I'm cautiously optimistic about the OL based on their experience and depth. I expect they will be better in 2017.
The guys over on SFI do an outstanding job, but in this instance I think they do the OL somewhat of a disservice by being dramatic. I agree with gundy, it's all about perspective. Does the OL need to improve from last year? For sure they do. No question about it. But you could say that about all of the returning starters, too. Is the OL ready to play Utah today? Absolutely not, but the D is always ahead of the O in spring ball, especially against this defensive line. So by that metric SFI is correct that the OL has a "ways to go." As the OL goes so will the team - so all eyes will be on them - but as AJS said they were a pretty solid unit by the end of the year and all but one player returns. Seven of eight guys who played enough to letter are back. That experience will most likely pay off. And if it doesn't there is enough depth - both old and young - to be there to pick up the slack. The depth is the best it's been in Bubba's tenure.
I think the three freshmen OLs mentioned most often have excellent potential, but because of how prominently SFI has mentioned them in numerous articles one might guess that it is likely that they'll be starting vs. Utah. Anything can happen, but barring something unforeseen they won't - and we probably don't want them to. As mentioned in the comment section of the "what we learned" piece that SFI did playing OL is difficult in UND's system and it takes a while to catch on to line calls and responsibilities (I would have preferred that observation be in the original article where more people would have seen it). OL is a tough position to play as a young player. There are always exceptions of course but I'm sure the staff would prefer to start guys with experience because they finally have a stable of guys who have played - and at times played well. The new guys may play (and be really good) this year but they are not ready yet based on what I've seen.
I also don't agree that all five jobs are open. AJ and Demon aren't going anywhere. In all likelihood LG will be Aplin or Bell, center will be Rooney or Aplin, and RT will be Blair or Cox (Mortel is a wild card here).
I'm not saying there is nothing to worry about but there is experience, depth, and good coaching and I expect an improved OL in 2017.