It’s been a few years since the Crimson Tide were truly dominant along the offensive line.

Without a doubt, Alabama has had some of the best offensive lines in the SEC since the 2012 season, the last national title season for the Tide. That group was a legitimate NFL line, with four of the five starters going on to begin pro careers.

The 2014 offensive line was pretty good in its own right. Alabama allowed just more than a sack per game (1.14, which ranked 14th in the nation) and was fourth in the SEC in yards per carry. From that strong unit, Alabama is faced with a pretty big retooling up front, as three starters saw their eligibility expire after the 2014 season.

The good news: Alabama has its two biggest pieces locked down with some of the best players in the conference at those two spots.

With sophomore left tackle Cam Robinson and senior center Ryan Kelly, Alabama has the two anchors needed to build one of the best lines in the conference. The two play the most vital positions up front: the quarterback’s blindside protector and the line’s signal caller.

As a freshman, Robinson quickly became one of the most impressive players in the conference. The former five-star recruit from New Orleans started all 14 games at left tackle and was named a freshman All-American. Kelly, in his first full season as starter, was an All-SEC honorable mention.

Kelly will be the most experienced member of the line in ’15. After taking over for Barrett Jones and starting nine games in 2013, he started 12 games in 2014. This offseason, he’s upped his weight to more than 300 pounds for the first time in his career, according to a report from, a factor the rising senior thinks will help him be a strong player in 2015.

The rest of the rebuilt line won’t lack for talent. Players like guards Alphonse Taylor and Bradley Bozeman were touted recruits, while tackle Dominick Jackson was the top-rated JUCO offensive lineman in the country in 2014. Those three are expected to take over as starters, while Grant Hill has played all over the line and presents a strong wild card backup.

Depth could come into play, with many of the expected backups suffering from inexperience. Cohesion will be another issue that could take some time to smooth out; while Alabama has two star-level players returning, they are replacing 60 percent of the line. It could take time to get all five players on the same page.

Still, having two established players in protection will pay dividends for the new starting quarterback, be it Jacob Coker or one of several young players vying for the job in spring practice. It’ll help get the running game, which will almost certainly be a more integral part of Lane Kiffin’s offense in 2015, up to Alabama’s dominant standards.

Despite questions at several vital positions, Alabama will still go into fall as one of the heaviest favorites to win the SEC West. Thanks to the stability Robinson and Kelly will provide, the offensive line becomes much less of a concern going forward.