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Posted Jan. 5, 2009
2009 NFL Draft has an Uncanny Center Focus
When it comes to NFL fans fantasizing about their team putting together a highly successful NFL Draft class to lead their team to the Super Bowl the following season (okay, so Giant fans already know what this is like), an "ugly" center probably is usually not at the top of the NFL Draft wish list.
Let's face it - center is not a "sexy" position. I mean, we do not exactly see the position highlighted on Total Access or SportsCenter. We do not have availability to offensive line statistics coming out of college. Center is not a position thought to have as big of an impact as tackle or guard, which to an extent is true.
Interior offensive linemen get overlooked in nearly every game preview because it just is not a fun position to talk about.
Keyshawn Johnson might say something like, "You know, Matt Birk is really big and strong... reminds me of my days at USC..." then he goes on to discuss why he hates Bill Parcells and does not respect big receivers in the league.
It is not a highly coveted position, but 2009 has one of the best center classes the NFL Draft has ever seen. I am projecting Alex Mack as THE BEST center prospect since Bruce Matthews in the 1983 NFL Draft. I am not saying he is as good as Matthews as a Hall of Famer, just they match up talent-wise in foresight.
Max Unger from Oregon brings great versatility to the table with athleticism and intelligence to boot. Many consider Mack and Unger to be first-round projections.
Arkansas product Jonathan Luigs has the prototypical center build and a nasty demeanor with great strength. Some Draftniks feel like Eric Wood, Antoine Caldwell, and A.Q. Shipley have sleeper potential on D-Day.
When you reflect on the NFL Draft, you cannot find many classes with three to four projected starters. The last time two or more centers were taken in the first round was 26 years ago in 1983 (Bruce Matthews, Dave Rimington, Dan Mosebar). I would say this is the best center class by far since then.
This center class is special and deserves the recognition they are not getting among Draftniks.
Among teams looking for a starting center in the first two rounds could be Minnesota (Birk is a free agent), Buffalo, Kansas City, Atlanta, Washington, Arizona, and Baltimore (Jason Brown is a free agent).
The pick of J. Allen by the 49ers is just not going to happen. The Niners need a nose tackle, not another first round 3-4 DE. With their cap space they are more likely to make a play for Dontari Poe, and use the # 2 pick for a QB. I hate to suggest that they will trade back, because that is difficult to do. The Niners are in such a sad state that they could upgrade at virtually any position with multiple picks in the first and second rounds.