I am going to try to start up a new series for the duration of "draft season" called "Prospecting for Gold." I am not just going to focus on the big name wide receiver fellows that we all know; Floyd, Blackmon, Jeffery, etc. I am going to look at guys that I think 1) the Bears should at least consider 2) Guys who will fill a need or 3) Potential sleepers. Today I am starting with the consensus number one center in the draft, Peter Knoz, from Wisconsin. Think I'm crazy for suggesting the Bears take a center in the first round? Follow me below and see what I'm on about.
First things first, Roberto Garza filled-in admirably after the Olin Kreutz saga last summer and ended up in his first Pro-Bowl. Garza will be 33 at the start of next year, not exactly a spring chicken and despite the Pro-Bowl bid, he was ranked the ninth worst center at pass-blocking according to Pro-Football Focus. The Bears offensive line as a whole was hot garbage according to PFF, ranking them 32nd. Sure the line was improving and PFF says Lance Louis and JaMarcus Webb were by far the worst lineman, it would make sense to get a nice, young center, someone who could follow the Bears tradition of great centers like Kreutz and Hilgenberg and solidify that position for the next decade.
So Peter Konz, let's get to it, here is what CBSsports.com says about him;
Pass blocking: Possesses a solidly-built frame with a filled-out body and solid muscle definition. Naturally wide base off the snap. Does a nice job sinking his hips and playing with consistent pad level, sitting in his stance with steady balance. Shoots his hands into defenders with very good placement, flashing strong hands to sustain blocks for an extended period of time. Taller for the center position and will allow his upper body to get high at times. Understands blocking angles.
Run blocking: A physical run blocker with raw power and strength at the point of attack. Gets very good initial push off the snap. Does a nice job with body positioning, walling off defenders to seal run lanes. Not a quick-twitch mover and looks a tad uncoordinated in tight spaces.
Pulling/trapping: Athletic and mobile, blocking well in space and pulling towards either sideline. Shows natural instincts with a very good feel for the position, keeping his eyes elevated and always looking for someone to block.
Walter Football lists some weaknesses for him, including concern about an ankle injury, the fact that he didn't play elite speed rushers and that he played in a favorable system at Wisconsin. However, they also point out:
NFL Matches: Chicago, Tennessee, Detroit, New Orleans, San Francisco, Houston, Baltimore
The Bears need a center and they have the first shot at Konz. Chicago could replace Olin Kreutz with a center who looks like a decade-long answer at the position. Tennessee likewise needs to replace the void that Kevin Mawae left behind.
So why not? We got one good Wisconsin lineman last year, what's wrong with another? It's not like Wisconsin has been turning out busts on the offensive line, they continue to turn out NFL-ready run blockers and pass blockers.
I'll give you all a scenario here: Floyd comes off the board, Blackmon is long gone, Courtney Upshaw is gone along with Quinton Coples. You wouldn't want to take the best available center over a tackle with some questions, like Mike Adams or the third or fourth best pass-rusher? I think we can all agree we'd pass on Kendall Wright for someone with more size.
If this scenario (admittedly sort of far-fetched), played out, I'd be very happy with the Bears landing Konz.