The market for the center position is not on par with that of elite tackles, or even shooting guards, but it is an important offensive position because of the quick calls and decisions they have to make before and after the game. center. . That’s why the Arizona Cardinals and Los Angeles Chargers pushed so hard to improve at the position this offseason.
Using the play-by-play rating and pff stats that can be found in premium stats 2.0, here’s how the current projected 32 starters stack up heading into the 2021 season.
Reading: Best centers in the nfl
1. rodney hudson, arizona cardinals
no center in the nfl has come close to hudson’s level of pass protection prowess over the past decade. If he gets the highest ratings in pass blocking for every season from rated centers since 2015, Hudson owns each of the top five spots for his work from 2015 to 2019. He took a step back in that department last season, but still thus he finished the year as the seventh-highest rated center in the league. Hudson projects as a significant improvement over Mason Cole in Arizona.
2. corey linsley, los angeles chargers
linsley, like hudson, will bring his talents to a new offensive line in 2021. he stood out as one of the best offensive linemen available in free agency, coming off a career-high pff rating and a first-team wink all-pro this last season with green bay. since he entered the league in 2014, he has ranked in the 80th percentile or higher in pass blocking grade in true pass sets and zone run blocking grade. Linsley is a key piece in the Chargers’ offensive line overhaul this offseason.
3. frank ragnow, detroit lions
Ragnow stumbled a bit in his rookie season with Detroit, particularly as a pass protector (57.1 pass blocking rating in 2018). however, those rookie plays came at left guard. Since he moved to center, a position he dominated at Arkansas, Ragnow has steadily risen to the top tier of players at the position. his 80.3 overall rating last season ranked third among all rated centers, and it earned him a record contract this offseason. The arrow only points up for Ragnow as he enters his fourth season in the NFL.
4. jc tretter, cleveland browns
Few players outside of Hudson have matched Tretter’s pass protection dominance over the course of his NFL career. Dating back to part-time roles with the Packers in 2015 and 2016, Tretter has posted pass-blocking ratings greater than 80.0 in six straight seasons. he also posted a career-high 76.5 run block rating with the Browns last season. The result was a rating of 81.0 pff that fell short of Linsley’s rank in 2020.
5. jason kelce, philadelphia eagles
kelce falls on the opposite end of the spectrum compared to hudson and tretter. There are few years in his career where he has earned higher ratings as a pass protector than a run blocker, but that’s mostly because he’s been one of the best run blocking centers in the NFL. That was no different than age 33 in 2020. Kelce was the only staple on an ever-changing offensive line in Philadelphia, and his 79.0 run-blocking rating ranked in the top five at the position.
6. brandon linder, jacksonville jaguars
Jacksonville’s roster didn’t have much to offer in 2020. That’s usually the case for a 1-15 team. Linder, the Jaguars’ best offensive lineman, playing in just nine games went wrong. he flew under the radar because he doesn’t have the same pro bowl or all-pro recognition as other names at the top of this list, but he has been one of the best centers in the league the last seven years. The only three centers with a higher PFF rating than Linder (87.4) since he entered the league in 2014 are Travis Frederick, Jason Kelce and Alex Mack.
7. ben jones, tennessee titans
Jones served as a consistent inside option for both the Texans and Titans from 2012 to 2018, his first seven seasons in the NFL. The former Georgia Bulldog scored between 69.4 and 74.7 in each of those years. But his last two seasons for Tennessee have been the best of his career from a PFF ranking standpoint. Jones was a big part of Derrick Henry’s 2000-yard season in 2020, as no center in the league had a higher percentage of his career blocks rated positively than Jones did last year.
8. Erik McCoy, New Orleans Saints
mccoy’s debut with the saints in 2019 was as good as you’d expect from a rookie center. his 78.0 overall rating ranked fourth among rated centers on the season, and he was the only player at the position to earn ratings of 75.0 or higher as a pass protector and run blocker. Those numbers took a hit in 2020, but McCoy still finished the year as one of the top 10 players at the position. The Saints will expect continued development from 2020 first-round pick Cesar Ruiz to ensure a strong interior offensive line for years to come.
9. ryan kelly, indianapolis colts
Kelly’s ranking profile has never matched his league-wide reputation that earned him a record center contract at the start of last season. That doesn’t mean he isn’t one of the best centers in the league; he just isn’t at the elite level. Kelly is the 11th most valuable center in the league over the past three seasons, according to PFF War.
10. chase roullier, washington football team
washington’s tackle positions are changing, with new starters expected at both left and right tackle heading into 2021. the football team has yet to feel relatively good about their group up front given how well they played interior offensive line in 2020. including a roullier career year. Wyoming’s former sixth-round pick has improved his PFF rating each season with Washington, posting a career-high 76.4 overall last year. The only two centers with a higher degree of pass blocking on true passes than Roullier in 2020 were Linder and Tretter.
