The NFL Draft Prototype series continues with one of the more unheralded positions in the NFL, but also one that is very important, center. Centers are huge cogs in the success of an offensive line. They hold down the middle while, in some cases, quarterbacking the offensive line.
Good center play comes from good feet, strength, technique, intelligence, and a good mean streak. Only two prospects really stand out in these areas, and they both have the potential to be quality NFL centers.
Feet: Hroniss Grasu, Oregon
In the explosive Oregon offense, few things are more important for the offensive linemen than being able to move, and Grasu excels in that area more than any other center in this draft. He has fantastic downhill speed and does a great job moving laterally. Grasu has a learning curve in the NFL based on other parts of his game, but no doubt he has the athletic ability to hang with the best.
Strength: BJ Finney, Kansas State
A lot of people were probably looking for Florida State’s Cameron Erving here, but Finney’s strength gets a slight edge. Finney has a fantastic, strong base that helps him anchor against bigger defensive linemen. The Kansas State prospect also has heavy, strong hands to bully defenders around. His strength is most evident when coming down hill in the run game where he is bulldozing guys, but that also is in big part due to his…
Mean Streak: BJ Finney, Kansas State
An important quality with any offensive linemen is how high of an energy level they have, and willingness to play to the whistle. Finney plays through the whistle, constantly bullying defensive players and blocking them into the ground. It is an attitude like this which maximizes his strength and it also makes him very fun to watch.
Technique: BJ Finney, Kansas State
Another thing to like about Finney is how clean his technique is from down to down. He plays with very good leverage, rarely gets off balance, and does a great job placing his hands whilst blocking. Everything about his game is incredibly consistent.
Intelligence: Hroniss Grasu, Oregon
This was a tough call to make because to play center, you need to be a smart player.That said, Grasu was asked to do a lot at Oregon. His ability to move in space and have the awareness to find key blocks is a really important quality that younger offensive linemen struggle with. He is accustomed to playing the game at a higher speed, so his transition to the NFL will be a lot easier from a mental perspective.