2019 NFL Draft Position Review: Centers

Charlie lays out an overview at the top players from each position for the 2019 NFL Draft. For further information, check out our in-depth analysis of 2019 NFL Draft Prospects by Position.

By Charlie Campbell.
Send Charlie an e-mail here: [email protected]
Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell for updates.

This page was last updated March 12, 2019. Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

Center Class
Early-round talent: B+
Mid-round: C
Late-round: D
Overall grade: B-

2019 prospects vs 2018
Frank Ragnow
Billy Price
Erik McCoy
James Daniels
Garrett Bradbury
Elgton Jenkins
Connor McGovern
Michael Jordan
Mason Cole
Brian Allen
Ross Pierschbacher
Scott Quessenberry
Will Clapp

Last year, the center position was top heavy, with three centers being selected between picks No. 20-39. After those three players, only four more centers were drafted. This year could be similar with a group of centers who go on Day 2 and then not many being selected after that.

If you were to mix the last two classes, I think McCoy is a similar caliber prospect to Ragnow and Price. In some ways I like McCoy more than them, but I think McCoy may not go as high as they did. Bradbury is a solid second-rounder just below Daniels. Jenkins, McGovern and Jordan are all late second- or third-rounders who are better prospects than Cole, who was selected late in the third round by the Cardinals. Pierschbacher is a third-day-caliber player similar to Allen and Quessenberry.

Safest Pick: Erik McCoy, Texas A&M
2018: Billy Price
2017: Forrest Lamp
2016: Nick Martin
2015: Cam Erving
2014: Weston Richburg
2013: Barrett Jones

Looking at the past seasons is a mixed bag. Lamp missed his rookie year with an injury, and it is too early to pass any judgement about him. Martin is an okay starter for the Texans. Cam Erving was a bust for the Browns, while Barrett Jones didn’t pan out for the Rams. Those two were clearly wrong. Richburg has turned into a decent pro.

McCoy is a polished blocker who has good tape from his senior year. Along with a good build, he is athletic in the open field, showing some quickness to the second level and being able to hit blocks in space. As a pass blocker, McCoy has some talent for the NFL. He is agile with the ability to move his feet while maintaining his block. With strong hands at the point of attack, McCoy is able to control defenders when he latches onto them. He can handle power tackles and speed rushers. I think McCoy is a safe selection to develop into a solid starting center.

Biggest Bust Potential: Ross Pierschbacher, Alabama
2018: Scott Quessenberry
2017: Pat Elflein
2016: Jack Allen
2015: Hroniss Grasu
2014: Marcus Martin
2013: Travis Fredrick

Quessenberry was a late-rounder, so he isn’t expected to be more than a backup. Elflein has been okay for Minnesota, so I’m likely to be wrong in picking him for biggest bust potential. Allen went undrafted, so he really isn’t a bust. Grasu did not pan out and ended up getting replaced, so he was a bust for the Bears. Marcus Martin was a bust who the 49ers cut after taking in the third round of the 2014 NFL Draft. I’m happy to be accountable and say that I completely blew this projection in 2013 with Frederick. He is one of the best centers in the NFL when healthy. At least I prefaced it by saying that at worst he would be a solid guard.

Pierschbacher was a solid college player, but I don’t think he has the skill set to turn into a good pro. He has some limitations in terms of size, strength and athleticism. I think a team could draft him with hopes of him becoming a starter, but end up being disappointed that he’s unable to get to that status.

Center Rankings by Attributes

Pass Protection:
NFL prototype: Rodney Hudson, Raiders
  1. Erik McCoy
  2. Garrett Bradbury
  3. Elgton Jenkins
  4. Michael Jordan
  5. Connor McGovern
  6. Ross Pierschbacher

Recap: The NFL is all about the passing offense, so centers must be be an asset at protecting the quarterback and helping to keep a clean pocket. They need to be able to stop interior blitzes, bull rushes from heavy nose tackles, speed rushes from three-techniques and double teams effectively. Fortunately for teams needing a center, this year’s class has some good pass-blockers.

As a pass blocker, McCoy has some talent for the NFL. He is athletic with the ability to move his feet while maintaining his block. With strong hands at the point of attack, McCoy is able to control defenders when he latches onto them. He sustains blocks through the whistle and doesn’t lose on second efforts. He has good feel, awareness and intelligence. Against powerful tackles, McCoy shows some ability to anchor and stonewall some bull rushes. On double teams, McCoy is very good to tie up defenders with his guards and keep them from getting after the quarterback. With his athleticism and ability to sustain blocks, McCoy shows a nice ability to handle speed rushers.

In pass protection, Bradbury is an intelligent blocker with good technique. He plays with good leverage and can anchor against some bull rushes. Bradbury is not a dominating pass blocker as he can give up some pressures, but on the inside of the line, he is pretty reliable. Bradbury is not a center who a team would want to have isolated on an elite nose tackle or fast interior rusher. He would be better off working in tandem with a guard.

Jenkins is a good interior pass protector. He does a nice job of keeping his head on swivel to be ready to pick up blitzes or games on the inside. He has a good anchor to hold up against bull rushes. With his quality feet, athleticism and length, Jenkins does a nice job of blocking speed rushers on the inside. As a pro, he should be an asset to double team tackles with a guard given his size, length, quickness, athleticism and technique. Throughout the past two seasons, Jenkins very rarely allowed a pressure on his quarterback and is a rock-solid pass protector.

Jordan is a pretty good pass blocker with athleticism and quickness to handle speed rushers. However, he can problems with slants and delayed blitzes. Those issues could potentially be cleared up in the NFL with good coaching.

McGovern has a good anchor to handle powerful bull rushes, but fast three-techniques can give him problems. Improving against speed rushers will be a big point of improvement for him in the NFL.

