its a long article but heres an exerpt and a russ grimm quote:
Seventeen of the 32 starting centers in the NFL last season were players who entered the league as fourth-round picks or lower. There were four times as many starting centers who entered the NFL as undrafted free agents (eight) than as first-round choices (two). And one of those two first-rounders, Jeff Hartings of Pittsburgh, actually was drafted by the Detroit Lions as a guard.
So, the longtime practice of rating centers somewhere between slugs and afterthoughts in the personnel pecking order pretty much continues, right?
Although it's true that only 13 centers have been chosen as first-rounders since 1970, two of those, Jeff Faine of Cleveland (2003) and Seattle's Chris Spencer (2005), have come in the last three lotteries. Since the 2000 draft, 14 centers have been chosen as first-day picks. That average, 2.3 first-day centers in the last six drafts, could increase this year with the presence of highly regarded snappers like Nick Mangold (Ohio State), Chris Chester (Oklahoma), Greg Eslinger (Minnesota) and Jason Spitz (Louisville) in the pool..........................
............................If you're going to run the football against the monster tackles everyone seems to have now," said Steelers offensive line coach Russ Grimm, a former standout guard, "you better have good [guards]. It's not just a 'plug in' position anymore, where you're kind of taking leftovers, guys who don't fit anywhere else, and just hoping to stick them into the lineup and develop them."
This year's guard contingent is very deep, and teams will still find solid blockers -- players like Rob Sims (Ohio State), Fred Matua (Southern California), Jahri Evans (Bloomsburg State) and Mark Setterstrom (Minnesota) -- in the third round and beyond. What is notable is that guard is no longer viewed as strictly a second-day position, a spot where teams load up after the third round.
One veteran scout noted that, in the last few years, he has discerned a tendency to "nudge" guards up a round, to take them a full stanza earlier than most clubs would have in the past. That trend is pushing more guards and centers into the first three rounds. Since 1994, when the NFL adopted the seven-round draft, 30 of the 90 centers selected and 60 of the 174 guards taken went off the board on the first day, a much higher quantity than in the past.
i think the light de's have been nudged up too, to play lb's in the 3-4. steelers will not be able to scoop all these unpolished gems in the midrounds like they did in the past when they were the exclusive 3-4 defense in the league.
out of all blue chippers who may fall to #32 i think we can pass on mangold the easiest. i cant see how he slips by the jets, unless they think they can get him with their early 2nd round pick. if this is the case, id like to see the steelers threaten to draft him and trade down with the jets. maybe get a high extra pick for next year or a ligh lower round pick to leverage a move up in the 2nd or 3rd round this year.