Should Chicago Bears target John Michael Schmitz in 2023 NFL Draft?

Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

With the Chicago Bears moving Cody Whitehair to center, you should expect the Chicago Bears to draft a center. Does Minnesota center John Michael Schmitz what the team is looking for, and how does he project to the NFL?

Chicago Bears Draft Profile: John Michael Schmitz

John Michael Schmitz is a fifth-year senior who did not play much in his first season. As a sophomore, he started to earn starting work at center, and eventually forced his teammate to move to guard. By 2020, he earned the starting job but only played 422 snaps due to the COVID restrictions.

Still, from there, John Michael Schmitz took off. His 2021 season put his name on the board, and he could have entered the NFL draft after that. He stayed, and while his season was more up and down on tape, he did improve his run-blocking grade every season with the Gophers, per PFF. He went from 82.8 to 84.8 to 87.5 and then 92.4 last season.

John Michael Schmitz went to the Senior Bowl and stood out as the top senior center. He also had a nice display at the NFL combine.

His 40-yard dash does not wow you, but that does not matter for a center. The 20-yard shuttle shows that he can move his feet in short spaces, and the jumps show that he can create power from his lower half.

How John Michael Schmitz will translate to the NFL

What helps with John Michael Schmitz translating to the NFL beyond over two full seasons of starter experience is that he has worked in multiple run schemes, and has shown effectiveness in all of them. He could be dropped into almost any scheme next season with a chance to start.

His biggest strength comes as a run blocker. He understands leverage and can hold up defenders at the point of attack. He has a powerful punch and can dictate where linemen move when he gets under them with a strong punch.

He can struggle when defenders come across his body on twists and stunts, and you do not see him in the second level as much as some other center prospects. Beyond that, being a fifth-year senior he is already 24 and will be 25 next season.

NFL Comparison for John Michael Schmitz

The best NFL comparison for Minnesota center John Michael Schmitz is Ben Jones. They have similar physical attributes. Beyond that, both Lance Zierlein of and Brandon Thorn of Bleacher Report compared John Michael Schmitz to Ben Jones. You can argue about either site, but those two are some of the best at scouting offensive line players. When they agree, and the physical comparison is also there, you trust it.

This makes sense because Ben Jones was a tough dude who finished plays and was a hard puncher in the run game. You can expect John Michael Schmitz to leave it all on the field and play in the run game in a way that fans will love. He should also have a solid, and long career, even if it does not feature the All-Pro every season.

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Should Chicago Bears draft John Michael Schmitz?

We all know that Cody Whithair is a placeholder for the Chicago Bears' next center. Should that be John Michael Schmitz? This will probably come down to the board more than the Bears. They pick 54. His mock draft average is 50 right now. If he is there at 54, it is hard to see a better option for a position of need on the board. If he is gone, that is about it. They cannot draft him ninth overall. Perhaps if a trade-back occurs.