By Dan Pompei, Chicago Tribune reporter
8:52 PM PDT, April 13, 2012
Third in a series exploring the April 26-28 NFL draft. Next: Offensive tackles.
This is a weak group of centers, and it would be really weak if not for the Big Ten, which might have the top three taken. It is possible as few as seven will be drafted, though need likely will force some teams to pick players who might not have draftable grades.
Peter Konz, Wisconsin, 6-5, 315: He has a nice combination of size, athleticism and long arms. Konz, who left Wisconsin early, clearly is the best center in the class and a potential late first-round pick. He has the power and technique to neutralize a nose tackle. He is durable and reliable, and plays smart. He also could be considered at guard. There is very little chance he will be a bust.
2. Michael Brewster, Ohio State, 6-4, 312: He is a chippy blocker with enough athleticism and strength to get the job done. Brewster knows how to use his ample size. He is smart and a good technician. He does not make mistakes often.
3. David Molk, Michigan, 6-1, 298: The Lemont High School product and four-year starter for the Wolverines was awarded the Rimington Trophy as the best college center in the country. He was a team captain and leader. Molk is a tough blocker who knows how to use his hands and get leverage. He needs to be more sound fundamentally because he is undersized and he must become more consistent with blocks on the second level.
4. Philip Blake, Baylor, 6-3, 311: A quick technician, Blake has decent size and can handle a powerful defender. He stays on his feet well and has fine balance, but he does not move as well as some centers. He also has some experience at tackle. Blake is 26, which could affect his draft stock.
5. Ben Jones, Georgia, 6-2, 303: He is a smart, competitive, fundamentally sound blocker who uses angles efficiently. He has good initial quickness but is not that strong or athletic. A four-year starter at Georgia, he projects as an NFL backup.
6. Quentin Saulsberry, Mississippi State, 6-2, 304: Saulsberry knows how to play. He attacks defenders with enthusiasm even though he does not have a lot of power. A four-year starter, he has top intangibles. He is average physically, and not the quickest laterally, so his upside is limited. He has experience at guard and might be a backup center/guard.
7. Scott Wedige, Northern Illinois, 6-4, 300: He is tough and effective in a short area. He is pretty quick off the snap and gets some movement in the running game. He needs to develop strength and has the frame to bulk up.
8. William Vlachos, Alabama
9. Garth Gerhart, Arizona State
10. Grant Garner, Oklahoma State
11. Moe Petrus, Connecticut
12. David Snow, Texas
13. Mason Cloy, Clemson
14. Ben Burkett, Northwestern
Center is not a position of need for the Bears. Roberto Garza was the team's most consistent offensive lineman last year, and though he is 33, he recently signed a contract extension through 2013. Chris Spencer played guard last year, but probably is a more natural center and could be moved back at any time. The team also has hopes for Edwin Williams at either center or guard.
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