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Posted on Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 5:59 a.m.

Michigan's David Molk trying to buck trend of small centers slipping in NFL Draft

By Kyle Meinke


At 6-foot-1, former Michigan center David Molk (50) is one inch taller than quarterback Denard Robinson (16), and smaller than all but six of the 61 centers in the NFL last season.

Joseph Tobianski |

David Molk was a four-year starter for the Michigan football team, and became a consensus All-American as a senior. He won the Rimington Trophy as the nation's best center.

Yet, he's projected as a mid- to late-round pick in this week's NFL Draft, which begins Thursday.


"It's because of one reason, and one reason only," Molk said during a recent interview. "I'm short."

Although Molk's weight is up to 298 pounds thanks to a rigorous offseason training program, he stands 6-foot-1. Only six of the NFL's 61 centers were that short last season.


Height: 6-foot-1
Weight: 298 pounds
Hometown: Lemont, Ill.
High school: Lemont High School
Position: Center
Notable: Team captain as a senior. ... Rimington Award winner as nation's best center as a senior. ... Named first-team All-American as a senior by Associated Press, Football Writers Association of America All-America, The Sporting News and the Walter Camp Foundation. ... Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year as a senior. ... Named All-Big Ten (first team by coaches and second team by media) as a senior. ... Named All-Big Ten (first team by coaches and second team by media) as a junior.

ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr.: Fifth round
ESPN's Todd McShay: Fourth round Fourth to seventh round
CBS Sports: Fifth to sixth round

ESPN: No. 3 center
CBS Sports: No. 5 center

Combine results
Bench press: 41 repetitions, first among offensive lineman

What they're saying
"Molk is very intelligent. Lot of football intelligence there. He’d fit, obviously, a zone-blocking scheme, a smart kid. To me, he’s a guy with the pads on, like Jeff Saturday. Jeff Saturday went undrafted out of North Carolina, and he’s had a heck of a career, so these centers tend to get overlooked a bit and pushed down. If Molk’s in the fifth-round area, I think he’s a heck of a choice." -- Kiper

Recent stories
Molk says he believes he is the draft's top center

Terrific bench press helps Molk generate buzz at combine, despite being injured

Molk addresses size, injury issues

Molk opens up about playing through torn tendon in the Sugar Bowl, rehab and proving his doubters wrong

Trials help turn undersized Molk into legitimate NFL prospect

But Molk says he's not worried about it.

"Let me put it this way: I’ve never had an issue with the length of my arms playing a football game," he said. "There hasn’t been a single person I’ve played against where I’ve reached to grab him, and he has kept me away because his arms are so long and mine are so short."

Molk long has been considered undersized, dating to when he entered Lemont (Ill.) High School as a 5-6, 185-pound freshman. But he's adapted at every level, including at Michigan, where he became one of the finest centers ever to wear a winged helmet.

However, recent history indicates Molk's odds of creeping into the early rounds -- where he hopes to go -- are steep regardless of his production.

Of the 64 centers taken in the past 10 drafts, only four were shorter than 6-foot-2 -- and none were selected earlier than the sixth round.

Three of the four were the final centers taken in their respective drafts.

The last center shorter than 6-2 to be drafted before the sixth round was Nebraska's Dominic Raiola, who was selected by the Detroit Lions in the second round of the 2001 draft.

Raiola, as it happens, also was a consensus All-American and Rimington Award winner (like Molk). He went on to start all but four games for the Lions since the 2002 season, despite his slight stature.

He's not alone, either.

In fact, although only six centers were 6-1 or shorter in the NFL last year, half of them were starters: Doug Legursky for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Todd McClure for the Atlanta Falcons and Raiola for the Lions.

Additionally, there were 11 centers in the league who were 6-2, only an inch taller than Molk. Six are starters.

That means nine of the 32 NFL teams -- almost a third -- start a center 6-2 or shorter.

Molk has drawn comparisons to one of them: Jeff Saturday, who, at 6-2, was a five-time Pro Bowler with the Indianapolis Colts. He signed with the Green Bay Packers in the offseason.

