FanPost

Joe Tippmann draft profile

There isn't a strong consensus on where Wisconsin center, Joe Tippmann, should be ranked. On Daniel Jeremiah's initial top 50 list of prospects, Tippmann was ranked 27th overall. JMS didn't land anywhere on that top 50 board. On Lance Zierlein's board for Combine participants, Tippmann is the 45th highest graded prospect, higher than players such as Vorhees, Avila and Wypler. His grade is virtually tied with that of Cody Mauch, who is the 37th ranked prospect. At that ranking, if the Rams wanted Tippmann, they likely would need to draft him at slot 36.

On ESPN's board, Tippmann is the 234th ranked prospect, which would be in the 7th round. The Fanspeak draft simulator has 6 different boards available. On 3 of those boards, Tippmann is ranked as a 4th to late 5th round prospect. On the other 3 boards, he's ranked as a 2nd to 3rd round prospect.

VRS wrote an article about center prospects earlier this month and listed Tippmann in the 4th to 5th round tier, but said that if he had a great Combine he might jump all the way up into the 2nd round. If you believe DJ and LZ's rankings, Tippmann is already planted firmly in the 2nd round prior to the Combine, so if he has a great combine he potentially could leapfrog both JMS and Cody Mauch and be a 1st round pick. On the other hand, if you go by the boards that have him ranked in the 5th to 7th round area, Tippmann needs a good Combine just to jump up into the 4th round.

Why is there such a wide range of opinions regarding this player and on which side of that spectrum will I fall in this evaluation?

Background

Name: Joe Tippmann, redshirt Junior, turns 22 years old in March

School: Wisconsin. Studied retailing and consumer behavior. 3 time Academic all conference selection.

Size: Listed 6'6'' tall and 317 pounds. Was listed at 320 pounds in 2021. SI has him at 6'5 3/4'' tall, 320 pounds, 5.15 sec 40 time. NFLDB 4.90 second 40 time.

3 star to 4 star recruit from Indiana. Was an OT in high school.

Redshirted 2019, practiced at C, G and RT, the coach seeming to like him best at center. In abbreviated 2020 season, appeared in 2 games as a backup RG. In fall camp 2021, he unexpectedly beat out Kayden Lyles, a redshirt senior and former 4 star recruit, for the starting center job. Lyles entered the portal and transferred to FSU for 2022, but suffered an injury and wasn't able to play during the 2022 season.

Made 10 starts at center in 2021. Had 85 PFF run block grade, 76.1 pass block grade. Gave up 4 pressures.

Made 12 starts at center in 2022. 78 PFF run block grade. Gave up 1 sack and 5 pressures.

Reportedly squatted 635 pounds, 455 pound bench, 4.31 second shuttle, 1.65 second 10 yard split. If he ran that fast in the shuttle at the Combine, it would be phenomenally fast for a player his size. Tristan Wirfs at 320 pounds had a 4.68 second shuttle time. Cam Jurgens, a workout warrior in last year's draft, didn't do the agility drills at the Combine. At 303 pounds, he ran the shuttle at his Pro Day in 4.49 seconds. Cam Akers, a RB at 217 pounds, ran the shuttle in 4.42 seconds. So, if the reported time is accurate, Tippmann can do the shuttle a full tenth of a second faster than Akers, despite being 100 pounds heavier. A good shuttle time for an NFL center would be in the 4.5 second range. Brian Allen did it in 4.71 seconds. Kyle Pitts, the athletic TE from Florida, had a 4.35 second shuttle at his pro day, so Tippmann supposedly can run the shuttle just as fast as Kyle Pitts.

Had labrum surgery November 2020 on right shoulder, missed 2021 spring practices. He said his shoulder was an issue the entire 2020 season. Got poked in eye during warm-ups and missed a game in 2021. Had labrum surgery on his left shoulder in January of 2022, missing the spring 2022 practices. Between the 2 shoulder surgeries, had a total of 21 pins inserted in his shoulders.

In interviews, he's matter of fact and even keeled.

The Wisconsin offense the last 2 seasons hasn't been very good. They ranked 85th in the country in scoring in 2021 and 77th in scoring in 2022. Their QB (Mertz) only had 1,958 passing yards in 13 games in 2021 and 2,136 passing yards in 12 games in 2022. Paul Christ was fired in early October of 2022 after the Badgers started the season with a 2-3 recrod. Luke Fickell was hired late in the year.

