Linebackers, linebackers, linebackers. Seems like that is all we have talked about lately when it comes to potential New York Giants free agents -- because it really is all we have talked about.
Well, today let's change gears a little bit. The Giants do have other areas of concern heading into the 2011-2012 season, and one of those is their depth at the center and guard spots with Shaun O'Hara, Rich Seubert and Adam Koets all trying to come back from injuries.
One player who might help the Giants on both counts? Scott Mruczkowski of the San Diego Chargers is a guy most of you have probably never heard of -- I had never heard of him until earlier this week -- but a little study of the list of available free-agent centers and guards reveals that Mruczkowski might be an intriguing option.
He is a 29-year-old six-year veteran who has been a backup most of his time in San Diego. Mruczkowski, 6-foot-4, 321-pounder from Bowling Green, has played center, both guards and been used as a blocking tight end. He has started only 14 games in those six seasons, 13 at center for San Diego in 2009.
I am attracted by the versatility. And by what Mruczkowski did with those 13 starts in 2009. Walter Football said:
Scott Mruczkowski barely played this season, but filled in really well for an injured Nick Hardwick the year before.
So I went to Pro Football Focus (where else?) to find out exactly how well Mruczkowski did in 2009. Mruczkowski was +13.6 in his 13 starts that season, +5.2 in run blocking, +3.2 pass blocking and +5.5 in screen blocking. He committed only three penalties and allowed one sack. Among centers who played 75 percent or more of their team's offensive snaps, PFF ranked Mruczkowski eighth.
John Gennaro, editor of SB Nation's Chargers website, Bolts From The Blue, summarized Mruczkowski this way:
Scott has shown himself to be a pretty average offensive guard, and that's the reason that he had never progressed past being a backup. That's a big reason why he started working on his skills at center in 2008, figuring to make himself more versatile/valuable. When he eventually got pushed into service at Center due to [a] Nick Hardwick injury, Scott was great at center. A lot of people in San Diego think he's good enough to start at center somewhere else.
So, that's Scott in a nutshell. Really good (albeit, inexperienced) center, pretty average guard, and better at pass protection than he is run blocking. There's only three real questions with Scott. One, is he worth what he'll be able to demand on the free-agent market? Two, will the Chargers let him go knowing that Hardwick has been injury prone and with no other center options on the team? Three, could he stay healthy if he had to start an entire season?