by Zack Lambert (@bigbird8224)
February 22nd, 2021
1) Landon Dickerson, Alabama; Ht: 6-6 Wt: 325
Landon Dickerson is a player that a lot of even casual college football fans will recognize because of his performance at Alabama as well as his notable entry into the National Championship game for the final snaps only a few weeks after ACL surgery. It’s not an exaggeration to say that Dickerson was the heart and soul of this team and especially offensive line, rising through the ranks as a walk-on to win the title. That alone is inspiring, but to make things even more impressive we can look at how he actually plays football. Dickerson was a stalwart on nearly every snap this season, no matter the situation. His quickness off the line always gave him a push while run blocking and his pure brute strength offered very little in terms of movement from the opposition. His base is implausibly strong and he absolutely stands defenders up in pass protection. He’s mobile, quick, strong, uses his hands well, can understand complex schemes, and has won at the highest level possible. He deserves to be at the top of these rankings.
2) Creed Humphrey, Oklahoma; Ht: 6-5 Wt: 320
While Dickerson is deservingly number one here, Humphrey isn’t far behind him. I had Creed as one of the top center’s for 2020’s draft, so it’s no surprise that he makes another appearance high up in this season’s edition. Humphrey is a fantastic pass protector and proved to be a modern center by blocking for the likes of Spencer Rattler, Kyler Murray, and Jalen Hurts. His base is extremely strong, meaning he won’t get bull rushed, and he has great hands that don’t let go when they inevitably latch on. He’s going to need to improve his scanning and blitz pickup, but otherwise I love his prospects in pass protection. I think there’s room for improvement in the run game as he’s not extremely mobile, but he gets a nice drive and keeps separation so he’s certainly not a liability.
3) Trey Hill, Georgia; Ht: 6-4 Wt: 330
Trey Hill rounds out this upper echelon of centers and while it admittedly is a weak group this season, Hill is more than capable of starting in the NFL this coming season. Georgia’s anchor was one of the meaner players that I watched film on this season and while I like that, he might need to temper himself to avoid getting into trouble. As a player, though, he’s a star. Hill’s first step is probably faster than any on this list and his aggression plays well with that, getting low quickly and driving his defender with ease. That first step also helps mitigate the fact that he isn’t the quickest player out there. Hill is an intelligent player and never gets driven backwards no matter how precarious the situation. He sees the field well and loves to finish plays, so whoever gets the player will be very happy with his leadership.
4) Michal Menet, Penn State; Ht: 6-4 Wt: 306
Penn State didn’t have too many highs this season, but watching Michal Menet was certainly one of them. The Nittany Lion was impressive on a lot of fronts, including the ability to win solo duels with defensive tackles. Menet is a fantastic run blocker in just about every sense. He’s very slick and maintains good mobility, proving he can get to the second level with consistency. In addition he has good physicals that indicate decent upside and his assertiveness will be a valuable asset. In pass protection Menet scans well and has good footwork and balance, an underrated asset. Menet could probably start for an NFL team this season if needed to but I believe he will be best served to play behind a veteran for a season or two.
5) Josh Myers, Ohio State; Ht: 6-5 Wt: 312
Myers keeps the run of blue blood schools alive as his status at Ohio State is cemented with his team’s accomplishments. Myers is a very strong player who displayed a very good base with stellar power generation. His quick first step was an asset all season in keeping the backfield clean and his efforts at scanning in pass protection and getting to the linebackers on run downs was really impressive. Myers also showed off nice hands that were able to clear out defenders and decent movement, but not everything is perfect with this player. He can struggle laterally which might make him a liability for screens and sweeps and his balance needs a lot of work. There was a lot of lunging and being pulled down when he just needed to move his feet to stay upright and efficient.
6) Derek Kerstetter, Texas; Ht: 6-5 Wt: 293
Derek Kerstetter is the last in the run of players from powerhouse schools to move on, but just because he went to Texas doesn’t mean there isn’t work to do. The first thing I want to see is more meat on the player. At his position he can’t really be under 300 pounds unless he’s a freak of nature, and he’s not that. I want to see him improve his balance in pass protection as he showed a concerning ability to be run over. He’s good on passing plays, but he’s far better in the run game. He’s a patient blocker for the most part but when he engages it’s always good, making smart decisions and generally winning his commits. I loved how well he churned his feet to generate drive and felt that his mobility was an absolute asset. He has a nice first step as well, but I really want to see him get bigger and nail down pass protection.
7) Jimmy Morrissey, Pitt; Ht: 6-3 Wt: 305
Jimmy Morrissey bookends the second echelon on centers in this list and is the first player from a non-traditional power to make an appearance. Morrissey doesn’t have ridiculous upside, but he has a very high ceiling from doing things that we don’t always look at well. He probably won’t be a guy that wins double teams or has fun highlights blocking downfield, but you probably won’t see him being blamed for breakdowns often. He’s a very patient and smart player, playing well into his ability to scan and keep separation. He also has a very good footwork and base which should keep him safe in solo battles, also able to employ his powerful arms to effect. He absorbed contact very well in pass protection and did very well with his transitions, but I want to see him improve his movement as well. If he can get to moving defenders better he could jump a few spots in the rankings.
8) Joe Sculthorpe, NC State; Ht: 6-3 Wt: 307
Sculthorpe heads the final tier to make an appearance in this list as a guy who could be a good backup for years to come and a decent starter if things go right. Sculthorpe can play guard as well as center, but is more suited to snapping the ball with his blocking assignments. He’s a strong player with very nice blocking skills that pair well with a good ability to process the game. I would love to see him get a better push off the snap but a strong base helps him win some of the battles he has a disadvantage in. There’s also some concerning mobility issues, but I doubt he’ll be asked to move around too much while blocking.
9) Drake Jackson, Kentucky; Ht: 6-2 Wt: 292
Drake Jackson had a somewhat down year this season after initially being much higher in my rankings at the beginning of the college football season. Like Kerstetter, I want to see Jackson get bigger before taking NFL snaps, but since he’s shorter it isn’t as egregious. Jackson produced a lot of “yeah, okay” moments while I was watching film, not making mistakes, but not impressing either. He’s a bit slow on his progressions but he often ends up making the right calls. While his strength is what the NFL wants, it can be negated by his getting off balance. I like how he pass blocks, but he needs to be much more aggressive while run blocking. His footwork is nice, but he doesn’t pickup as well as team’s might like. There’s a lot of work to be done and while that won’t be an issue for an NFL team, it will drop Jackson’s stock considerably.
10) Ryan McCollum, Texas A&M; Ht: 6-5 Wt: 300
McCollum was an interesting study for me. In the games I saw him play in, it seemed like he was very apprehensive at the start but became more effective as the game progressed, almost like he needed to get angry at the guy across from him before he got into the game. There’s a lot to like and a lot to dislike. Obviously you want the player to be in game mode from the opening kick, but that’s not too big of a concern at the moment. What I don’t like are his physicals. I can’t tell if the player is a good athlete which generally indicates that they’re not. He consistently was beaten by better athletes and that’s an issue because every athlete in the NFL is a “better” athlete. McCollum did alright work when he was squared to his defender and showed the ability to be decent at the second level and was mean from time to time, but something was just off about the player. I think there’s some pretty good potential there, but I have yet to see an indicator that it would emerge.