Wednesday, April 15, 2009

NFL Draft Averages - OCs

The 8th evaluation of recent draft trends by position goes to the centers. The OCs are the leaders of the entire offensive line unit. They are the decision makers; they bark out orders on blocking schemes, call shifts, and identify blitzers. They are the heart of the line even if OTs get all the glory.

The nice thing about being a center is the added positional flexibility. Centers and guards are very similar. They usually have the same body build and are basically can flip between both positions. While a center can become a guard easily, its much harder for a lifelong guard to become a center. Centers are very cerebral. If you don't have the smarts and patience necessary to be a center you'll be stuck at guard. Now this doesn't mean all guards are idiots. I played center and guard in my playing days. Generally speaking, the brightest minds on the o-line play center.

Below are the statistics for OCs during the last 10 NFL drafts (1999-2008). The table shows a bunch of information allowing us to analyze trends and make informed predictions.

Draft trends for OCs (1999-2008).

So 63 collegiate OCs have been selected over the last 10 NFL drafts, or about six per year. Not a lot, for sure. But remember, there are only 32 active centers at any given time. Usually a teams backup center is not truly a center but a multipurpose, jack-of-all trades backup. Six centers per year is adequate enough to restock the position. The most ever taken in the seven round draft was 9 (2004) with the fewest coming in 1999 (3). So based on these recent trends we can safely say that there will be at least three centers taken ("will be picked"), another three "should be picked", and an additional three OCs are "borderline". Seeing more than nine is a long shot. So how does this '09 class look?

Will Be Picked

Alex Mack, California

Max Unger, Oregon

Eric Wood, Louisville

Should Be Picked

Jonathan Luigs, Arkansas

Antoine Caldwell, Alabama

A.Q. Shipley, Penn State


Edwin Williams, Maryland

Cecil Newton, Tennessee State

Brett Helms, LSU


Blake Schlueter, TCU

Jon Cooper, Oklahoma

Robby Felix, UTEP

Alex Fletcher, Stanford

MY PREDICTION: It is actually a pretty strong class. Mack, Unger, and Wood are all fighting to be the first center taken and are all candidates to go in the late first or early second round. Luigs, Caldwell, and Shipley - the second tier guys - all have drawn a ton of interest too. While I think this class is very strong, I don't see a new record being set. We'll stay below the max, of nine. I'm calling for 8 OCs to be drafted over April 25 and 26, on par with 2001 and 2005. We won't see any crack round one but we will see at least three go in round two.

UP NEXT: Later today I'll start looking at the other side of the ball. Up first are the massive DTs, well known for their run stopping and backfield penetration. How important is the position in the NFL draft? Find out in a bit.

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