NFL Scouting Combine 2014: Centers to watch

Weston Richburg - Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

As the NFL Scouting Combine approaches we look at players at various positions the Giants could be hoping to upgrade. Today, center is on the radar.

The 2014 NFL Scouting Combine workouts will be held Feb. 22-25 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. One position that could be on the radar for the New York Giants is center, where the Giants have nothing at this point but uncertainty.

Here is a look at some of the centers to be aware of during the combine.

Travis Swanson, Arkansas

Has been generally regarded as the top center in the 2014 draft class, although Weston Richburg of Colorado State may have closed that gap. There seems, however, to be a split opinion on the 6-foot-5, 315-pounder. CBS Sports grades him as the best center in the draft and projects him to be taken in Round 2. NFL.com says Swanson "lacks starter-caliber power and athleticism." SB Nation's Mocking The Draft ranks Swanson as the No. 2 center in this draft class.

Use the combine to judge for yourself.

Weston Richburg, Colorado St.

Richburg was impressive at the Senior Bowl, with SB Nation's Niners Nation saying he "made his presence known in the game." Mocking The Draft ranks Richburg No. 3 among centers in the draft. CBS Sports considers Richburg a second- to third-round draft candidate. As with Swanson, NFL.com does not appear to be as impressed, saying Richburg "At worst, should stick as a backup, but has developmental value and starter potential in a zone scheme. Could help himself by proving versatile enough to back up at guard."

A scouting report from NFL.com's Bucky Brooks is much more positive about Richburg:

Talking to several scouts this week, I've found plenty of evaluators who view Richburg as the ideal pivot as a pro. Richburg is described as a highly intelligent player with outstanding instincts and awareness. He has a terrific feel for using cut-off angles and body positioning to neutralize defenders at the point of attack. Additionally, Richburg does a great job of minimizing his strength and power deficiencies by effectively using body help from his teammates to reduce available space for defenders.

Bryan Stork, Florida St.

Stork seems like a developmental player considered by CBS Sports to be a fourth- or fifth-round pick. I mention him only because of CBS' comparison of Stork to New Orleans Saints' center Brian De La Puente, a potential free-agent target for the Giants. CBS opines:

Competitiveness and savvy as a pass blocker could get Stork drafted, but like De La Puente (who played for four teams before latching on with the Saints), Stork could bounce around a bit as he gains strength before finding a true fit.

He is Mocking The Draft's seventh-ranked center.

Gabe Ikard, Oklahoma

This is a player SB Nation's Mocking The Draft seems higher on than other NFL talent evaluators. MTD has Ikard as the top-ranked center in the 2014 NFL Draft class. Conversely, CBS Sports lists the 6-3, 302-pound Ikard as a seventh-round pick or possible undrafted free agent, saying that Ikard " won't be a fit for every offense, but will be a good fit in a mobile, zone-blocking system."

NFL.com leans toward the viewpoint held by CBS:

A functional positional blocker who lacks the foot quickness, athletic ability and strength desired in a starter, yet consistently finds a way to get the job done and overcome his physical limitations. Intelligence and intangibles are off the charts and could allow him to capture and hold onto a starting job. The sum is better than the parts.

Matt Armstrong, Grand Valley State

Had to mention Armstrong because he is one of those small-school players people don't know much about. Armstrong is one of 13 Division II players invited to the Scouting Combine, and the first from Grand Valley State.

Armstrong, 6-3, 296 pounds, was the Rimington Trophy winner as the top DII center in the nation. He has also played guard and right tackle at Grand Valley State. Can he translate his success and versatility into a shot in the NFL? CBS Sports considers Armstrong a seventh-round pick or UDFA. NFL.com believes Armstrong "Faces a big jump in competition, but has a chance to stick as a swing backup if his versatility translates."

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