be fine. But McGlinchey, particularly, will play a big part in keeping whoever wins the quarterback battle upright. We may be a year away from All-America talk, but he's still a name to watch, nationally.

5. Geron Christian, Left Tackle, Louisville Cardinals

Christian may not possess the recruiting accolades and fanfare of the players ahead of him on this list, but he's still every bit as critical to his team's success as they are. Lacking blue-chippers, Louisville has managed to load up on size (many players over 6-foot-4 and 300-plus pounds) where they lack in star ratings. This year, the poster boy for that is Christian, the Cardinal's towering left tackle who could work himself into the All-ACC conversation by season's end. The biggest task for him, and the rest of the young Cards line, will be cutting down sacks. They allowed 44 last year, which was second-worst in the country.

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Yes, they're all left tackles. Sorry. That's just how things shook out this year. See any other players on this year's schedule who could also crack this list (I'd assume so, since a lot of ACC O-linemen are getting preseason honors in 2016)? Share your additions/subtractions below.