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2022 NFL Draft: Investing in the future at center

Mitch Morse won’t be here forever

Three years ago, the Buffalo Bills wanted a long-term solution for their center position, which led to them signing Mitch Morse to the most expensive contract ever given to a player at the position (four years, $44 million). Morse immediately stabilized the position and assisted quarterback Josh Allen in making protection calls at the line. While Morse has been solid for a few years now, there is something to be said in looking to the draft for someone who can be a long-term starter and teammate for Allen.

Even if the Bills don’t immediately move on from Morse, it could be wise to invest in a player who has the ability to play center, given the team’s backup there. Below are just a few of the players Buffalo might consider.

Tier I

Tyler Linderbaum (Iowa)
Zion Johnson (Boston College)

The consensus best center prospect since the beginning of the college football season, Linderbaum is both technically refined and experienced in what has become an NFL offensive line-producing factory. While he’s not an elite athlete, he gets by with tenacity and grit. There’s reason to think Johnson could make the transition from college guard to NFL center. His center of gravity is so low—at a height of 6’2”—that he can easily anchor against much bigger and stronger defensive linemen. He also seems to have the movement skills to get out in front of runs.

Tier II

Dylan Parham (Memphis)
Cole Strange (Tennessee-Chattanooga)
Luke Goedeke (Central Michigan)

Parham flashes the best mobility in the class, which isn’t surprising considering Memphis’ high-powered offense. A move to center would also do him well; his lack of weight and size would matter much less, given that position change. Strange is a smart, quick and physical blocker. With his height at 6’4”, he has a tendency to play much too upright and overextend, resulting in lost balance. This is clearly a projection for Goedeke, who played tackle at Central Michigan. However his negatives at that position, including his size and shorter arms, would matter much less at center. In addition, being a tackle, his movement skills work very well in a zone-based blocking scheme.

Tier III

Luke Fortner (Kentucky)
Dohnovan West (Arizona State)

With his long arms and quick reflexes on tape, Fortner showed improvement ever since being moved to the center position in college. However, he still needs to add girth and strength to his frame if he’s going to survive in the league. With superior movement skills, balance, and quickness, West is just very undersized. He may always struggle blocking larger tackles; his stock is largely capped because of that fact.