Path to the Draft: Michigan's David Molk

From now through the end of the draft, Packer Report will join forces with NFL Scouting to introduce you to the top prospects in this year's draft. We lead off with a profile of Michigan's outstanding center and provide a draft scoop in the process.

Wisconsin's Peter Konz is considered the best center in the draft.

Even Ohio State's Mike Brewster is getting more love from media draft pundits.

Don't tell that to Michigan's David Molk.

"The fact they could consider any center better than me is pretty stupid," Molk told AnnArbor.com at his Indianapolis hotel during the NFL Scouting Combine last month.

Molk has a beef. He won the Rimington Award as the nation's best center, was voted the Big Ten's best offensive lineman and was awarded first-team All-American accolades from just about everybody that counted.

Except the American Football Coaches Association, which picked Konz. He called that selection "stupid."

"I have skills he doesn't have," Mock said of Konz. "Obviously, my strength is far better, I'm faster, I would say I'm smarter. Obviously, he's an intelligent person, I've talked to him, but I just think I have a technique that's unmatched (by him)."

And Brewster?

"He is nowhere near me as a player," Molk said.

Regardless, the Green Bay Packers will have a desperate need at center should Scott Wells depart during free agency. The Packers were doing their homework long in advance of Wells' wining and dining, conducting a formal interview with Molk at the Scouting Combine, Packer Report has learned.

Molk, a fifth-year senior, is a short, compact zone blocker in the mold of Atlanta standout Todd McClure and Philadelphia's rising star, Jason Kelce. Much like those professional centers, Molk relies on field savvy, outstanding hand strength that allows him to consistently root out defensive linemen and the quick-hip swerve to mirror bull rushers.

Playing in the Big Ten Conference, home of elite centers Konz and Brewster, Molk has had to play at peak level the last two years in order to garner postseason attention. He was more than up for the challenge other league centers presented him, winning all-Big Ten accolades the last two seasons and finishing as a finalist for the Rimington as a junior.

Molk further cemented his status among the best draft prospects at his position at the Combine, as his 41 repetitions at the 225-bench press event was not only the most for any center in attendance, but the most for any offensive lineman in Indianapolis. Molk joined Memphis defensive tackle Dontari Poe (44) as the only players at the Combine to bench press at least 40 times in 2012.

Picturing Molk as an elite draft prospect could not have been imagined when the then 5-foot-6, 175-pound freshman at Lemont Township (Ill.) High School stepped into the team's training room for the first time in 2003. That year, he could only bench press 110 pounds and squat 250 pounds. By the end of his junior year, he was one of the most highly recruited prep players in the Chicago metropolitan area.

By his senior season, Molk had grown into a 6-foot-1, 270-pound center who could bench press 370 pounds. Molk was actually discovered when a University of Michigan recruiter came to his school to watch a teammate. At the end of his junior year, he had received scholarship offers from 10 schools, including six Big Ten Conference football programs. During the summer prior to his senior season, he made a verbal commitment to join the Wolverines, in part due to its business school, the Ross School of Business. Molk was also an honors student in his senior year of high school.

Molk was a serious contender to start in the season opener due to injuries but wound up serving on the scout team. Molk was expected to start in 2008, and spent the summer perfecting the shotgun snap for new coach Rich Rodriguez's spread offense. However, Molk endured mononucleosis and lost 15 pounds. He wound up starting anyway and played every snap in all 12 games.

As a redshirt sophomore, he started the season in explosive fashion, posting 20 knockdowns in his first two games, but he suffered a broken foot in the third contest vs. Eastern Michigan and had surgery two days later.

Molk was expected to miss six weeks, but after sitting out four games, he returned to practice. However, during the subsequent game vs. Penn State on Oct. 24, he tore knee ligaments and was lost for the season as well as 2010 spring football.

Molk was back to start the 2010 season and was a first-team All-Big Ten Conference selection by the coaches and a second-team choice by the media. He was also recognized as an honorable mention All-American by Sports Illustrated and was a finalist for the Rimington Award. He paved the way for quarterback Denard Robinson to establish numerous rushing records lining up behind and often running behind Molk, along with breaking Drew Brees' Big Ten single-season total offense record of 4,189 yards.

As a senior, Molk captured the Rimington. His zone and drive blocking skills helped Michigan produce two 1,000-yard rushers (Robinson and Fitzgerald Toussaint) for the first time since the 1975 team. He also earned the inaugural Big Ten Conference Rimington-Pace Offensive Lineman of the Year Award and was a repeat first team All-Big Ten Conference pick by the coaches and a second team selection by the media.

CAREER NOTES

Molk started 41 games at center during his career…Another in a long line of Wolverines centers to earn All-American honors (fourteen), joining William Cunningham (1898), Germany Schultz (1907), Henry Vick (1921), Jack Blott (1923), Robert Brown (1925),

Maynard Morrison (1931), Charles Bernard (1932-33), Walt Downing (1977), George Lilja (1980), Tom Dixon (1983), John Vitale (1988), Rod Payne (1996) and David Baas (2004)…

In 2011, Molk joined Baas as the only Michigan centers to win the Dave Rimington Trophy, given to the nation's premier center, but Molk was the Wolverines' only outright winner, as Bass shared the 2004 trophy with Louisiana State's Ben Wilkerson.

