The man snapping the ball to your quarterback may be in the next, most important position on the offensive side of the ball. Elite centers make the correct calls against a variety of defensive fronts and blitzes. They also have to be athletic enough to pull in the run-game and quick enough to get set for a bull-rush from a defensive tackle. This class boasts some adequate competition at the center position.
1. MARCUS MARTIN (USC) 6-3/320
Marcus Martin has attractive upside and a solid skill set to start at center in the NFL for a long time. His size is stout and perfect for the interior of the o-line. He has just one year of starting experience at center but looks so smooth at the position. Quick feet and a solid anchor while always chopping his feet helps him produce way more positive plays than negative. Martin is physical and moves well at 320 pounds but can whiff on pass protection when he doesn’t stick to the right technique. Season this kid with some professional coaching and let him play the minute he’s ready.
2. WESTON RICHBURG (COLORADO STATE) 6-3/298
Swanson is an undersized center, barely weighing 300 pounds but he is definitely durable. He has started 49 games during his college career so game experience would help him transition to the NFL. Swanson uses quickness and change of direction to make his blocks but he will need to get stronger to last at the next level. If he can handle professional defensive linemen, his intelligence and toughness will earn playing time.
3. BRYAN STORK (FLORIDA STATE) 6-4/315
Bryan Stork has the perfect attitude to play center in the NFL. He’s aggressive in the run-game and has a strong motor. In his final season at Florida State, he led the protection for Jameis Winston and won the Remington trophy for being the nation’s top center. Stork has 40 career starts and has started six games at guard so he is versatile. I like his chances competing for a starting spot and being reliable when injuries occur.
4. TRAVIS SWANSON (ARKANSAS) 6-5/312
Travis Swanson is a large-framed center from the SEC so you know he has went head to head with some of the toughest defensive tackles in college football. He has 50 career starts under his belt and was elected team captain twice, proving leadership and character. He has the explosiveness to get after defenders to seal them off but can also afford to bulk up and fill that frame. Could be a steal in the 5th-6th round.
5. GABE IKARD (OKLAHOMA) 6-4/304
The last center on this list may not have the NFL athleticism that other linemen may have but Gabe Ikard does have the intelligence and character. His academic performance helped him graduate early (May, 2013) with a 4.0 and on the field he uses his brains to get the job done. Ikard started 50 out of 52 games and has an exceptional sense of position blocking. Again, you want a smart guy leading the o-line to keep all five bodies in sync and Ikard did that consistently, earning All-Big 12 three times at Oklahoma.
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