With apologies to Michigan's David Molk, who believes it's "stupid" for anyone not to consider him the best center in this year's draft, Wisconsin's Peter Konz really is the best center in this year's draft.
Molk, a Lemont High School graduate, won the Rimington Award last season as the nation's best center, and he pumped out 41 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press at the NFL Scouting Combine.
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But there's no way he will be drafted ahead of the 6-foot-5, 314-pound Konz, who could be tabbed as early as the end of the first round, even though he managed just 18 reps on the bench at the combine.
The 6-foot-1, 299-pound Molk has a chance to slip into the end of the second round, but the third round is more likely.
But not in Molk's mind, according to an
extensive interview with writer Kyle Meinke at annarbor.com
"I have skills he doesn't have," the Michigan center said of his Big Ten opponent. "Obviously, my strength is far better. I'm faster. I would say I'm smarter. Obviously, he's an intelligent person. I've talked to him, but I just think I have a technique that's unmatched (by him)."
But Konz knows what makes him a good center. "I'm able to talk to the media," he joked.
Truthfully, Konz said he relied on the experience of older teammates at Wisconsin when he was moved to center from tackle early in his redshirt freshman season. One of those advisers was offensive tackle Gabe Carimi, the Bears' first-round draft choice last year.
"I'm a fast learner," Konz said, "but there are a lot of things you have to know at center. Not only do you have to know it, but you've got to let everybody else know. That took at least a year-and-a-half.
"I went to guys like (guard John) Moffitt (Seattle's third-round pick last year) and Carimi. They were the big guys on the line, and I asked them questions every day, and I'd watch enormous amounts of film with (guard) Kevin Zeitler (a likely first-round pick this year). We'd go up to the film room after every practice and go over it."
But Konz also brought a boatload of physical skills to the position.
"I think I was first recognized because I was running out on the edges and was able to get out on the corners and safeties, and not a lot of guys had been doing that," he said.
Then, just my size. It's not normal to see a guy who was hoping to play tackle and then move all the way inside to center. It's been an amazing ride."
As a radio-television-film major, Konz actually is looking forward to playing to an even larger media contingent in the NFL than he experienced at the combine.
"I love attention," the Wisconsin native said.
"As a kid, my mom would put on Brett Favre interviews, and I loved how he didn't talk about, 'We played a great game. We gave 100 percent. We respect the other team.' I wanted to break that cycle. I wanted to be that guy to say, 'You know what? I've got a personal story. I've got more tied into this game than somebody else might have.'"
But Konz also is able to enjoy himself, even sometimes in the heat of battle, as he recalled from last year's Oregon game.
"It gets heated," he said. "One of their guys comes and faces me. He's shorter than me, and he gets under my helmet and gives me the stare down, trying to throw me off my game or whatever. I'm staring at him, and then I realize just how ridiculous this was.
"So I just break out of my strict pose and go, 'Hi.' He just breaks out laughing. I think I took him out of whatever he was trying to do."
Maybe after the draft, Konz can have a light-hearted chat with Molk.