2011 SEASON

Molk was the 2011 Rimington Trophy recipient and a consensus All-American first-team selection (Associated Press, Football Writers Association of America All-America, The Sporting News, Walter Camp)…Earned the 2011 Big Ten Conference Rimington-Pace Offensive Lineman of the Year Award (the first year it was thusly named) and was a repeat first team All-Big Ten Conference selection by the coaches and a second team choice by the media…Voted team captain, Molk started 12-of-13 games he played in…A pre-game foot sprain during warm-ups prior to facing Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl prevented Molk from starting the first series of that contest…Registered sixteen touchdown-resulting blocks and 82 knockdowns for an offense that ranked second in the conference and 13th in the nation with a rushing average of 221.85 yards per game…Helped pave the way for a pair of 1,000-yard rushers (Denard Robinson and Fitzgerald Toussaint), the first time a Michigan team had two 1,000-yard ball carriers in the same season since 1975…Cleared out rush lanes for a ground unit that generated 376 yards rushing vs. Eastern Michigan, 320 yards with four scoring runs vs. San Diego State and 363 yards with three touch-downs vs. Minnesota during a three-game stretch…In the Purdue contest, Michigan ran for 339 yards and four touchdowns, scoring four more times on the ground in the Nebraska clash, as the Wolverines concluded that day with 418 total yards, followed by 444 yards in the regular season finale vs. Ohio State…The leader of the Michigan front wall called all blocking assignments, as Michigan allowed just eighteen sacks for losses totaling 160 yards, the third-lowest figure for any Big Ten team in 2011.

2010 SEASON

Molk was a Rimington Trophy finalist, joining David Baas (co-winner in 2004) and Mark Bihl (finalist in 2006) as the only Wolverines to ever reach that level in the competition for an award given to the best center in college football…Added All-Big Ten Conference first-team honors from the league's coaches after receiving second-team accolades from the media…Was the co-recipient of U-M's Hugh R. Rader Memorial Award (top offensive lineman)...Started all thirteen games at center, leading the way as the Wolverines racked up a school-record 6,011 offensive yards during the regular season (500.9 avg.), topping the previous mark of 5,807 yards attained in 2003…The Wolverines had one of the nation's most balanced offenses, leading the Big Ten in rushing (251.1 ypg) and finishing second in passing (249.8 ypg.)..While extending his consecutive starts string to 28 games, he was also named the 2009-10 National Strength and Conditioning Association All-American Strength and Conditioning Athlete of the Year.

2009 SEASON

Molk was a Lombardi Award and Rimington Trophy candidate entering the season, but was limited to just four starting appearances, including playing with the first unit in the team's first three games, vs. Western Michigan, Notre Dame and Eastern Michigan…He injured his foot, suffering a bone fracture vs. EMU and underwent surgery two days after that contest…Molk sat out the next four games before returning to action vs. Penn State, but he suffered a right knee anterior cruciate ligament tear during the first series vs. Penn State, missing the rest of the season…The injury would also sideline the center through-out 2010 spring drills.

2008 SEASON

Molk was the recipient of the Iron Wolverine Award as the best all-around conditioned player from the linemen group...Started all twelve games at center, as he played every offensive snap (791)…Registered 79 knockdowns and nine touchdown-resulting blocks, but the offense struggled, finishing 109th in the nation with an average of 290.75 yards per game.

2007 SEASON

Redshirted as a freshman.

INJURY REPORT

2009 Season…Molk suffered a broken bone in his foot in the first half of the Wolverines' win over Eastern Michigan, but still played in the second half. He underwent surgery two days after the game, sitting out the next four contests…Returned vs. Penn State, but on the game's first series, he suffered a right knee anterior cruciate ligament tear, missing the rest of the season.

2010 Season…Sat out all of spring drills and a good portion of fall camp while continuing to recover from 2009 knee surgery.

2011 Season…Molk sprained his foot while warming up prior to Michigan taking on Virginia Tech in the Senior Bowl. The injury forced him to miss the first series. Redshirt junior Rocko Khoury started instead and Michigan went three-and-out after a couple suspect snaps that were fumbled by QB Denard Robinson. Molk took the field for U-M's second series after Virginia Tech got on the scoreboard with a field goal, but was moving with a noticeable limp.

AGILITY TESTS

5.18 in the 40-yard dash…1.73 10-yard dash…2.93 20-yard dash…4.58 20-yard shuttle…7.67 three-cone drill…28.5-inch vertical jump…9'0" broad jump…Bench pressed 225 pounds 41 times…32-inch arm length…8 7/8-inch hands…77-inch wingspan.


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Dave-Te Thomas has more than 40 years of experience scouting for the NFL. At NFL Scouting, Thomas handles a staff that evaluates and tests college players before the draft and prepares the NFL's official Draft Packet, which is distributed to all 32 teams prior to the draft.

Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.


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