The first person to touch the football on any given play is usually the person most quickly forgotten once the action starts. A good center is more than just a snapper—he's making line calls before the snap, identifying blitzing linebackers and shifting protections to best keep the franchise's poster-boy quarterback safe and sound.
The center position isn't glamorous, but there are few spots on the roster more important to the life of a football team. Who are the best at what centers do?
To find out, we've determined what makes up a great center and which players best represent those traits. The quest comes as part of the B/R NFL 1,000. The new series offers an in-depth look at every position in the NFL, breaking down players' skills in a way never before seen on the Internet.
B/R 1,000 rankings don't assess who had the best year or even who has the most potential. Rather players—in this case, centers—are judged on their current skills and mechanics, based on film study of the 2011 NFL preseason and regular season only.
After hours spent scouting every starter and every potential starter, the top 32 centers have been scored in 10 criteria (here's more on the criteria). In the slides that follow, we'll explain each player's strengths and weaknesses as the final ranking is revealed.