The Indianapolis Colts have a number of holes to address this offseason. One of their significant team deficiencies is along their interior offensive line, where the Colts could use an upgrade at both starting center and right guard. After analyzing arguably the best free agent guard on the market in San Francisco 49ers All-Pro Mike Iupati yesterday, we’ll now take a look at the center position.
Dec 7, 2014; Glendale, AZ, USA; Kansas City Chiefs center Rodney Hudson (61) reacts against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Cardinals defeated the Chiefs 17-14. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
The best free agent center on the market is the Kansas City Chiefs Rodney Hudson. The 4th-year pro has consistently been one of the better centers in the league since the Chiefs drafted him in the 2nd round pick in the 2011 NFL Draft out of Florida State. Hudson was a 3x First-Team All-ACC with the Seminoles along their offensive line and was one of the most decorated players in school history.
Of course, the Colts could clearly use a long-term answer at the center position. The team was in flux all season, where A.Q. Shipley (5 starts), Jonotthan Harrison (10 starts), and Khaled Holmes (1 start) combined to make 16 starts. As such, the team could use a clear upgrade at the position, despite Holmes showing some brief flashes late in the season.
The 6’2″, 299 pound, Hudson truly elevated his game this past season, as he was among the best centers in the game for the Kansas City Chiefs. According to ProFootballFocus (subscription), his +13.0 overall grade ranked him as the 3rd best center overall, behind the New York Jets Nick Mangold and Dallas Cowboys Travis Frederick respectively. Digging further, his pass blocking grade was a +4.2 which placed him as the 3rd best pass blocking center, a prerequisite for playing on Andrew Luck‘s offensive line.
Dec 14, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs center Rodney Hudson (61) waits in the tunnel to be introduced before the game against the Oakland Raiders at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs won 31-13. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
As a testament to his athletic ability and quickness, Hudson actually received the best center grade in the game for screen blocking with a +2.5. His run blocking grade wasn’t too shabby either, as his +4.7 ranked him as the 16th best center overall in that facet of his game.
Still, if the Colts want to sign Rodney Hudson, it will cost them a pretty penny. The 25 year old is already among the best young centers in the game and seemingly in the prime of his career with many great seasons still presumably ahead.
Given his high price tag, it’s unclear whether the Kansas City Chiefs will be able to bring him back although they’d ideally like to. It presents a possible opportunity for the Colts to obtain a long-term answer at the center position.
With the Colts previously flirting with Cleveland Browns All-Pro center Alex Mack last offseason, it will be interesting to see if they also plan on kicking the tires on Hudson. The team is expected to have anywhere from $25-40 million of cap room depending on salary cuts, so they’ll have the $7-8 million available that Hudson is expected to command as perhaps the league’s highest paid center: