Path to Draft 7: Ohio St.'s Brewster

The signing of Jeff Saturday doesn't mean the Packers don't need a center, and four-year Ohio State starter Michael Brewster is one of the best in the draft.

Publisher's note: The Packers replaced Pro Bowl center Scott Wells by signing former Pro Bowler Jeff Saturday to a two-year contract on Friday. Saturday will turn 37 in June and does nothing to solve the long-term need at the position. So, Packer Report is introducing you to the top centers in the draft. These stories are by NFL Scouting's Dave-Te Thomas, who scouts for the NFL and provides his reports to the teams.


One of the more heated battles at the 2012 NFL Scouting Combine continued to escalate, as Ohio State's Michael Brewster and Michigan's David Molk vied to unseat Wisconsin's Peter Konz as the presumptive first center selected in the 2012 NFL Draft.

Their war of words created good Internet fodder, especially after Molk's comment to an AnnArbor.com reporter, who told the Wolverines center on Feb. 28 that most draftniks rank him as anywhere from the second-best to the sixth-best center in this year's draft. Molk took exception to that, responding, "The fact they could consider any center better than me is pretty stupid."

Molk then directed his anger at NFL Network's Mike Mayock, who called Molk "very much a finesse guy," and the Michigan prospect took issue with that. "He [Mayock] never played against me," Molk said. "I don't think a finesse player has ever had defensive linemen quit during a game; quit and give up because you're hurting them. I don't think a finesse player has ever done what I do, which is just ground kids out of the hole. I think the fact he called me a finesse player is because he hasn't watched me on film."

Molk then turned his attention to his Buckeyes competition, calling Brewster "nowhere near me as a player." Unsurprisingly, Brewster didn't take kindly to those comments, and the OSU prospect fired back.

"If they are talking, then you are doing something right," Brewster said. "And Molk, keep my name out of your mouth." Brewster also retweeted a fan who wrote, "I like how Molk waited until after the Senior Bowl and the Combine to start shooting off his mouth . . . he won't have to see Brewster anymore."

To further cement his status as the Big Ten Conference's most dominant center, most league defensive linemen voted Brewster the toughest opponent they have faced. Even though Molk beat out Brewster for first-team All-Big Ten Conference honors from league coaches in 2011, the Ohio State center prefers to let his game films speak volumes for his ability.

"I have a nasty streak and a will to win," he said. "I'm a leader and can take control of the game from the offensive line. I play smart and always try to help my team. I play with passion, but stay calm."

Brewster was a model of consistency since he first suited up for Ohio State as a freshman. He would go on to start all 49 games he appeared in for the Buckeyes, having a hand in 53 of the team's 88 touchdowns on the ground. Even though he has adequate size, professional scouts consider him to be a tough, competitive center that plays with a wide base, snaps and steps quickly, and flashes a physical, nasty temperament. They also cite Brewster's ability to keep his hands inside in pass protection and his ability to shuffle, slide and mirror.


PATH TO THE DRAFT SERIES


Baylor C Philip Blake
Wisconsin C Peter Konz
Michigan C David Malk
Georgia C Ben Jones
San Diego St. QB Ryan Lindley
South Dakota St. WR Dale Moss
Greg Bartram/US Presswire
The Orlando, Fla., native attended Edgewater High School, where he played both sides of the ball and was named All-State class 6A in his senior season. He also earned All-American honors from USA Today, Parade and EA Sports. Regarded as a five-star prospect by Scout.com, Brewster was listed as the best offensive lineman in the nation's class of 2008 and closed out his prep career by competing in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.

Brewster enrolled at Ohio State for the spring 2008 semester after he graduated early from high school. He would miss spring drills while recovering from right shoulder surgery, but by fall drills, he had such an impressive showing that the coaches had him replace the injured Steve Rehring at center vs. Troy. He started 10 contests that season, going on to play with the first unit in the next 49 games. He was a Freshman All-American in 2008, as he posted 82 knockdowns with 10 touchdown-resulting blocks for a ground game that scored 21 times.

A nagging ankle sprain limited Brewster's mobility in 2009, but the Lombardi Trophy Watch List member went on to start every game in the pivot. He posted 11 touchdown-resulting blocks as the Buckeyes ranked 18th nationally with 195.38 rushing yards per game.

As a junior, Brewster was a finalist for the coveted Rimington Trophy, given to the nation's top center. The Football Writers Association's All-American first-team choice delivered 17 touchdown-resulting blocks for the nation's 14th-ranked ground game (195.38 per game).

Brewster could have opted to enter the NFL ranks by applying for entry to the 2011 draft, especially since several OSU players were suspended for accepting improper benefits and their head coach, Jim Tressel was forced to resign, but even though he would graduate in December 2011, he decided to return for his final campaign.

