In this week’s “defer to the expert” segment of the 2023 NFL Draft and what the Los Angeles Rams will do in April, I’m going to highlight the fascinating range of opinions on Wisconsin center Joe Tippmann. In their 2023 draft guide, ProFootballFocus grades out Tippmann as a day two prospect and their number three overall offensive lineman in the class.
The Wisconsin center redshirted in 2019 and played just 11 snaps at right guard in 2020 before assuming the starting role in the middle of the Badgers’ offensive line in 2021. There were some rocky moments early in the season, but he finished the year with an 85.1 PFF grade, which ranked sixth in the nation. His performance dropped a little in 2022, with his 78.4 PFF grade ranking 13th at the position, but he did finish the season strong with no pressures allowed over his final four games.
How Tippmann performs at this weekend’s NFL Scouting Combine could matter, but as usual, the Rams did not send Les Snead or Sean McVay to get a closer look. It’s becoming more and more evident that teams do not care that much how prospects perform in these tests and drills—it’s for fans and media more so than the good teams—and that the combine only serves as a chance for medical evaluations to happen all at one time and in one place.
For prospects like Tippman, his film will say everything and it seems like that’s where there fails to be a consensus on his value.
Ohio State walks a backer into the A-gap to try to confuse protection. Watch center Joe Tippmann's eyes work here post-snap to drop off the backer, access threats, then come back to the delayed pressure. pic.twitter.com/Gbw8D8v3Wm— Cory (@realcorykinnan) February 23, 2023
As TST resident draft expert Ferragamo15 highlighted in another excellent fanpost this week, Tippman’s draft range goes all the way from top-30 to the seventh round.
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.
Another TST resident draft expert, Venie Randy Soares, highlighted Tippman in the 2023 draft’s center class:
Well-built athletic specimen, with proportionate length. Named to 2022 Feldman’s Freaks list for athleticism and strength. 22 years old and lacks game experience, only two years and 23 starts. Here’s your mauler who drives defenders off the ball with leverage and natural power. For a tall player, he keeps his knees bent and pad level square and low to create the bulldozer leverage. Tippmann has the speed to pull around the corner and the footwork for reach, seal, and cut off blocks. He has much room for improvement, young, tall prospects need to keep working on footwork and keeping low leverage. Pro’s will test his anchor and lateral movement skills. If he blows up the NFL Combine, it may take a Round 2 pick to own him. He has that much of an upside.
It’s really a matter of whether or not Snead and McVay, out of character, decide that this is the year that L.A. needs to pick a center or an interior offensive lineman on day two. That’s not what the Rams tend to do and even though they did pick another Wisconsin interior offensive lineman in 2022—guard Logan Bruss—that was all the down at pick 104.
Will Tippmann last that long? That’s a question that nobody has the answer to right now.