Wednesday, June 12, 2013

2014 Senior Center Rankings (Preseason)

1.      Travis Swanson  -  6’4” / 305  -  Arkansas

Swanson has started all 38 Arkansas games during his college career. Perhaps deemed guilty by association following the Razorbacks’ dismal 2012 campaign, Swanson’s stock may have taken a hit in the eyes of some evaluators. On tape, however, he continues to show excellent strength, balance, and footwork as both a run blocker and a pass protector. While he was instrumental in blocking for 3000-yard passers in each of his first three seasons, what really stands out on tape is his pivotal contribution to the Arkansas ground game.  His efficient movement skills coupled with his ability to single-block NFL-caliber nose tackles and generate push in the running game should make him a natural fit for new head coach Bret Bielema’s brand of trench warfare.        

2.     Gabe Ikard  -  6’3” / 290  -  Oklahoma

Ikard is a smart, athletic football player who excels equally in the classroom and on the field. An experienced lineman (37 starts – 22 at center), he handles protection calls at the line and shows good awareness to identify and pick up the blitz. He plays with good pad level and exhibits excellent footwork to wall off defenders in the running game. He possesses exceptional short area quickness, enabling him to chip at the line and still take out second-level defenders to extend plays. His greatest struggles are with his pass protection, where he needs to generate more snap into contact and improve his ability to anchor against power rushers. 

3.     Bryan Stork  -  6’4” / 312  -  Florida State

Stork was the only member of the Florida State starting offensive line to have started more than one game prior to the beginning of the 2012 season. Long and athletic, he can play any spot on the line (has started games at center and guard, and practiced extensively at right tackle last spring). He plays with natural bend and excellent quickness, flashing explosiveness and a powerful punch, at times knocking defenders off their feet. Stork’s overall balance can be shaken by more powerful interior defenders (see his matchup with South Florida’s Cory Grissom), proof that he could benefit from adding bulk and strength, particularly in his lower half.

4.     Corey Linsley  -  6’2” / 295  -  Ohio State

Linsley replaced All-American center Mike Brewster in 2012 and started all 12 games for the undefeated Buckeyes. Compact with short arms, Linsley wins with quickness and hand placement off the snap. He then steers defenders away from the play with excellent leg drive and overall strength. He means business when he sinks his hips to anchor in pass protection, and demonstrates good footwork and balance, both down in his stance and on the move. His short arms put him at a physical disadvantage when facing taller defenders, who are able to outreach him and get into his pads.   

5.     Jonotthan Harrison  -  6’3” / 300  -  Florida

Harrison had a tough act to follow as the successor to the Pouncey twins on the Florida offense, but he has been one of the bright spots on the offensive line as the starting center for most of the past two seasons.  Better at the point of attack than he is on the move, Harrison may ultimately wind up playing guard in the NFL.  He is explosive and powerful, demonstrating the potential be a devastating run blocker when he keeps his pad level down. He does not possess the feet or lateral quickness of most great pass protectors, and is often late to react to stunts or blitzing linebackers. Improvement in these areas will play a big part in determining how highly he is drafted next April.

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