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  • Writer's pictureDaniel Comer

Ranking the 25 Best Centers in NFL History

The center position has been the anchor of NFL offenses since the league's inception, with players tasked with leading the offensive line, making critical line calls, and executing precise snaps to the quarterback. Throughout the history of professional football, the center position has produced some of the most reliable, impactful, and legendary players to ever step onto the gridiron, leaving indelible marks on the sport.

From classic iron men who played both offense and defense to modern-day technicians who excel in pass protection and run blocking, this list represents the very best of what the position has to offer. These elite centers have redefined the position, set new standards for excellence, and inspired generations of linemen who have followed in their footsteps.

Without further ado, here is our ranking of the 25 best centers in NFL history: (If you didn’t catch Ranking the 25 Best Offensive Tackles in NFL History, you can read that here.)

Best Centers in NFL History, National Football League Center Ray Wietecha of the New York Giants
Center Ray Wietecha of the New York Giants | Photo by Associated Press

25. Ray Wietecha


Team(s):

- New York Giants (1953-1962)

Accolades:

- Hall of Fame induction: No

- First-Team All-Pro selections: 1

- Pro Bowls: 4

Summary:

Ray Wietecha, an undrafted free agent from Michigan State University in 1953, became a stalwart center for the New York Giants during his 10-year career. Wietecha's consistency, durability, and technical prowess made him an essential component of the Giants' offensive line throughout the 1950s and early 1960s.


Wietecha quickly earned a starting role with the Giants and established himself as one of the most reliable centers in the league. His ability to handle defensive linemen, make accurate snaps, and provide a stable platform for the Giants' offense made him a valuable asset to the team.


As Wietecha's career progressed, he became a leader on the Giants' offensive line and a respected figure in the locker room. His work ethic, toughness, and dedication to his craft earned him the admiration of his teammates and coaches alike.


Wietecha's peak seasons came in the late-1950s when he was named First-Team All-Pro twice and selected to four Pro Bowls. His performance during the 1958 season, in which he was named the Giants' Offensive Lineman of the Year, showcased his impact on the team's success.


Throughout his career, Wietecha's consistency and durability were remarkable. He started 128 out of the 130 games he played, rarely missing time due to injury and always providing a reliable presence in the middle of the Giants' offensive line.


After retiring as a player in 1962, Wietecha's legacy as one of the most dependable and technically sound centers of his era was secure. While he may not have received the individual accolades of some of his contemporaries, his impact on the Giants' franchise and his reputation as a consummate professional were undeniable.


Ray Wietecha's legacy is one of consistency, durability, and technical excellence. He epitomized the qualities of a true professional, always putting the team first and dedicating himself to his craft. Wietecha's impact on the Giants' franchise during his 10-year career was significant, as he helped anchor an offensive line that supported the team's success throughout the 1950s and early 1960s. While he may not be a household name, Wietecha's contributions to the game and his place among the best centers in NFL history should not be overlooked.


Best Centers in NFL History, National Football League Center Mark Stepnoski of the Dallas Cowboys
Center Mark Stepnoski of the Dallas Cowboys | Photo by James Smith

24. Mark Stepnoski


Team(s):

- Dallas Cowboys (1989-1994, 1999-2001)

- Houston Oilers (1995-1998)

Accolades:

- Hall of Fame induction: No

- First-Team All-Pro selections: 0

- Pro Bowls: 5

Summary:

Mark Stepnoski, a third-round pick from the University of Pittsburgh in 1989, became one of the most technically proficient and consistent centers of his era during his 12-year career. Stepnoski's agility, intelligence, and pass-blocking prowess made him a key contributor to the success of the Dallas Cowboys and Houston Oilers throughout the 1990s.


Stepnoski quickly earned a starting role with the Cowboys and established himself as one of the league's premier centers. His ability to handle defensive linemen, make line calls, and provide excellent pass protection for quarterbacks Troy Aikman and Steve Beuerlein made him an invaluable asset to the Cowboys' offense.


As Stepnoski's career progressed, he became a leader on the offensive line and a respected figure in the locker room. His work ethic, attention to detail, and commitment to excellence set the standard for his teammates and helped foster a culture of success.


Stepnoski's peak seasons came in the early to mid-1990s when he was named Second-Team All-Pro three times and selected to five consecutive Pro Bowls. His performance during the Cowboys' back-to-back Super Bowl victories in 1992 and 1993 showcased his impact on the team's championship success.


After spending six seasons with the Cowboys, Stepnoski joined the Houston Oilers in 1995. He continued to perform at a high level, anchoring the Oilers' offensive line and providing stability amidst the team's transition to becoming the Tennessee Titans.


Stepnoski's consistency and durability throughout his career were remarkable. He started 195 out of the 196 games he played, rarely missing time due to injury and always providing a reliable presence in the middle of the offensive line.


Upon returning to the Cowboys for his final three seasons (1999-2001), Stepnoski's leadership and experience were invaluable to the team's young offensive line. His legacy as one of the most technically sound and consistent centers of his era was firmly established.


