The 2012 center class is average at best. Peter Konz from Wisconsin is the only player that could go in the first round. The rest of the centers all have their flaws, but a few could pan out to be solid contributors to which ever team they end up with.
My Top 10 Centers:
1. Peter Konz – Wisconsin – 6-5 – 314:
The anchor of one of the best offensive lines in college football, Peter Konz proved to be a very reliable pivot man inside for the Badgers over the course of his career in Madison. A three-year starter with 31 career starts for Wisconsin, Konz is a former offensive tackle who owns great size and arm length (33 inches) for the center position. Built well with a thick upper body and wide base, making it difficult for defensive tackles to work around, Peter is a very reliable pass protector capable of stonewalling defenders at the line. Technically and fundamentally sound as a blocker, Konz proved to be a dependable anchor as a pass blocker, as he plays with the type of instincts, awareness, and understanding of the game that coaches look for in an NFL center. He does a great job of sitting back into his pass set while keeping his head on a swivel and taking on any incoming pass rushers. Peter owns nimble feet for the position with the ability to shuffle and mirror interior defenders inside. He also does a great job of extending his arms out coming to the aid of the guard next to him to double down on a bigger, stronger rusher up front. Konz owns a very strong grip needed to grasp the defender and lock on before neutralizing him for the rest of the play. He doesn’t possess ideal flexibility, but rather has shown enough of an ability to bend at the knees to consistently get underneath the defender to win the leverage battle at the point of attack. Peter has very good lower body strength and has the wide, balanced base needed to stand his ground as an anchor down low. As a run defender inside, Peter’s wide frame allows for him to swallow up smaller defensive linemen when he engages the defender off the snap. He comes off the ball well before taking on the defensive lineman and gains leverage by staying low and playing underneath the tackle, which then allows for him to use his lower body strength to push the defender out or away from the hole. He’s not a physically dominating blocker, being that he has below average upper body strength for the position (18 reps on bench), however he makes up for his lack of great strength with polished technique and fundamentals and understands how to play with proper positioning and angles. While not a full-fledged drive blocker, Konz at the very least has shown the consistent ability to use his agility leverage to turn the defender and wall him off from the play to open up a large running lane inside; he does a great job of gaining control of the defensive tackle off the ball before sealing him inside to give the ball carrier a gaping hole. Peter does a great job of firing his hands inside of the defender, and shows the same strong grip as a run blocker as he does in pass protection, allowing for him to take the defender out of the play entirely. In addition, he plays with the type of fiery, tenacious attitude that you look for and will consistent block through the whistle as he attempts to finish his blocks; he’s among the best in the country at sustaining his blocks after locking on. Owning good mobility for the position, Konz does a fine job of taking a quick bucket step and getting outside as the lead blocker on sweeps or screens. His flexibility limits him both outside as well as when he slides to the second level to redirect and take out a moving target, however when given the opportunity to gain full steam, any target in his direct path can be completely cleared out of the play with ease. Durability does figure to be a concern with Peter, as he missed time each of the past three seasons due to injury, including dislocating his ankle in 2011, which forced him to sit out of drills at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, an injury that NFL teams will surely examine before considering drafting him. Konz owns the intangibles and work ethic off the field that coaches and scouts desire at the position; he earned numerous academic awards over the course of his career and was a team captain in high school. Peter Konz owns the physical tools, instincts, and intangibles needed to develop into a very good starting center in the NFL.
2. Michael Brewster – Ohio State – 6-4 – 310:
One of the top recruits in the country coming out of high school, Mike Brewster signed with Ohio State as an offensive tackle, expecting to team with Mike Adams to give the Buckeyes one of the top bookend duos at the position in the country. Instead, Brewster was kicked inside to center as a true freshman and has been starting ever since. Owning the second-longest streak of
consecutive starts in school history with 49, Mike was named the team’s captain and was considered the leader of the offensive line for
the Buckeyes. With his feisty attitude, great leadership, and strong work ethic, Brewster offers all of the intangibles that a coach
desires in a player at the next level. Built well with a big frame for a center prospect, Mike has room to continue to grow and get
stronger in the upper half. Technically and fundamentally polished, Brewster is not a dominant blocker, however he consistently
executes his blocks and grades out well; he’s been one of the most reliable and dependable offensive linemen in the country over the
last four seasons. One thing that I absolutely love about Mike as a prospect is the killer instinct he plays with; he’s a very smart,
instinctive player who plays with a passion as well as the true fire and tenacious attitude that I look closely for. Mike’s flexibility to
bend at the knees is one of his greatest strengths, as it allows for him to not only bend down and get underneath interior defensive
linemen, but it gives him a better opportunity to reach to his right or left as a run blocker, as well as in transitioning from one defender to another in pass protection. Brewster does a great job of sitting down in his pass set in pass protection right off the snap; he provides the lower body strength needed to consistently anchor at the point of attack, also displaying terrific hand use to violently give the defender a strong punch off the ball. His hand placement inside the defensive lineman is very good, as is his ability to continue to keep his feet underneath him and mirror the defender. At times, Mike will give initial penetration to bigger, stronger defensive tackles, however he does a great job of recovering by taking a step back and regaining his balance before dipping his hips and exploding upward to gain leverage on the defender. As a run blocker, he possesses the quickness off the ball to gain proper positioning on the defender and has enough strength to wall him off to open up a hole on the inside. Although lateral agility is not a great strength of his, and he’s best at playing in a phone booth, Mike has the mobility to block in the open field and on the move, proving to be a very good lead blocker on traps and runs outside to the perimeter. In addition, he’s very effective when using combo blocks, often double teaming the tackle before sliding off to get to the second level and engage a linebacker. When he locks onto the defender in the open field he has no problem taking them out of the play, however his lateral agility to redirect on a dime is not ideal. Other than not being a great athlete, Mike does not have many glaring holes in his game. I would like to see Brewster continue to get stronger in the upper body as well as continue to fill out his frame, as this will help him with the jump to the next level. Mike Brewster has the physical tools, instincts, and intangibles needed to develop into a very good center in the NFL who his team will be able to rely on for the next decade.
