At the beginning of free agency, the Buffalo Bills made sure to address interior offensive line issues quickly by signing guard Connor McGovern, but the pursuit to find quality blocking for quarterback Josh Allen hasn’t stopped. With center Mitch Morse aging and suffering multiple concussions throughout his career, the Bills met with Minnesota center John Michael Schmitz via Zoom just two weeks ahead of the 2023 NFL Draft, per Ryan Talbot of NYUp.com and Syracuse.com. Schmitz is highly regarded as the top center prospect in this year’s draft class.
On top of his 6’3”, 301-pound frame, Schmitz displays impressive overall athletic ability and a sense of urgency when blocking. He stayed an additional year at Minnesota (perhaps to enhance his draft stock) and appeared in 12 games, allowing just five QB hurries, one QB hit and two sacks in 2022 as a redshirt senior. In the three previous seasons, Schmitz had played at least 422 snaps in each season and had allowed a total of 10 QB hurries, three QB hits and zero sacks.
Schmitz is regarded as the top center in this year’s draft class due to his lateral quickness and strong point of attack in run-blocking schemes. His athleticism for his size allows him to consistently finish blocks and maintain proper balance throughout each play. Perhaps his wrestling background has something to do with this, but it’s the primary reason his draft stock is as high as it is. If that isn’t enough to wow NFL general managers, Schmitz also displays high intelligence. His pass protection and lack of versatility (played center all five years in college) may steer some away, however.
But does he fit with the Bills? He absolutely does. With Morse nearing the end of his career, Buffalo will require a quality center who can protect Allen for years to come. Although Schmitz excels in the run game more so than the passing game, that can be corrected with the right coaching and development over time. He already displays a high IQ and leadership qualities, but it’s worth noting that head coach Sean McDermott loves to have versatile guys — and Schmitz is not that guy.