Entering the 2020 NFL draft we are going to have more questions than ever on prospects as some missed the entire season, and others played shorter seasons anyways. Still, no one took it worse than small school players who mostly did not play at all. That includes Quinn Meinerz interior offensive lineman from Wisconsin White-Water.
He had NFL draft hype after 2019 but needed a strong 2020 campaign to really put his name in the spotlight. While that did not happen, between the Senior Bowl and his Pro Day, he at least should now be a player the Chicago Bears have on notice. He played guard in college but has projected to center in the NFL.
Where Quinn Meinerz could translate to the NFL
I am not going to lie and tell you I watched through hours of Wisconsin White-Water film. College video is tough to find as it is. However, even respected NFL evaluators have said that what you saw in 2019 was not the same player who showed up to the Senior Bowl in 2020.
If you are assuming that Quinn Meinerz put in the work this offseason and is an improved player based on the Senior Bowl, you have to be looking at a legitimate player with a chance to start at center.
The biggest thing you notice with Quinn Meinerz is his power and leg drive. NFL.com noted that he is a former wrestler, and that was clear as he was always winning as the low man and proving that he could plant his feet and drive.
It is such a small sample, but the Pro Day did back up that he checks most boxes for NFL size and athleticism.
Beyond that, he played left guard in college but spent a lot of his time at the Senior Bowl playing center. At the worst, he is versatile, but he could be looked at as an NFL center, which brings more positional value than guard.
Questions Quinn Meinerz will have to answer in the NFL
No player is riding more on the Senior Bowl and Pro Day more than Quinn Meinerz. The obvious level of competition complaints is there, but beyond that, he was hit or miss against that competition. He did not play at all in 2020 and while he showed promise in 2019, many are projecting what he can do. The Senior Bowl made that easier, but this is very much a prospect who has a large array of outcomes due to his very weird 2020.
NFL Comparison for Quinn Meinerz
When looking at his Pro Day numbers, and how they compare to other NFL players, he does find a list of similar-sized players. Some of the names that highlight his physical comparisons include Justin Blalock, Chester Pitts, Nick Kaczur, and David Bass. David Bass may be the best comparison of the group, as a center who won with physicality. He never blew you away but was a consistent center for a long time in the NFL.
Still, the best NFL comparison may be Ryan Jensen. NFL.com came up with this one which makes sense, as Jensen went to Colorado State-Pueblo. He did not go the combine either, is a bit shorter, and was an unknown center entering the NFL. However, he played angrily and play with leverage. He went from a respected Ravens center to the starting center for Tom Brady on the Bucs. Nonetheless, between Jensen and Bass, you have two consistent and respected centers with long NFL careers. Not a bad outcome.
Does Quinn Meinerz fit with Chicago Bears
Sam Mustipher showed well in his limited last season. However, Mustipher is no reason to avoid upgrading the position. The question with Quinn Meinerz is where he is going to fall in the draft. He pumped his stock up a lot, but likely only into the third round at the highest. Jensen got fewer media hype coming out but fell into round six as an unknown prospect.
Still, there is going to come a time where the upside is worth a swing on a starting center. For Chicago, that could come in round three. In the top 52 picks, they need to hit without a doubt. He has too many questions, and may not start day one. To draft a depth guard who may develop into a center at some point, the Bears would have to hope that he falls into the third round or later.
For the upside he has a potential NFL center, he is worth it at a certain point. Bears fans should keep an eye on how far this intriguing prospect falls.