LA Chargers center, Corey Linsley doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. At almost 32, he is still one of the top centers in the league. According to PFF, he had the highest pass-blocking grade (90.2) of all centers this past season. He earned that grade by allowing no sacks, one quarterback hit, six hurries, and just seven pressures. He’s the wall that keeps Justin Herbert safe, and the offensive line is more productive with him in it. Is he the best center in the league? Let’s take a look at the competition and see how he stacks up.
The Top 3 Centers Outside of Corey Linsley
Jason Kelce, Philadelphia Eagles
Jason Kelce was the second-highest graded pass blocker among all centers for the 2022 season at 83.3 and the second-highest in run blocking at 90. Last year, Kelce allowed no quarterback sacks, zero quarterback hits, 11 hurries, and 11 pressures. Simply put, he’s a beast.
In Kalyn Kahler’s article for The Athletic, she said of Kelce, “The 12-year NFL veteran has always been fond of the sneak, but this season he became an evangelist. He coined a tagline to proselytize his play: “92 percent of the time, every time.” (With Hurts at QB in 2022, the Eagles are at 93.3 percent.)” All those quarterback sneaks that the Eagles ran wouldn’t have been as successful without Kelce pushing and pulling.
Kelce has always been extremely consistent, but this past season he was on another level. And depending on how long he chooses to play, he’s always going to be one of the most talked about in the position.
Creed Humphrey, Kansas City Chiefs
It’s impossible to write about centers without including the one from the Super Bowl-winning team. Creed Humphrey has the fourth-highest pass-blocking grade of centers at 81.3 and the highest run-blocking grade (91). He’s only been in the NFL for two seasons but plays like a veteran. He allowed only three sacks in his first season while allowing none this past season, and only allowed 17 hurries, two hits, and 19 pressures in 2022.
Humphrey has such a fast initial reaction after the snap and is so physical, he can literally knock players off their feet. He made the Pro Bowl and was part of the Super Bowl in only his second year, and it looks like he’s in line to have a really great career.
Ted Karras, Cincinnati Bengals
Ted Karras was sixth out of all centers in pass blocking at 76.1. 2022 marked his first season with the Bengals and he allowed two sacks, four hits, 18 hurries, and 24 pressures. He also played the most amount of snaps of his career at 1,298. Though Karras wasn’t perfect, Joe Burrow had a lot more protection this past year than he had with Trey Hopkins at center in 2021. Though Hopkins allowed fewer hurries (14) and pressures (22), he also allowed five sacks.
Karras digs into his blocks, and once he’s caught you, he rarely lets go. He’s agile at 310 lbs and is able to switch blocks quickly if needed. He’s had consistent grades in pass blocking throughout the years, and though he does need to improve on run blocking, he was a great addition to the Bengals.
How Does Corey Linsley Compare?
Linsley does need to work on run blocking, as his grade this year was 64.9, which declined from 2021 (84.6). Most of the running plays for the Chargers didn’t go anywhere this year and a big part of that was the lack of help from the offensive line. Linsley is a star though and is fierce, fast, and as players said when he was voted number 60 in the top 100 players in the NFL. He’s also insanely strong.
In terms of the other top candidates, though Kelce does have a few more seasons on Linsley, they’re neck and neck in terms of consistency. They’re both extremely dynamic players, each not afraid to get far out of the pocket to complete a block. They’re number one and two in the league, flip-flopping depending on the events of the season. The Chargers lucked into a great asset when they acquired Linsley and it’s clear why they’ve locked him in until 2026.