by J.T. Toth
Photo courtesy of Sports Illustrated.
At Draft 412, the NFL draft talk never ends. We will keep you ready for the next set of gridiron stars—from today and all the way until draft night 2024. We will bring you mock drafts, player profiles, individual team needs, and everything else you may need related to the 2024 NFL Draft.
Today’s Spotlight - Michigan, Center, Drake Nugent
Name- Drake Nugent
HT/WT- 6’2” 301 lbs.
Home – Lone Tree, CO
Nugent attended Highlands Ranch High School in Colorado and was rated a 3-star recruit by ESPN and 247Sports. He was a two-way player who was credited with 117 pancake blocks as a junior and was credited with 71 tackles and 3 sacks on defense. He also lettered in track and field and won 3 consecutive state championships in the shot put. He committed to Stanford to play football for the Cardinals.
In his freshman and sophomore years combined, he only played in 3 games in a reserve role.
As a junior in 2021, Nugent found his footing and started in 12 games and allowed 4 sacks. He was named All-PAC 12 Honorable Mention by the coaches. Entering the 2022 season, he was listed on preseason lists for both the Outland Trophy and the Rimington Trophy.
Last season, he started 12 games and played at a high level, allowing 0 sacks. Over the past 2 seasons, he has 993 pass blocking snaps and has allowed only 4 sacks. In December of 2022, Nugent entered the transfer portal and accepted an offer to play and start at center for Michigan.
Entering 2023, he is once again on the watch list for both the Outland and Rimington Trophy. He has started all 7 games for the No. 2 Wolverines and has shared the Offensive Player of the Week honor 4 times with his stellar play.
Nugent has the football IQ that every member of an NFL team’s front office wants in their center. He can call out blitzes and stunts and is a natural born leader on the offensive line. He works well in tight quarters and has an edge when it comes to driving opponents and sustaining blocks through the whistle. He excels at getting out in front of screens and has the mobility and football IQ to do what is needed to spring plays. He plays the game with the proper fundamentals and understands where the defenders are coming from and what they are trying to do. He has enough mobility to succeed at pulls and is effective at taking on the lead defender to help extend plays.
Nugent struggles in pass blocking and is much more effective moving forward than he is backpedaling. He will lean and reach at times against faster defenders and loses his balance, leading to unnecessary pressure on the quarterback. He has adequate footwork but could use more upper body strength when taking on a bull rush or his one-on-ones with larger opponents. He works better in tight quarters and has a tendency to lose his base when making blocks out in open space.
Though Drake Nugent won’t get drafted as high as former Minnesota Golden Gopher John Michael Schmitz did, they share a lot of the same attributes. They both are high football IQ players who will be leaders of their offensive lines for many years to come. Nugent has a chance to keep rising up boards in 2023. With Michigan’s elite running game, scouts will be on hand to see how they are opening up those large holes, and Nugent should benefit.
Demeanor though whistle
Drake Nugent started this season as a 7th round or UDFA signing but has already shot up draft boards and should continue to do so if he continues his stellar play. Centers are tough to project because it is not usually a position of great need for most teams.
Draft 412 Draft Projection - Round 5