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Draft Snapshot: 10 Takes on Centers in 2017 NFL Draft

The clock is ticking on the 2017 NFL Draft.

One of the league's most important events kicks off with the first round at 7 p.m. (CT) on April 27 in Philadelphia. The second and third rounds begin at 6 p.m. (CT) on April 28. Rounds 4-7 start at 11 a.m. (CT) on April 29.

The Vikings currently have eight selections in the draft, beginning with the 48th overall pick, which is the No. 16 spot in the second round.

Vikings.com is taking a glance at the top prospects at each position leading up to the draft. 

Up next: the center position.

Where the Vikings Stand

Minnesota returns both of its centers from a year ago in Joe Berger and Nick Easton. Berger began the season as the starter and was the man in the middle for the first 11 games of the year. He missed two games and played the final three games at both guard spots. Easton, a Harvard grad, played in 11 games and started the final five games at center in 2016. 

Recent Draft History (over past five years)

Total number of centers taken: 29

Round 1: 2

Round 2: 1

Round 3: 5

Round 4: 8

Round 5: 2

Round 6: 6

Round 7: 5

The selection of centers  in the first two rounds of recent drafts have been scarce. Teams usually wait until the third and final day of the draft to address the position. Berger, a sixth-round pick, is an example of a late draftee.

The Prospects (based on rankings by CBS Sports)

1. Pat Elflein

Ohio State, Redshirt senior, 6-foot-3, 303 pounds

Combine numbers

40-yard dash:* *5.32 seconds

Bench press: 22 reps of 225 pounds

Vertical jump: 23.5 inches

Broad jump: 8 feet, 3 inches

3-cone drill: 7.94 seconds

20-yard shuttle: 4.71 seconds

2016 stats: started all 13 games; Rimington Trophy Award winner as the top center in the country; consensus All-American selection; First-Team All-Big Ten choice

Hot take: According to Rob Rang of CBS Sports, Elflein "looks the part of an NFL interior lineman with a powerful, well-distributed frame including thick limbs and a stout core. Good initial quickness to snap and stab at opponents, showing generally good hand placement and power to stop the defender's initial surge. Impressive functional power."

Rang also noted Elflein "can get lazy with his fundamentals, failing to play on the balls of his feet and sliding to mirror, instead relying on his initial punch to contain opponents. Allows his hands to get outside of the numbers at times, drawing holding penalties. Almost too aggressive."

2. Ethan Pocic

LSU, Senior, 6-foot-6, 310 pounds

Combine numbers

40-yard dash:* *5.15 seconds

Bench press: 26 reps of 225 pounds

Vertical jump: 27 inches

Broad jump: 8 feet, 11 inches

3-cone drill: 7.89 seconds

20-yard shuttle: 4.81 seconds

2016 stats: started all 12 games for LSU, including 11 at center and one at right tackle; consensus All-American selection; First-Team All-SEC honoree by coaches and Associated Press

Hot take: According to Lance Zierlein of NFL.com, Pocic is a "five-for-one lineman offering roster flexibility; has played tackle, guard and center. Determined player. Shoots hands inside defenders frame and keeps them there. Shows the hand strength and body control to 'ride the bull' against stronger players while remaining engaged."

Zierlein also noted Pocic is "tall for a center, losing some leverage battles because of it. Athletic ability offset by below-average core strength. Doesn't play with the pad level or leg drive to uproot defenders without help. Gets jarred by power across from him."

3. Tyler Orlosky

West Virginia, Redshirt senior, 6-foot-3, 298 pounds

Combine numbers

Bench press: 24 reps of 225 pounds

2016 stats: started all 13 games at center; First-Team All-Big 12 selection

Hot take: According to Dane Brugler of CBS Sports, Orlosky is "quick off the ball with strong hands to latch-and-control. Flexible coil and stays relaxed prior to his punch. Alert, intelligent decision-maker and scans quickly to deciphers movements. Balanced steps to attain angles vs. gap penetrators and open run lanes. Seasoned and well-versed with various blocking schemes." 

Brugler also noted that Orlosky "lacks explosive movements in his snap-to-step motion. Average-at-best space athlete due to some lower body stiffness. Needs to improve his knee bend and pad level to better sink-and-leverage at the point of attack."

4. Kyle Fuller

Baylor, Redshirt senior, 6-foot-5, 307 pounds

Combine numbers

40-yard dash:* *5.24 seconds

Bench press: 23 reps of 225 pounds

Vertical jump: 26 inches

Broad jump: 8 feet

3-cone drill: 7.71 seconds

20-yard shuttle: 4.84 seconds

2016 stats: started all 13 games at center; First-Team All-Big 12 selection; played in Reese's Senior Bowl

Hot take: According to Lance Zierlein of CBS Sports, Fuller has "excellent size and length for the position. Arms over 34 inches long. Has frame to counter big nose guards. Snaps and immediately broadens base in pass pro. Uses efficient path to punch with hands, shooting straight to target with desired placement."

Zierlein also noted Fuller has "below-average athletic ability. Combination blocks are a struggle. Stays glued to secure block and allows linebacker to cross his face before making contact on the climb. Below-average movement skills hidden by Baylor offense."

5. Cameron Tom

Southern Mississippi, Senior, 6-foot-3, 291 pounds

Combine numbers

Did not attend

2016 stats: started all 13 games for Eagles; First-Team All-Conference USA selection

Hot take: According to Rob Rang of CBS Sports, Tom "looks the part of an NFL lineman with broad shoulders, long arms and tapered frame. Intriguing initial quickness and agility for the position. Easily slips to the second level as a run blocker and possesses the balance and awareness to stalk and secure moving targets once there."

Rang also noted Tom "lacks the bulk preferred inside. Reliant upon his quickness and use of leverage to seal off or cut defenders and struggles to generate movement in short yardage situations when covered up by a nose guard."

6. Jon Toth

Kentucky, Redshirt senior, 6-foot-5, 307 pounds

Combine numbers

40-yard dash:* *5.51 seconds

Bench press: 21 reps of 225 pounds

Vertical jump: 25.5 inches

Broad jump: 8 feet, 4 inches

3-cone drill: 8.09 seconds

20-yard shuttle: 4.84 seconds

2016 stats: Started all 13 games for Kentucky; First-Team All-SEC selection by Associated Press; Second-Team All-SEC selection by conference coaches

Hot take: According to Rob Rang of CBS Sports, Toth has "good size for center with enough length and agility to project outside to guard for zone-blocking schemes. Possesses a broad-shouldered rangy frame with plenty of room for additional muscle mass. Technically sound pass protector who can absorb bull rushers due to his knee bend and core flexibility."

According to Rang, Toth is "more of a corral than control type of blocker, lacking much of a power element to his game. Reliant upon his use of leverage and quickness to wall off defenders and create rushing lanes but struggles with physically driving opponents off the ball."

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