If there’s one constant in the NFL it’s that the league is constantly looking for starting caliber offensive linemen. Teams look high and low for linemen who are capable of starting and playing at a high level, and also design blocking schemes to maximize the players they find.
That can lead to wildly differing philosophies around the NFL, and teams looking for very different types of linemen. Some teams look for mammoth road graders who try to overpower opposing defensive linemen. Other teams look for smart, athletic blockers who can win through positioning.
Ohio State center Luke Wypler could appeal to those latter teams. He’s (relatively) undersized, but a good technician and a smart blocker who started the last two seasons on a very good unit.
The Giants have needed a long-term answer at center for years now. Could Wypler fit in their team vision?
Prospect: Luke Wypler (53)
Games Watched: vs. Notre Dame (2022), vs. Wisconsin (2022), vs. Michigan (2022), vs. Georgia (2022 College Football Playoffs)
Games Played: 27 (13 in 2022)
Best: Quickness, leverage, football IQ, competitive toughness, zone blocking
Worst: Length, play strength
Projection: A starting center in a zone blocking scheme.
Ohio State’s Luke Wypler is a quick, tough, and smart center prospect.
Wypler won the starting center job as a sophomore in 2021 and has started 26 straight games at the position. He’s a compact interior lineman at 6-foot-2, 303 pounds, but makes good use of his frame to provide natural leverage. He has a flexible lower body and is able to settle into his stance well and meet defensive tackles with good leverage after snapping the ball. Wypler’s snaps are generally crisp and accurate, and he has experience with his quarterback under center as well as back in the shotgun.
Wypler does a good job of getting his hands up and ready quickly after the snap. That allows him to effectively engage with 0-technique nose tackles or linebackers coming up to fill the A-gap. He’s a natural knee bender who typically plays with good leverage and a wide base. Wypler uses good hip and pad level to compliment his natural leverage and maximize his play strength. He’s able to get under defenders’ pads and stymie even bigger defensive tackles. Wypler also has solid movement skills, which allow him to mirror athletic pass rushers along the interior.
Wypler is a good run blocker in any scheme that requires offensive line movement. He’s athletic enough to stay in sync with his linemates on zone blocks, as well as get into position as a pulling center. He can pull over several gaps, and is when working off double teams to climb to the second level. Wypler has enough agility to accurately block in space, even against linebackers or defensive backs.
He is generally technically sound and strives to win inside leverage in order to control defensive tackles. Likewise, he understands positioning and angles, using half-man leverage to overpower bigger nose tackles and create running lanes – or usher them around the middle of the pocket. Wypler is seldom surprised by defensive games up front, nor delayed blitzes. Likewise, he has good competitive toughness to sustain his blocks, try to finish them with the defender on the ground, and look for work if he doesn’t have anyone to block.
Unfortunately, Wypler is held back by his modest length. His 31-inch arms show up on tape, as longer defensive tackles are able to gain inside leverage on him, even if he gets his hands up first. Wypler has adequate play strength to sustain his blocks, but his play strength is very dependent on his leverage. He can be overpowered if the opposing defensive tackle is able to get under his pads and win inside leverage himself.
Wypler can also struggle with balance when trying to navigate the trash around the line of scrimmage. He winds up on the ground a bit too often when things break down late in reps. He also lacks great speed over a distance, which can make him slow to get into position when blocking downfield or on screen plays.
Overall Grade: 6.9
Luke Wypler projects as a starting center for a team that uses a zone blocking scheme.
Teams that value size and power will likely want to look elsewhere, but Wypler will have value for teams that lean on angles, leverage, and athleticism in their blocking schemes.
Wypler isn’t a great athlete as such things go, but he is a pretty good one within his own range. He moves well enough to match up with athletic rushers on the interior, is able to account for delayed blitzers, and has the football IQ to maximize his athletic traits. He also has a high enough football IQ to call protections and execute all the duties of a starting center at the NFL level.
His overall lack of length and relative lack of mass could put a limit on just how high Wypler’s ceiling is. It certainly impacts his hand technique and he can struggle mightily if an opposing DT is able to win the leverage battle. His feet are good enough to help blunt power rushes, re-anchor, or divert rushers that gain ground on him. But his length could always be an issue for him, and one that defensive tackles will look to exploit.
Teams might be able to mitigate that with technique work and designing blocking schemes to give Wypler help if he initially struggles to lock in his blocks. The NFL is constantly starved for starting caliber offensive linemen and, even with his limitations, Wypler has the upside to help fill that need for the right team.