Offensive Centers: It All Starts Here

Unless he just isn't getting the job done on the field, a solid offensive center, much like a top setup man in baseball or penalty killer in hockey, is hardly noticeable during the course of a game. Former scout Tom Marino likes what he sees in this year's group and shares it today with the readers at scout.com.

A good center must have the size and strength to match up against some very hefty individuals on the inside; the quickness to reach play side consistently, and the intelligence to recognize fronts and make the proper line calls. His ability to snap and step and consistently make the gun snap are essential and should not be taken for granted. I like centers with long arms, but due to the numerous odd looks one encounters, be careful with centers with too much length.

I would have to say as a group, this is the absolute best offensive center grouping I can remember in quite some time. Alex Mack from the University of California, came very close to declaring for the 2008 draft, but returns to key the Golden Bears talented offensive front. I like his strength, balance, experience and overall engagement quickness. University of Arkansas' Jonathan Luigs, like Mack, is an experienced hand with size and physical tools. I really liked his playside blocking efficiency, ability to adjust in space and his awareness, particularly within the running game. The Alabama Crimson Tides Antoine Caldwell, Oregon's Max Unger, and Louisville OC Eric Wood, are all skilled players, who possess the necessary skills, size, and playing smarts to become steady contributors for a very long time in the professional ranks. Keep your eye on Tennessee State' Cecil Newton, a talented but undersized player and Oklahoma Sooner's pivot Jon Cooper.

Grade Last First School
A Luigs Jonathan Arkansas U
A Mack Alex California U
B Caldwell Antoine Alabama U
B Wood Eric Louisville U
B Unger Max Oregon U
C McDonald Ryan Illinois U
C Helms Brett LSU
C Cooper Jon Oklahoma U
C Shipley A Q Penn St
C Newton Cecil Tennessee St

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