They say the center is the smartest guy on the football team. You have to have a really high football I.Q. in order to recognize defensive schemes, contribute to play calling, snap the ball, and then get your head up quick enough to protect your number one man from oncoming traffic. UCLA’s smartest man is now going to test his I.Q. at the next level.
Scott Quessenberry finished his UCLA Bruins career with 44 starts at guard, tackle, and center. As a sophomore, he was part of the line that allowed Paul Perkins to carve up the field and get to the number two spot on UCLA’s total rushing yards list. His junior year, he moved to center and was named to the first-team 2016 Pac-12 Conference All-Conference squad. For his final year at UCLA he was named to numerous watch lists and helped the line improve a full rushing yard per carry.
Quessenberry had a decent showing at the NFL Combine, and his flexibility playing at every position will make him more marketable in the draft. He ran a pretty quick 40-yard dash for his size (5.09 seconds), so his athleticism will also make him look good for draft weekend.
Quessenberry can read defenses and set himself up for possible blitzes, but also change gears if the blitz doesn’t happen. He can hold onto his opponents with a vice-like grip, and does well in one-on-one battles. He doesn’t give up when he’s got an attacker coming at him, and can reset his balance in order to avoid losing his hold and allow a defenseman through.
Where Scott is quick and strong off the initial snap, following through on blocks can be an issue. Physically, he doesn’t have a lot of length, and long-armed defenders can give him trouble. He has a tendency to leave an open path to the quarterback if his initial block isn’t on target, and his double shoulder surgery in 2015, which doesn’t appear to affect his performance, will be a concern.
NFL.com has compared Quessenberry to Evan Boehm, who plays center for the Arizona Cardinals. He was drafted in the fourth round, 128th overall, in the 2016 NFL draft. Boehm has also played right guard for the Cardinals.
I think we’re looking at a late pick for Quessenberry. He certainly has the talent to be a backup early in his career, with possible starts at center after learning the ropes in the NFL. NFL.com has him getting drafted in rounds four or five, with a draft grade in the “Better-than-average chance to make NFL roster” category.