The New York Giants have a need at center and could use insurance along their interior offensive line. In a recent interview at the owner’s meeting in Arizona, GM Joe Schoen stated that he likes the combination of Ben Bredeson, Jack Anderson, and Shane Lemieux as possible options for the Giants at center. Here’s a clip of that:
Schoen mentions the draft or possible free-agent centers that are on the street. I don’t glean desperation from Schoen in relation to center at the 25th pick in the draft on this clip, but if there’s value on the board in the second round, he may look to pull the trigger.
Two centers whose names are associated with the Giants are Minnesota’s John Michael-Schmitz and Wisconsin’s Joe Tippmann. Both players have different styles, are different types of athletes, and one is more refined than the other. To me, this is a case of floor vs. ceiling. Let’s start with the renowned high school wrestler, John Michael Schmitz.
John Michael Schmitz
If you need a fundamentally sound center with no glaring issues to his game, then John Michael Schmitz is your guy. The Minnesota product is not the biggest or the best athlete, but he understands leverage, angles, and has precise footwork that maximizes his range:
He’s rarely stagnant as a blocker; he’s always readjusting his fit, re-sinking his hips to establish more optimal positioning, and his feet are active and light. He frames his blocks while his feet, eyes, and hands all work in unison to control defenders at the point of attack.
Schmitz only has experience at center, but he has no true weaknesses in his game. He can combo and climb, does a good job vertically displacing defenders in DUO with strength, and takes good pursuit angles up to the second level. He’s a controlled mover in space with a good anchor in pass protection. Here is my synopsis of his game:
John Michael Schmitz is a smart, physical, efficient moving center who is an excellent run blocker with range. His ability to reach block is ideal for zone-rushing teams, but he can easily play in any system. Schmitz exercises good overall body control, footwork, and Combo blocking ability while playing like a famished pit bull with uncooked sirloin at stake (ha, puns).
Schmitz is a good overall pass blocker who is light on his feet. He does well in readjusting through reps to optimize his effectiveness. If I’m nit-picky, I appreciate his run-blocking more than his pass-blocking; pad-level is generally good, but defenders have gotten underneath him while in a half-man relationship - it’s not consistent, but it’s worth noting.
Any team should be happy to draft a player like John Michael Schmitz. I expect him to be a Day 1 starter for a team. He’s technically sound, has solid play strength, and can execute any block. He’ll hear his name on Day 1 or early on Day 2.
There’s a lot to like about Schmitz, who implicitly understands how to control, frame, and maintain the correct blocking relationship in the run-and-pass game. He’s not the most exciting center in the league, but he’ll do his job well.
Two Ps, two Ns, one mullet! Joe Tippmann is not nearly as technically refined as John Michael Schmitz, but the athletic upside is difficult to ignore. The 6-foot-6 center is 313 pounds and has a frame that suggests he could carry a bit more weight.
Tippmann did not test at the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine, but Bruce Feldman had him on his 2022 Freak List. Tippmann was 28th out of 100 on Feldman’s list. According to Feldman, Tippmann squats 635 pounds, benches 455 pounds, and ran a 4.31 short shuttle, which would have been the fastest time for an offensive lineman at the combine; if that number - which was recorded before the 2022 season - is accurate, then it would be the fourth-best time of any offensive lineman in combine history. Tippmann also reportedly had a 1.65 10-yard split, which would also be insane.
These are not official combine numbers, but one can notice the impressive movement skills from his tape. Tippmann is excellent at pulling, locating, and sealing players on the edge. Despite his large surface area, he does a good job absorbing contact and anchoring down against power rushers. He’s only surrendered a sack and nine pressures throughout his two years starting at Wisconsin; several of those pressures were late recognition of twists. Here’s my synopsis of his play:
Joe Tippmann thrives kicking into space in Power/Gap concepts, where he can utilize his location skills, body control on the move, and overall impressive athletic traits to kick out or lead block. He’s a good overall run blocker who could improve his hand timing/placement and engagement, but few IOL of his gigantic size can move like Tippmann.
He could also block zone and DUO due to his combo and climb success; he does tend to get a little over his skies when engaged laterally against shorter - more stout - defenders. Tippmann finishes blocks with authority, and he does well in pass protection. His feet are quick, he handles counter moves solidly, and his anchor is excellent. Tippmann absorbs contact and sits back on his hips, showing an excellent ability to keep the pocket intact.
His pad level led to balance problems, and he wasn’t always the best at sustaining blocks, despite having impressive grip strength - he has to find a way to leverage his hand usage in a more efficient and precise manner. Tippmann should be a starter early in his career, and fans of the team that selects him will love him with or without the mullet.
A lot of Tippmann’s issues can be improved. His hands come out high and wide which leads to him failing to control defenders; they can also be slow to engage, which gave defensive lineman the ability to attack his chest, putting Tippmann on the defensive. He just turned 22 years old, and it’s plausible that an NFL coach like Bobby Johnson could help correct some of the technical flaws. If that’s achieved, then the athletic ability and size of Tippmann would pull a Rihanna and shine bright like a diamond.
Right now, John Michael Schmitz is my number one center in this draft class. He’s more technically refined than Tippmann, has a higher floor, and should be a good starting center in the league for a while. However, I don’t think this decision is easy because of the potential Tippmann possesses.
Schmitz can make all the blocks, but Tippmann gets out in space quicker and would be an excellent fit as a puller - something the Giants employed quite often in 2022. New York has a diverse rushing attack, and the upside of Tippmann is alluring. It’s a floor/ceiling argument; that’s not to say John Michael Schmitz has no ceiling, it’s just Tippmann’s is much higher with his athletic traits.
The age, size, and athletic factors are all in Tippmann’s favor. Tippmann would be a better fit for the Giants because of his movement skills, so I’m going with Tippmann, even though I have a higher grade on Schmitz. Regardless, I could be swayed both ways with these two prospects, and I would be happy with either player in the second round.