Next to the left offensive tackle, offensive center is the most important position on the offensive line to fill.
Many centers at the high school level are the most athletic and undersized guys on the offensive front. Today's offensive center is often uncovered at the line of scrimmage with so many teams playing 4-3 defenses at the college level, so athleticism is a plus.
Much of the time they must be able to reach the linebacker, adjust to the moving target and block in space. They have to have feet and must be proficient in angle blocks and also have the range to help out pass protection. In some cases, they may even have to pick up an outside pass-rusher.
However, there is another factor that must be considered. As much as teams are looking for an athletic, position-type offensive center, if the players do not have enough strength and bulk to anchor at the point of attack, defenses will find them and put a big defensive tackle on their nose or play a 3-4 scheme. This can create a mismatch and totally disrupt the run game.
While athletic ability and feet are very important, size and strength cannot be ignored. This is why so many kids make the move from offensive tackle in high school to center at the college level.
The other quality important for any offensive center is intelligence and football instincts. In many cases, they make the offensive line calls and have to anticipate, recognize and react quickly.
Offensive Line Grading System
Scouts Inc. will evaluate the offensive centers on the following criteria:
1. Initial quicks: Are they quick when coming off the ball? Do they have good footwork? Are they faster than the DL?
2. Run block: Do they control the opposition at the point of attack? Are they balanced? Do they play with leverage?
3. Pass block: Do they have good footwork? How quick is their set up? Can they adjust and mirror the pass rusher? Do they sustain their blocks?
4. Pull and trap: Do they have the athleticism to get to a moving target? Can they adjust in space?
5. Use of hands: Do they get separation? Can they keep defenders away from them? Do they play with good leverage?
6. Strength: Do they play with leverage? Can they move the pile in the run game? Can they anchor in pass protection?
7. Explosion: Do they finish their blocks? Do they play low and show some pop at the point of attack?
8. Long snap: Do they have the ability to long snap and are they proficient at it?