Pierschbacher does not have the speed and athleticism to handle NFL speed rushers one-on-one and can be overpowered by heavy nose tackles. He is going to need to be getting in on double teams rather than handling rushers one-on-one.

Run Blocking:
NFL prototype: Travis Frederick, Cowboys
  1. Garrett Bradbury
  2. Erik McCoy
  3. Elgton Jenkins
  4. Connor McGovern
  5. Michael Jordan
  6. Ross Pierschbacher

Recap: Centers are a critical part of an effective rushing attack, and this year’s class offers some talent to help in the ground game. None of these centers are road graders who can blast defensive tackles off the power and bulldoze open a gap. However, most members of this group were effective run blockers and good contributors to the ground attack.

As a run blocker, Bradbury is a leverage defender who does a nice job of getting into defenders and using developed upper body strength to sustain blocks. Bradbury is tough and physical, has some attitude, and blocks through the whistle. He does a nice job of hitting combo and bump blocks with his guard, as Bradbury gets on the hip of tackles and helps his guard to open some lanes. Bradbury is not a bull dozer who blasts defenders off the ball to knock them out of their gaps. He is not a road grader and is better when he works in tandem with a guard.

In the ground game, McCoy is not a people-moving road grader. He does not have the strength to move the pile and does not generate a ton of movement in the rushing attack. However, he is athletic in the open field, showing some quickness to the second level and being able to hit blocks in space. Off the snap, McCoy is agile on zone runs to get in position while also showing the ability to get a block at the line of scrimmage and peel off to the second level. McCoy does a nice job on screens, quickly getting in position and showing the agility to get blocks in the open field.

In the ground game, Jenkins is not a road grader to blast defenders off the ball and roll them out of their gaps. However, he does have very good technique to tie up defenders and sustain his blocks. Jenkins has good hands to maintain his blocks through the whistle. He often turns his defenders and ties them up to keep them from getting tackles. In the run game, Jenkins has impressive awareness and is very adept at hitting a block at the line and peeling to the second level to get a second block on another defender. Jenkins has good blocking technique and has been well prepared for the NFL.

McGovern has developed upper body strength and uses that to tie up defenders. His strength allows him to torque defenders and turn them to help seal lanes on the inside.

Jordan played guard and center for Ohio State and was a more effective run blocker at guard than he was at center. He has some power to his punch, and at guard, he flashed some ability to push defenders backward. If can show more of that at center, Jordan would be a plus run blocker in the middle.

Pierschbacher is going to struggle to create any movement as a pro. He was a decent run blocker in college, but in the NFL, he is going to have to work in tandem with his guards and execute well within the scheme to have success.

NFL prototype: Maurkice Pouncey, Steelers
  1. Garrett Bradbury
  2. Erik McCoy
  3. Michael Jordan
  4. Elgton Jenkins
  5. Connor McGovern
  6. Ross Pierschbacher

Recap: Bradbury is the fastest of these linemen in terms of play speed. He has quickness and fires out of his stance. Jordan, Jenkins and McCoy are all very quick off the snap and are able to pull well. All four of those blockers are quick to hit blocks on the second level, but Bradbury stands out with the most speed. McCovern and Pierschbacher have average speed.

Zone Blocking:
NFL prototype: Alex Mack, Falcons
  1. Garrett Bradbury
  2. Erik McCoy
  3. Michael Jordan
  4. Elgton Jenkins
  5. Ross Pierschbacher
  6. Connor McGovern

Recap: Bradbury is the best fit as a zone-blocking center in the NFL. He is quick and athletic, which makes him a perfect fit to be part of the moving wall of a zone-blocking scheme.

McCoy would definitely fit well in a zone scheme with his agility, athleticism and speed to move in a zone-blocking scheme. Jordan is similar with good feet and athleticism that make him a good fit in a zone-blocking scheme as well.

Jenkins showed functional quickness at Mississippi State and could execute a zone scheme.

Pierschbacher could have enough ability to execute a zone scheme. He did run zone plays at Alabama. McGovern could fit in a zone scheme, but he probably would be better in man blocking.

Power-Man Blocker:
NFL prototype: Travis Frederick, Cowboys
  1. Michael Jordan
  2. Connor McGovern
  3. Erik McCoy
  4. Elgton Jenkins
  5. Garrett Bradbury
  6. Ross Pierschbacher

Recap: Jordan, McGovern, McCoy and Jenkins are all nice fits for a power-man scheme. Jordan has the most strength to push defensive linemen at the point of attack. McGovern has developed quality strength as well. McCoy and Jenkins have enough ability with their technique to be effective in power-man blocking. All four should be able to make the transition smoothly to the next level.

Bradbury could execute a power-man scheme as he has upper body strength and has good technique. He is ranked behind the top four because of size issues. Pierschbacher could struggle in a pro power-man scheme.

NFL prototype: Mike Pouncey, Chargers
  1. Connor McGovern
  2. Michael Jordan
  3. Erik McCoy
  4. Elgton Jenkins
  5. Garrett Bradbury
  6. Ross Pierschbacher

Recap: NFL offensive line coaches like their interior linemen to have the ability to play guard or center. Young players who are fighting to make the team as a backup help themselves by having flexibility on the inside. On game days, teams need interior linemen who can play guard or center.

McGovern and Jordan both played guard and center in college. They also have enough size and versatility to play both positions in the NFL. McCoy and Jenkins both have enough size and ability to play guard or center, but they are better fits for center. Bradbury could play guard in a pinch to finish out a game, but he really should not be a starting guard in the NFL and is best playing center. Pierschbacher is a center only.

Fantasy Football Rankings - May 23

2025 NFL Mock Draft - May 21

NFL Power Rankings - Feb. 22

NFL Picks - Feb. 12