Center Prospects For The 2009 College Draft
(Getty Images)
Lead NFL Analyst
Posted Apr 20, 2009


It all starts at the OC position and there are three prospects at this position that could ultimately become solid professionals. After all of the tapes were watched and workout numbers crunched, Tom Marino felt there were three centers worthy of first day consideration on Saturday.

Max Unger of Oregon was banged up late in the 2008 season, but is an experienced hand that played with good playing leverage; particularly for a big man. He’s not as explosive as I would have hoped (particularly inline), but his initial get off quickness, feet, balance and hand use were particularly impressive. I felt his pass sets, use of hands and awareness were very efficient.

I have some concern with Alex Mack’s athletic ability, but this guy is both tough and very strong. He showed good initial quickness, awareness and the ability to climb a defender. He looked the part physically, but he is going to have to improve his contact balance and efficiency off the line. I do like the playing character, and ultimately see him developing into a solid starter at the professional level.

I was a little disappointed in his Senior Bowl practice work, but I really have a good feeling about Louisville’s Eric Wood. He was tough, experienced and versatile. He did plays extremely hard and was both alert and highly competitive. He understands angles and was effective blocking playside. On the negative side, Eric is just an adequate athlete who showed a tendency to play over his pads.

I heard so many good things prior to the start of the 2008 season regarding Arkansas’s Jonathan Luigs and although I think he has many of the physical qualities you look for at the position, I’ve got to tell you I was disappointed with his overall performance. He showed good upper body strength and adequate body quickness, but I didn’t think he showed much in the way of hand use nor did he show adequate contact balance. Will need a great deal of technique work on pass protection (plays far too stiff legged).

I want to watch a bit more game tape on Penn State center A. Q. Shipley, before I give him a final grade, but I like what I saw in tee-shirt and shorts. He’s strong and quick, but he has particularly short arms (29 ¾”) and at just over six-one, a club would have to be concerned about his physical make up. Is a classic over achiever with some real physical limitations as a player.

I felt Antoine Caldwell of Alabama showed adequate initial quickness and has the mass to occupy people inside, but I was really disappointed in his explosiveness on contact and his ability to establish a new line of scrimmage consistently. On pass protection, he showed adequate technique, but he just doesn’t have the lower body strength to anchor. I also didn’t think he had good hands placement or recovery skills when beat. I did like his toughness and versatility and see him as a down the line swingman

Unlike most of the posted draft rankings and ratings seen in numerous publications and websites, I assure you the physical numbers (height, weights and speeds) you will read in this series are exactly what scouts and coaches are viewing today in draft rooms throughout the country.

The NFL spends literally millions of dollars annually on player development. I assure the readers that every player draft over the week end and a majority of the free agents signed at the conclusion of the draft will be thoroughly vetted physically, mentally, psychologically, socially and athletically.

Unless a particular player were injured during the past playing season or suffered a injury which required significant post season rehabilitation (Michael Crabtree, Dickie Lyons) I would go as far to say that any player who did not comply with the total vetting process will be unceremoniously placed in the club’s dead (figuratively) file.

Understanding an individual player number below is actually very easy to understand and is the language by which scouts and coaches correspond. Heights are always designated by a four number sequence; for example the first number designates a player’s height in feet; the second and third numbers are the players’ height in inches while the fourth number designates a fraction of an inch in eights. John Smith 5103 read five feet, ten and three eight inches. The lower case letter “v” and “e” informs the readers that the height, weight and time is either “verified” or “estimated.”

The numeral grading scale is even easier to understand. The second number or first number after the decimal is the round the player is projected to be drafted, while the third number is where in the round the player is projected to be drafted. For example, a 1.38 grade would rank a player at the end of the third round while a 1.72 would slot a player at the top of the seventh round. A 1.80 grade represents a priority free agent whiles a 1.90 grade represents a lower level free agent or camp participant (leg saver).

I am going to be as candid as possible regarding this year’s prospects abilities as a football player, and although I have been made aware of some pertinent personal player information over the past scouting season (character and medical concerns or a players’ ability to readily learn or retain football concepts) I will not comment or divulge this sensitive information at any time.

Offensive Centers

RK Name School HT WT 40 GR
1 Unger, Maxwell Oregon 6045v 309v 5.34v 1.18
2 Mack, Alex California 6037v 311v 5.24v 1.23
3 Wood, Eric Louisville 6037v 310v 5.22v 1.26
4 Luigs, Jonathan Arkansas 6035v 301v 5.16v 1.51
5 Fletcher, Alex Stanford 6023v 297v 5.42v 1.75
6 Caldwell, Antoine Alabama 6044v 307v 5.28v 1.79

Free Agents

RK Name School HT WT 40 GR
Shipley, A.Q. Penn St 6011v 306v 5.21v 1.80
Reynolds, Dallas BYU 6043v 309v 5.33v 1.90
Williams, Edwin Maryland 6022v 308v 5.51v 1.90
Cooper, Jon Oklahoma 6017v 291v 5.13v 1.90
Bruggeman, Rob Iowa 6040v 293v 5.08v 1.90
Helms, Brett LSU 6020v 286v 5.46v 1.90
Quinn, J.D. Montana 6032v 302v 5.27v 1.90
Newton, Cecil Tennessee St 6015v 301v 5.28v 1.90
Felix, Robby UTEP 6032v 302v 5.26v 1.90
Garcia, Juan Washington 6022v 307v 5.48v 1.90
Griffin, Jacob So Florida 6027v 309v 5.54v 1.90


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