The 2017 NFL draft is about one month away and the team has not settled on one thing: who is going to be the new center?
As you already know, Jeremy Zuttah was traded to the San Francisco 49ers for their sixth round draft pick, like a swap. Baltimore swapped their No. 198 with the San Francisco’s No. 186 pick. It was rumored that Zuttah would be released. The team would have saved $5.8 million in cap space over the next two years if they just released him. Instead, his leaving gave the team a little less than $2.4 million in cap space. Zuttah was set to make $3.5 million in base salary in 2017.
Where will the Ravens look to for replacing Zuttah? There are some in-house candidates that they can take a look at: Guard/centers Ryan Jensen & John Urschel, center Matt Skura.
Jensen can play all five positions on the offensive line with good arm extension that can control the opponent. Last season he started at left guard. He signed with the team in 2013 as a sixth-round pick. He played seven games with three starts last season.
Urschel is the brains of the team. He is currently studying for his PhD in Mathematics at M.I.T. during the offseason. This four-year vet played all 16 games in 2015 with seven starts at center. He stepped in twice for Zuttah last season when he was injured. During the Philadelphia Eagles game on December 18, Urschel assisted the offense in achieving a season-high 151 rushing yards. During the December 12 game against the New England Patriots, he assisted the offense in allowing Joe Flacco complete a franchise record of 37 passes for 324 yards and two touchdowns.
Skura signed with the Ravens as a restricted free agent in May 2016 out of Duke. This rookie was named second-team All-American by USA Today in 2015 and played a total of 3,058 snaps for the Blue Devils. As a senior in 2016, he eared first-team All-ACC award. He has the versatility to play guard and center. The NFL states he “possesses good core strength and body control both in his movements and through contact.”
Pocic is out of LSU and has played tackle, guard and center. He was All-SEC center in 2016. Standing at 6’6′, he is tall for a center. A versatile, big-bodied player with strong hands and has been associated with one of the top offensive lineman in LSU history. In his senior season, he led all offensive lineman in snaps with 752 and had 11 starts at center.
Elflein is out of Ohio State that has the potential to be an NFL starter. He received the Big-10 Offensive Lineman of the Year in 2016 as center and in 2015 he won the Rimington Trophy as the nation’s top center. He has won countless awards such as three-time first-team all-Big Ten Conference as a guard and a two-time Iron Buckeye award which is awarded to players that have total dedication, discipline and leadership.
The team has received three compensatory picks so far. This year for the first time, teams can trade their comp picks. It is unknown what Mr. Newsome will do, but as the famous saying goes, “Trust Ozzie”