ESPN 6th center, 234th overall (7th round)

CBSSports 161st (5th rd)

PFF 3rd center, 62nd (late 2nd to 3rd)

TDN 37th overall (2nd rd)

NFLDB 4th center, 113th overall (4th round)

Sports Illustrated 4th round

Brian Bosarge 82nd (3rd rd)

PFN (Industry) 5th center, 139th (5th rd)

Drafttek 6th center, 160th (5th round)

Luke Easterling ranked him as the 5th best interior offensive lineman, behind Torrence, Mauch, JMS and Avila.

Sporting News 9th interior OL, 115th overall (4th rd)

Sports Illustrated: Makes pre-snap adjustments. Speed as puller. Effective angles. Comfortable in space, looks for work. Could be nastier. Sometimes struggles to match agile defenders. Gives up some ground to power rushers, but deadens the rush. Upper body and core strength to torque. Accurate hands, but needs better independent hands and punch power. Consistent leg drive. Few to no off target snaps in 2022. Had 6 penalties in 2022. Elevated pad level, occasionally ducks head into contact. Arm length concerning. Feet occasionally stop in pass protection. Footwork can be slow and staggered. Not a sudden or twitchy athlete. Ends up on ground, balance a concern. Doesn't consistently generate displacement in run game. 4th round grade.

TDN (Damian Parson) Incredible raw power and athleticism. Good, strong base as run blocker. Washes down defenders in zone game. Reliable duo blocker. Quickness climbing to 2nd level. Quick out of stance to pull. Finishes blocks. Can mirror in condensed spaces. Head on a swivel to scan and help in pass pro. Uber reliable, only 1 sack allowed in 2 seasons. Leverage and pad level an issue, too tall. Over aggressive and lunges. Punches late, DL get into his chest. Susceptible to push pull moves. Defenders attack his right shoulder and get him off balance. Day 1 starting center. Scheme versatile. A long term starting NFL center. Round 3 grade. Mitch Morse comp. [As an aside, I really liked Morse in his draft. In college, Morse played primarily right tackle and left tackle, he wasn't an interior lineman. Early in the process, he was ranked as a late round prospect on many boards. Morse was a smart player with a good build for interior OL and was taken in the middle of the 2nd round in 2015.]

NFLDB: Huge mauler, strength to anchor. Consistently finishes blocks. Good awareness. Athletic freak. Outstanding grip strength. Outstanding pull blocker, elite speed. Sets with wide base, fluid and coordinated in pass protection. Too tall to be a center, looks like an OT, loses leverage battle. Occasionally stops feet while punching. Loses balance when moving backwards. Struggles to mirror if he doesn't win early in pass pro. 6 holding penalties in 2022. Struggles vs edge speed. A bit lean for a center. High pads, gets knocked back or off balance. Average footwork. High football IQ, scheme versatile. Day 1 starter. Projected 2nd to 3rd round.

Lance Zierlein 6.35 grade (plus starter), Josh Myers comp. High IQ to make calls and adjustments. Unlocks hips into blocks. Plus athlete, fluid in space. Solid anchor. Head on swivel to protect A gaps. Power to drop blitzers on ground. Gets off balance, leaning too far forward off snap. Pad level too high. Average balance and body control to sustain. Leaves frame open to defenders' hands. Lacks leverage to generate movement at point of attack. Needs flatter back and inside hands. Leaning slows lateral transitions to mirror twists.

Strengths

NFL size, towers over opponents. Looks like he has broad shoulders, so I'm curious to see what how his wingspan measurement will come out.

In practice, he constantly went up against Keeanu Benton, who is considered one of the better NT prospects in this year's draft.

Good footwork to anchor in pass pro. Core strength and ankle flexion to settle bull rushes. Strong set foot. Sets with wide base.

Very good hand placements against LBs at 2nd level. Disciplined, with hand eye coordination for accuracy.

Explosive combo block, 3 lightning quick steps to climb to 2nd level, then additional nice lateral steps to sustain and defend the blocking angle. Smooth climber to 2nd level and can latch onto LBs. Outstanding diagonal burst to climb to 2nd level, gathered himself in final 2 steps to arrive under control, hands inside frame of LB, latched on.

Good effective blocking range in space, when LB tried to run wide around his block, he made nice adjustment to angle of his climb to mirror. While pulling, eyes locate the LB and good body control to adjust his angle to intercept. While pulling, C sees that the DT shed the RG, good adjustment on the fly and able to turn and block the DT.

Good speed and acceleration to execute long pulls around the outside of the OT.

Smart adjustment at 2nd level with the first LB slanted away from him, changed his assignment and blocked the 2nd LB.

On screen passes, good change of direction to transition from backpedal to run forward.

Leg drive on zone runs to drive the DT sideways down the LOS. Generated good movement on several combo blocks.

