2014 NFL Draft Positional Breakdowns: Centers

As the top center in this year’s draft class, USC’s Marcus Martin could be a first-round pick. (Photo: Kirby Lee — USA Today Sports)

BBD Assistant Editor: Joe Marino

The importance of having a solid center is trending up in the NFL. The 2014 NFL draft class has a few centers that can come in and start but like most center classes, it lacks overall depth. There are a number of quality, experienced prospects in this year’s draft that have moldable traits for teams looking to add a center.

The best center in the class is USC’s Marcus Martin. He has a terrific frame, power and displays good athletic ability as he is able to operate well in space. Martin can drive block to create running lanes and anchor and control the line of scrimmage as a pass blocker. He is the only true plug-and-play center in this year’s class, so it wouldn’t be unlikely to see him sneak into the later portion of the first round.

Second Round Grades

1. Marcus Martin, Southern Cal: Martin is a big, powerful, athletic center. He projects as both a day one and long-term starter.

Third Round

2. Weston Richburg, Colorado State: Richburg is an athletic and experienced player who started 50 games in college. He is technically sound in all areas and projects as a starter in the NFL.

Fourth Round

3. Bryan Stork, Florida State: Stork is a stout player who has excellent strength to anchor and is a physical run blocker. He has some durability concerns but he would be an excellent fit in a power scheme.

In a thin draft class at the position, Arkansas’ Travis Swanson is one of the better middle-round options at center. (Photo: Nelson Chenault — USA Today Sports)

Fifth Round

4. Travis Swanson, Arkansas: Swanson is technically sound and has a balanced skill set. He is a plug-and-play solution for a team in need of a center. He gives up too much ground when pass blocking, however, so his functional strength needs to improve.

5. Corey Linsley, Ohio State: Linsley is a strong run blocker who has a heavy initial punch to win matchups. He plays with good leverage and can move large run defenders. He can struggle with lateral quickness, but Linsley looks like a potential starter at the next level.

6. Russell Bodine, North Carolina: Bodine is incredibly strong and can physically match up with any defensive lineman. His lateral movement skills need major improvement for him to stick in the NFL.

7. Jonotthan Harrison, Florida: Harrison is a great athlete who plays with great power. He understands leverage and positioning and can generate movement as a run blocker. Having played center, guard and tackle during his college career, he is versatile.

Sixth Round

8. Tyler Larsen, Utah State: Larsen performed well as a 51-game starter in college. He has excellent strength to anchor and drive block, but will need to sustain blocks better to become an NFL starter. He has upside as a late-round draft pick.

9. Gabe Ikard, Oklahoma: Ikard is a solid finesse blocker but in pass protection, he lacks the ability to anchor because he gives up far too much penetration. With more development as a run blocker, Ikard could have a solid NFL future.

Seventh Round

10. Matthew Paradis, Boise State: Paradais has durability concerns but has performed well when he is in the lineup. He is a smart, athletic player with quick feet. If he can remain healthy, he can be a steal late in the draft.

Top Undrafted Free Agents

11. Zac Kerin, Toledo
12. Khalil Wilkes, Stanford
13. James Stone, Tennessee
14. Chris Elkins, Youngstown State
15. Matt Armstrong, Grand Valley State
16. Demetrius Rhaney, Tennessee St.

Tags: 2014 NFL Draft, Bryan Stork, Centers, Chris Elkins, Corey Linsley, Demetrius Rhaney, Gabe Ikard, James Stone, Jonotthan Harrison, Khalil Wilkes, Marcus Martin, Matt Armstrong, Matthew Paradis, NFL Draft, Offensive Linemen, Positional Breakdowns, Positional Rankings, Russell Bodine, Travis Swanson, Tyler Larsen, Weston Richburg, Zac Kerin

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