The 2020 NFLPA Collegiate Bowl Big Board will be rolled out over the course of four weeks by position, featuring players to watch and a breakdown of what NFL scouts look for through the eyes of Collegiate Bowl Director of College Scouting, Dane Vandernat.
Today, we feature offensive guards and centers:
THREE TO WATCH
Darryl Williams, Mississippi State: A powerful sledgehammer with the strength to push defenders around, Williams has been used at both guard and center. He shows the ability to anchor well and gain leverage consistently. Williams has been effective on run, pass, zone and man blocking schemes but his versatility to play center could suit him well. Williams made a point to improve his hand placement last season and continues to build off of his momentum heading into the 2019 season.
Tommy Kraemer, Notre Dame: A five-star recruit coming out of Ohio, Kraemer originally began his Fighting Irish career at right tackle before kicking inside to guard. Quick and physical off the snap of the ball, his strength allows him to be a powerful run mauler. Kraemer can also get down the line in a jiffy on pull blocks. He has cut down his body fat immensely, which has led to a leaner, quicker version of himself for what many expect to be a career year.
J’Von Brown, CCSU: The All-NEC standout had an impressive performance against Syracuse that grabbed the attention of area scouts. Brown demonstrates sound technique and the strength necessary to win the leverage battle on most occasions. He has the ability to drive defenders back in the run game and shows excellent hand placement in pass protection, making him one of the top FCS interior offensive line prospects in the country.
Life in the trenches for guards and centers is gritty. These three players not only protect the shortest route to the QB, but they also set the tone in the run game and are charged with regularly displacing 300-plus-pound opponents. Zone and gap schemes will prioritize strength and athleticism differently, but interior OL need to be tough; smart enough to pick up stunts and blitzes; thick-framed to stand their ground; light enough on their feet to climb up to the linebacker level of the defense; and savvy enough with their hand placement to avoid holding penalties.
What separates legit prospects from the rest is explosiveness out of their stance; an ability to bend at their knees to change direction while keeping their pads (and center of gravity) low; and comprehension of an intricate blocking scheme that can combat the complex looks thrown their way by NFL defensive coordinators.
Above all, centers need to be heady players who can make the pre-snap line calls and alert their teammates to the adjustments about to be made. They will typically weigh less than guards and may not have long arms. But what centers can sometimes lack in physical stature they compensate for with smart, consistent play.
With the proliferation of the shotgun-spread offense in college, centers nowadays also are having to learn how to snap to a quarterback under center, which requires a consistency and footwork not previously practiced or perfected.
NFLPA COLLEGIATE BOWL BIG BOARD: OFFENSIVE TACKLES AND GUARDS
|First Name||Last Name||School||Position||Height||Weight|
|Daishawn||Dixon||San Diego State||OG||6-5||330|