• With the exception of specialists (sorry kickers, punters and long-snappers) no position gets less attention than center and for the most part that also holds true on Draft Day. In this decade there have only been three centers chosen in round one (Jeff Faine '03, Chris Spencer '05, Nick Mangold '06) and at best there is usually only two or three taken on the first day of the draft. That could all change next April though because the 2009 NFL Draft features an embarrassment of riches at the center position.
Topping the list is Cal's Alex Mack and in my opinion he is a legitimate first round pick. Whether you're talking about run blocking or pass blocking, measurables or intangibles, Mack is the total package. As I mentioned it's rare for a true center to come off the board in round one but Mack could defy those odds. After that there is some discrepancy as to who is #2 and you'd probably get a bunch of different answers depending on who you ask but odds are it will be one of three guys. Arkansas' Jonathan Luigs is the reigning Rimington Trophy winner and even though he might not be quite the pro prospect his press clippings would lead you to believe that doesn't mean he isn't a very good player. In a lot of ways Luigs is a poor-man's Alex Mack because he basically does everything well but is just a notch below Mack across the board. Perhaps the most intriguing center prospect is Oregon's Max Unger, who might not even be a center. Even though Unger isn't as physical, athletic or mobile as guys like Mack and Luigs he makes up for it with his versatility. In fact, Unger could realistically project to center, tackle or guard at the next level. Then there is Louisville's Eric Wood, who I think is a little underrated at this point. When it comes to working out in shorts Wood isn't going to be overly impressive but the guy is a true football player who understands the game and plays it with a nasty demeanor. I'd be remiss if I didn't also mention Antoine Caldwell of Alabama, who doesn't have great size but is an experienced four-year starter in the SEC and could be a mid-rounder.
As I pointed out Mack has a shot at breaking into the first round but there is also a chance that Luigs, Unger and even Wood could all be second rounders as well and they should all be off the board before the end of round three. Now that is impressive! Not only is this one of the strongest groups of centers to come along in many years but it's quite possibly the best collection of talent that I have seen at the position in my 15+ years of observing and covering the NFL Draft. Needless to say this is a great time to be a team in the market for a pivot.
I'm not sure how the management feels about Chris Myers, nor do I know how well he is progressing now, but I know alot of poster(including myself) have complain he was getting pushed around too easily at the beginning of the season. So I do consider this, and/or RG, a position of needs that we must fill in the off-season.
I'm glad to hear this upcoming draft is stacked with OC, and DE. Hopefully we'll get both filled by next season.