The writing was on the wall for some time, and early Friday night, it became official: Free-agent center Scott Wells will be playing else where in 2012. In a somewhat surprising move location-wise, the former Packers center agreed to terms with the St. Louis Rams.
Now that we know the Packers will be beginning a new phase at center next season, here’s a rundown on who GM Ted Thompson may call on to replace the man who made 100 career starts in Green Bay.
- Chris Myers, Houston—The Packers were reported to have some interest in the Texans center when it first appeared likely that Wells was going to sign elsewhere. In 2011, Pro Football Focus ranked Myers as the No. 1 overall center, with Wells finishing No. 4. An accomplished run-blocker who helped pave the way for the NFL’s second-best rushing offense. Both the Texans and Titans have showed interest. UPDATE: The Texans re-signed Myers Friday night. Details: 4-years, $25 million; $14 million guaranteed.
- Jeff Saturday, Indianapolis—Despite being 36 years old, Saturday had an underrated season in 2011. He allowed just two sacks over 1,000 snaps and was a top-5 center in PFF’s eyes. He’s almost certain to be too old for Thompson’s taste. It was also reported early on that Saturday is likely to look into hooking on with Peyton Manning as a package deal.
- Todd McClure, Atlanta—Another old center at 35 years old, McClure managed to keep a clean sheet in both the sack and penalty department last season. Like Saturday, he’s probably too old for Thompson to consider him even on a short-term deal. The Rams were the only team to express any early interest.
- Samson Satele, Oakland—At just 25 years old, Satele is still young enough to be a potential long-term option. 6-3, 300 lbs., Satele’s strength comes in run-blocking, where PFF rated him as the fifth-best center. He has that same gritty, undersized fight in him that made Wells a successful starting center late in his NFL career.
- Dan Koppen, New England—At 32 years old and coming off an ankle injury that cost him all but one game in 2011, Koppen comes with some risk. But we’d be remiss not to mention that PFF rated Koppen as the No. 10 overall center in 2010. A Pro Bowler in 2007, Koppen would be a big upgrade in the run-game over Wells.
- Peter Konz, Wisconsin—The consensus No. 1 center in the class, Konz is likely the one first-round quality center available in April. He may not get to the Packers at No. 28, and there’s almost zero chance he’d last into the second round.
- Ben Jones, Georgia—Jones could be a mauler in the run game early in his NFL career but needs some work protecting the passer. Given how pass-centered the Packers obviously are, Jones may not be the best fit for a guy who likely needs to start on Day 1.
- Phillip Blake, Baylor—Arguably the top pass-blocking center in the 2012 class. He’s a good athlete for being 6-2, 313 lbs. but isn’t going to dominate many defensive tackles early on at the next level. Blake’s stock is on the rise and could be an option in Round 2.
- Mike Brewster, Ohio State—Struggled to end the 2011-12 season and then put together worrying performances at both the Senior Bowl and NFL Combine. He’s more of a technician at the position, much like Wells. There’s talent here, but a lot of risk, too. Should be a mid-rounder.
- David Molk, Michigan—Blew away the combine when he put up 41 reps on the 225-pound bench press. The 2011 Remington Trophy winner, Molk may be the closest player in style and size to Wells. He’d be a great value pick in the middle rounds.