Each day this week leading up to Thursday’s NFL draft, we will highlight one prospect whom the Ravens could draft with the 29th overall pick. Today’s player is Wisconsin center Peter Konz. Konz, who declared for the draft after his junior season, is widely viewed as the draft’s consensus top center.
Background: After sitting out as a true freshman, Konz, a native of Wisconsin, started for the Badgers as a redshirt freshman. He garnered many accolades during his three seasons and in 2011 was a finalist for the Rimington Trophy, which is awarded to the nation's top center. After he declared for the NFL draft, he wrote an open letter to Wisconsin fans explaining his decision to leave school early.
Measurables: At 6-5 and 315 pounds, Konz has a large frame for an interior lineman. He put up 18 bench press reps at the scouting combine, less than half as many as Michigan center David Molk.
Deserves praise: Konz is a pretty good athlete and uses solid technique, but his smarts and savvy stand out. Ravens director of college scouting Joe Hortiz has raved about his intelligence, and if the Ravens were to draft him, Konz would get at least one year to pick the big brain of veteran Ravens center Matt Birk.
Needs work: We should try not to read too much into his bench press results from the scouting combine as Konz won’t have to lie on his back and lift 225-pound linebackers during games. But there are concerns about how Konz will hold up against massive nose tackles like Vince Wilfork of the New England Patriots. The Ravens will have to pump him up in the weight room and tweak his technique to prep him for that kind of challenge.
Fun factoid: Running behind Konz and the Wisconsin offensive line in 2011, Badgers back Montee Ball rushed for 39 touchdowns, tying Barry Sanders for the NCAA’s all-time single-season record.
Quotable: "Hell of a football player," an NFL scout told Bob McGinn of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "He may be the smartest guy in this whole draft. Oh, my God, he's a genius on the board. Genius. We put him on the board and he blew it away. Great kid."
Why he makes sense: The Ravens want to bolster their offensive line this offseason, and after failing to do so in free agency, they will turn to the draft. Konz, who is seen as a late first-round prospect to some and a second-rounder to others, would immediately battle Jah Reid for the left guard spot in 2012. And when Birk retires in a season or two, he could slide over as his heir apparent.