One of the curious aspects of the NFL draft is how often players who are voted to be the best (or among the best) at their position in college football aren’t reckoned to be so by the NFL.
For example, Michigan center Olusegun Oluwatimi was voted both the Rimington Award winner and Outland Trophy winner (the first in Michigan’s history) in 2022. In other words, he was voted the best center and the best interior offensive lineman in the nation last year. And yet, he isn’t getting much buzz at all among draft observers.
That could make him a fantastic value for a team like the New York Giants, who are in desperate need of a center.
While Oluwatimi might not have the physical profile of more highly rated prospects, he’s very experienced and technically sound. Will that translate to the next level?
Prospect: Olusegun Oluwatimi (55)
Games Watched: vs. Maryland (2022), vs. Iowa (2022), vs. Penn State (2022), vs. Ohio State (2022)
Games Played: 46 (14 in 2022)
Best: Technique, leverage, quickness, foot speed, football IQ, experience
Worst: Play strength, power run blocking
Projection: A starting center with scheme diversity.
(Oluwatimi is Michigan center number 55)
Olusegun Oluwatimi is an experienced, smart, technically sound, and athletic center prospect from the University of Michigan.
Oluwatimi began his collegiate career at the Air Force academy before transferring to the University of Virginia after the 2017 season, and then transferred from Virginia to Michigan prior to the 2021 season. While he didn’t see any game time at Air Force, Oluwatimi has started 46 straight games for Virginia and Michigan, all of which have come at center. Oluwatimi was the 2022 Rimington award winner, which is awarded to the top center in the country, as well as the first Outland Trophy (given to the top interior offensive lineman) winner in Michigan’s history.
Oluwatimi has good quickness and is able to deliver crisp, accurate snaps while also getting his hands up in time to engage with 0-techniques directly in front of him. He has a flexible lower half, which allows him to easily settle into his stance and maintain good knee bend throughout the rep. Oluwatimi does a good job of maintaining his hip and pad level to maximize his leverage, as well as a wide base to help absorb bull rushes from powerful nose tackles.
He has quick, active feet and good agility in both pass protection and run blocking. Oluwatimi is able to mirror speed on the interior as a pass protector, allowing him to match most defensive tackles and get into position to pick up stunts, twists, and blitzes. He also uses those active feet to absorb and disperse power from bull rushers without giving too much ground.
He generally uses good hand technique, finding opponents’ chest plates, taking inside leverage, and controlling them throughout the rep.
He has fantastic awareness and football IQ as a pass protector. Oluwatimi is constantly looking for work and does a great job of identifying blitzers and picking up delayed pressure. He’s also able to pass off pass rushers scraping laterally without getting stuck and creating opportunities for free rushers. He also has a good sense of how long to hold his blocks before letting go to avoid holding calls.
Oluwatimi is a good zone blocking center who is easily able to flow laterally and stress the defense. He also does a very good job of working with his teammates and working to the second level off of combo blocks. Oluwatimi is a very capable pulling center who is able to deliver the snap and get into motion ahead of the play, and usually delivers accurate blocks in space. He also knows to take half-man leverage against bigger, stronger defensive tackles and use his positioning to create running lanes.
While Oluwatimi is able to deal with big nose tackles with technique, he lacks great play strength and isn’t an overpowering blocker. He is usually able to hold up when playing with good leverage, but he can be moved into the backfield if he loses leverage. Likewise, technically sound rushers can defeat his initial punch, leading to the occasional lunge from Oluwatimi.
Oluwatimi is usually a very controlled lineman, but that can also lead to a more “reserved” play demeanor. He isn’t “soft” by any means, but he doesn’t seem to have the mauling or attacking mentality that some linemen boast. He doesn’t get himself into trouble with over-aggression, but he also doesn’t come up with many pancake blocks. It will be up to individual teams to assess whether that is an asset or a weakness.
Overall Grade: 7.4
Olusegun Oluwatimi projects as a starting center early in his NFL career. While he would likely fit best on an offense that runs a mixture of inside and outside zone blocking schemes, he should be pretty scheme diverse at the NFL level.
Oluwatimi isn’t a mauling center who can act like a snow plow in the middle of an offensive line. However, he has good enough play strength, technique, leverage, and football IQ, that his relatively mundane strength isn’t a hindrance. He certainly has a role in a power run game as a pulling center, or working off of guard/center double teams to block at the second level.
Teams that prize power above all else may rate other centers above him, but Oluwatimi’s versatility should be an asset for diverse running games.
He is a capable pass protector who does a good job of identifying pressure and has plenty of athleticism to match interior penetrators. Again, Oluwatimi isn’t an overpowering center and he has to give ground to absorb bull rushes from particularly powerful nose tackles. However, he is usually able to blunt them before the pocket is in danger of collapsing.
Teams may pause at Oluwatimi’s age, but with that age has come experience and Oluwatimi should be able to start early in his career, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him starting immediately as a rookie.