Cal's offensive line in 2018 will look very similar to how it did in 2017. (Photo: Icon Sportswire/Contributor, Getty)

As Cal heads into fall camp, BearTerritory is going to take a look at each positional unit on the team to see who the Bears have returning, who is primed for a breakout season and who could be the linchpin at the position.

We previously looked at the quarterbacks, the running backs, the wide receivers and the tight ends. Now, we'll look at the offensive line.

Last season, the Bears’ offensive line had to play a bit of a patchwork game to start last season as a result of transfers, dismissals and injury, but the o-line started to show some promising signs as the season wore on.

Now, Cal is returning a much more experienced (and talented) offensive line; Patrick Mekari, Valentino Daltoso, Addison Ooms, Kamryn Bennett and Jake Curhan started eight games together last season and showed serious growth. And the group is now in its second year under offensive line coach Steve Greatwood. This group is certainly going to need to have a better 2018. In 2017, quarterback Ross Bowers spent a good chunk of time being sacked, hit or pressured, and despite running back Patrick Laird’s exceptional season, the Bears’ run game as a whole was rather meager.

Mekari and Ooms are really the group’s stars heading into fall camp — both have been named to preseason watch lists for their positions and were named among the 50-best players returning to the Pac-12 for the coming season. And Mekari, a tackle, was 19th on PFF College’s list for top returning players with an overall grade of 85.2, ranking him as the No. 6 returning tackle.

Daltoso, Bennett and Curhan all looked solid to finish out the year as well as in spring football, so they’ll only continue to get better the more time they’re out on the field — especially together.

The freshman class, which Greatwood was really responsible for putting together, looks like it has the potential to be a sensational one. Cal managed to land four-star tackle Will Craig, who already looks like he’s pretty much ready to step into the Bears’ offense right now and take snaps. He moves well (especially laterally) and blocks well in both run and pass plays.

While Craig looks like the most likely candidate to get quality snaps as a true freshman, there are a bunch of other young, talented guys here on the o-line, too. Matt Cindric is a particularly run blocker who stays low and keeps his motor going. 247Sports recruiting expert Brandon Huffman has said he could see Cindric sliding inside to play guard, but he’s got the ability to play right tackle in the Pac-12. Brandon Mello is an extremely physical presence on the line, and is someone whose size could be altered to fit just about any position on the line. Miles Owens is quick for his size (6-6, 320) and is an adept blocker in the run game. Jasper Friis, who came this spring, has a ton of raw talent but still needs to develop it.

In terms of returning depth, the Bears have a lot of it. Only two offensive linemen departed —Arwin Rahmatpanah and J.D. Hinnant — and neither saw any significant playing time. Last year, Michael Saffell was one of four Cal players to see playing time as a true freshman, and he saw action in seven games, starting two at right guard (including versus Stanford). Ryan Gibson, now a redshirt sophomore, played in 10 games in 2018 and started a game at right tackle (versus USC) and two at left guard (versus Arizona and Colorado). Senior Semisi Uluave has eight games under his belt, with four appearances coming in each his freshman and sophomore years.

As a whole the offensive line should be lightyears better this season, which will have a positive impact on every other facet of the Bears’ offense. The guys on the offensive line seem to have good chemistry, and they’ve got some really nice talent sitting at the No. 2s and 3s on the depth chart in case they’re needed.