7 for 7 Series: Centers!

Seattle Person

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The big bad wolf. In some people's eyes, the Center position has long been ignored since developing Max Unger. I don't think we need to rehash any old topics. This is a very athletic and explosive group of Centers. You can find dudes well into the later rounds and UDFA.

I am having a hard time projecting which OLine guys are a good fit with the Seahawks. In reality, we don't know what the offense is going to be. Is it going to be a run and shoot like the UW offense? Is it a wide zone? Is it gap based? Ryan Grubb has run both wide zone and gap in the running game throughout his time in college football. However, at UW -- he had guys that were very good athletes because he did a lot of pulling. They also had to be good pass protectors because they threw deep a ton. Therefore, I'm just going to talk about guys I like.

1st Round

Jackson Powers Johnson: 6'3, 328 lbs, 32.25'' arms, 5.00 (40 Yard), 32'' (Vertical): He just turned 21. I think he's a fringe 1st round talent. I don't quite see him being taken this high because this first round has a bunch of QBs, WRs, CBs, Edges, and OTs that will dominate the round. He's mean and is a high motor type of center. When he hits you, you feel it. He is the type that will lay on you to finish off a block. He is a people's mover in space. Anchors pretty well. He's pretty athletic but is built very top heavy. I wonder if he's better at Guard than Center. His grip strength is elite and once he latches on, you're not going anywhere. He's very smart and is still mastering the position. He just became a full time starter his junior season. I think he sometimes struggles with snap placement and being able to get his hands in position after he snaps the ball. He sometimes plays a little high in his stance and that leaves the middle of his chest open for savvy DTs to hit. These things are fixable as he gets better coaching and more reps in the NFL. I think he'll be able to anchor the Oline for a number of years.

2nd Round

Zach Frazier: 6'3, 313 lbs, 33.25'' arms, 5.26 (40 Yard), 5.69 (Shuttle), 28.5'' (Vertical), 7.85 (3 Cone): He'll be 23 in his rookie season. Former wrestler and that's always a great starting point for a Center. He's not the best athlete but he's a gamer. Strong as a bull with ideal size and length. Very good at mirroring and can hold up against 1-1 reps. Anchors very well. He's probably strictly a Center but he's a damn good one. He's a mean run blocker that will finish every time. He hits you first and then asks questions second. 4 year starter at West Virginia and has tons of reps at Center. Very experienced with zone schemes. He's probably a day 1 starter if the team needs a ready-made Center that uses a zone scheme. Smart and knows how to read defenses. I don't think he has the foot speed to be a Guard and work against really athletic DTs. The limited movement skills will cost him to lose reps from time to time but he's a very dependable player and should be a starter for many years.

3rd Round

Beaux Limmer: 6'5, 302 lbs, 31.75'' arms, 5.22 (40-yard), 1.75 (10-yard), 36.5 (Vertical), 4.57 (Shuttle), 7.47 (3 Cone), 39 Reps (Bench): He'll be 23 in his rookie season. He's a pretty tall Center but he's really athletic. He can move and has a lot of burst off the snap. He has great movement skills to be a Guard but he has short arms and I can why he ended up being a Center. As a Center, he needs to work on a couple of things. He sometimes struggles with snapping and then firing his hands up to strike the defender. He hasn't really gotten that down. His timing is off. He is new to the Center position though. He is ideal to pull as a Center or Guard with his athleticism. Really smart and understands angles and line play. He's more of the get in front of you and win with angles when run blocking then I'll move you out the way run blocker. In a phone booth, he struggled at times because his feet felt like he got stuck in the mud against quick moves. In the run game, he tends to lunge forward and missing against defenders that are savvy about getting off blocks. Versatile dude but length might make or break him. Sedrick Van Pran is another good fit in the 3rd round. He is very sound but lacks the upside of Limmer.

4th Round

Tanor Bortolini
: 6'4, 303 lbs, 31.5'' arms, 4.95 (40-yard), 1.69 (10-yard), 4.28 (Shuttle), 7.16 (3 Cone), 32.5'' (Vertical), 27 (Bench): He'll be 23 in his rookie season. Similar to Limmer, Bortolini is a pretty tall Center. Also like Limmer, he lacks length but is versatile. He is really athletic and he can move. He is a better pass blocker than run blocker. Mirrors pretty well because he has great feet. His agility times are as good as it gets for the O-Line. Moves very well and will be great for those pull plays. Struggled against really athletic DTs in college. He has experience playing everywhere on the O-Line. Although, he is very aggressive and plays like a Wisconsin big dude, I don't know if he run blocks well enough for Grubb. He has a long way to go in the run game but Bortolini has elite traits and if he gets stronger then that can be pretty scary.

5th Round

Drake Nugent
: 6'1.5, 298 lbs, 33'' arms, 5.23 (40-yard), 1.83 (10-yard), 29.5'' (Vertical), 25 (Bench), 7.33 (3 Cone), 4.50 (Shuttle): He'll be 23 in his rookie year. He's that classic undersized technician Center. Think Joey Hunt or even Austin Blythe. Nugent made all of the calls for the National Champion Michigan football team. He's very smart, experienced, and knows how to play the position. Although pretty small for a Center, he has good length and is a good athlete with movement skills. He's a solid run blocker and pass protector. He is very steady-eddy. If the Hawks are using a zone-based blocking scheme then Nugent is a great fit. You'll have to accept that he will be pushed back from time to time from bigger NTs or Dts. He is a ready-made Center. He does scream Ryan Grubb to me though. He's tough, smart, and brings plenty of nasty to the run game. What you see is what you get from him. 5th round might be a little too low for his overall skills but he has limited upside which is why he might go in this range.

6th Round

Jalen Sundell:
6'5, 301 lbs, 33'' arms, 5.18 (40 Yard), 1.61 (10 Yard), 26 Reps (Bench): He'll be 25 in his rookie season. He played Center in college but I think his home in the NFL is at Guard. He has great movement skills and is very fluid. His anchor isn't the greatest and he'll have to get stronger. He is a great fit if it's a zone scheme because he's a get in front of the defender type of blocker instead of being a move you out the way type of blocker. He will probably need to add strength to truly be an NFL Guard and he needs to refine his techniques to be a Center. Good traits and some teams might like that as a starting point. Decent back up right now. Older prospect though.

7th Round or UDFA

Bryan Hudson:
6'4, 297 lbs, 32.75'' arms, 5.30 (40 Yard), 1.65 (10 Yard), 29'' (Vertical), 7.46 (3 Cone), 4.53 (Shuttle), 29 (Vertical): He's going to be 23 in his rookie season. He's a late round flyer. Doesn't really have a stand out skill. He's mean and pretty athletic. I think he might offer value at Guard as well but I think he's strictly a Center. He lacks power and foot speed but he's pretty athletic for what Grubb might want for the pull plays. Tested very well and that might get him drafted in the later rounds or a priority UDFA.
 
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