11. ryan jensen, tampa bay buccaneers
jensen plays the game the way you want from an offensive lineman. he’s a performer who constantly looks for opportunities to put his man down. he’s listed in the top five in blocking runs in gap races the past two seasons. However, Jensen’s overall PFF rating slipped noticeably from 2019 to 2020. That was almost entirely due to his pass protection performance, as he allowed nearly twice as many pressures in 2020 (27) as he did in 2019 (15). ) on fewer pass blocking plays.
12. david andrews, new england patriots
andrews returned from problems with blood clots in his lungs in 2019 to take center stage once again for new england in 2020. while his performance was not at the level he showed prior to 2019, andrews was no worse than average . He has been the seventh most valuable center in the league in his five seasons as a starter with the Patriots, according to PFF War. the hope for the Patriots will be that he returns to his 2017-18 form another year away from his health issues.
13. alex mack, san francisco 49ers
The only reason mack doesn’t rank higher on this list is age and the expected continuation of the decline. There’s still no reason why he can’t be a quality center option for the 49ers still in 2021, even at 35 years old. One of the highest single-season ratings in Mack’s career came in Kyle Shanahan’s final season as the Falcons’ offensive coordinator in 2016, including a 90.9 rating in run blocking that led all players at the position. . there are few better fits in that scheme than mack.
14. matt paradis, carolina panthers
Carolina’s offensive line has a lot of question marks heading into the 2021 season, so Paradis is one of the forward pieces the team should be most comfortable with. paradis hasn’t been the same player for the panthers as he was in denver, where he ranked as one of the best centers in the league. however, he was a much better pass protector in 2020 than he was in 2019. after allowing a career-high 47 pressures at his highest position in his first year in carolina, paradis cut that number to 19 last season.
15. mitch morse, buffalo bills
Morse has yet to rate below 70.0 in pass protection in a single season during his six-year NFL career. on the other hand, he has never gone above 70.0 as a run blocker. that is what he can expect him to provide in the future. and in that case the buffalo is as good a place as any to morse. The only team with a higher-than-bills passing rate on first downs in the first three quarters of games last season was the Chiefs.
16. Creed Humphrey, Kansas City Chiefs
humphrey is the first rookie to make the list. she will have to compete with former rams center austin blythe for the job, but i hope humphrey wins that competition. humphrey is not lacking in experience, as he viewed nearly 2,500 snaps in oklahoma. he does a good job of using his hands and leverage to move interior defenders and is coming off a career-high 80.9 overall rating in 2020. he’s just one part of an overhauled offensive line in kansas city, clearly a priority after how the team 2020 campaign ended.
17. trey hopkins, cincinnati flares
Coming into this offseason, Hopkins was the strong link on the interior of Cincinnati’s offensive line. That’s more of an indictment of that unit’s struggles than a compliment to Hopkins. Still, Hopkins has at least been consistent for Cincinnati in recent seasons, particularly in pass protection. The former Longhorn has ranked in the 74th percentile among centers in pass blocking since 2018, when he first landed a starting job with the Bengals at the position.
18. bradley bozeman, baltimore ravens
bozeman has yet to start a game at center in his first three seasons with baltimore. However, that’s where he played (and excelled) while at Alabama, and there’s a good chance he’ll make the switch heading into 2021. 2,357 snaps, including postseason (fourth among all offensive players). That instant count is part of the reason he has been one of the league’s 10 most valuable guards since 2019, according to PFF War.
19. austin corbett, rams of the angels
corbett is another player expected to move from guard to center in 2021, where he will likely replace austin blythe. he has been a starter there with the otas first team. Center is where Corbett began his career in Cleveland, but he has split his time over the past two seasons in Los Angeles as a starter at both left guard (2019) and right guard (2020). he is coming off a career year last season for the Rams, buoyed by a 76.4 run block rating.
20. nick gates, new york giants
There was every reason to be optimistic about Gates heading into the 2020 season after an impressive showing in multiple starts at right tackle and right guard in 2019. He earned a starting job the following offseason, but came in at center . It’s a position Gates hadn’t played in college or in the NFL. As a result, his PFF rating dropped from 77.0 to 59.7, but he was still far from the worst starter on New York’s offensive line. the giants will hope to step up in year 2 at the position.
21. ethan pocic, seattle seahawks
Injuries have kept Pocic from getting any kind of rhythm to start his NFL career after Seattle selected him in the second round of the 2017 NFL Draft out of LSU. Pocic played nearly as many snaps in 2020 (993) as he did in his first three career seasons combined (1,026). it was also by far his best season from a qualifying standpoint, though he wasn’t a high bar to clear. pocic’s 59.8 overall rating ranked 26th out of 37 qualifiers in 2020, but he has the opportunity to grow even more after the first full season of his career.
