Many fans thought that the Denver Broncos would be big players in the free agent market to upgrade the center position. However, the team didn’t spend on any of the top-tier players available and only brought in Kyle Fuller as a depth option.
Former third-round selection Lloyd Cushenberry is entering the final season of his rookie deal and Luke Wattenberg, a fifth-round selection in last year’s draft, didn’t look good at all in the limited reps he played as a rookie.
Perhaps the Broncos are more comfortable with Cushenberry than fans would like to believe—or maybe, just maybe—George Paton and Sean Payton are crossing their fingers hoping one of the best center prospects in this year’s draft fall to them when they are slated to be on the clock.
One player I believe would be a good option for the Broncos to consider is Ohio State standout Luke Wypler. Let’s take a deeper look at his collegiate career and how he projects at the next level.
Luke Wypler — Center — Ohio State
Wypler was a four-start recruit coming out of St. Joseph Regional in Montvale, New Jersey. Most outlets had him ranked as one of the best prep centers in the entire nation and a Top 125 overall player in his recruiting class.
He received offers from virtually every big-named program in the nation, but decided to commit to Ohio State. He only played in one game in 2020, but became a full-time starter in his second season in 2021 and never looked back. Over the past two seasons, he started 26 games for the Buckeyes and solidified himself as one of the nation’s best interior offensive lineman.
With several years of eligibility remaining, some were surprised when he declared early for the 2023 NFL Draft. However, many scouts believe his best football is ahead of him and eventually think he will develop into a top-tier center in the NFL.
Height: 6’3” Weight: 303 lbs.
Bench Press: 29 reps | Arm Length: 31 5/8” | Hands: 9 5/8”
40 Yard Dash: 5.14 | 3 Cone Drill: 7.64 | 20 Yard Shuttle: 4.53
Film Room and Highlights
Positives: Key cog in the Buckeyes’ high-powered offense. Quality pass protector who registered over 1,600 snaps the past two seasons and only allowed one sack. Very good athlete for the position. He is quick off the snap and has the ability to reach, climb, and get to the second-level with ease. Highly-efficient when asked to pull and play on the move as a run blocker. Top-tier fit for teams employing a heavy zone-based rushing attack. Extremely intelligent and respected as a great communicator. Dedicated to improving his craft and has the potential to become a really good pro.
Negatives: Average size for the position. Very short arms which causes him issues with sustaining blocks and maintaining leverage at the point of attack. Susceptible to getting beat by power players on the interior. Needs to continue to add strength to combat the aforementioned issue. While he didn’t allow many sacks or pressures, he did show some lapses in recognizing exotic pressures and delayed blitzes.
Overall: Late Day 2, Early Day 3 selection.
Wypler’s Fit With the Broncos
Wisconsin’s Joe Tippman and Minnesota’s John Michael-Schmitz are widely regarded as the top two centers in this year’s draft and considered Top 75 locks. And there is a good shot both of them are Day 1 starters in the NFL.
After them, I believe there is a decent gap in overall talent with Wypler being in that second-tier of center prospects. That being said, I don’t love the idea of the Broncos using one of their top two selections on Wypler, but if they were able to trade down and acquire extra picks, I feel that he would present good value at the end of Day 2 or early on Day 3.
There is a lot to like about his game, but in my opinion, he will likely need one full season to get stronger and acclimated to the pros before taking over as a starter for who drafts them. That’s something worth betting on in the area mentioned, but would prefer the Broncos address a position where length-to-impact is more immediate and can reap the benefits right away.