BLOOMINGTON, Minn. – The left tackle position in the NFL is considered the primo No. 1 spot upfront. Left tackles typically make the most money of any position along the offensive line, and are usually picked at the top of the draft. Over the last 10 years, 19 tackles have been drafted in the top 10. Over the same period, not one center has been drafted in the Top 10.
Former 11-year veteran quarterback Dan Orlovsky says the center position should be valued right up there on an equal level as the left tackle.
"They are such an undervalued position group," Orlovsky told detroitlions.com at the Super Bowl. "If we're going to place such an importance on the quarterback, why do teams think they can just get away with an 'OK' center both performance and personality-wise."
View photos of the Detroit Lions offensive line in 2017.
To Orlovsky's point, the center is the only player besides the quarterback who touches the ball every play, and typically runs the show upfront making all the line calls.
"If your quarterback is getting a play call and then he has to communicate the play call to everybody, he needs someone else in there going, 'Hey fellas, let's huddle up' or 'we got to go here' or 'we need this one yard.' It can't always be on the quarterback.
"If you have a center that can galvanize the group, take leadership and be in your face a little bit ... "
Orlovsky used former Broncos and Texans center Chris Meyers, and former Colts great Jeff Saturday as guys he played with who were vitally important not only to the way the offensive line played, but the entire offense.
"Houston's offensive line was really good, but Chris set the tone and the tempo every single play," Orlovsky said of his time in Houston playing with Myers.
"There were some times where I didn't have to walk in the huddle in practice, or I know (Matt) Schaub didn't have to during the game, to get everyone's attention because Chris had already done it."
Orlovsky thinks Lions third-year offensive lineman Graham Glasgow has a similiar makeup both physically and personality-wise to Myers and Saturday.
"That's why I love Graham," Orlovsky said. "I think Graham is physically and mental-makeup-wise custom-made to play center in the NFL because he has the ability to look a guy in the eye and say, 'hey dude, that ain't good enough. If you're going to be out here with me, it needs to be better.' That's such an undervalued commodity."
The Lions have relied on Glasgow to fill in at center each of the last two seasons when Travis Swanson missed time due to concussions. Glasgow has played well in that role, and could take it over full-time in 2018 with Swanson entering free agency.
Glasgow was graded the eighth-best center in the NFL by Pro Football focus this past season.
"He just wants to play football," Orlovsky said of Glasgow's personality. "Those are the linemen I love. They really don't want to do anything else. They get dirty. They want to straddle the line and do it with their boys and then they want to go have a cold one.
"I've played with guys like that and your team gets quantifiably better when that guy (is good). It's an identity thing. It's a persona thing. It's an attitude.
"When you break the huddle, who is the first guy the defense sees? The center. I was in huddles with Jeff Saturday and I knew I didn't have to do anything because Jeff has it under control. I think Graham's got those qualities."
Orlovsky encourages Lions fans to put on the tape of the NFC Championship game, and watch how Philadelphia Eagles center Jason Kelce, PFF's top-graded center this year, finished blocks on Vikings Pro Bowl linebacker Anthony Barr. He wants fans to watch how personal it was to Kelce to finish his blocks and protect Philadelphia's dominance upfront.
He says he sees a lot of those similar qualities in Glasgow.