Has a wide stance and a huge frame, helping create effective barrier on seal blocks. Good core power after initial engagement.

Good ability to bend down to get to better target area on combo blocks and push the DT.

Very good at snapping the ball, which might seem simple, but some center prospects struggle to handle this basic task consistently. Wisconsin's scheme has the QB under center more than most college teams, which NFL teams will appreciate. When QB is under center, Tippmann does a nice job getting the ball all the way up and firmly into the QB's hands. In shotgun, his snaps have good velocity and the ball doesn't tumble end over end. Some of his snaps are more like a long snapper getting the ball back to a punter. In some cases, the ball will drift half a rotation, so that the point of the ball might be diagonal or sideways and the accuracy of the snap can be slightly off (high to the facemask or forehead of the helmet, off to the side to hip of QB, down to the knee of the QB) and this happens more frequently when Tippmann has to move sideways immediately after the snap, his focus and technique slightly off. On one play, the QB "double catches" the snap, like a WR trying to find the handle on a pass. If he's blocking straight ahead in pass pro after the snap, his snaps are generally right on target.

On short yardage runs, shows good forward drive out of his stance. Body mass and large size helps on short yardage plunges and QB sneaks.

Only started at center for Wisconsin, but I wonder if his better position might be playing as a guard instead of at center. Enough size and athleticism to be position versatile.

Normal age for a draft prospect.

Weaknesses

Does not have effective length on the field to match his measured length, because he doesn't have good punch timing and hand fighting skills. Late with initial punch. Late to get hands up after snap, giving advantage to DT. Catches DT instead of punching, his helmet too far out in front of toes, his back at nearly a 45 degree angle, arms not fully extended. Overly reliant on his size to stifle pass rushers instead of punching properly and using sound technique. Slow hand speed in pass pro hand fights. On QB draw, DT ripped him to the side, shed block, then tackled QB just short of goalline. Hands not active after initial engagement, doesn't "mend his hold" if his initial placement is weak, doesn't control the defender, leaving himself vulnerable to counters. Missed initial grab with his right hand in pass pro and just kept his hand on rib of the DT.

Doesn't "handle his business" in 1 vs 1 engagements. Inside zone run, the DT wins the frontside gap, C unable to generate movement with solo block, DT wins leverage by getting into chest of C, no hip snap, unable to engage his legs to drive the DT, off balance, then the DT with a swim counter disengages towards the RB. Long 3rd down, solo pass block, the LB goes around to the outside and the C is unable to slide laterally enough to defend the angle. Struggles to generate power straight up 1 vs 1, cannot gain proper leverage on his opponent. Passive hands on run blocks, no violence, shock or power to punch the defender and knock them backwards or off balance. Left hand to ribs of NT, got thrown off and fell down. Face planted on run block when DT moved to side and used 2 hand swipe move. Feet sometimes stop on run blocks, not active enough to defend the ideal blocking angle. 3rd down pass, the C gets smoked badly by club and swim move, then desperately grabs the DT from behind, not flagged.

If you watch several of his run and pass blocks, he needs important help from the guard next to him. They push the DT, helping the C get to reach blocks or helping "fix" situations where the C loses initial leverage battles. Other linemen help protect his outside edges in pass protection. Catches NT in pass pro, then leans into the NT. The C's hands are at the ribs of the NT, the NT bench presses him, shoving C in the chest, the C is very fortunate another linemen is there to help. Slow hands into initial contact vs NT on wide zone run, but shove by the RG helps knock the NT off balance and the C finishes the block by burying the NT into the ground. On 3rd&1, C loses initial leverage vs DT, but the RG helps, allowing C to regain control and bury the DT into the ground. Questionable ability to work his hips around and seal on zone reach blocks 1 vs 1.

Can explode out of his stance, but once he's upright and running, there is no "extra gear" to accelerate in small spaces if he needs to close the gap to get to a defender. This prevents him from cutting off fast flowing defenders who have a pursuit angle to the runner, it caused the RB to run up his back on a pull block and have to wait for him to run faster. C climbs up from NT to 2nd level, the LB is 1 yard away from him, flowing laterally, the C can't bust to cut him off, LB able to pursue all the way to sideline. As pull blocker leading way at point, not enough "finishing burst", so there was no power into his block vs the LB, the center is a one speed runner in space. This flaw gets even more exposed if something breaks his momentum, for example if he's pulling, but there is trash in his way that collides with him, causing him to break stride. This won't show up running the 40 yard dash, because you just run in a perfectly straight line with constant acceleration and nothing in your path.

