Tom Marino: Scouting the Centers

Get the scoop on this year's center crop from an NFL scout with over 35 years experience.

THE BEST

1. Kory Lichtensteiger, C, Bowling Green
40: 5.28v Ht: 6022v Wt: 298v Rating: 1.435
Four year regular. Very good player although not impressive to look at physically (short arms). Good balance and quick feet. Very tough and nasty. Very smart and aware (makes all front calls). Quick to the second level. Shows good knee bend and leverage on his blocks. Struggled with big people on pass protection, but never stopped working. A blue coller player, who plays the game with passion and heart. Has strong second day draft consideration.

2. Mike Pollak, C, Arizona State
40: 4.99v Ht: 6034v Wt: 301v Rating: 1.462
A good serviceable football player, but I didn't think he was particularly strong or effective at the point of attack. but going to have some real problem with big people inside. Is smart, experienced took good angles and plays on his feet. On pass pro, looked around well, was a good knee bender and overall athletic skills. Not a nasty individual and is never going to be a big finisher, but has solid play skills and should become a steady swingman inside. Round 4 - 5

3. Steven Justice, C, Wake Forest
40: 5.29v Ht: 6033v Wt: 290v Rating: 1.48
Has a pre existent condition which required his parents had to sign a waiver in order to play at Wake each season (no apparent effect in his play). Has athletic ability, experience and intelligence. Good athlete with toughness. Can reach effectively playside. Had problems with big people on his nose. Lacks core strength and rear power. Solid football player who could develop into a steady professional.

4. Jeremy Zuttah, C, Rutgers
40: 5.07v Ht: 6033v Wt: 303v Rating: 1.5
Good size and lots room to grow with his frame. Outstanding test athlete, but lacked functional playing strength. Played consistently straight legged and was stiff in his hips. A non knee bender in the classic sense. Playing a ROT, but is better suited to play center. On pass pro, his lack of balance points will always limit this player (gets driven back). Adequate college player with tools, but has a very long way to go. Needs position refinement. Draft # 4th to 5th

5. John Sullivan, C, Notre Dame
40: 5.39v Ht: 6034v Wt: 301v Rating: 1.52
Disappointed with his play in 2007. Is an experienced hand with intelligence, but was surprisingly not a natural knee bender (extensive wrestling background) and didn't get consistent fits inline. On pass pro didn't appear able to drop his base and make a stand vs a power rush. Had some very untimely gun snap errors in 07. Round 5 to 7 draft consideration.

6. Cody Wallace, C, Texas A&M
40: 5.31v Ht: 6042v Wt: 296v Rating: 1.591
Over achiever. Not a supple athlete, but is tough, experienced and durable. Had problems with people on his nose. Not strong at the point of attack. Just adequate contact balance. Tough, nasty individual. Journeyman player who has the potential to fill in at the OG spot. Problems with the bull rush. If he goes to a club that employs a zone blocking scheme (slide protection) could play a long time. Mid to late second day draft consideration (5 - 6).

7. Jamey Richard, C, Buffalo
40: 5.12v Ht: 6046v Wt: 297v Rating: 1.61
OVA transfer. I liked this players athletic ability, direction change and potential as a edge pass rusher in a 3-4 scheme. Good stride length to top of the rush and bend and use of hands to alter course and finish. Active within the running game showing both range and instincts. Good wrap up tackler. Possible end in 4-3 scheme. Competition level is a concern, but this is a talented high ceiling player. Round 3-4.

8. Matt Spanos, C, USC
40: 5.39v Ht: 6053v Wt: 322v Rating: 1.798
Stepped into a starting role with an injury this past year and played far better then expected. Is both big and strong, but was not an explosive player. . Walls off effectively and worked well in tandem. Improved with each passing game. Not an especially good athlete but will fight you to the end. Played much of the season with a triceps injury which need to be repaired. Has an outside chance of being drafted, but is more likely a priority free agent within the league.

9. Drew Miller, C, Florida
40: 5.30e Ht: 6046v Wt: 302v Rating: 1.798
Doesn't play big. Lacks functional playing strength and finishing skills. Is smart and plays with savvy, but will have a particularly tough time blocking big people at the next level. On pass protection,I didn't think he had near enough physical ability to handle a professional defender. Is smart, experienced and has lined up at both OG and the OC position, but lacks the necessary skills to play. Marginal free agent.

10. Digger Bujnoch, C, Cincinnati
40: 5.24v Ht: 6046v Wt: 285v Rating: 1.799
Dad (Glen) played with the Bengal's. Undersized player with limited play strength. Great kid with size potential, experience and good intangibles. I thought he played too rigid. Playing a tackle position, but did work at the center position in the spring and appears physically far better suited to project inside in the professional ranks. Will have get stronger and to do a far better job of keeping his pads down to play the OC position, but has a chance.

11. Brett Byford, C, Nebraska
40: 5.30e Ht: 6020e Wt: 310e Rating: 1.8
Bright and experienced. Is a steady college football player with good intangibles. Inline, I thought he lacked power particularly through his lower half. On pass protection, he looked around and picked up effectively. In the run game, was not an explosive player. Has an outside chance of being drafted, but is more likely a serviceable training camp player.

