Making the Grade – Centers, 2008-2010

| July 17, 2011

If you’ve been following along with us in recent weeks (of course you have), you know that we’ve been breaking down each position, looking at who has achieved the highest cumulative grades since 2008.
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In the last two days, we’ve dug into the O-line ranks with looks at the tackles and guards. Today we turn our attention to the men in the middle: the centers.
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As with the rest of the linemen, they’ll need to have played at least two thirds the amount of snaps of the average amount of the five centers who have played the most. That number would be 2,310, by the way.

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1.  Nick Mangold, New York Jets

A once in a generation center, Mangold is so much better than all other centers it’s hardly comparable.  Even this year, where he was slowed by injury, he still managed to finish with a higher (post season included) rating than all others. That makes it three years in a row, and it’s no surprise. Mangold is pure dominance at the center position.

Grade:  +107.9
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2.  Matt Birk, Baltimore Ravens

It’s a signing that doesn’t get its proper credit, but the Ravens managed to upgrade the center spot and save money when they swapped Jason Brown for Matt Birk. The former Viking looked spent in his last year in Minnesota, but has been rejuvenated since moving to Baltimore. Two years in a row he’s finished behind Mangold.

Grade:  +48.2
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3.  Chris Myers, Houston Texans

Texan fans may think it odd, since they’ve seen Myers give up a fair amount of pressure in his time. It’s true to say that he isn’t one of best pass blocking centers, but Myers is a tremendous run blocker. It’s what propelled him to third place in our 2010 rankings, even with a negative grade in pass protection.

Grade:  +43.1
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4.  Casey Wiegmann, Kansas City Chiefs

This owes a lot to a remarkable 2008, where Wiegmann had an All-Pro year (if Nick Mangold wasn’t around). In his last year in Denver and his 2010 in Kansas City, he wasn’t been able to replicate that performance, though not shaming himself.

Grade:  +30.9
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5.  Shaun O’Hara, New York Giants

After an extremely impressive 2009, injuries derailed O’hara’s 2010 campaign and he posted his weakest grade since the inception of PFF. At 34 now, you wonder if that 2009 year was as good as it gets, or if he has enough left in the tank to make one more run at matching it.

Grade:  +30.7
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6.   Jeff Saturday, Indianapolis Colts

Missing time factored into a somewhat disappointing 2008, but since then, Saturday has been the one Colts lineman you can rely on. Granted, near everyone on this list is a better run blocker than he is, but he’s as reliable a center in the league when it comes to stopping pressure up the middle. Just one sack allowed in the last two years.

Grade:  +29.8
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7.  Ryan Kalil, Carolina Panthers

If there is a guy who is young enough and talented enough to at least compete with Nick Mangold for the top dog, it’s probably Kalil. He was flatly superb in 2009 after flashing talent the year before. Things didn’t quite go his way this year however, and he mixed some sublime performances with some horrid ones. You can question giving him the franchise tag over Charles Johnson, but he’s still a top talent.

Grade:  +28.7
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8t.  Todd McClure, Atlanta Falcons

McClure isn’t getting any younger and lacks the size to deal with some of the bigger defensive tackles in the league, but it’s commendable how well he has played over the last three years. The only problem is those factors caught up with him in a big way last year, and by the end of the season he looked a little spent. Gives up too much pressure for a center.

Grade:  +28.5
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8t.  Scott Wells, Green Bay Packers

You figured Wells to be one the league’s best after a great 2008, but he’s never pushed on from there and established himself as a top center. Instead, he’s followed it up with good-but-not-great seasons. More than serviceable, just don’t get him confused with the elite guys.

Grade:  +28.5
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10.  Andre Gurode, Dallas Cowboys

Gurode is a big and powerful center, who is in the top tier of run blockers. The only issues are he isn’t always the best in pass protection (okay, he’s never the best in pass protection), and those troublesome shotgun snaps that he’ll seemingly never perfect. Nobody’s perfect.

Grade:  +27.8
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  • thadjw

    Please tell me where dan Koppen would be and if the pats should resign him this yr!?

  • http://www.profootballfocus.com Khaled Elsayed

    Koppen would have been a top 15 center. He’s coming off two good, but not great years. Pats have far bigger issues, and Koppen doesn’t hurt the team.

  • hammer

    Guys,

    It would prove very helpful if you would cross-reference your offensive line grades with those players who are free agents. That way, subscribers like myself could use the offensive line rankings you’ve already published to grade the lines once NFL teams start making additions via free agency.