View Full Version : Dan Pompei: Rating the Top Centers

04-15-2010, 06:24 AM

In the 7th of a series previewing the April 22-24 NFL draft, Tribune reporter Dan Pompei says center has potential to be one of all-time best

Dan Pompei
On the NFL
10:24 p.m. CDT, April 14, 2010

Great centers come along about as frequently as comets, but there could be one in this year's draft. Teams that want to have an exceptional player in the middle of their line will have to act fast on Maurkice Pouncey.

1. Maurkice Pouncey, Florida, 6-4, 304: He is a really talented blocker with good size and athleticism. Pouncey has the power to handle a huge nose tackle, and he has the quickness to counter a quick three-technique tackle. He is sound fundamentally. He is competitive and has the right demeanor for the position. Pouncey also has the versatility to play guard. He is considered one of the safest picks in the draft. The only issue will be an adjustment to play in a pro-style offense after being in Florida's spread.

2. Ted Larsen, North Carolina State, 6-2, 304: He was a defensive lineman for the first two years of his college career, and he plays offense with the attacking mentality of a defender. He is quick, aggressive and competitive. His only drawback is lack of experience at the position. Larsen still is learning the finer points of blocking. He also has the potential to play guard.

3. Eric Olsen, Notre Dame, 6-4, 306: He is a tough, aggressive player who would fare best in a zone blocking scheme. Olsen has good size but tends to play high because he doesn't bend his knees very well. As a result, he doesn't always get as much power in his blocks as he should. He does a nice job with pre-snap reads. He has played guard in the past.Olsen impressed scouts with his scouting combine workout.

4. A.J. Trump, Miami, 6-4, 306: He was not invited to the combine, but he should have been. Trump has risen up the draft boards as a result of his impressive pro day workout. He has good size and is an old-fashioned, hard-nosed player. He plays with tenacity but under control. He does a nice job with protection adjustments. He also can play guard, and has done so in the past.

5. J.D. Walton, Baylor, 6-2, 300: Walton is a competitive, tough blocker who can be a backup anywhere on the interior line. He played in a spread offense in college and had some problems with snaps at the Senior Bowl. But he has the intelligence to pick up a pro scheme quickly. Walton has a square, boxy build. He has some athletic limitations but is not a poor athlete.

6. Matt Tennant, Boston College, 6-4, 300: He has good athleticism for the position, plus he plays hard and plays smart. Tennant can move and adjust to pass rushers. He played during the season at 278 pounds but has gained a lot of weight since. He might be suited best for a zone blocking scheme. Powerful nose tackles might give him problems.

7. Jeff Byers, USC, 6-3, 301: He is an excellent run blocker with a tough mentality. He doesn't make many mental mistakes and always is in the right place. He can play guard or center but is a little smaller than some teams like. Byers is not an elite athlete, and he doesn't bend well. He sometimes loses the power battles against bigger defenders.

8. Joe Hawley, Nevada-Las Vegas, 6-3, 297: He could be an NFL backup with the versatility to play center or guard. Hawley is an athletic blocker with intelligence and toughness. He works hard to get the job done but is not a dominator.

9. John Estes, Hawaii, 6-2, 302: He doesn't have ideal size, but he makes up for it by competing so hard. Estes has good initial quickness and decent athleticism. His lack of bulk sometimes shows up in the run game.

10. Kenny Alfred, Washington State, 6-2, 290: He lacks size, but he is very quick. Alfred does a good job of moving and getting to the second level. He plays smart. He could have problems with big, strong tackles.

11. Andrew Lewis, Oklahoma State, 6-5, 298: Lewis has a good frame for the position, and the aptitude to call protections. He also is considered a guard prospect, as he has played both positions.

12. Kevin Matthews, Texas A & M, 6-3, 298: The son of Hall of Famer Bruce Matthews, doesn't have his father's athleticism. But he does have his toughness, intelligence and work ethic. Matthews has marginal strength, but coaches will love him.



04-15-2010, 04:24 PM
Wow Walton and Tennant are low

04-15-2010, 05:00 PM
Wow Walton and Tennant are low

Yeah, I was also surprised to see them that low on this guy's list when I posted it.

I'm not trying to call out Mediator or Req as I enjoy both of their posts, but almost everyone seems to be drinking the Pouncey koolaid. Wonder what the others are seeing as compared to some of our boys on the OM? I think it's quite possible the media just keeps regurgitating whatever they've heard another person say about player X. Except for that crazy boy Mayock--the man can't be tamed!

Cito Pelon
04-15-2010, 06:57 PM
Denver may have to settle for the 3d best OC prospect since #11 is too high for an OC. There will be other players available at 11 the team can put to good use. Unless Denver trades down of course.

