2011 NFL Draft Player Rankings: Centers
Centers in the NFL are often underappreciated, despite the fact that they are the signal callers of the offensive line. They need to be very smart, and aware of their surroundings, calling out blitzes, and seeing player trends to call out potential stunts on the defensive line.
They play a lot like guards, low and are able to hold the point of attack. There’s nothing worse than a center that is slow to react off of his own snap, and gets bull rushed. Like guards, you want to see the center finish his primary block quickly so that he can move to the second level on run plays. In the passing game, the center wants to keep the lineman’s hands down, and mirror him, never allowing him to come freely on the inside, as that’s the quickest route to the backfield.
NFL Soup presents its center rankings for the 2011 NFL Draft.
1) Stefen Wisniewski- Penn State- 6’3 313
You may recognize the last name as he’s from a fantastic football pedigree. Wisniewski has the ability to play guard or center at the next level. He’s not an overly strong player, but he is very smart, and does a great job of being the lower man at the point of attack. He should have no problem bulking up with a bit of room to grow, but he could become a top notch center or guard at the next level.
2) Brandon Fusco- Slippery Rock- 6’4 306
It’s surprising to see a Slippery Rock graduate in here, but Fusco is the real deal. His strength, and impressive ability to mirror defenders will make him a coveted option in the third-fourth rounds. Fusco is experienced, and has a good football IQ. His size is ideal for the position, the only real worry is about the competition he faced.
3) Kris O’Dowd- USC- 6’4 304
O’Dowd has been a starter for over three seasons in USC’s offensive line. He’s got great leadership ability, and shows off his talents in pass protection the most. He’s another extremely intelligent center although we feel that he is most likely maxed out in terms of overall ability. He’s great at getting to the next level as well. He will struggle with bigger defensive tackles and nose tackles at the next level as he’s not as strong as we’d like him to be, but he could be an effective center in a zone blocking scheme.
4) Chase Beeler- Stanford- 6’3 290
Beeler transferred from Oklahoma in 2008, and started every game in Toby Gerhart’s Heisman trophy campaign in the 2009 season. Beeler is an excellent run blocker with above average strength. He has been a great asset for Andrew Luck whom has relied on Beeler to make the correct reads and calling out blitzes. Beeler still has room to bulk up a bit.
5) Jake Kirkpatrick- TCU- 6’3 305
Kirkpatrick is the leader of a TCU offensive line that has excelled offensively for the last few seasons. He’s very good at holding the point of attack, and uses his physical ability to his advantage to control his defender. His footwork in the passing game needs a bit of work, and he tends to stop churning his feet when going up against a stronger defensive tackle. Kirkpatrick still gets good leverage, and stays under the defender.
6) Tim Barnes- Missouri- 6’4 300
Somewhat of an NFL Combine snub, Barnes is a smart, finesse center with good pass protection skills. Not particularly strong, Barnes can get a decent push in the run game, but does best in recognizing blitzes and using his IQ.
7) Zane Taylor- Utah- 6’3 309
Taylor’s run blocking ability is fantastic. He’s quite strong, and may make the switch to right guard at the next level. His height is worrisome for a guard, but his potential is quite solid.
8 ) Ryan Bartholomew- Syracuse- 6’1 302
9) Ryan McMahon- Florida State- 6’5 284
10) Jason Kelce- Cincinnati- 6’3 280
11) Alex Linnenkohl- Oregon State- 6’2 304
12) Ryan Tolar- Washington- 6’5 296
13) Dan Wenger- Notre Dame- 6’4 298
14) Colin Baxter- Arizona- 6’4 295
15) Colin Miller- Central Michigan- 6’3 300
16) Beau Warren- Virginia Tech- 6’3 287
17) Kevin Kowalski- Toledo- 6’4 299
More 2011 NFL Draft Player Rankings: