Scouting the Vikings schedule: Centers

Many of the centers the Vikings will face in 2015 received negative ratings from Pro Football Focus. We review the good and the bad from the centers the Vikings could be facing in 2015.

Chicago Bears: Home and Away
Roberto Garza
The beginning of Garza’s 14th season in the NFL was primarily on the bench as he was nursing an injury that he suffered in the first game of the season against the Buffalo Bills. Once he returned in Week 6 there was a plenty of up and down play by the veteran. While he was on the field, Garza allowed one sack, two quarterback hits and 11 quarterback hurries. At the end of the season he was tied for seventh in the NFL in the category of pass blocking efficiency with a rating of 97.8, according to Pro Football Focus, rating him -1.3 overall and making him the 21st-ranked center.

Detroit Lions: Home and Away
Dominic Raiola
After being drafted in the second round out of Nebraska in 2001 by the Lions, Raiola finished his 14th year in the NFL. This offseason Raiola is a free agent and has the opportunity to do something he has yet to do in his career, and that is to play on a team other than the Lions. However, at the age of 36 there might not be a lot of opportunities for him, especially after having a down year. At the end of the 2014 regular season PFF rated Raiola -17.2, as he primarily struggled in run blocking and pass blocking, allowing four sacks, two quarterback hits and 17 quarterback hurries.

Green Bay Packers: Home and Away
Corey Linsley
Linsley was one of the most consistent players on the Packers offense, as he played in all 1,072 offensive snaps and finished the season being rated 10.0 overall by PFF, which made him the No. 5 center. Linsley did well blocking for the running game, for screens and pass blocking, allowing one sack, two quarterback hits, and 12 quarterback hurries. The Packers drafted Linsley in the fifth round in 2014, and during his rookie season he showed that he could be an anchor for the Packers’ offensive line for years to come.

Seattle Seahawks: Home
Max Unger
At the end of Unger’s sixth regular season in the NFL he was rated as the No. 4 center by PFF with a 12. 4 grade. His strength is in run blocking. He struggled a little bit all season in pass blocking, allowing six quarterback hurries. That may seem good, but he only played in 385 regular-season snaps as he dealt with injuries all year long.

Arizona Cardinals: Away
Lyle Sendlein
Sendlein’s eighth season may be one he wants to forget. At the end of the regular season PFF had him rated at a -29.1, making him the second-lowest rated center in the NFL. He struggled in both run blocking (-14.0), and pass blocking (-15.2), where he allowed one sack, 11 quarterback hits and 17 quarterback hurries. Even though Sendlein did not have the best year in 2014, he did play in every offensive snap for the Cardinals. Since they were shuffling quarterbacks all season, having that steady presence at center was beneficial.

St. Louis Rams: Home
Scott Wells
With a -29.7 overall rating by PFF at the end of the 2014 regular season, Wells was the lowest rated center in the NFL. Although he did struggle blocking in the screen game (-1.5), and the running game (-9.0), he was worst in pass blocking (-18.7), credited with allowing one sack, three quarterback hits and 23 quarterback hurries. Wells almost seemed as though he was turning his season around in Week 8 – finished with a 1.3 rating – but had to leave the game early because of an injury and once he came back the very next week he continued to struggle.

San Francisco 49ers: Away
Daniel Kilgore
Kilgore was the Day 1 starter for the 49ers, but his season did not last long, cut short after just 463 offensive snaps. He suffered a season-ending injury in Week 7 against the Denver Broncos. Before his injury Kilgore was having a good season, allowing six quarterback hurries, and was excelling in the running game. At the age of 27, Kilgore still has a lot of football left to be played and he should be back at the start of the 2015 season to once again be the starter for the 49ers.

Kansas City Chiefs: Home
Rodney Hudson
After the first game of the 2014 season it seemed as though it was going to be a long season for Hudson, as he received a -3.0 rating from PFF. He was, however, able to turn things around for the rest of the season, only being rated negatively two more times and finishing the season with a 13.0 rating, making him the third-highest rated center. He finished the season with a 2.7 rating as a run blocker, a 2.5 rating blocking in the screen game and a 4.2 rating as a pass blocker while allowing two sacks, two quarterback hits and seven quarterback hurries. Hudson is a free agent this offseason and at the age of 26 any team in the market for a center will likely go after him, especially because he was the highest-rated free agent at his position during the 2014 season.

Denver Broncos: Away
Will Montgomery
Montgomery was not the Week 1 starter for the Broncos, but he did finish the season as the starting center and was the highest-rated Broncos center with a 3.6 rating. A majority of the centers in the NFL are better blocking in the running game than they are blocking in the passing game, but not Montgomery. Instead he finished the regular season with a -0.1 rating run blocking and a 4.9 rating pass blocking while being credited with allowing one sack and three quarterback hurries in 586 offensive snaps. Montgomery is a free agent, and with the Broncos having another center on their roster that started the 2014 season it is very possible that he plays elsewhere in 2015.

San Diego Chargers: Home
Rich Ohrnberger
Ohrnberger was the Week 1 starter for the Chargers, but it didn’t stay that way for long because injuries took over his season. There were multiple instances where he would try to come back and play, but the Chargers eventually placed him on injured reserve after their Week 11 game against the Oakland Raiders. After his 453 offensive snaps, PFF gave Ohrnberger a -11.0 rating while he struggled run blocking and pass blocking. He was credited with allowing six quarterback hits and seven quarterback hurries. Ohrnberger is one of four centers on the Chargers’ roster to be a free agent this offseason and has a good chance at being brought back after beginning the 2014 season as the starter.

Oakland Raiders: Away
Stefen Wisniewski
Throughout the course of the 2014 regular season Wisniewski was a very consistent player, which helped the Raiders as they tried to develop rookie quarterback Derek Carr. Not only did Wisniewski play consistently, but he also played all 1,041 of the Raiders’ offensive snaps. His strength was run blocking, as he struggled from time to time pass blocking, allowing one sack, three quarterback hits and 12 quarterback hurries. He is a free agent this offseason and at the age of 25 still has a lot of football left to play. The Raiders likely will try to re-sign him after he gained chemistry with Carr throughout the 2014 season.

New York Giants: Home
J.D. Walton
Walton’s 1,145 offensive snaps were more than any other center. But the struggles started in earnest after the bye week in Week 9. Walton was given a negative rating by PFF in six of the Giants’ final nine games and earned a -19.6 overall rating at the end of the regular season. His weakness for a majority of the season was run blocking, but his pass blocking was by no means great, as he was credited with allowing one sack, three quarterback hits and 16 quarterback hurries.

Atlanta Falcons: Away
James Stone
Stone didn’t get to see his first action on offense until Week 5 during the regular season, and even then it was at left guard and not center. He didn’t play at center until Week 7, and he continued to play for the remainder of the regular season. After joining the Falcons as an undrafted free agent last offseason, he finished the season with a -13.5 rating from PFF. He was also credited with allowing six quarterback hits and 15 quarterback hurries.

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