Also, it has to be taken into consideration that the top guys listed can also play OG. It's gonna be interesting to see what Denver does since OC is certainly a thin spot, probably the thinnest on the team. There's gonna be an OC drafted, but where. Denver has only Dustin Fry listed as an OC. Seth Olsen I guess is in line to compete, Lonie Paxton would be the emergency OC.

04-15-2010, 07:03 PM
I think Pouncey is a first-round prospect when it is all said in done, but I am not for an investment of selecting him at #11. When drafting high, you expect to get players who can come in and play right away. The guy is talented, but do you think he is talented enough to start sixteen games, adjust to a pro-style offense and make the line calls here in the NFL?

I think he needs a while to learn and will need some technique refinement. Being the top dog in a weak class is not saying much. When drafting at #11, you want to get a kid who can contribute right away. Pouncey, in my eyes, will not do that.

If we trade down and accumulate picks, you know what -- I'll probably be fine with it. He has loads of potential, but I think it will take time to see him achieve it.

I'd just prefer to add a playmaker who can IMMEDIATELY upgrade our team and bring results.

Is that fair?

And I know you ain't callin' us out -- it's always great to talk draft.

I've been right on a lot of guys, wrong on a **** ton too. It happens. Cheers folks, one week away until chow time.

04-15-2010, 07:10 PM

I'm not pro or anti Pouncey. I am horrible at evaluating the linemen, both offensive and defensive, so whatever happens, happens.

It's just weird to me that so many media are yapping about how Pouncey is the best center prospect to come along in the last few years. Very very strange. I know athletically he should be up there, but just based off the collegiate system that they ran it's remarkable to me that so many draftniks are raving about how good they think he'll be...I mean they really have no film of him in a pro-style offense to even go off of.

Like you said, I think he won't be able to contrib. right away at center, but he could be our LG perhaps while either Olsen/Fry/Hochstein man the middle at the beginning of the season and then work him in at that spot later, if need be? Seems obvious enough as far as ideas go, so I'm sure somebody else has probably tossed that out there.

04-15-2010, 09:31 PM
Charley Casserly isn't that high on Pouncey either. Thinks that he is a 2nd rounder and is a tier below the centers taken from last years draft (unger, mack, wood). He also has worries about him making line calls.

He is much higher on Iupati as an interior lineman, but says he still needs a lot of work and may not even be a day 1 starter, but eventually will be a multiple pro-bowler.

Mayock thinks Pouncey starts from day 1 and is pretty high on him and not as high on Iupati, though he thinks both will eventually be pro-bowlers.

All I say is that if you draft an interior lineman in the first round, they damn sure better end up a multiple pro-bowler, as solid starting guards and centers are relatively easy positions to fill in the later rounds.

04-16-2010, 04:35 AM
I've read that Pouncey could go as high as #15. If Denver wants him, they'll have to swallow hard and take him at #11 if they can't trade back.

04-16-2010, 04:43 AM
a center in the 1st is a reach, hope the broncos don't do it.

04-16-2010, 06:36 AM
Maurkice Pouncey-C- Player Apr. 14 - 4:38 pm et

According to Scout.com's Adam Caplan, "most teams" have a first-round grade on just one center in this year's draft -- Maurkice Pouncey.

J.D. Walton and Matt Tennant are the best of the rest, but only have middle-round grades. It's beginning to seem less and less likely that Pouncey will make it out of the top-32 picks. Also offering the ability to start immediately at right or left guard, he could go as early as No. 15 overall to the Giants.

Source: Adam Caplan on Twitter


Cito Pelon
04-26-2010, 09:54 AM
Denver took two of the top five listed.

NE took Larsen in the 6th.

NO took Tennant in the 5th.

AJ Trump not drafted.

Byers not drafted.

ATL Hawley in the 4th.

Estes not drafted.

04-26-2010, 11:28 AM
Yeah, I was also surprised to see them that low on this guy's list when I posted it.

I'm not trying to call out Mediator or Req as I enjoy both of their posts, but almost everyone seems to be drinking the Pouncey koolaid. Wonder what the others are seeing as compared to some of our boys on the OM? I think it's quite possible the media just keeps regurgitating whatever they've heard another person say about player X. Except for that crazy boy Mayock--the man can't be tamed!

I am not the best OL talent evaluator out there, but I just do not think as highly of Pouncey and Iupati as the rest of the media world. Prospects are always eye of the beholder type things, and it is real hard to project guys to the next level at any position.

That being said, I just do not see the love for either of those 2 guys except the fact they are so much better than the next available player. To me that is simply why Hype exists. I like to grade players first and then see their overall value. To me, this is simply an extremely weak interior OL class, despite those 2 guys being the best of a weak position.

Iupati and Pouncey could be very good players in the NFL, but I doubt it happens right away like it did with Clady. That is how they are being hyped. Not buying that for a minute.

04-26-2010, 12:32 PM
. . . and as thought, Pouncey will play G in the NFL before C. Glad we got who we did instead of him.