So Your Team Drafted Matt Stankiewitch

Congratulations on your new center! First things first, though, you've got to learn how to pronounce his name. Don't call him "Stanky Witch." It's "Stan-Kav-Ich." I know, kind of a bummer.

But anyway, you've stumbled on a little secret that isn't too well known outside of State College. Penn State's known as Linebacker U, and we're proud of all the defensive linemen we've been churning out under Larry Johnson's tenure, but Stank is about to become the third Nittany Lion center selected in the past five drafts--after A.Q. Shipley and Stefen Wisniewski. Oh, and Rich Ohrnberger, who was drafted as a guard, made the position switch and started there for Arizona last year, too. The offensive line hasn't always been a position of strength, but play center here, and you've got a pretty good shot to go pro.

Stank certainly has a lesser pedigree than Wisniewski--who was a second round pick--or even than A.Q Shipley--who slipped to the 7th round despite winning the Rimington Award as college football's best center in his senior year--though the resume isn't unimpressive. He was a Rimington Award finalist in his own right, a first-team All Big Ten performer, and an invitee to the Shrine Game.

But it's going to be a little more difficult for Stankiewitch to shed the "great college lineman" tag that's sure to dog him into next week's draft. At under 300 pounds (if only by one), he's among the smaller centers in this year's class, and although he's got a terrific motor and solid fundamentals, most NFL teams these days are looking for players who are either bigger and stronger--to provide versatility--or who have better footwork and more athleticism--to fit into a zone-blocking scheme. Stankiewitch didn't embarrass himself, but he didn't turn any heads with a middling performance at the combine.

But here's the thing: Stank is smart, he's a hard worker, and he is a technically sound center. Those three traits mean that he's more likely to stick around in the pros even as a 6th or 7th round draft pick than some hulking 330-pound behemoth drafted a round or two earlier. As Shipley and Ohrberger have proved in the past few years, all these former Lions need is a shot.

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