22. connor mcgovern, new york jets
Fears that McGovern would back down after a career 2019 season with the Broncos came true last year in New York. his overall pff rating dropped 10 points from 2019 to 2020, and that was even with improved play as a run blocker. McGovern was one of the worst pass protection centers in the NFL in 2020, coming out of the season with a 42.7 pass blocking rating. The left side of the Jets’ offensive line needs to be established, but McGovern is part of a group that will need to show improvement to keep Zach Wilson upright in 2021.
23. kendrick green, pittsburgh steelers
There was a lot of talk about the steelers needing to address their offensive line heading into the 2021 nfl draft. as a result, they selected green in the third round, their first attempt at attacking the unit. He spent most of his time as a guard in Illinois, but also saw several starts at center.
You like to see the year-over-year improvement he showed after switching from defensive tackle to guard in college, raising his rating from 59.0 in his first year as a starter in 2018 to 88.0 last season. His athleticism and explosiveness should help propel Pittsburgh’s running game.
24. tyler biadasz, dallas cowboys
biadasz claimed the center spot on pff’s rookie squad last season, but that was due more to a lack of competition than biadasz’s play. his 53.5 pff rating was one of the lowest ratings in the position, but there’s reason to hope the former Badger will improve heading into his second season. Offensive linemen often take a year or two to find their place in the NFL. and biadasz had three years of strong play in wisconsin, posting ratings above 82.0 in all three seasons.
25. justin britt, houston texans
At his peak during the 2016-17 seasons, Britt was a quality starting center. PFF War tagged him as the 12th most valuable center in the NFL during that period, but we’re now three years away from that peak. Britt earned overall ratings of 60.8 and 62.0 during the 2018 and 2019 seasons, respectively, and has not played since Week 8 of 2019 due to injury. It’s audacious to expect him to be even average when he returns to Houston healthy.
26. skura mate, miami dolphins
skura is the favorite to take over the starting center job in miami, a position filled by ted karras in 2020. skura is coming off a disappointing year with baltimore last season in which he lost his starting job, in part due to back problems. consecutive games with adjustment problems. he finished the year with only a 49.1 overall rating. The hope for Miami is that he can get back closer to his 2019 form when he was a middle starter when he was healthy (grade 68.7).
27. Garrett Bradbury, Minnesota Vikings
bradbury has shown redeeming qualities as a run blocker during his first two nfl seasons, but it’s hard to ignore how poor he’s been in pass protection. he ranks dead last in the position in allowed pressure rate (5.2%) and pass blocking grade (36.3) since 2019. he hasn’t been dominant enough as a run blocker to look past those numbers.
28. sam mustipher, chicago bears
the bears have some options in the center. Both Cody Whitehair and James Daniels have started games at the position for the past few seasons, but Mustipher taking over with Whitehair and Daniels at guard appears to be the most likely combination heading into 2021. The three-year starter at Notre Dame earned a rating 59.5 in nine starts last season. however, he finished in the top 10 at the position with a positively rated run-on-block percentage.
29. matt hennessy, atlanta falcons
Certainly, Hennessy might make this ranking look like a bug in Arthur Smith’s scheme, but it’s hard to place him much higher based on his performance in limited action as a rookie last season. the 2020 third round out of the temple earned a 47.0 overall rating and a 28.6 pass blocking rating in just over 200 offensive snaps.
30. josh myers, green bay packers
much of the nfl draft community was less concerned about myers than pff. he was the 154th-ranked player on our big board, in large part due to questions about his ability in pass protection (65.9 pass blocking rating in 2020). His size, explosiveness and mentality could lead to some standout blocks in the running game, but the aforementioned lack of consistency and pass protection concerns keep him at the bottom of this list, assuming he ends up as Green Bay’s starting center.
31. lloyd cushenberry iii, denver broncos
cushenberry is likely to be pushed by rookie quinn meinerz for the starting center job, but he should have an advantage as a starter. It was a rookie season to forget for Cushenberry in 2020. His 40.5 overall rating at center was nearly eight points lower than the next-lowest-ranked player at the position. What saves Denver is that Cushenberry has one of the best offensive line coaches in the NFL, Mike Munchak, to lean on in his second season.
32. andre james, las vegas raiders
the raiders are showing a lot of faith in james. not only is he the man to beat at center over a proven starter in nick martin, but the raiders also made him a top 20 center for average money per year this offseason without him having any kind of success in the nfl to point to. James has played 117 offensive snaps over the past two years, nearly all of which were in two starts in 2019. He posted a 1.9 pass blocking rating during that rookie season.
featured free agent: austin reiter (would be 14)
reiter, who is still available in free agency, probably would have found his way to the top half of this list if he was on a roster. he’s not going to make a difference in the running game, but he’s been one of the most reliable pass protectors under center during his last two seasons as the Chiefs’ starter. he ranks in the 91st percentile of all players ranked in pass blocking grade since 2019.