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John Michael Schmitz is an Absolute Mauler | Washington Commanders


By Adam Aniba


The 2023 has a deep crop of talent along the offensive line. Although the tackles are the headliners, a few interior lineman have stood out from the rest. We've seen how important the center position can be and is slowly becoming more of a premium position again in the NFL.


Minnesota's John Michael Schmitz has emerged as the top center in this year's draft and has the ceiling to be an All Pro in time.



John Michael Schmitz

6'3.5" 301 lbs | C | MIN

Draft Proj 2nd Rd

Background,

Schmitz grew up in Flossmoor, Ill and was a star left tackle for the Flossmoor HS Vikings, in addition to lettering in wrestling. He was part of a unit that averaged 40 points a game and had a 20-3 record during his final two seasons. Schmitz also saw time at center and guard


For his efforts he was named to the IHSFCA 8A All-State Team, Southwestern Suburban All-Conference Team, Chicago Tribune All-State Team (senior season) and was a consensus 3-star recruit per ESPN.


Although Schmitz was revered for his play at tackle, a high ranking area scout ranked him as the #1 center in the Midwest and #3 center in the nation, based on his limited snaps at center. He was also ranked as the #14 guard in Illinois by ESPN.


Schmitz received offers from Buffalo, Bowling Green, C.Michigan, Illinois, Toledo,, W.Michigan, Miami (Ohio) and Minnesota. After initially committing to W.Michigan, the Flossmoor product decommitted and accepted the offer to play for the Golden Gophers.


His '17 freshman season would be a redshirt season, he wouldn't see the filed in the regular season. The following season, Schmitz was active in 13 games, but all on specila teams.


In '19 the Flossmoor lineman finally saw the field with the starting unti and was active in 13 games (4 starts at center). He was part of an offensive unit that accounted for 5,616 total yards, which was 3rd most in school history, set a Gophers record with 3,293 passing yards, 294 fist downs (2nd most in program history), 443 points (2nd most in school history) 34.1 points per game (3rd most in school history).

From '20-'21 Schmitz started 19 games (all at center) for Minnesota. During that span he registered 1,259 snaps, gave up 9 QB hurries, 2 QB hits (none in '21) and gave up zero sacks.


Schmitz elected to return for another season in 2022 as a 5th year senior(6th season at Minn), rather than enter the NFL Draft. It was a wise move by the Gophers center. Schmitz allowed just 5 QB hurries, one QB hit, and 2 sacks.


The Gophers center was named to the All-Big Ten First Team and received AP All-American honors. Schmitz was clearly the best center in the Big 10 and one of the best in the nation in '22.

Accolades

  • AP First Team All-America (2022)

  • FWAA First Team All-America (2022)

  • Walter Camp Second Team All-America (2022)

  • All-Big Ten First Team (2022)

  • All-Big Ten Second Team (2021)

  • All-Big Ten Third Team (2021)

  • Academic All-Big Ten (2022, 2021, 2020, 2019, 2018)

Schmitz was an absolute monster during the Senior Bowl, showing scouts that the seasonosned center has the tools to immediately contribute on the next level.

PROS

  • His ability to seal the backside in the run game, might just be his best attribute

  • Impressive read & react ability when facing stunts, twists and combo blocks

  • Displays a nasty streak in the run game and ability as a finisher

  • Impressive strength, consistently drives defenders backwards

  • Dangerous on the second level in the run game and is a headhunter


CONS

  • Run blocking is clearly his strength, but will need refinement with his ability in pass pro on the next level

  • Struggled at times in pass pro, when facing athletic pass rushers (needs to keep feet moving)

  • Needs to take better angels when blocking downfield

  • Tendency to lung in pass protection

  • Age could be a concern for some teams (turns 24 before '23 season)


Outlook

Schmitz is a seasoned offensive lineman with a background playing all 5 positions along the offensive line. Although center is the position he played during his time at Minnesota, he has the ability to have success at guard as well.


Schmitz is a plug & play center in any system. Like most rookies, the Gophers lineman will deal with growing pains, particailly in pass pro when facing elite NFL talent on a weekly basis. The 6 seasons at Minnesota helped Schmitz refine his craft and prepare him for the next level though.


The Golden Gophers center is a well coached prospect and could be the first interior offensive lineman to come off the board.


*Games Played- 9/17/22 vs Colorado, 10/1 vs Purdue, 10/22 vs PSU, 10/29 vs Rutgers, 11/12 N.Western & 11/26 vs Wisconsin


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