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Matt Paradis: NFL's Best Center & Future All-Pro

Matt Paradis has quietly become the best center in the NFL. And nobody is talking about it.

Back in 2013, the Dallas Cowboys created some knee-jerking in the NFL community when they selected Wisconsin center Travis Frederick with the 31st pick in the first round of the NFL Draft. But the selection worked out pretty well for Jerry Jones and company. 

Now in his fourth year, Frederick has been elected to the Pro Bowl and named to the All-Pro team in each of the last two seasons. Many analysts call him the best center in the game. You'll also hear Atlanta's Alex Mack and Oakland's Rodney Hudson tossed around as the best in the business. 

Nobody mentions Matt Paradis — currently the highest-rated center in the NFL according to Pro Football Focus.

What makes him so good? His quarterback Trevor Siemian had this to say about him not too long ago. 

“He’s intelligent and he’s super intelligent," Siemian said. "He’s running the show up there for us and he’s an athletic guy, he’s strong, he can reach and he does a lot of things really well. He’s smart and his ability to get everybody lined up and on the same page is why we’re successful up there.”

As a case study in draft valuation, the Denver Broncos selected Paradis in the sixth round of the 2014 Draft out of Boise State. He was waived at the end of training camp his rookie year and re-signed to the practice squad. 

Denver's head coach at the time — John Fox — doesn't like playing rookies. 

Paradis' future was very much in doubt until Gary Kubiak came to town, replacing the departed Fox. Paradis was viewed as an excellent fit for Kubiak's zone blocking scheme — smart, smallish, athletic and effective in space. Things were looking up for Paradis, but the Broncos hedged their bet by acquiring Gino Gradkowski via trade from the Baltimore Ravens. Paradis destroyed the veteran Gradkowski in training camp and quickly ascended to the team's No. 1 center spot. 

He started his first NFL game on September 13, 2015 and 22 regular season starts, three playoff games and a Super Bowl ring later, Paradis still presides over Denver's offensive line. And he hasn't missed a snap.

Paradis was the only Bronco in 2015 to play each and every snap for the team. Following Super Bowl 50, it was revealed that he had earned the NFL's highest performance-based bonus of $391,647.56. That money goes a long way when playing on a minimum salary of $435,000. He almost doubled his money because of his excellence.

This year, he's making $525,000 — $90,000 more in base salary than he did in 2015. The Broncos are getting All-Pro caliber play out of their center for pennies on the dollar.

Comparatively, the Cowboys just sunk $28.16 million in guarantees into Travis Frederick this past August. And people wonder how GM John Elway is so successful. As you can see in the OverTheCap chart above, Paradis' contract is ranked No. 62 out of 70 pro centers. 

But Paradis has a similar pay-day coming his way. Right now, he's leading an offensive line still struggling to find consistency as a unit, while Frederick is surrounded by Pro Bowlers like left tackle Tyron Smith and right guard Zack Martin. When you compare the quality of players Paradis leads with Frederick's, it makes the former's excellence that much more impressive. Paradis has been consistently great despite being surrounded with sub-par individual play by his O-line teammates. 

Through seven games, Paradis has allowed just four pressures on the QB. With 475 total snaps (185 of them being run snaps), Pro Football Focus has given him a 87.3 run blocking grade.

So why isn't Paradis getting the recognition he deserves? It's hard to put a finger on it but my belief is that he gets painted with the same broad strokes as the Broncos O-line unit as a whole. Plus, sixth round picks aren't supposed to be the best in the business. 

• DISCUSSION: Is Matt Paradis The NFL's Best Center? SOUND OFF With Other Broncos Fans

Even Gary Kubiak doesn't sound certain why Paradis remains so underrated. 

“You would have to ask other players," Kubiak said Monday. "I think he’s working his way. I think he’s gaining respect around this league and that’s what it’s all about. He’s a kid who doesn’t miss. He’s there every week, plays every play and runs the show up front. I think Matt is well on his way to having a very good career. He’s very young.”

Eventually, the cream rises to the top. Paradis is developing a reputation around the league and it's only a matter of time before that translates into the individual accolades he so well deserves. 

Don't be surprised if 2016 ends with Matt Paradis' name on the AP All-Pro team. 

Chad Jensen is the Publisher of Mile High Huddle. You can find him on Twitter @ChadNJensen.

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