He's too tall and too big, not built for confined spaces. Too tall, has to work hard to bend over on combo blocks, not natural or easy for him to get his body into proper position. After bending over for combo, stumbled to 2nd level, the LB throws him to the ground. Pads too high into DT on down block. Inside zone run, pad level too high, insufficient hip snap, the DT gets into his chest and stands him up at the LOS before the C can punch, his arms are bent and passive, the DT controls the gap on front of play, then counters back towards the RB. Too high on down block vs DE, the DE bench presses him and sheds, the C's hands too passive and slow, not violent. Ducked head into down block, too aggressive, lost to basic swim move.

Susceptible to "reverse combo block". After engaging the first DT, the DL seemed to intentionally target him by slanting defenders into him, so that the 2nd defender would hit him from the side, and since Tippmann has a high pad level, this typically resulted in him getting knocked over on short yardage runs.

In short yardage and near GL, can get knocked backwards right off the snap when he loses leverage, pads too high.

Overreacted trying to recover vs 3 man loop, overruns the blocking angle and is beaten by inside counter. Too aggressively tried to help the RG in pass pro, leaving himself vulnerable to inside spin counter by DT. Helping the LG, the DT spins away from the RG, going to the inside. The C is leaning forward at nearly 45 degree angle, his body not in good position to recover, his feet are too slow to slide laterally to mirror, and the LB eventually gets all the way around the C. Lacks natural agility to make multiple lateral changes of direction in pass pro.

Awareness is only average. On run play, when the 1st LB bails, the C is late adjusting his assignment to the 2nd LB, who fills the hole and forces the RB to bounce the run. Poor awareness vs DT twist, gave up sack as DT was unblocked. Critical mistake in overtime, gap run as pull blocker, late to adjust his run fit to the LB, contributing to fumble by RB and his team loses the game. 6 defenders in box on pass play, the LB showing A gap pressure takes one step back, acting like he's going to drop into coverage, then pass rushes. The C scans to the left and right and is a tick late diagnosing that the LB is coming, catches the LB with his hand to the back numbers of the LB's jersey. When scanning as helper in pass pro, C's eyes sometimes get stuck in one direction. Offense in max protection with 7 blockers. Defense shows 8 potential rushers, but it is a trick, only 6 end up coming in zone blitz, with 2 of the defenders pretending to rush, then dropping into coverage, so it is 6 rushers vs 7 blockers. If blocked correctly, there are more than enough blockers to pick up all the defenders. The center blocks the LB in the A gap, pushing him sideways into the LG. A safety is blitzing up the middle from a deeper alignment. The C never comes off the LB to try to pick up the safety and the pocket collapses. On climb to 2nd level, appeared to be confused which of the 2 LBs he was supposed to block.

Played in a run heavy offense that had nearly as many rushing yards as passing yards in 2022. The run scheme and play action passes built off of the run were OL friendly, covering up some issues with his pass protection.

Had surgeries on both of his shoulders, like Rodger Saffold.

Logan Bruss is a better interview than Tippmann.

Draft Grade and Pro Comp

3rd round grade. (Brandon Linder, late 3rd round 2014, Jaguars, Miami)

Linder was 6'6'' tall, 311 pounds. He likely would have been drafted earlier, but 2014 was an extremely strong and deep draft class. Nolan Nawrocki had a 4th to 5th round projection on him. I liked Linder in that draft, but I thought he was going to play guard in the NFL and I only expected him to be an average starter, I didn't think he was a Pro Bowl type prospect.

Linder was a starter as a rookie and played very well. Early in his 2nd year, he tore his labram in his shoulder and had to have season ending surgery. In his 3rd season, PFF graded him as the 5th best center in the NFL, behind only Travis Frederick, Matt Paradis, Rodney Hudson and Alex Mack. For the period from 2014 through 2019, PFF said he was the 4th best center in the NFL, behind only Jason Kelce, Frederick and Mack. In 2017, the Jags made Linder the highest paid center in NFL history, with a 5 year contract at $51.7 million. The Jags advanced to the AFC title game during that 2017 season.

Injuries plagued Linder's career. He played 8 seasons in the NFL, but started at least 10 games in only 4 of those years. He only had 1 season in which he played every game.

Tippmann has a high ceiling, because he is a big, strong guy with excellent mobility relative to his large size, but I also feel that some of the experts who have super high grades on him are glossing over the fact that his hands aren't elite. He needs additional development and refinement with technique if he's going to become a consistent player, otherwise I think he's going to struggle against NFL level opponents.

Even though Tippmann is listed as a center prospect on all the draft boards, I'd be tempted at trying him at guard first. Similar to Linder coming out of college, I don't project Tippmann to be an All Pro, but I do see him as an NFL starter.