This year offers a talented center class and while it is not likely that a pivot will go in the first round, a couple could go early in the second with as many as four off the board before Friday is done.
1. Weston Richburg, Colorado State – Richburg is a grinder, who plays with an unending motor and would finish a block on a broken leg before being carted off of the field. He has a great sense of space, gets the most out of his physical ability and is impressive in both the running game as well as in pass protection. In addition to having a good showing during the season, he stood out and looked really impressive at the Reese’s Senior Bowl all week.
2. Travis Swanson, Arkansas – Swanson was one of the few bright spots on an otherwise horrific Razorbacks season. He is at his best in pass protection, demonstrating not only that he could anchor the middle of the line but Arkansas also liked to slide its protection around and Swanson was just as good there. He is not as powerful as a run blocker, but he certainly has the size to do it. If he is not a center immediately, it is perhaps because a team just took him on talent and started him at guard.
3. Bryan Stork, Florida State – Stork anchored an outstanding offensive line for the Seminoles and has a great attitude for running the ball. He is always looking to make an impact and send a message. While he does not struggle in pass protection by any strength, he is not as good as he is in the running game. There are some occasions when he slips and ends up on the ground, but at the same time, he is so good at recognizing what opponents are doing, he is able to cover mistakes for teammates and eliminate potential problems before they really get started.
4. Marcus Martin, USC – Martin moved to center after playing at guard. He has shown a remarkable amount of strength and power at times, but is still quite raw in pass protection. Martin can struggle with playing in space, holding his water and at times, even turning perpendicular to the line of scrimmage. Nevertheless, he has a great deal of potential and while his long term future may be at center, he could easily end up at guard again early in his career.
5. Tyler Larsen, Utah State – Larsen has all of the tools to be an effective center as well as the experience. What he appears to lack is the killer instinct and mean streak that would allow him to play at another level. Larsen may end up as a starting center, but he may ultimately be held back by a doing just enough to get the job done rather than going all out to dominate the opponent.
6. Corey Linsley, Ohio State – Linsley has an intriguing skill set as he is athletic enough for a zone scheme, but has enough power for gap and experience in both. At times, he has performed admirably against some tough competition, but needs to get better with consistent leverage. In a lot of ways, Linsley may be a perfect project center that could end up becoming a starter down the road.
7. James Stone, Tennessee – Stone is an undersized pivot that has pretty good power. He is able to anchor effectively as well as get some push in the running game. The issue with Stone is that he struggles when he has to reach block or dealing with quicker interior defensive linemen. Stone may end up going undrafted, but he could end up making a roster or practice squad and continuing to develop.