Jake Pruehs (C, Ohio) – 44

It’s easy to see on tape why Pruehs is considered a preseason All-MAC lineman and an Outland Trophy contender.  He is a squat, intelligent player, who identifies threats rapidly and, at the MAC level, can get to the edge quickly.  As a run blocker, he has a sound grasp of angles and his own responsibilities – this works very well in the Bobcats’ run-heavy offense.  In terms of how he projects to the NFL, however, there are some serious concerns.  In the passing game, he plays too high and lacks leverage against quick and nimble DTs.  This is something that can be addressed by coaching, of course, but I am also unconvinced as to whether Pruehs has the athleticism and strength needed to play at the next level.  There are moments on tape (Q2 14:53 v Troy, for example) where he simply gets swatted aside and he struggles to sustain blocks against powerful DTs.  I see Pruehs, currently, as a very good center at the MAC level but as someone who could be ruthlessly exposed should he wind up in the NFL.  As such, I have a marginal UDFA grade on him at this point in the process.

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Frank Ragnow (C, Arkansas) – 79

I believe that PFF have Ragnow as a 1st round prospect in the 2018 draft but I’m afraid I see that as an indication of that website prioritising statistics over what you see on tape. I appreciate the thoroughness of their analysis but, at the same time, one of Benjamin Disraeli, Mark Twain or the Duke of Wellington was absolutely right when he pontificated about lies, damned lies and statistics. At least, that is, when they were talking about the blocking percentages of SEC centers. Anyway, enough of such fiddle-faddle. Let’s start off with Ragnow’s strengths. He is a physically imposing, powerful center who, when he is up against college-level talent, can overwhelm defenders at the point of attack. He is quick and athletic enough to get out and pull in the running game, although a lack of flexibility when it comes to sealing means it’s unlikely he’ll remind anyone of Dermontti Dawson. Nevertheless, there are a fair few starting centers in the NFL who lack this ability, so it’s not to be underestimated. He is also a smart, alert veteran, who identifies targets quickly and easily, both in the run game and when it comes to blitz pick-up. I do, though, have a couple of concerns about Ragnow. He is at least 6-5 and, as a result, he plays too high at times, especially against squat, fire-plug DTs. He really struggled at times against Daylon Mack, of Texas A&M, for instance, where his lack of leverage told against him. I would also like to see him sustain blocks more consistently. There are enough positives with Ragnow to suggest that he could potentially be a good starting center in the NFL but, at this stage, there are also sufficient doubts for me to be disinclined to take him any higher than the 3rd round.

Billy Price (G/C, Ohio State) – 87

The words that come to mind when you scout Billy Price are ‘alert’, ‘intelligent’ and ‘savvy’.  He has started 41 consecutive games at guard for Ohio State and the fact that he is almost certainly moving to center for his senior season will probably only enhance his stock.  Price has extremely quick feet, which enable him to shift fluidly into position against both 1-tech NTs and 3-tech DTs.  You can also see this athleticism when he pulls; he looks very nimble for an interior lineman when he comes round the corner.  He is an intelligent player, whose veteran experience enables him to cope comfortably with stunts and twists.  You very rarely see him being pushed back in the running game, although I would like to see him being a bit more aggressive when he gets to the second level.   He could be a very serviceable starting guard but I’m not sure if he has the raw strength to excel there; as a center, however, his combination of athleticism and intelligence could enable him to be a top five player in that position.  My instinct is that Price will end up playing center in the NFL and, if that’s the case, I can see him being a player who contends for Pro Bowl honours.