12. Adam Spieker, C, Missouri
40: 5.31v Ht: 6022v Wt: 307v Rating: 1.8
Highly intelligent experienced player, whose weight room numbers were clearly superior to his play strength. Is in my opinion a marginal athlete who lacks the quickness and flexibility to reach playside effectively. Not strong inside (bad body guy). Ine

14. Fernando Velasco, C, Georgia
40: Ht: 6024v Wt: 318v Rating: 1.9
Has some rear power and the strength to get some push inline, but is a lmited athlete and finished far too many plays on his knees. Limited range player who did not effectively protect the "A" on pass protection. Not a total waste, but is really not good

15. Doug Legursky, C, Marshall
40: 5.35e Ht: 6012v Wt: 328v Rating: 1.9
Marginal athlete. Is tough but doesn't have the movement, body control and quickness to factor within the league. Free agent

16. Kyle DeVan, C, Oregon State
40: Ht: 6013v Wt: 307v Rating: 1.9
Has some rear power and the strength to get some push inline, but is a lmited athlete and finished far too many plays on his knees. Limited range player who did not effectively protect the "A" on pass protection. Not a total waste, but is really not good

17. Chris Joseph, C, UCLA
40: Ht: 6040v Wt: 292v Rating: 1.9
Very bright (3.95 GPA) and is a tough scrappy individual. Plays very hard, but is undersized, lacks strength, and can not finish. Has obvious problems with big people on his nose. Like his competitiveness, but flat out isn't big enough. Marginal free ag

18. John Masters, C, Michigan State
40: 5.30e Ht: 6025v Wt: 292v Rating: 1.9
Has some rear power and the strength to get some push inline, but is a lmited athlete and finished far too many plays on his knees. Limited range player who did not effectively protect the "A" on pass protection. Not a total waste, but is really not good

19. Jeff Cavender, C, Boise State
40: 5.46v Ht: 6016v Wt: 303v Rating: 1.9
Has played every position on the O-Line while at Boise St. Athletic player who also has a very high on the field IQ. Has struggled to maintain weight and will need to improve body strength greatly. Adequate short area quicks. Steady free agent prospect.

20. Kyle Smith, C, UCF
40: 5.54v Ht: 6020v Wt: 306v Rating: 1.9
Has some rear power and the strength to get some push inline, but is a lmited athlete and finished far too many plays on his knees. Limited range player who did not effectively protect the "A" on pass protection. Not a total waste, but is really not good

THE REST

Marcus Coleman, C, Wisconsin
40: 5.45e Ht: 6050v Wt: 301v Rating: 1.9

Tim Mattran, C, Stanford
40: 5.20e Ht: 6041v Wt: 308v Rating: 1.9

Tony Brinkhaus, C, Minnesota
40: 5.30e Ht: 6031v Wt: 300v Rating: 1.9

Kevin Tuminello, C, Georgia Tech
40: 5.25v Ht: 6033v Wt: 300v Rating: 2

Jordy Lipsey, C, Virginia U
40: 5.25e Ht: 6030e Wt: 280e Rating: 1.9

Rory Thomas, C, Indiana (PA) U
40: 5.39v Ht: 6032v Wt: 302v Rating: 2

Tim McCutcheon, C, California (PA)
40: 5.49v Ht: 6026v Wt: 302v Rating: 2

Brennen Carvalho, C, Portland St
40: 5.15e Ht: 6007v Wt: 318v Rating: 2
Under size player with short arms. Not a good enough athlete. Had problems with both big people on his nose or quick people in the A guy. Not a professional prospect.

Christian Morton, C, So Dakota U
40: 5.25v Ht: 6043v Wt: 296v Rating: 2

Corey Actis, C, Mississippi U
40: 5.25e Ht: 6034e Wt: 300e Rating: 2

Dallas Griffin, C, Texas U
40: 5.50e Ht: 6030e Wt: 290e Rating: 2
A one year starter who blew out his knee during the 2007 season. Is a marginal athlete and football player. Currently enrolled in business school.

John Frady, C, Florida St
40: 5.35e Ht: 6025v Wt: 269v Rating: 2
Moved from the OC position to tight end. Was not a starter in games viewed. A marginal overall player and prospect. Don't see him factoring at the next level.

SCOUTING NOTATION 101
The small "v" which follows the HT, WT, and forty time is the designation for verified. Other designations may include "e" for estimated, "b" for borrowed (from another scout), or "c" for coaches measurement or timed by a college coach.

Heights: The first number in the four numerals height represents the individual in feet while the second and third numbers represents a player in inches, while the last number in fractions of an inch (exclusively by the 1/8th of an inch.  Thus the following examples:

5105v - 5 for five feet, the10 represent ten inches, and the 5 (five) represents five-eights of another inch.

6017v - Six feet, one and seven-eights verified. 

All professional prospects and or suspects are measured numerous times during the course of a scouting season.  The first takes place generally in the spring of his junior at regularly scheduled "Pro days" at his university. At the conclusion of the season, scouts will on some occasions measure a prospect during a school visit.  Players are weighed and measured at every post season all-star contests.  At some lower level games, players are also given the opportunity to run. The next occasion takes place at the Indianapolis scouting combine, followed by individual or team workouts at the university and finally when a player if flown in to visit at a team site.

 


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