Much to the utter dismay of many Ryan Grigson recently said that the Colts are happy with the options they have at the Center position, namely Phil Costa and the much-rumored entity Khaled Holmes. This announcement caused much angst and there was gnashing of teeth and tearing of hair (not to mention llama saliva everywhere). So, I thought I would use the loads of free time one has in graduate school (seriously, highly recommend it) and take a look at who played Center for the past 10 Super Bowl winners.
|Year||SB Winner||Center||Drafted?||Experience||Cap Hit||Drafted By|
|2004||NE Patriots||Dan Koppen||5th Round||Rookie||254,000||Patriots|
|2005||NE Patriots||Dan Koppen||5th Round||2nd Year||254,000|
|2006||Pittsburgh Steelers||Jeff Hartings||1st Round||9th Year||4,094,166||Lions|
|2007||INDIANAPOLIS COLTS||Jeff Saturday||UDFA||8th Year||3,939,506||UDFA|
|2008||New York Giants||Shaun O'Hara||UDFA||6th Year||2,000,000||UDFA|
|2009||Pittsburgh Steelers||Justin Hartwig||6th Round||7th Year||1,493,260||Titans|
|2010||New Orleans Saints||Jonathan Goodwin||5th Round||7th Year||3,183,333||Jets|
|2011||Green Bay Packers||Scott Wells||7th Round||7th Year||2,700,000||Packers|
|2012||New York Giants||David Baas||2nd Round||7th Year||2,700,000||49ers|
|2013||Baltimore Ravens||Matt Birk||6th Round||12th Year||1,625,000||Vikings|
|2014||Seattle Seahawks||Max Unger||2nd Round||5th Year||6,000,000||Seahawks|
I looked to see which round these players were drafted in, how much of a salary cap hit they had the year their teams won the SB and also what letter their name started with. The results of my analysis: the Colts will have to start a new trend if they are to win the SB with either P. Costa or K. Holmes as their starting Center throughout the season, but there is no reason for doom and gloom. How can both be the case? Let’s examine why.
The average round the starting centers were drafted in was the 5th round (I entered UDFAs as 8th round picks). Khaled Holmes was drafted in the 4th round, and while many 4th round picks don’t work out, 7/10 of the past SB-winning centers were drafted AFTER the 4th round. But no team has won the SB with a center with less than 4 years of experience since the Patriots did in 2005. No worries, Phil Costa just happens to have 4 years of experience. We are set here.
The average salary of these centers was $ 2,567,570. We aren’t paying our two centers that much combined! And you say Grigson throws around a bunch of money, you naughty, you!
What really worries me is that over the last 10 years only centers with names starting with the letters D, J, S or M have the SB. So we would have to start a new trend of winning with a K-center or a P-center. That’s a tall order, although given that both J and M have won the SB, a K certainly can.
Clearly a lot – if not all – of the analysis is tongue-in-cheek. I do think that Khaled Holmes can be an adequate starter (I just showed you that winning centers can be found in the latter half of the draft), and Costa could be good competition (Yup, UDFA centers can win SBs).
Of course, this analysis is incomplete. The center does not operate in a vacuum; he is part of a unit. But I didn’t have the inclination to go back and look at ALL the starting guards for the past 10 SB winners. My point is that I would have been royally disappointed if Grigson has spent more than 10 million on Alex Mack. Now why he doesn’t sign someone like Jonathan Goodwin to a 1-year contract, I don’t know.