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Packers draft preview: Top centers

May 6, 2014
 
Syracuse v USC
USC's Marcus Martin is the top-ranked center in the draft. / Getty Images

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1. Marcus Martin, USC 6-338, 320, Round 2/3

True junior entry started at left guard for two years, then moved to center last season. “He’s a tough kid, he’s physical, he finishes,” a scout said. “In the right value, you pick him and you have a starting center that’s a little older, and plug him in. The knee is going to be an issue, but of all the (centers), he’s big enough to block the big guys and athletic enough to get to the second-level linebackers.” Didn’t do any physical testing except the bench (23 reps) at the scouting combine while still recovering from a dislocated knee cap from the regular season finale. “He’s got good size,” a second scout said. “He could probably play guard for you in a pinch, so he’s a versatile guy. (Colorado State’s Weston) Richburg is more a center than anything else. If you need a (center), you’re going to go get (Martin) in the second round. Would not shock me if either went then.” At his Pro Day, ran the 40 in 5.21 seconds, had a 23˝-inch vertical and didn’t do the broad jump because of the knee. “He had enough initial strength to get on guys and he didn’t sustain position,” a third scout said. “It was more the initial pop and power with him.”

2. Weston Richburg, Colorado State 6-338, 298, Round 2/3

Four-year starter, primarily at center, though he played guard and left tackle, too. “Fourth (round) would be a good value for him,” a scout said. “He’s one of those guys, the league is full of those guys. They’re later-round guys that wind up in the league five to 10 years. He might be one of those guys.” Broke his right (snapping) hand in ’11, stayed in the game and snapped left handed, then finished the season at tackle and guard. Ran the 40 in 5.15 seconds, had an 8-10 broad jump, 25˝-inch vertical and did 25 bench reps. “Very athletic center,” a second scout said. “Very light on his feet. Ideal for a zone-blocking team.”

3. Travis Swanson, Arkansas 6-5, 312, Round 3/4

Four-year starter at center and two-time captain. “I like his athleticism, I really do,” a scout said. “He’s just a little light in the (butt), he doesn’t have an anchor against power rush. But if you like a center to snap and pull and get out in space, he’s your guy. He just needs to get stronger.” Ran the 40 in 5.25 seconds, had a 7-11 broad jump and 26-inch vertical, and did 20 bench reps. On the tall side for a center. “He’s not a stiff kid, so he’s OK for me,” another scout said. “You like your centers to be big because your quarterback doesn’t have to squat so much, but at the same time you need a leverage guy. If the guy can bend from his knee to his ankle, 6-5 is fine.”

4. Russell Bodine, North Carolina 6-318, 310, Round 4/5

Redshirt junior entry started at center the past two years. “He’s a tough guy,” one scout said. “He’s a dirt bag, cheap-shot guy. You stand around the pile, he’ll knock your (butt) down. I don’t have a problem with that. I thought he helped them get tougher. He’s a pretty good technician, and he knows his limitations. He’s not 340 pounds, but he does a good job with his hands, getting them on people, he’s a naturally strong kid. He’s been well coached. They were a little soft up front and he brought a little attitude to them.” His 42 bench reps were most at the combine this year. Ran the 40 in 5.21 seconds, had a 9-1 broad jump and 29-inch vertical. “He’s a powerful kid, and when he learns to use his legs more, he could be pretty good,” a second scout said. “It will take him a little while, but he’s got a chance to be a starter. He’s so damn strong.”

5. Bryan Stork, Florida State 6-378, 315, Round 5/6

Won the Rimington Trophy as the nation’s top center last season. “I do think he’s better (than Bodine) because he’s more of an efficient college center,” one scout said. “He might be one of those leverage guys. I think in a couple years, he’d be fine (as a starter).” Started 13 games at guard and center his first two seasons combined, then at center only his final two seasons. Has short (32Ľ-inch) arms and durability issues. Missed two games because of mono in ’10, a game in ’11 because of migraines, a game in ’12 because of a neck injury and had toe surgery in the spring of ’13. Didn’t work out at the combine because of injuries to both shoulders and his left knee. Reportedly ran a 5.25 40 and had 21 bench reps at his campus Pro Day. “The knock on him is he’s got some issues, some medical issues,” a second scout said. “He’ll probably get drafted late and make a team, but people are going to take him off the board or move him lower on the board because of injuries.”

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