In part two of the "Attributes" series, I take a look at the center position, and give readers some insight as to what separates the good from the great ones.
Interior offensive linemen are thought of as the grunts of the NFL. They do all the hard work, and don't hear their names called unless they make a mistake. They are also among the leagues lowest paid players by position, but this does not diminish their importance to a team. Unlike their partners to the outside, offensive center and guards often work in conjunction with one another to accomplish the same goals: keep the quarterback from getting hit and open holes for the running backs.
Centers: The center is the leader of the offensive line. You will see that centers are often amongst the smartest members of a football team (just ask Matt Birk). The center is responsible for making the line calls, and blocking adjustments pre-snap. Not only are they asked to adjust the scheme accordingly, but they also must take on the teams nose tackle in a 3-4 look, double team, or tandem block along side the guards, or get to the second level to cut off a linebacker.
In pass protection, the center, if left uncovered, is asked to keep his head on a swivel, and help with any defender who may come free, or any player left unaccounted for on a blitz or stunt. In the running game, they need to be strong enough to move a 340 pound defensive tackle, and quick enough to scoop a gap defender.
Will Montgomery - Some services had Montgomery rated high for his play in 2012, but I had my reservations. Monty does not have the best anchor, and can be man-handled against a bull-rushing defensive tackle. He's not at his best when asked to take on defenders one-on-one. His quickness is adequate, but not stellar. He can struggle when asked to get to second-level defenders, and often takes poor angles on quicker linebackers. He will give up too much ground on scoop and reach blocks, often finding himself two yards into our own backfield. He is at his best when he is a secondary blocker in a tandem scheme, or is providing help in pass protection.
Josh LeRibeus - LeRibeus is more natural at guard than he is at center, but he has the attributes of a good center. He has a compact torso, thick, powerful legs, and very good hands. He sets his base well, locks onto defenders, and is strong enough to create movement in one-on-one situations. He possesses surprising ankle flexion for a man his size, and this helps him to be quick and explosive in short areas. LeRibeus also has a mean streak, which would become an asset at the position. The one area I have not seen is his ability to make, and adjust line calls. If he can excel in this area, he has the makings of a quality starter down the road.
Adam Gettis - Gettis is another guard prospect who may see some time at center. He has a very compact build, excellent leverage, and good strength for his size. He best attribute is his quickness off the snap, and determination to play until the whistle on every play. Like LeRibeus, I have not had a chance to see how he handles line calls and adjustments, so I say he's still very much a work in progress, although I do like his potential for the future.