Even though it makes sense that a first-team all-state pick from Lemont, Illinois would stay in-state for play for the Illini – it’s no sure thing. Graham Pocic signed up to play for then-head coach Ron Zook in Champaign after an exemplary high school career, but his brother decided to take another path. Ethan Pocic committed to LSU in the summer of 2012, before his senior season; if he plays half as well as big brother Graham, head coach Les Miles will certainly tip his hat to him and NFL scouts will be looking forward to grading him a few years from now.
Despite arriving on campus a semester early, coaches still had him redshirt behind a veteran line so he could gain weight. He played in 10 games in 2009, moving between guard and center when needed, and then earned honorable mention notice from Big Ten coaches and media as the team’s starting center for all 13 games as a sophomore. He showed his durability by lining up at center for every game again in 2011.
Sits low in his stance and smooth movement after the snap despite his height, also uses quick reactions to complete reach block even when you wouldn’t expect him to adjust. Mobile enough to reach or adjust to Mike linebacker coming downhill to ride him out of the play, also used on pulls and traps. Goes out to help his tackles instead of standing around inside when uncovered. Widens his base and mirrors in one-on-one pass pro when engaged. Lines up at left guard on occasion. Gets down for cut blocks on the line and when cutting off backside pursuit. Finishes plays, will clean up piles through the whistle if needed.
Tall for a center, often needs to bend at the waist instead of relying on his length and feet to redirect in pass pro or make late blocks to help his guards. Not a dominating player in spite of his size, better linemen shed or slip off his blocks. Can be out-quicked in pass protection when one-on-one at guard where open space becomes more of an issue. Usually a reliable on shotguns, but speedy tackles can make him send back low snaps.
Though he’s taller than the average center prospect, Pocic’s intelligence, mobility and durability (26 straight starts in 2010-11) makes him a strong mid-round prospect for teams relying heavily on zone-blocking schemes.
Future Hall of Famer
A once-in-a-generation type prospect who could change how his position is played
An impact player with the ability/intangibles to become a Pro Bowl player. Expect to start immediately except in a unique situation (i.e. behind a veteran starter).
A quality player who will contribute to the team early on and is expected to develop into a starter. A reliable player who brings value to the position.
A prospect with the ability to make team as a backup/role player. Needs to be a special teams contributor at applicable positions. Players in the high range of this category might have long-term potential.
A player with solid measurables, intangibles, college achievements, or a developing skill that warrants an opportunity in an NFL camp. In the right situation, he could earn a place on a 53-man roster, but most likely will be a practice squad player or a camp body.