In the Draft Overview series, I’ll be looking at five college players that might get drafted by Detroit position-by-position, breaking down the positives and negatives of each player and projecting if Detroit were to take them, which round they would be taken in. The position I am looking at today is:
Do the Detroit Lions need a new center?
This position is one with a big question mark. Do we keep with Travis Swanson or do we look to the draft for a new center? Also, if we draft a center, do they start over Swanson or do we give them time to develop and take over? Well, the draft is the best place for Detroit to address this. Swanson doesn’t seem the like the center of the future for this team. He may stay on the team for the next year or two, but with plays like the one below, he doesn’t seem like he can be the future. Swanson was one of the weak points on the offensive line last year, and center is the most important position next to left tackle just because you give the ball to the quarterback, and if you mess that up, your entire offense will be off the field quickly giving the opposing team an opportunity to score.
So let’s take a look at who Detroit could take in the upcoming draft at the center position.
Draft Overview: Options at center
1. Nick Martin – Notre Dame
Martin has brute strength and he can knock you back. He lowers his shoulder at times when linebackers come in for the blitz and he can stop them dead in their tracks. Spin moves just don’t seem to work on Martin, he doesn’t fall for those tricks and will lock you up to make sure you are not involved in the play. On screen passes, he knows exactly who to block and when, helping the running back or receiver keep the play alive. Martin will finish blocks with a little extra oomph when given the chance. He is always looking around, trying to find the person to block or help a teammate with a defender. A thing that could hurt him is the apparent stiffness in his hips which hurts his ability to sink and anchor. He relies on his upper body strength too much, which allows his feet to get under him. When it comes to blitzes, he doesn’t recognize them well, a definite area to improve upon. Martin is usually the first one to get his hands on the pass rusher and he plays wide in pass protection.
Martin is the best center in this draft, and while Detroit needs to address other positions more than center, for this draft overview I believe that Martin could still be an option for Detroit in the second round. There is a definite possibility that Martin might be gone by then, but if the draft happens like it did in the reddit mock draft, Martin could fall to Detroit. This would help Detroit’s offensive line woes and help the team gain depth at the center position.
2. Jack Allen – Michigan State
Allen is a good run blocker. When plays go to the outside, he can find a defender to block and own him. He puts his arms underneath the pass rushers and can lift them up, making them ineffective. He can create torque quickly and turn on a dime. He has strong hands and can stay on a defender until the whistle blows. He rarely puts his hands outside of the defender’s frame. H can be inconsistent when needed to lift a defender up on a double. In college, he got away with some holding calls, ones he certainly won’t get away with in the NFL. While he is strong and uses brute force well, he sometimes relies on it too much and it can hurt his agility. When Allen has a good blocking form, he can adjust his tempo and get the correct angle to knock defenders off balance and out of the play. While he isn’t athletic at an elite level, he still can control his body well enough to stop oncoming defenders.
For this draft overview, I believe that Allen is a safe third round pick. He could compete for the starting job, but the holding calls are something to cause pause. He will need to work on his technique here because the NFL won’t let him get away with holding as he did in college. If that can get worked out, Allen would have a chance start over Swanson.
3. Graham Glasgow – Michigan
Glasgow has had the biggest rise in stock since the season ended. When the season ended, he was a consensus seventh round pick, but after the east/west game and the combine, Glasgow has moved up to a solid third/fourth round pick. Glasgow has a strong lower half and he can keep blocks long enough for the backs to find the holes and run through them. When pass rushers bull rush, Glasgow can hold his own and keep himself in position to make the stop. He is very consistent. His footwork does need some work along and his angles also need attention. While at Michigan he was arrested for a DUI in 2014 and ended up having his probation extended due to an alcohol violation during the original probation period. Off-the-field antics are a warning flag and need to be investigated further. His point of attack can be aggressive as he looks to knock defenders off of their feet with his upper body strength. When in pass protection he can help give good pocket depth for the quarterback.
Glasgow in the forth round seems to be the best place for him to land. While his off-the-field issues are something to note, he has gotten better with that and he could be a steal for Detroit. He could start over Swanson, but it would be a close competition.
4. Evan Boehm – Missouri
Injuries are a rarity with Boehm. He holds the school record at Missouri for consecutive starts, he did get hurt with a high-ankle sprain in week one of his senior year, but would return in week two. He has power an the center position that is rare. He is consistent in creating the push at the first point of attack and controlling the neutral zone. He can knock defenders back, but he can get pushed back as well due to his body makeup. His short legs hinder him with lower body strength and can leave him vulnerable. When defenders take it to the second level, they can make him unbalanced and inconsistent. When it comes to leaving his space, Boehm’s stride slows him down. Boehm is a tough and smart center, though. He understands the double A gaps and reacts with success. If he is beaten on the edge, he can redirect the defender with his power. When he doesn’t have any work on the line, he always looks to help out a teammate.
This draft overview believes that Boehm in the fifth round is a good fit. He doesn’t have that starter characteristics like the rest of the players, but he could be good depth for Detroit.
5. Joey Hunt – TCU
Hunt has the strength to hold his blocks and complete them. He has the balance and leverage to gain the advantage on the defender. He has football smarts and knows when blitzes are coming. On screen passes, he gets up field and finds his target. He gets off the ball quickly finds someone to block. The biggest knock on Hunt is that he is undersized for a center. He can get beat if a defender changes direction or if he gets by quickly. Hand placement is inconsistent as well. Hunt does have good footwork, along with the power in his hands to get control of the defender and clasp on.
This draft overview puts Hunt at a sixth round pick for the Detroit Lions. He needs to be a better blocker when it comes to the speedy defenders and being undersized in the NFL can be a challenge for some.
There you have it, another installment of the draft overview series. Next I will be looking at tight ends. Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @BKnappBlogs, find me on Reddit at /u/sportsguy4life and leave me your thoughts in the Detroit Lions subreddit.