3. Ben Jones – Georgia – 6-2 – 304:
An NFL-ready center who is one of the most polished offensive linemen in this year’s draft, Ben Jones leaves Georgia as one of the team’s all-time greats on the offensive line having been named to the school’s All-Decade team. A four-year starter for the Bulldogs, Jones started 49 games at Georgia, good for third-most all time in Athens. Ben was a team captain at Georgia in addition to earning to earning a leadership award on offense and being named to a number of All-Academic teams while in school, displaying the epitome of elite intangibles that coaches and scouts absolutely love in a prospect. Technically and fundamentally sound, Ben proved throughout his career to be a very dependable pivot man on the interior of the offensive line. Competitive, tough, and feisty, Jones plays with the type of mean streak that offensive line coaches love to see and has plenty of experience playing through injury in college. Quick into his pass set off the ball, Ben is a veteran of the collegiate level who made the line calls and has a terrific feel for picking up the blitz in the passing game. Stronger in the upper half than in the lower, he’s shown the ability to lock on and neutralize the defender at the point of attack as a very good anchor in pass protection. Although he isn’t the biggest center you’ll find, it not an easy task to blow him backwards off the ball; at worst, he will occasionally get driven back quickly off the snap, however because he’s such a balanced player, he manages to recover after his first step before using his terrific leverage to his advantage to then anchor at the point. He’s not going to be an overly powerful or dominant player in the NFL, however he has what it takes to be a sturdy and consistent pivot man in the middle of the line. He has more than enough experience snapping the ball in shotgun and should not have any trouble with this at the next level. As a run blocker, Ben does a far better job of gaining proper positioning right off the ball and sealing the defender away from the hole than he does of simply driving the defensive lineman back. He is more than capable of pulling around and blocking on the move, and is among the best in the country at releasing to get to the second level and take out a linebacker. He’s also flexible enough to hit a moving target and offers enough athleticism needed to continue to be effective here at the next level. In addition, he’s shown a consistent ability to execute a trap block on the interior of the line. To continue to improve at the next level, I’d like to see Jones continue to get stronger as this will help him with the adjustment to playing against bigger and stronger defensive linemen in the NFL. Ben does not have the type of athleticism or physical tools that are going to enamor anyone, however his instincts, heady play, and fantastic technique are the reasons why he’s so highly thought of in the scouting community. Although he may never be an elite player in the NFL, Ben Jones is a safe selection who you know what you’re getting with when you draft him.