"I want to be a leader on this team in the 2011 season, and I think I'm ready for that," Brewster said. Leadership for the 2011 Buckeyes was in a state of flux, with five elite players - quarterback Terrelle Pryor (left for the NFL rather than return to school), running back Dan Herron, receiver DeVier Posey, left tackle Mike Adams and defensive end Solomon Thomas – faced with a five-game suspension to start the season.

Personal improvement was also one of Brewster's goals, even if he was named first team All-American by the Football Writers Association of America in 2010, he wanted to improve all areas of his game in 2011.

"This was really my first season understanding how to play center," said Brewster, a third-year starter who was a high school All-American tackle in high school. "I made a lot of progress, and I think I can make that much more progress with another year at Ohio State. Then I think I will be really ready for the NFL. I think it will make me that much more confident about making the step to the next level."

Brewster was named to the Rimington and Outland Trophy Watch Lists, received All-Big Ten Conference honors from several media outlets and was the recipient of the Jim Parker Award, given to the team's outstanding lineman. With their center serving as team captain, he delivered 15 touchdown-resulting blocks and 91 knockdowns as a young OSU running unit averaged 191.5 yards per game, ranking 27th nationally.

CAREER NOTES

Brewster moved into the starting lineup at center during the fourth game of his freshman season, remaining in the lineup for the rest of his career…In the 2012 Gator Bowl, he made his 49th consecutive start, which ranks second in school history. Former interim head coach Luke Fickell holds the school record with 50 consecutive games…Produced 53 touchdown-resulting blocks for a ground attack that found the end zone 88 times during his 49 starting assignments, as he chipped in 338 knockdowns.

2011 SEASON

Brewster was named to the Rimington and Outland Trophy watch lists at the beginning of the season, as he received second-team All-Big Ten Conference honors from the league's media and honorable mention from the conference's coaches…Recipient of the Jim Parker Award, given to the team's outstanding offensive lineman…Closed out his career ranking second in school history with 49 consecutive starts…Manned the center position, helping a running corps depleted by injuries and suspensions finish 27th in the nation with an average of 191.15 yards per game, as the team captain delivered 91 knockdowns and 15 touchdown-resulting blocks…Was also a Lowe's Senior Class Award candidate, given for excellence both on and off the field…The center helped the team with 10 knockdowns vs. Akron, as the offense exploded for 517 yards…Added three touchdown-resulting blocks, as the Buckeyes scored four times on the ground, tallying 346 rushing yards vs. Indiana…Twice cleared rush lanes for touchdown runs by the Buckeyes, as the offense ran for 268 yards in an upset win over Wisconsin.

2010 SEASON

The Football Writers Association first-team All-American center was the only junior to be named a finalist for the Rimington Trophy…Added All-Big Ten Conference first-team from the media and received second-team recognition from the conference's coaches…The center recorded a career-high 97 knockdowns, along with posting 17 touchdown-resulting blocks… With Brewster leading the way, Ohio State placed 14th in the nation in rushing, averaging 220.08 yards per game…Called blocking assignments for a front wall and allowed only four quarterback pressures on 349 pass plays.

2009 SEASON

Brewster was named to the Rimington and Outland Trophy watch lists as a sophomore, as he started every game at center…His mobility was limited by a nagging ankle sprain, but he managed to "answer the call" each game, as he posted eleven touchdown-resulting blocks and 68 knockdowns…Behind his blocks, the Buckeyes ranked 18th nationally with 195.38 yards per game rushing, but they failed to generate an aerial attack, placing 108th among 118 major colleges with an average of 173.62 aerial yards per game.

2008 SEASON

Brewster enrolled at Ohio State in January, but sat out 2008 spring drills after injuring his shoulder during his high school senior year…The prep offensive tackle moved into the starting lineup during OSU's fourth game, vs. Troy, starting the Buckeyes' final 10 contests…Despite no game experience at center prior to the coaches moving him to that position as a true freshman, he collected 82 knockdowns and ten touchdown blocks for an offense that averaged 192.58 yards rushing and 342.69 yards in total offense per game… His performance earned Brewster Freshman All-American honors from The Sporting News, FWAA, Rivals.com and College Football News.

INJURY REPORT

High School…Suffered a knee sprain as a sophomore at Lake Highland Prep and injured his shoulder late in his senior year at Edgewater High.

2008 Season…That shoulder injury would prevent Brewster from participating in OSU's spring camp.

2009 Season…Did not miss any games, but was limited all year by a nagging ankle sprain.

AGILITY TESTS

5.17 in the 40-yard dash…1.78 10-yard dash…2.94 20-yard dash…4.60 20-yard shuttle… 7.73 three-cone drill…25-inch vertical jump…8'0" broad jump…Bench pressed 225 pounds 29 times…31-inch arm length…9 5/8-inch hands…75 3/8-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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