Last center evaluation. Of note, I played center at the 1AA level and coached offensive line at college levels all the way up to D1. My college offensive line coaches were outstanding, and both wound up in the NFL for years. I learned from the best. It’s been a long time since I played and coached, but techniques, remarkably, are the same as they were 30 years ago.
I’m going to keep this one brief. Olawatimi is a good football player, but it’s a hard evaluation because in the Penn State and Iowa film, they really weren’t asking Olawatimi to do much. He was either chipping up to the 2nd level, base blocking on a nose or blocking back on power schemes for the pulling guard. There were a lot of plays where he chipped the 1 technique up to the 2nd level but didn’t block anybody because there was no one to block. I didn’t get to see him track down LBs at the 2nd level. Not his fault. Odd.
The film from both games was also a wide TV pan. It was a little tough to get a decent gauge on hand technique.
His pass blocking looked good. I didn’t see him get beaten in either film. Michigan ran a lot of slide protection, which is pretty easy for the center (I played center in college and we were a slide protection team). The center sets to the A gap and picks up whatever shows. Easy-peasy. I wasn’t a great pass blocker, and I never blew a block in slide pro.
In the film I saw some good skills, a solid anchor and good push, but I didn’t see Olawatimi asked to do anything difficult except base block a 0 nose, which he did well. There were some goalline snaps where he didn’t get a lot of push, put it was only a couple of snaps.
Unlike my other reviews, I didn’t get a really good feeling one way or the other. I didn’t see any negatives, but he really didn’t do anything to overwhelm me other. This was mostly a function of the offensive scheme, which I would call very "center friendly". The center wasn’t asked to make many difficult blocks. On 3 plays I saw him pull, and he made 1 good block, but I saw him have trouble tracking some DBs off the corner.
He’s a good football player, but I can’t make a call how good based on the film I saw.
A bit of explanation on what I’m looking for in centers on tape in no particular order. The film on YouTube is all from TV. , it’s very difficult to see hand placement, so I can’t speak to it.
- Does he get pushed around on back blocks filling for the guard on power schemes? Does he stick on the DL? Can he get to and engage a 3 technique?
- How does he handle base blocks on a 0 nose? It’s a tough block 1-1, and a stalemate is acceptable.
- When running duo or inside zone on a moving double team, is he moving the DT vertically?
- Coming off the duo/double team how does he do tracking down LBs at the 2nd level?
- How well does he execute reach blocks on outside zone plays? Can he get to the DT before he gets into the backfield? If he gets to the DT, does he have the balance to engage him on the move? These show off athleticism. Bonus points for reaching a 3 technique on outside zone.
- When asked to block a LB on the 2nd level, does he take the best angle, does he engage the LB, and does he stick? Shows athleticism
- On pulls and screens, does he take a good angle? Can he track down and engage a superior athlete in space?
- In general, how much time does he spend on the ground? If a lineman is on the ground, he’s a "leaner/lunger"
- How smooth are his movements? Is he fluid or mechanical?
- how smooth are his pass sets - looking at footwork?
- Is he a leaner (Evan Neal] and does he get out over his toes? What happens when the DT pulls him?
- Can he reset his base and anchor on bull rushes?
- How does he handle stunts and blitzes? Not much of this at the college level.
- How does he handle an active pass rusher that shows lateral movement? Does he get his feet tangled?
- Can he stun a DT with his punch?