Top Preseason Grades: Centers
Ben Stockwell presents the five best grades among centers so far in the 2014 preseason.
Top Preseason Grades: Centers
The preseason is winding down and it’s time to continue our look at some of the top individual performers as the starters wind down their heavy workload. Moving to the middle of the offensive line we look at the top performing centers.
Organizing a makeshift offensive line is never easy but in spite of this, centers in the preseason still need to be able to execute their own assignments and here we’ll tip our cap to the guys getting it done front and center as both run blockers and pass protectors.
As with all the other positions we have, of course, graded far more than just five guys. We’ve run every player to play a single snap on offense or defense through the grading process. So, if you want to see how they’ve fared this preseason and get access to seven seasons worth of historical grades and access for 365 days which will include the entire 2014 season (and postseason) then you’ll need a PFF Premium Package. At only $26.99 you won’t get better value.
1. Eric Kush, KC: +4.7
Breakdown: A rare standout on a Chiefs’ offensive line that has struggled in preseason, second team center Kush has excelled both as a run blocker and pass protector. Yet to surrender a pressure in 50 snaps in pass protection Kush’s +2.9 grade as a run blocker is fourth best thus far in preseason.
Signature Stat: One of only eight centers yet to allow a pressure having played at least 40 snaps in pass protection.
2. Nick Mangold, NYJ: +3.9
Breakdown: A couple of seasons removed now from Mangold’s imperious best, there have been signs this preseason that the form he showed in patches last season could be ready to return consistently. Yet to yield a pressure, Mangold has, as ever, been as comfortable blocking the big bodies up front as climbing to the second level and making blocks in space.
Signature Stat: Ramping up his playing time every week, Mangold played 50 of the Jets’ 76 snaps against on Friday and only seven centers have played more than his 112 snaps thus far.
3. David Molk, PHI: +3.7
Breakdown: Back surgery for Julian Vandervelde presented Molk with the chance to seize the backup spot behind Jason Kelce and thus far the former Michigan Wolverine has grabbed it with both hands. After a shaky display as a run blocker against the Bears, he has been exceptional since with his work against Joe Vellano in New England the following week particularly impressive.
Signature Play: [email protected] Q4 12:32 and 11:47. Twice in three plays pulls to the left edge of the defense to cut down inside linebacker Vince Williams to spring his running back to the edge for sizeable gains.
3. Corey Linsley, GB: +3.7
Breakdown: Only Vikings’ backup center Joe Berger has a higher run blocking grade than Linsley whose biggest blip came with a pair of penalties against the Rams a week ago. A busy preseason of work has seen the Packers send 45 carries off the shoulder of their centers and Linsley’s strong run blocking has helped them average 4.4 yards per carry on those runs.
Signature Play: [email protected], Q3 04:46. Linsley takes control of a block on Deantre Harlen, driving the Rams’ DLT back nearly 5 yards before dumping him on his back to open a clear path for Michael Hill.
5. Alex Mack, CLV: +3.3
Breakdown: Remaining in Cleveland after the Browns matched his offer sheet from the Jaguars, Mack has hit the ground running in pre-season. The ever present, safe pair of hands in the heart of the offensive line Mack is another yet to concede a pressure in preseason.
Signature Stat: Has earned a positive grade as both a pass protector and run blocker in each of the Browns’ three preseason games.
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Ben Stockwell | Director of Analysis
Ben joined Pro Football Focus in 2007, and has since been in charge of the company’s analysis process. He also contributes to PFF’s weekly NFL podcast.