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The Center Position Might Require A Lilttle Patience


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Mike Person now in his 5th year in the league has never taken a snap in a regular season game outside of special team until last Monday night against Philadelphia. Person is on his 5th team in 5 years. Drafted by the 49ers in the 7th round in 2011, Person has been associated with 3 out of 4 teams in one of the most physical division in football, the NFC West. Coach Quinn motto is fast and physical. In college Person was a 4 year starter at LT for Montana State. In 2011 Person spent the entire season as Anthony Davis backup @ RT with the 9ers. In 2012 he was cut by the 9ers and claimed by the Colts and was cut the first week of the season. Seattle picked him up immediately following his release from the Colts and placed him on their practice squad until week 9 when Seattle activated him to the 53 man roster. Person spent the remainder of the season as Breno Giacomini backup @ RT. In 2013 Person made Seattle 53 man roster and was the backup to Breno Giacomini @ RT until week 2 before being cut. The Rams claimed Person in week 3 of the 2013 season and placed him on the 53 man roster as the 3rd string RT behind Rodger Saffold and Joe Barksdale. In 2014 the Rams switched him to LG and he was the backup to Greg Robinson until former Ram and current Falcon Jake Long got injured. The Rams made some changes to the line by shifting players around but Person still did not crack the lineup. They ended up moving Robinson to LT, Saffold to LG, and inserting Barksdale to Saffold RT position. Person remained the top backup at LG and RT. In 2015 Person joined the Falcons as the assumed starting LG for the departed Justin Blalock, but obviously Chris Morgan did not feel comfortable with Hawley health and cross trained Person at center, a position he never played, at least at the professional or collegiate level.

- I believe Person association with the physical NFC West helped him get a gig with the Falcons, especially since Coach Quinn preaches physicality.

- Tom Cable, Seahawks OL coach and ZBS guru probably had some influence on his understudy and former assistant, Chris Morgan decision.

- I don't think he will be a pro-bowler or anything but with more reps I believe he will be at least average. Snapping the ball is his main issue right now.

Gino Gradkowski now in his 4th year in the league, situation is a little different from Mike Person but not too much. Drafted by the Ravens in 2012 Gradkowski sat as a backup his rookie season, but started a full season at center his sophomore season after solely playing left and right guard at Deleware University. 2013, Gradkowski first season starting did not go as planned (It was horrible). The undersized center did not fit the physicality Baltimore envisioned when they had him start at center in their power blocking system. In 2014, unlike Quinn, but more so Kyle Shanahan, Gary Kubiak went out and traded for a center in Jeremy Zuttah and gave Gradkowski competition. Gradkowski loss the competition and was the back-up last season. Traded to the Broncos this offseason, Gradkowski had a fairly decent preseason,but was beat out by Broncos 2014 6th round pick Matt Paradis. With a salary cap hit of 1.5M, John Elway figured that was too much as a backup and claimed James Ferentz off of waivers and released Gradkowski. Gradkowski is now a back-up to Mike Person but has a year experience in a ZBS just in case.

- Not sure if Gradkowski would be on this team had Hawley been healthy. The injuries to most of our offensive linemans put a strain on Shanahan evaluation in determining if the players we had fit his system.

- Gradkowski was terrible in 2013, but to be fair that system did not fit him and he never played center on this level before.

- Although he was rated the worst center in 2013 by PFF I think he is better than Konz and we were stuck with him for 3 years. Gradkowski is now a back-up for a scheme that fits him better. Although GM's miss on draft picks, GM Ozzie Newsome is respected as one of the league best evaluator in the league and he drafted him with the 98th pick in 2012, so he had to see something. GM, Trent Baalke also wanted him in the draft.

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Chester played good at C for WAS. Probably better than either of those two guys will ever be. Stone also has potential at C.

I think they are allowing Stone to learn the game more before he goes back out there. We still have to remember he is only 23 and on his second year with a new offense and a new head coach. Stone will find his way back. Person did some good things and bad things on Monday night. The bad things, were very rookie like mistakes. Here is to hoping that the Falcons find the solution.

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It really is amazing that a guy with his history of barely being on a team and never playing center is now our starting center. I really hope he gets better quickly and hopefully we can sign Alex Mack next season.

I believe Gino is Shanny's guy. He is just learning the playbook. He will be starter by week five, same with Long.

The reason for my confidence in Gino is strictly on the coaches tell Dimitroff who they want and he has been delivering thus far.

Edited by GATXBOI
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Good thing for Person is that he has some familiarity with the ZBS from his time in Seattle. Changing from one position to another does take time, especially the center position where that player is responsible for knowing and calling out the D, so the oline can be in sync. Like someone mentioned, with more reps the more experience Person will get. If everyone stays healthy the line should start to really gel by week 7. As for Gino I think he remains a backup, unless he outperforms Person in practice.

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if you consider that was Persons first official game at Center in ever, and his first NFL start period, he played pretty good

This is exactly what I was thinking.Not only was it is his first real game at Center, I want to say this was his first regular season game period. Person did not do a bad job at all.

Person only gave up one QB hurry and the only sack was given up by Levitre

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Thanks for posting as this is one of the more complicated issues our team faces. The center is ultra important for many reasons and to start the season with a guy who never has seen live game action snapping the ball and calling protections is quite amazing. I know Jeanna thinks it's only a matter of time before Gradkowski is moved to the starting line-up so who know how this will look by week 8-9..

I do however feel like we have depth all of a sudden which was not the case 2 weeks ago.

