AFL Spotlight: Top Linemen To Watch And Know

by Marshals Media Team

Battles in the trenches

Quarterbacks, running backs, receivers, name the position and the credit typically resides in those flashy skill players on every football team. The unsung heroes are the linemen paving the way. Creating rushing lanes and preventing would-be pass rushers from getting to the quarterback each snap. Winning the battle in the trenches ultimately means winning games consistently. In the Arena Football League with Ironman rules, these valuable commodities will be asked to do more than just block. They also have to play on defense.

The aged-old coaching term “always keep your knees bent” could not ring any truer for AFL linemen. With all 16 teams vying for an opportunity at a championship, linemen must be versatile and athletic enough to line up everywhere. Whether on offense or defense, great technique, footwork, and functional stretch are crucial to their success. Below are five of the best linemen ready to anchor the trenches and lead their teams to victory week in and week out.

Joshua Frazier - Rapid City Marshals

6-3, 340 lbs

College: University of Alabama

Professional Experience: Pittsburgh Steelers, Detroit Lions (NFL), Birmingham Iron (AAF), Orlando Guardians (XFL), Massachusetts Pirates (IFL), Billings Outlaws (CIF)

In terms of pure talent, Joshua Frazier might top our list. Frazier was crowned an All-Arkansas selection in high school and would attend the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in 2014. Across four seasons at Alabama, he finished with 28 total tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, two sacks, one forced fumble, and three passes defended in 39 career games. Frazier was a key piece in a talented rotation of defensive tackles, helping Alabama win two national championships in 2015 and 2017.

Frazier declared for the 2018 NFL Draft upon graduation. The Pittsburgh Steelers selected him with the 246th overall pick in the seventh round. Unfortunately for Frazier, he would wind up getting released before the start of the 2018 season. Next, the Detroit Lions would call on Frazier’s services via their practice squad. He would be released shortly thereafter, marking the beginning of his spring football journey. Frazier pivoted to the now-defunct Alliance of American Football in 2019. Signing with the Birmingham Iron, Frazier appeared in two games before suffering a season-ending injury.

After being placed on injured reserve in February of 2019, the 6-3, 340-pounder announced his retirement from professional football in May of that year. After three years away from the game, Frazier switched positions, training as an offensive lineman in 2022. He latched on with the XFL’s Orlando Guardians in 2023 but was released before the start of the season. The Indoor Football League’s Massachusetts Pirates signed Frazier for the 2023 season, playing on both sides of the line.

His most recent stint in professional football was with Champions Indoor Football’s Billings Outlaws. Frazier became Rapid City’s first official AFL signing, following new Marshals Head Coach Shon King from Billings. With Frazier’s versatility and sheer size, you would be hard-pressed to find a player with more upside across the AFL. Given his familiarity with Coach King, Frazier is ready to take the reins in the trenches for Rapid City. The Marshals signed an absolute stud in Frazier for the 2024 season.

(Story Source: https://www.arenafootballusa.com/news/82)