Not Just a Tough Cookie, Geoff Hangartner Is a Smart One Too

Danyel GeistCorrespondent IJuly 24, 2009

CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 10:  Geoff Hangartner #63 of the Carolina Panthers looks on from the bench during the game against the Arizona Cardinals during the NFC Divisional Playoff Game on January 10, 2009 at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Goodbye cold, windy weather. Hello cold, windy weather?

That's what center Duke Preston must have been thinking when he was released by the Buffalo Bills organization and picked up by the Green Bay Packers this past offseason. 

The fans, no doubt, were probably thinking something else entirely different.  Something along the lines of "Wow, I'm sure glad he's gone. Maybe the Bills will finally pick up a legit center who can hold his own against those tough AFC East defenses" or a variation of that was probably playing in the heads of fans from all over.

Luckily, the answer to our wishes was lurking around down south. 

Although the T.O. signing received a tremendous amount of attention in its early stages, the move that it overshadowed has just as much as an impact. In fact, due to the length of the signing, it may hold even more importance.

When Buffalo signed Geoff Hangartner, a former 2005 fifth round draft pick of the Carolina Panthers, to a four year deal back in February, fans began to realize how serious the front office truly is about winning.  This hard-nosed center had been a vital part of a 2008 Panthers offense that ranked seventh overall in the league for points scored.

While serving as mainly a reserve behind starter Ryan Kalil last season, the players, coaches, and fans alike still remained well aware of the asset Geoff was for the team. In fact, left tackle Jordan Gross was even quoted as saying to the front office "I told Marty to get busy. We need to sign Hangartner, make sure he's staying too." 

As if that weren't enough, blogs all over the internet were run amuck with posts from fans complaining about the effect that the loss of Hangartner would have on the depth of their centers. None of it was positive.

Some people may be wondering how a reserve could be so sorely missed by a team.  Part of that could be accredited to Geoff's versatility.  Not only can he play tough as a center, but he can also fill in as offensive tackle or offensive guard.

However, don't let Hangartner's athletic ability and tough demeanor fool you-he's not  all brawn. The 27-year old Buffalo Bills center actually has plenty of brains to go along with his physically imposing frame.

In 2005, as with the other rookies hoping for a place on an NFL roster, Geoff was administerd a Wonderlic Personnel Test. For those of you have not heard of it before, it's basically an intelligence test consisting of 50 questions to be answered in a period of 12 minutes.  Its goal is to assess the ability of prospective employees, or in this case players, to learn and problem-solve.

Hangartner impressed all when it was determined that he scored a 47 out of a possible 50. Personally, I'm no genius but I like to consider myself as having above average intelligence. In fact, I recently have taken the Wonderlic Test myself in consideration for a new job.

While I scored very well, I certainly did not even come close to Geoff's performance. The amount of questions and their difficulty is just too overwhelming to complete in only 12 minutes. I believe this speaks volumes about Hangartner's aptitude, especially considering that Vince Young reportedly only scored a 6, when quarterbacks are supposed to have the highest number on the team.

A high score on a test like that can usually convert to playing smart on the field.  A center is essentially the "center" of the team.  As a result, for an offensive line to be even slightly successful, the center has to be a combination of brainy and big.  Lucky for the Bills, Hangartner is one tough, smart cookie.