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I think they are allowing Stone to learn the game more before he goes back out there. We still have to remember he is only 23 and on his second year with a new offense and a new head coach. Stone will find his way back. Person did some good things and bad things on Monday night. The bad things, were very rookie like mistakes. Here is to hoping that the Falcons find the solution.

lol
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Chester played good at C for WAS. Probably better than either of those two guys will ever be. Stone also has potential at C.

I also wondered why Chester hasn't been given an opportunity at the pivot. I knew he played there some in Baltimore and maybe Washington.

Aside from some bad snaps Person held his own on Monday night. Wouldn't be surprised if Gino or Stone take over at some point however.

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Agreed. There was a lot of "well, he's a starter" when we signed Gradkowski, but he was widely mocked for being horrific in Baltimore.

Matt Birk: Gino Gradkowski Is 'The Guy'

Posted Mar 2, 2014

RyanMink.jpg Ryan Mink BaltimoreRavens.com Staff Writer @Ravens

Matt Birk spent a year mentoring Gino Gradkowskiicon-article-link.gif. Then he spent a year watching him.

After Gradkowski’s up-and-down 2013 season replacing Birk as the Ravens’ starting center, the elder statesman is as convinced as ever that Gradkowski is still the long-term solution despite media and fan chatter that the Ravens need a change.

“He is the guy, no question,” said Birk, who was back in Baltimore Thursday to promote his new book, “All-Pro Wisdom: The 7 Choices That Lead to Greatness.”

“It’s a process. It’s a journey. I think the best thing Gino has going for him is his attitude and his character. That comes through when you’re playing football. As a Ravens fan myself, I don’t worry about Gino.”

According to Pro Football Focus (PFF), Gradkowski started the year with five straight negative performances. His play leveled out after that. He had five games with either neutral or positive grades. On the year, Gradkowski received a -5.9 grade for his run blocking and -14.2 in pass blocking from PFF.

It wasn’t Gradkowski’s size that gave him the most trouble. He held up well physically for the most part, he said after the year.

It was the mental part of the game that took adjusting. It was a matter of reading defenses, including complex blitzes, and making calls at the line to get the unit on the same page.

“It’s challenging,” Birk said. “Until you do it, you don’t really know what you don’t know. That’s why experience is so valuable. Failure is the great teacher.”

Birk said Gradkowski will have an opportunity this offseason to slow down and evaluate himself with a different perspective – introspection that the hustle and bustle of the season doesn’t allow for.

It took Birk three years to become a starter in the NFL. Once he did, in 2000, he went to the Pro Bowl. He credited that in part to having excellent linemen around him. Gradkowski had an injured left guard (Kelechi Osemeleicon-article-link.gif) next to him and turnover at left tackle.

“Gino played well. He battled his butt off, which I knew he would,” Birk said.

“He prepares the right way and does everything the right way. Those are the kinds of things you want. There’s no substitute for game experience in the NFL and I’m sure Gino learned a lot. He’ll pick up right where he left off and be better this year.”

I think his problem is he can't play anything but Center and that's the one position Denver got locked. Kubiak was the OC in Baltimore and when he went to Denver they traded a pick for Gradkowski. you don't trade picks for players that are awful. with better talent next to him Gradkowski might look a lot better.

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Matt Birk: Gino Gradkowski Is 'The Guy'

Posted Mar 2, 2014

RyanMink.jpg Ryan Mink BaltimoreRavens.com Staff Writer @Ravens

Matt Birk spent a year mentoring Gino Gradkowskiicon-article-link.gif. Then he spent a year watching him.

After Gradkowski’s up-and-down 2013 season replacing Birk as the Ravens’ starting center, the elder statesman is as convinced as ever that Gradkowski is still the long-term solution despite media and fan chatter that the Ravens need a change.

“He is the guy, no question,” said Birk, who was back in Baltimore Thursday to promote his new book, “All-Pro Wisdom: The 7 Choices That Lead to Greatness.”

“It’s a process. It’s a journey. I think the best thing Gino has going for him is his attitude and his character. That comes through when you’re playing football. As a Ravens fan myself, I don’t worry about Gino.”

According to Pro Football Focus (PFF), Gradkowski started the year with five straight negative performances. His play leveled out after that. He had five games with either neutral or positive grades. On the year, Gradkowski received a -5.9 grade for his run blocking and -14.2 in pass blocking from PFF.

It wasn’t Gradkowski’s size that gave him the most trouble. He held up well physically for the most part, he said after the year.

It was the mental part of the game that took adjusting. It was a matter of reading defenses, including complex blitzes, and making calls at the line to get the unit on the same page.

“It’s challenging,” Birk said. “Until you do it, you don’t really know what you don’t know. That’s why experience is so valuable. Failure is the great teacher.”

Birk said Gradkowski will have an opportunity this offseason to slow down and evaluate himself with a different perspective – introspection that the hustle and bustle of the season doesn’t allow for.

It took Birk three years to become a starter in the NFL. Once he did, in 2000, he went to the Pro Bowl. He credited that in part to having excellent linemen around him. Gradkowski had an injured left guard (Kelechi Osemeleicon-article-link.gif) next to him and turnover at left tackle.

“Gino played well. He battled his butt off, which I knew he would,” Birk said.

“He prepares the right way and does everything the right way. Those are the kinds of things you want. There’s no substitute for game experience in the NFL and I’m sure Gino learned a lot. He’ll pick up right where he left off and be better this year.”

I think his problem is he can't play anything but Center and that's the one position Denver got locked. Kubiak was the OC in Baltimore and when he went to Denver they traded a pick for Gradkowski. you don't trade picks for players that are awful. with better talent next to him Gradkowski might look a lot better.

Good article. The few games I seen him play he wasn't good, but obviously he had some ok games.

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