Strengths: Athleticism, power, talent
Weaknesses: Technique, awareness, contract
In Brief: Tim Ruskell started his dynasty construction with an all-talent project pick. Take that stereotypes! The layman's view of Spencer is that he sucks. He doesn't. Spencer's early career supports the idea that a prospect's potential is capped not just by his athleticism, but by his skills. Spencer's mistakes tend to reverberate. He also might be injury prone. This and Mike Holmgren's published scorn has made Spencer a bit of a lightning rod. Spencer has become the face of a failed offensive line.
That's all a bit trumped up. Before being shutdown after week 12, Spencer had started 44 consecutive games including the playoffs. And I think "shutdown" is the proper word, because had Seattle been in contention, I think Spencer could have played. In his last two seasons, 27 regular season games, Spencer has only been penalized four times, including just one hold, and has allowed just three sacks. Seattle drafted Spencer for his future, and he's made clear and steady improvement. No player should benefit as much from a zone blocking system. Watch this draft. Seattle has something of a backup center in Steve Vallos, and Mansfield Wrotto sometimes sees practice snaps, so there's some kind of depth. If Seattle selects a high profile center, it's moving on, and though I've before stated this might be eventual, the more I think about it, the less I like it. I wouldn't pay Jason Brown money for Spencer, but then no team before the Browns ever had for a center, but I wouldn't balk at Andre Gurode money. Nor would Spencer's agent. And instead of nurturing a high-talent pick through his growing pains and giving up prematurely, Seattle could get the best of Spencer, a best that could still be All-Pro good.
1. Alex Mack: Centers are not often taken in the first, so don't be surprised if Mack makes it to Seattle in the second. Center is no longer the resort of failed guards. Complex blitzes and dominant nose tackles have put a premium on true centers. Regardless, Mack isn't a great fit for Seattle. He's a step below Spencer in pop and agility, and his best skills, line reads and pre-snap awareness, would be squandered in a zone system. Some team is going to draft Mack and be happy, but I doubt that team is Seattle. Too much. Too early.
2. Eric Wood: Wood has a wide frame that screams real power. He's a good blocker in space, but not super agile. His pass-blocking is suspect. I'm not sure Wood wouldn't make a better guard. I'm less concerned about his ability to pull out and assist on the second level as his ability to retreat and engage free defenders inside the pocket. He has lots of the markings of a Tim Ruskell pick, from character to experience, but not a Tim Ruskell line pick. He's a technical blocker that's got good power, but not great athleticism or versatile power. The latter meaning: he can lay a pop but only when squared. Wood like Mack is very polished.
3. Antoine Caldwell: My favorite center in this class, the only one I would really be excited for Seattle to draft, and I think the best talent in his class, Caldwell is a good fit for what Seattle is attempting, complaints about athleticism be damned. See, Caldwell is slow on the track, at the Combine he made bending look like a chore, but he has great footwork and takes precise angles, making his on-field agility more than functional, but good. Caldwell gets under defenders and delivers a jolt. It's that use of leverage the really separates Caldwell from other centers in his class. He's the one center I've seen that can consistently jar defenders, off the snap and on the move.
4. Jonathan Luigs: A workmanlike center, rounded but not flashy, Luigs is a good example of the center talent available even in the mid-rounds. The big knock on Luigs is he doesn't pop, and in that sense, he's a lot like Max Unger: Big guys that move well and are competent in most ways, but won't power the interior rushing attack. Luigs has a wide frame and solid skills, and should stick in the league.
One more guy for the road...
Blake Sclueter: I haven't had a chance to watch him, but he's received some good pub.