This week's Good, Bad and Ugly focuses on the brains of the offensive line, the center. The man in the middle is almost always overlooked when it comes to the media spotlight. They just go out there with a hard hat and lunch pail attitude and work the middle of the line against the biggest defenders on the field. They also have to be smart enough to call out defensive pressures or risk getting their QB killed. Let's take a look at the Week 6 performances of Brian Allen-MSU and Garrett Bradbury-NC State.
Brian Allen (OC/Sr/Mich St.)
THE GOOD: Allen looks very good when on the move. He has the quickness to get down the line for zone/pull blocks and to get up the field to block on the second level. His footwork on his drop step is technically sound and allows him to "strike a match" along the line as he goes by. Allen shows good power in his punch. Despite being slightly undersized Allen looks to have good overall play strength. He keeps his pad level low with good bend at hips and knees. An immeasurable trait is his nastiness. Allen will look to put a hurt on defenders and will not miss an opportunity to continue the play after the whistle.
THE BAD: Properly using his hands is not a strong suit of Allen's game. He needs to learn to lead with his hands rather than with his head/pads. When power blocking Allen will collide with the defender with his head a majority of the time and lose the opportunity to gain leverage on the defender. When in pass protection Allen's hands will be completely out of position. Very often one arm will be hugging the defender around the waist rather than trying to create leverage under the pads. It is possible his arms are to small to effectively engage the defender early.
THE UGLY: It was frustrating to watch Allen's awareness in pass protection. Allen will lose focus and allow defenders to run right past him into the backfield. When he was responsible for help he would stare directly at a collapsing protection and not offer any help to that side. It is one thing to not see where the pressure is coming from and another to be looking directly at it and not react.
IN THE END: Allen's agility and strength make him a viable project in the NFL. However, he will need to clean up his pass protection if he wants to see the field sooner than later. I expect him to be taken in the 5th round into the early 6th round.
Garrett Bradbury (OC/Jr(R)/NC St.)
THE GOOD: Bradbury wasn't the strongest OL I have watched nor was he the most dominating OL. What impressed me was his technique. He did everything you want an OL to do. He kept pads low, kept hands inside, moved well, kept footwork clean, kept feet moving, great body control, good balance and blocked well on the 2nd level. It was an almost mistake free tape vs Louisville.
THE BAD: With all the positives listed above you would think he is the most talked about OL prospect. I would classify his game as quiet dominance because he doesn't flash the power/explosiveness teams crave in the trenches. He wont get overpowered at the point of attack but he also wont be the bulldozer in the middle of the field either. When his technique was not enough to win he found himself struggling to maintain his block because he did not have the strength to compensate.
THE UGLY: Bradbury's biggest difficulty came when he was man to man against DTs with longer arms. He was very susceptible to the "snatch and throw" technique and ended up on the ground a few times. Once the DT locked on his pads he was able to control/move Bradbury how he wanted to. He must develop a counter to long armed DTs or he will have a hard time being consistently successful in the NFL.
IN THE END: If I was a NFL team needing a versatile interior lineman in the middle rounds of the draft I wouldn't hesitate to take Bradbury. He will provide a team the luxury of playing him at OG or OC. His play reminds me of Rodney Hudson. He will make some team happy around the 4th round.