4. David Molk – Michigan – 6-1 – 298:
The 2011 Rimington Award Winner as the top center in college football, David Molk leaves Michigan as a polished, NFL-ready center. A four-year starter who was a veteran of the collegiate level, Molk started 41 games throughout his career with the Wolverines and was also named the Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year as a senior in addition to winning the Rimington Award. A team captain in 2011, David offers great intangibles in addition to the leadership and work ethic that coaches and scouts look for in a player. In addition, he’s a smart player with a great football IQ, having made all of the line calls at Michigan. David’s competitiveness and fiery attitude are things that I love about his game; he consistently blocks through the whistle and is always looking for someone to block. Owning a smaller frame with shorter height than you’d prefer, Molk may be limited schematically at the next level, however in specific schemes he has great potential. A polished pivot man on the interior of the line, David possesses terrific technique and fundamentals for the position. Inside, he fires off the ball with a low center of gravity, wide base, and balance which allows for him to gain early leverage against the defensive tackle in the run game. He owns elite strength (41 reps on the bench) to lock onto the defensive lineman upon contact and take him out of the play for the rest of the game, however I would like to see continue to develop his functional strength and gain more strength in his grip, as there are times when he will gain control but not have a strong enough grip to continue to maintain the block through the entirety of the play. Although he has shorter arms (32 inches) and smaller hands (8 7/8 inches) than you’d prefer, David has no trouble engaging the defender and gaining control shortly after getting underneath him at the point of attack. He does a great job of keeping his feet moving through contact, and although he’s not going to be one to drive the defender out of the hole, he does a terrific job of turning the defensive lineman off the ball with great positioning to open up a hole, and has proven to be very effective at reach blocking on the interior. He could be a great fit in a zone blocking scheme or one that frequently uses combination blocks, as his quickness off the ball, smaller size, and great strength all fit the running scheme very well. Displaying nimbleness off the ball, Molk is extremely light on his feet and is among the best in the country at pulling out on the edge. He’s proven that he’s capable of hitting a moving target consistently, as he offers more than enough mobility to pull and get out on the perimeter as a lead blocker. With his impressive mobility, David has proven to be consistently capable of reaching the second level to take out the linebacker. As a pass blocker, he is a fluid athlete who transitions to his pass set quickly off the ball. His flexibility is where you’d like to see it, displaying a strong ability to consistently get underneath the defender with his arms extended and back arched properly. His great technique and fundamentals make up for his lack of elite size and bulk. He will need to continue to live in the weight room and get bigger at the next level, as he does tend to have some trouble with massive nose tackles and is not one that will ever physically overpower a defender. He needs to continue to develop his lower body strength in order to improve in pass protection, as he doesn’t display a great ability to anchor at the point of attack in pass protection yet. David Molk has the instincts, intangibles, tools, and skillset to develop into a very good starting center in the zone blocking scheme in the NFL. He doesn’t offer the functional strength or size that you look for in a center in a power run offense, which is why he will be limited schematically at the next level. However, in the right offense, he has the tools to have a very productive, successful career at the next level and should be capable of competing for a starting job early in his career.
5. Philip Blake – Baylor – 6-3 – 320:
A well-traveled 26-year old prospect who was the pivot man in Baylor’s explosive offense this season, Philip Blake is a Canadian-born player who graduated in 2005 from Father Henry Carr Catholic School in Ontario before moving on to play two years of football at Champlain Regional College in Quebec; from there, Blake made his way to Tyler Junior College in Texas where he played one season and was named second-team all-conference before finally transferring to Baylor where he was a three-year starter for the Bears. Philip began his career with the Bears starting 12 games at right tackle as the bookend to Danny Watkins, who was drafted in the first round by the Philadelphia Eagles in the 2011 NFL Draft. In 2010, Blake kicked inside to center and started 26 games over the last two years there. In 2011, Blake was arguably the Bears’ most valuable lineman on an offense that ranked second in the country in yards-pergame, averaging 587 per contest. A prototypical anchor in the middle of the line who owns a thick, stocky frame with a stout lower body, Blake possesses the leg strength to hold his ground at the point of attack and match up with the biggest of nose tackles in the country. With his wide, massive frame on the interior, Philip swallows up smaller defensive tackles in the run game, displaying the ability to pave the way up front and clear out open holes for the ball carrier. Blake does a good job of staying square at the point of attack both in the run game as well as in pass protection, doing a terrific job of engaging the defensive lineman off the ball with good quickness and driving them backwards with great leg drive (615 pound squat). He’s also a finisher who plays with the feistiness inside that you look for. In addition, Philip has the type of upper body strength needed to consistently neutralize the defender when he manages to lock on; although his arms aren’t as long as you’d prefer, he’s developed good hand placement in firing his hands inside and using his strong grip to take out the defender. When working on a combination block, he does a fine job of quickly taking on the tackle before handing him off to the guard and then sliding to the second level. Although he’ll have trouble hitting a moving target in open space, he’s displayed the ability to lock onto a linebacker when playing straight-ahead and does not have to move laterally. Blake is far better at playing in a phone booth rather than out in open space. He offers enough lateral agility to mirror interior offensive linemen, however he wouldn’t be someone that I would ask to pull out and block on the move or in open space; he does not have the fluid athleticism to break down and redirect when attempting to hit a moving target. In addition, his hip flexibility is not ideal and you’d like to see him develop a better ability to sink his hips in pass protection; there are times when he will play too high and get caught leaning into the defender which will result in him sliding off of the defensive lineman or getting over-extended. He needs to do a better job of playing with his feet underneath him. Philip will need further refinement of his overall technique and fundamentals at the next level and is still a prospect who is developing. Philip Blake is a big, strong, tough center prospect who has the physical tools and skillset to develop into a fine starting center in the NFL; he’s not going to be a high-upside player, however for a power-run oriented team looking for a player who could develop quickly and pave holes in the run game, Philip would be a great fit.
The Next 5:
6. Quinton Saulsberry – Mississippi State – 6-2 – 304
7. William Vlachos – Alabama – 6-0 – 306
8. Moe Petrus – Connecticut – 6-2 – 295
9. Scott Wedige – Northern Illinois – 6-4 – 310
10. Tyler Horn – Miami (FL) – 6-4 – 305
Overrated: Michael Brewster
Underrated: William Vlachos
Small School Sleeper: Scott Wedige
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