The 2023 NFL Draft is quietly deep at several positions, but the one position with good depth that we haven’t heard much about is center. This draft might be the deepest center class we’ve seen in some time.
Not only are there tackles who could find starting jobs on the offensive interior, but there are several natural centers who could (or should) be starters in the NFL. Wisconsin’s Joe Tippmann has been vying to be the first center off the board throughout the draft process.
As it so happens, the New York Giants have a definite need for a long-term answer at center. Could Tippmann be that answer?
Games Played: 25 (12 in 2022)
Best: Size, play strength, athleticism, movement skills, zone blocking
Worst: Height, technical consistency, man-gap blocking
Projection: A starting center for a team that primarily uses zone blocking.
(Tippmann is Wisconsin center number 75)
Wisconsin center Joe Tippmann is a big, athletic, and strong offensive line prospect.
Tippmann has rare height for a center at 6-foot-6, and good size at 313 pounds. He combines his size with very good movement skills for an interior offensive lineman. He’s easily able to stress defenses on zone runs, pull from the center to the outside, or block in space on screen plays.
He has a flexible lower body and is able to play with good knee bend, hip level, and pad level. That allows him to compensate for his height and play with good leverage. He also has very good play strength and is capable of stonewalling interior linemen when he maintains good pad level.
Tippmann’s movement skills allow him to mirror athletic rushers inside, as well as redirect to pick up blitzes or stunts. He’s a tough and tenacious pass protector who strains to sustain his blocks for as long as necessary.
He is also a very capable zone blocker who uses his athleticism to create movement along the line of scrimmage and stress defenses laterally. He works well with teammates in double-teams, and is very quick to work up to the second level. Tippmann is also a very dangerous blocker on screen plays. His speed in the open field allows him to easily get (and stay) ahead of the play, while he’s agile enough to be an accurate blocker on the move.
Tippmann is tall for a center and relatively high-cut at that. That means he absolutely needs to maintain good knee bend, hip level, and pad level throughout the rep. Unfortunately, his leverage is inconsistent at this point in his development, and that impacts the rest of his game.
His inconsistent leverage can compromise his otherwise-impressive play strength and create opportunities for defenders to get under his pads. Likewise, it can interfere with his ability to run block and absorb power in pass protection. Tippmann’s base is similarly inconsistent, and his feet can get closer together and compromise his balance, landing him on the ground too often.
Tippmann’s hand usage is also inconsistent. He flashes a hard punch and good placement to win defenders’ chest plates, but his hands can also be low, wide, or late. Not only does that also compromise his leverage and play strength, but it could open him up to holding calls at the next level.
Overall Grade: 7.5
Joe Tippmann projects as a starting center for a team that primarily uses zone blocking schemes.
He’s a very athletic blocker with great movement skills and speed in the open field. That makes him quick to the second level and dangerous when out blocking for screen plays. He’s able to stay in sync with his linemates and works well off of double teams. Tippmann is able to redirect and match athletic pass rushers or pick up late pressure.
While he has a very high ceiling, Tippmann is currently held back by issues with consistency. His height puts maintaining leverage at a premium, and lapses in technique can lead to disastrous reps. He will need to continue to work on maintaining his leverage all rep, every rep, playing with consistently good hand placement, and maintaining his balance. He has the potential to be a good center in the NFL, but will need development to fully realize that potential.