AFC West Pre-Season Shakedown – Center

Between now and the end of the month we will break down the AFC West position-by-position, rating the players in all the starting spots and other key positions. We’ll continually update totals and the team with the lowest total of points will represent the division’s best team. Players listed are expected to be in those roles at the start of the pre-season.


#1 – Stefan Wisniewski/Raiders: 6-3, 315 pounds, 24 years old, 2nd-round 2011.

It has taken Wisniewski only two seasons to reach the upper half of the NFL among starting centers. It was a natural the Raiders would draft him out of Penn State with his family link to the team through Uncle Steve. But he’s shown he was worthy of the pick #48 two years ago – last year he did not give up a sack, allowed only 2 hits on the passer and 6 quarterback hurries. He sometimes gets handsy, as evidenced by his 6 penalties. Wisniewski took 100 percent of the Oakland offensive snaps.


#2 – Dan Koppen/Broncos: 6-3, 296 pounds, will be 34 years old, 5th-round 2003.

For the second consecutive season, Koppen is stepping in for injured starter J.D. Walton who had more surgery on a left ankle injury that cost him most of last season. That procedure was done in June and there’s a chance he could be back on the practice field by November 1 if there are no future complications. That led the Broncos to re-sign Koppen, who joined them last year after a long career and several Super Bowl rings with the Patriots. On the season, he started 12 games, including the post-season encounter against Baltimore. Koppen showed over the season strong pass protection; he allowed one sack, and one other hit on Peyton Manning. He was not quite as strong in the running game. At his age and experience there’s the possibility his level of play could drop off very quickly. But given his time in the league and seasons with New England, it’s more than likely he’ll be able to perform for one more season with Manning.

#3 – Rodney Hudson/Chiefs: 6-2, 299 pounds, 24 years old, 2nd-round 2011.

For the better part of 3 games, Hudson was showing he had the ability and skill to be the division’s best pivot man. Then came his leg injury in the New Orleans game and his season was over. In that short time, he was strong in pass protection and showed movement in the running game. Hudson did not give up any sacks and allowed only a single quarterback hurry in that short period of time. If he comes back and shows the same skills, he will challenge Wisniewski for the next half-dozen years as the division’s best center.


#4 – Nick Hardwick/Chargers: 6-3, 305 pounds, will be 32 years old, 3rd-round 2004.

Once the best snapper in the division, Hardwick is on the downslide of what has been a good career with the Chargers. He started all 16 games and missed only 6 snaps all seasons. He showed his age in pass protection where he struggled, giving up 3 sacks, 4 hits on the passer and 14 quarterback hurries. He also had 4 penalties on the season. Hardwick is one of the few veterans still in the San Diego locker room and there’s no question he’s a leader on the team and has been for years. But QB Phillip Rivers needs Hardwick to play better in 2013 if possible in his 10th season in the league.

2 Responses to “AFC West Pre-Season Shakedown – Center”

  • July 10, 2013  - ChuckXX says:

    Two youngsters and two senior citizens. Will be an interesting position to watch.

  • July 10, 2013  - jimmydee says:

    Just hope he is healthy and can stay healthy. A good preseason is more than important for his development since he missed all of last year, essentially.

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