Next up on my series of somewhat more in depth profiles of the 2013 Titans draft class is their fourth round pick, Cal center Brian Schwenke.
I think I've said this before, but at center there are two big distinctions. First, a center's job is to snap to ball and, for most teams, to make the line calls. Do the coaches have confidence in his ability to do these two things? If yes, then you can go on to the other questions. If not, then the player is a guard rather than a center. 2012 was Schwenke's first year at center after playing at guard his first three seasons, and his inexperience at the position was apparent early in his shotgun snaps. Too many of them were low in Cal's early season game against Ohio State. Per scouting reports, that was something he improved at as the season wore on, and improved technique work at the NFL level should continue to improve. Still, I'll be keeping my eye on it going forward. At the same time, according to draft analyst Eric Stoner, the Titans had about a six-hour meeting with Schwenke, one that ran so long they had to send other players home. That the Titans drafted Schwenke after that tells me they have a pretty good level of trust in him.
As a player, Schwenke went roughly where he deserved to go. He tends to play with good initial quickness, but his movement skills after that did not pop out to me. He plays with relatively good power, but needs to do more work there to become a quality NFL starter. This is not too unusual for a fourth round player. He does a good job of keeping his head up, checking for initial blitzers before helping one of the guards. That was a nice thing to see given his lack of experience, though he was sometimes a tick late reacting to what he saw. Again, this is nothing too unusual and something NFL coaching can fix. The most encouraging thing about Schwenke is the two people I trust when it comes to offensive line play, Ben Muth and Lance Zierlein, both had him as their top center in the draft.
When it comes to centers, there are roughly three tiers: the few great centers, the great morass of good enough ones, and the ones you need to upgrade. Schwenke for me is a guy who after a year on the bench is very likely to be somewhere in the good enough category. It's easier to find centers with non-premium picks, and the Titans used to do so regularly. Seeing Schwenke starting in 2014 would be a pleasant return to that tradition.