"You talk about defining what an overachiever is -- David Molk does," ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. said during a recent teleconference. "He is strong in the upper body. Short arms, though. I think that's the thing.

"The centers can overcome that at times. We've seen it. I remember Jeff Saturday came out of North Carolina after a heck of a career and didn't get drafted, had an outstanding career with the Indianapolis Colts."

That appears to be the dichotomy facing Molk: There is a place in the NFL for short centers, but they are punished in the draft because of their size.

Legursky (undrafted) and McClure (seventh round) suffered a similar fate, even though they were good enough to become starters.

"Molk is very intelligent," Kiper said. "But these (short) centers tend to get overlooked a bit and pushed down.

Molk also is hindered by a foot injury he sustained before the Sugar Bowl that required surgery. He hasn't been able to run at full speed, but did do positional drills for a small group of scouts last week. It went well, he said.

Buoying his stock is his reputation for playing with nearly flawless technique, quick smarts, exceptional speed and a powerful body. He posted 41 repetitions in the bench press at the combine in February, the most of any offensive lineman.

For comparison, Wisconsin's Peter Konz, the consensus top center in the draft, did 18 reps.

"I think he's instinctive, smart enough and has all the mental part of the game to be a center in the NFL," ESPN's Todd McShay said. "There are physical limitations there, but I think when you start to look at the center position … you would argue he's probably the second-best center in this class (with Georgia's Ben Jones)."

Molk has spoken to nearly every NFL team, including the 11 who have told his agent, Rick Smith of Priority Sports, they are searching for a center. That includes clubs such as the Falcons, Lions and Colts, each of whom started centers 6-2 or shorter last year.

Molk said he was expecting to have to address size issues when interviewing with teams, but it hasn't come up much.

"I was actually really surprised, because I thought it would be more of a topic," Molk said. "But frankly, most of them don't care. There's always stories about centers who were 6-foot, or 6-1, who were just fantastic. I think that eases their minds about where my height is."

Kiper, who once ranked Molk as high as No. 2 among centers, has dropped him to No. 3 behind Konz and Jones. McShay pegs him in the same range and projects him as a fourth-round pick.

Although that's lower than Molk hopes to go, it would buck the trend of short centers dropping to at least the sixth round.

"I'm short, but there are a lot of short guys who had long careers at center," Molk said. "If you can play, it's not a big deal. And frankly, I think i can play with anyone."

Kyle Meinke covers Michigan football for He can be reached at 734-623-2588, by email at and followed on Twitter @kmeinke.


Scott Laux

Tue, Apr 24, 2012 : 1:29 a.m.

Molk will start for a decade or more on some team; be at the very least a solid player. If he goes to the 5th round Detroit should take him as Raiola is getting long in the tooth.

Steve McQueen

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 8:01 p.m.

BTW Peter Konz from Wisconsin is a joke. He can not hold Dave Molk's jock on the field, and is 1/2 as strong as Molk.

Steve McQueen

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 7:57 p.m.

There is far too much "Matt Millen" in most NFL scouts. Seriously you could toss a dart at a dart board filled with draft names and do better than most of those guy in drafting talent.


Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 6:04 p.m.

David has the heart of a champion on a level that is rare. He will succeed and he knows it, I know it and you know it. You don't hold these types of folks down although some may try. This man is a winner. Think back at what Bo said when Jamie Morris tried out for Tailback or when Tom Brady (who) first spoke to the owner of the Patriots. Mich. got a pretty good walk on playing in the secondary right now. The list goes on and on but one thing stays the same, a great big heart.


Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 3:45 p.m.

What a great picture of Denard running behind a pulling David Molk. I remember seeing Molk taking out LB's and secondary defenders after handling the DT's...he got to the 2nd level as well as any lineman in the country. I think I can speak for all Michigan football fans when I say, Thank you David will be missed, best wishes on draft day and for a long and healthy NFL career!


Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 1:38 p.m.

AS LONG AS HE IS DRAFTED, HE has another chance to keep succeeding and proving himself !!!!