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2023 NFL Draft Preview: Scouting report on Minnesota center John Michael Schmitz

The Seahawks need a new center. Is John Michael Schmitz the answer?

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 28 Guaranteed Rate Bowl - West Virginia v Minnesota Photo by Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The need for offensive line help for the Seattle Seahawks was something that was lightly discussed entering the offseason. However, with the recent release of guard Gabe Jackson and center Austin Blythe’s retirement, addressing the interior offensive line has suddenly become a lot more of a pressing need. Seattle does have Damien Lewis to hold down the left guard spot, but center and right guard are quickly becoming concerning question marks. Seattle does have the capital necessary to address one of those positions early in the draft.

Unfortunately, though, this is a class that lacks a true-blue chip interior offensive lineman, unless you view Northwestern’s Peter Skoronski as a guard rather than a tackle. As a result, it is likely we see Seattle select a guard or center later in Day 2 or sometime on Day 3. One of the potential candidates for that selection is Minnesota center John Michael Schmitz, who we are going to discuss down below.

Height - 6 foot 3 - Weight - 301 pounds

Games watched - 2021 Ohio State - 2022 Michigan State, Illinois, Penn State, Purdue

Relative Athletic Score (RAS)


  • Schmitz has a fantastic understanding of when to hand off stunts, seamlessly allowing him to take on the free blitzer with no problem. He does not panic in these situations, getting his body square to the line of scrimmage to receive the defender and guide them away from the quarterback.
  • His overall FBI (football intelligence) is also shown when he is free as a help blocker. He traditionally slides to one side but keeps his opposite arm free and out to feel for an additional blitzer or as an indicator if the other guard got beaten to the inside. In instances in which he does have to come off of his initial help block to pick up another player he does not get panicked as he stays light on his toes and keeps an even base.
  • In the passing game, his hand strike point is consistently accurate right into the chest.
  • In the running game his best attribute is his eyes and overall awareness to free running lanes, especially on wide zone runs. When doubling a defender on wide zones, he does a great job at staying engaged to the inside of the defender but also keeping his eyes on the middle of the field in case a defender crashes down. In instances where one does, he is able to quickly come off of his initial block and meet the defender in the hole to help seal off the cut back lane.
  • On plays where there are no defenders who are crashing down from the opposite side, he does a good job at getting his shoulders square to the line of scrimmage. He gets a little more up field and seals off the double leaving the defender with no way of getting involved on the play.
  • He remains light on his toes in the running game especially on reach blocks, maintaining a solid base width which allows him to adjust if necessary and stay engaged.


  • His hands are not heavy and as a result he is unable to set defenders back at the contact point.
  • Schmitz does have a tendency to get set back by defenders with heavy hands, but he is able to anchor down against them. He needs to work on getting a bit more bend in his hips and knees to increase his play strength especially when facing 0-tech tackles.
  • Schmitz is too upright as a blocker in the passing game, which impacts his ability to gain leverage on defenders, often giving them the upper hand in the tempo of the block.
  • He does struggle against more advanced pass rush moves; he was especially susceptible to push and pull moves as well as rips.
  • Schmitz lacks a mean streak as a blocker.
  • Schmitz does lack power in the running game, and it shows at the first two levels of the field. He is often too upright as a blocker which makes it a bit more difficult for him to move defenders when engaged with them on an island.
  • He does not overpower linebackers in the manner you would like to see an offensive lineman do. There are some instances where linebackers are able to set him back in space and then easily disengage from him.
  • In short yardage situations, Michael Schmitz struggles mightily to gain leverage on defenders. They are routinely able to dive down below him, where he instead often moves his shoulder forward parallel to the floor or at a bit of an upward angle.
  • He is slow to swipe off of blocks at the line of scrimmage, often staying engaged with first level defenders too long. By the time he comes off and moves up to the second level he is already beaten to the spot. When he is quick off of the first block, his angles to second level defenders are poor as he often runs to where the defender is rather than trying to seal them off based on where they are moving.

Floor/ceiling - Michael Schmitz’s awareness, eyes, FBI, quickness out of his stance, experience and body flexibility gives him the ceiling of a solid starter. However, his struggles at the second level and in space, lack of heavy hands, inconsistent play strength and inability to gain consistent leverage give him the floor of a limited backup.

Grade - 6.4 - Low end starter on the first day of his second season - Day 2 pick-4th round.

Grade explanation - Schmitz is not likely be an All-Pro center and likely won’t become a Pro Bowl center. However, he has enough sufficient to good traits that will allow him to become the type of center where a team can feel comfortable starting him 17 games a season. His shortcomings in both the running and passing game do give me some cause for concern, but not enough to make me say avoid him as a prospect. He is extremely smart which is something that is going to give him a leg up on most rookie offensive lineman and will give him a shot at starting Day 1.

Schematic fit - Schmitz projects best as a low-end starting center in a man blocking scheme where he is doubling defenders at the line of scrimmage. He can play in a zone blocking scheme but only if he is near the line of scrimmage rather than progressing to the second level to block defenders. He did play left tackle in high school but was exclusively a center in college, so his versatility is questionable.

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