I have to say something. If you need an interior lineman. You may have to go into Round 2 to get one. I may not believe Eric Wood is a worthy Day 1 draft choice, but that being said? Eric Wood is a smart scrapper. Some team would not be indefensible to fall in love with him. I just don’t trust an offensive lineman that struggles with knee bend. But more on that later?
1. Alex Mack Cal
6’4″ 307 5.17
You want what’s potentially the safest pick between 25-40? Go forth to the secret world of Alex Mack. Why? Because this Larisa Oleynik is the prototypical run blocker as an interior lineman. Leverage? Hands? Drive blocking? Pulling? He has it all and he has it all in spades.
But he is not perfect. His pass protection needs some work. A big d-tackle can generate a bit of a bullrush. He loses the leverage and hands as he goes after linebackers. But he’s going from great to merely average.
In the future? You could look at Alex Mack and see another decade, decade and a half of a Kevin Mawae-esque run of dominance at center. Right now? He’s not going to be Kevin Mawae. But he has the work ethic and desire to take it to the next level and become truly great.
2. Max Unger (Oregon)
6’5″ 309 5.26
Agility wise? Max Unger is the best center out there. He can be an emergency left tackle. He’s solid in pass protection. And he’s a good player in the traps and pulling game. All in all? Max Unger is a solid fathlete.
His only problem? He does have functional strength. But his football strength is lacking. He’s not a blow you off the ball center like Alex Mack or even an Edwin Williams. It’s not a suicidal flaw, a good strength program can handle that. But it’s the difference between Unger and Mack. Despite the fact he’s also weak in space.
But at present? Anybody dreaming of Kevin Mawae has been camped out at his doorstep. He does have some real upside to his game. You may be able to find a long-snapper, and a backup tackle and guard for the price of a starting center and a mid 2nd round pick.
If you want an effort player? Eric Wood brings you all you want and more. But what else does he have? He has a solid skill set. He has the necessary football smarts to play center, good aggression, and surprisingly solid mobility. He has solid strength and he’s willing to finish?. Also? He’s shockingly good at hitting moving targets.
But I’ve said it before. I do not trust waist benders. It limits his power and his leverage. It also means a quick defender can engage his pads. It also means that a strong defensive lineman can bull him into the backfield.
But I am willing to consider the possibility that Wood is merely miscast as a center in the pros. I mean, don’t his strengths equal a good zone blocking scheme guard? They do. As a center? He could get eaten up though.
Yay! Good dranalysis!