The New England Patriots signed center David Andrews to a 3-year, $9 million extension over the offseason and Andrews was named a team captain for the first time in his young career. Andrews went undrafted in 2015, but latched on as a key starter, ultimately replacing 2014 fourth round selection Bryan Stork. He’s been a real underdog story.
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick fielded a question on Tuesday about Andrews’ size and how the center- listed at 6’3, 295 pounds- is able to overcome the size gap to be a successful play.
“Well, I think there are a number of centers in the league that are around his size,” Belichick immediately replied.
And that’s true. Andrews is the #3 ranked center in the NFL according to Pro Football Focus, so I decided to look at some of the other best centers in the NFL to record their measurements. Andrews was 6’2 1/8 and 295 pounds at his Pro Day, so I’ll provide both the Pro Day and inflated team measurements for each player.
Eagles C Jason Kelce is PFF’s #1 center and he’s also listed as 6’3, 295 by the team. He measured 6’2 5/8 and 280 pounds at the 2011 NFL Combine. Cowboys C Travis Frederick is PFF’s #2 center and is 6’4, 320 pounds according to the team and measured 6’3 5/8 and 312 pounds at the 2013 NFL Combine.
Falcons C Alex Mack is PFF’s #4 center and is listed at 6’4, 311 pounds by the team and measured 6’3 7/8 and 311 pounds at his Pro Day. Raiders C Rodney Hudson is PFF’s #5 center and is listed at 6’2, 300 pounds by the team and measured 6’2 3/8 and 299 pounds at the 2011 NFL Combine; he’s one of the few players that teams list as shorter than measured.
Some other top centers like Ravens C Ryan Jensen or Steelers C Maurkice Pouncey or Rams C John Sullivan are roughly 6’4 and measure between 304 and 319 pounds. Broncos C Matt Paradis is 6’2 5/8, 300 pounds. These are all the top centers in the NFL.
So while Andrews is certainly on the smaller end of the center spectrum, he’s certainly not alone in his size and there are plenty of other centers that are roughly 6’2, 295 pounds that are excelling in the NFL. Maybe “undersized” is a title that can be thrown out for Andrews, especially based on how he’s progressed over the years.
Belichick then discussed the cerebral nature of the center position is and how Andrews is able to thrive because of his instincts.
“That position is kind of a unique position on the offensive line,” Belichick said. “It's a little bit different than the other four because of the snapping and the communication, identification of the fronts and adjustments. When you play center you're right in the middle of every play. There's no play that doesn’t involve the center or his block, so a lot of it has to do with blocking angles and how to get the most favorable position of our five guys against their five guys, the five guys that we're responsible for blocking with that group.
“A lot of times it’s the center’s job to either make a call or coordinate it or sometimes it’s the actual blocking execution and the technique that it's important to get that handled properly. David's good at all of those things. He has a lot of experience in his life playing center. I think a lot of those things come pretty naturally to him, the understanding of how far you have to go, how quickly you have to get there, how close in proximity is your teammate, where is the play designed to run and so forth. He's pretty good at all of those things. He has a good instinct for the position.”
Andrews is able to identify and make the correct blocking assignment for the entire line and communicate with the other linemen to ensure everyone is on the same page. He has “instincts,” which I think is one of the Bill Belichick codewords that he only uses for players he deems truly special.
The Patriots offensive line hasn’t been perfect in 2017, and it’s taken a major step back from its 2016 production, but the errors don’t seem to be coming from Andrews. Rarely is the flaw a mental error and it’s usually a physical or technique error that will hopefully be cleaned up over the course of the year.
Andrews is just 25 and should hold down the center position for the Patriots for a long, long time, providing consistency at the position that hasn’t existed since the departure of Dan Koppen. Andrews has improved each year in the league and should become a stalwart on the offensive line.
Oh, and as for Koppen? He was listed at 6’2, 296 pounds, just like Andrews.