Mark Stepnoski's legacy is one of exceptional technique, consistency, and leadership. He epitomized the qualities of a true professional, always striving for excellence and dedicating himself to his craft. Stepnoski's impact on the Cowboys and Oilers franchises during his 12-year career was significant, as he helped anchor offensive lines that supported multiple championship runs and prolific offenses. His place among the best centers in NFL history is well-deserved, as he set the standard for technical proficiency and reliability at the position throughout the 1990s.

Best Centers in NFL History, National Football League Center Olin Kreutz of the Chicago Bears
Center Olin Kreutz of the Chicago Bears | Photo by Kevin Cox

23. Olin Kreutz


Team(s):

- Chicago Bears (1998-2010)

- New Orleans Saints (2011)

Accolades:

- Hall of Fame induction: No

- First-Team All-Pro selections: 1

- Pro Bowls: 6

Summary:

Olin Kreutz, a third-round pick from the University of Washington in 1998, became the anchor of the Chicago Bears' offensive line for over a decade. Kreutz's toughness, leadership, and consistency made him a beloved figure in Chicago and one of the most respected centers of his era.


Kreutz quickly earned a starting role with the Bears and established himself as a force to be reckoned with in the trenches. His ability to handle defensive linemen, make line calls, and provide a physical presence in the running game made him an essential component of the Bears' offense.


As Kreutz's career progressed, he became the undisputed leader of the Bears' offensive line and a locker room presence. His work ethic, tenacity, and no-nonsense approach earned him the respect and admiration of his teammates and coaches alike.


Kreutz's peak seasons came in the mid-2000s when he was named First-Team All-Pro in 2006 and selected to six Pro Bowls between 2001 and 2006. His performance during the Bears' run to Super Bowl XLI in 2006 showcased his impact on the team's success.


Throughout his career, Kreutz's durability and consistency were remarkable. He started 187 out of the 195 games he played, rarely missing time due to injury and always providing a reliable presence in the middle of the Bears' offensive line.


Kreutz's leadership extended beyond the football field, as he was actively involved in the Chicago community and known for his charitable work. His impact on the Bears' franchise and the city of Chicago was immeasurable, as he embodied the toughness and grit that defined the team's identity.


After 13 seasons with the Bears, Kreutz spent his final year with the New Orleans Saints in 2011. While his time in New Orleans was brief, his legacy as one of the most dominant and respected centers of his era was already secure.


Olin Kreutz's legacy is one of toughness, leadership, and consistency. He epitomized the qualities of a true warrior on the football field, always giving his all and inspiring his teammates to do the same. Kreutz's impact on the Bears' franchise during his 13-year tenure was immense, as he helped anchor an offensive line that paved the way for multiple playoff runs and a Super Bowl appearance. His place among the best centers in NFL history is well-earned, as he set the standard for grit, determination, and leadership at the position throughout the 2000s.

Best Centers in NFL History, National Football League Center Travis Frederick of the Dallas Cowboys
Center Travis Frederick of the Dallas Cowboys | Photo by Rob Leiter

22. Travis Frederick


Team(s):

- Dallas Cowboys (2013-2019)

Accolades:

- Hall of Fame induction: No

- First-Team All-Pro selections: 1

- Pro Bowls: 5

Summary:

Travis Frederick, a first-round pick from the University of Wisconsin in 2013, quickly established himself as one of the most talented and intelligent centers in the NFL during his seven-year career with the Dallas Cowboys. Frederick's technical proficiency, leadership, and ability to handle complex defensive schemes made him a cornerstone of the Cowboys' offensive line.


From the moment he stepped onto the field, Frederick made an immediate impact. His ability to make accurate line calls, provide excellent pass protection, and pave the way for the Cowboys' running game made him an invaluable asset to the team's offense.


As Frederick's career progressed, he became a leader on the Cowboys' offensive line and a respected figure in the locker room. His work ethic, attention to detail, and commitment to excellence set the standard for his teammates and helped establish the Cowboys' offensive line as one of the best in the league.


Frederick's peak seasons came in the mid-2010s when he was named First-Team All-Pro in 2016 and selected to five consecutive Pro Bowls (2014-2019). His performance during the Cowboys' playoff runs in 2014 and 2016 showcased his impact on the team's success.


One of the most remarkable aspects of Frederick's career was his ability to overcome adversity. In 2018, he was diagnosed with Guillain-Barré syndrome, an autoimmune disorder that caused him to miss the entire season. However, Frederick's determination and resilience shone through as he made a successful comeback in 2019, starting all 16 games and earning his fifth Pro Bowl selection.


Throughout his career, Frederick's intelligence and technical skills were unmatched. He was known for his ability to recognize and counter defensive schemes, making him a valuable asset in both the running and passing game.


Although Frederick's career was cut short due to his decision to retire after the 2019 season, his impact on the Cowboys' franchise and the NFL as a whole was significant. He set a new standard for center play in the 2010s, combining athleticism, intelligence, and leadership in a way that few had done before.


Travis Frederick's legacy is one of excellence, resilience, and leadership. He epitomized the qualities of a true professional, always striving for perfection and dedicating himself to his craft. Frederick's impact on the Cowboys' franchise during his seven-year career was immense, as he helped anchor an offensive line that paved the way for multiple playoff runs and established itself as one of the best in the league. While his career may have been shorter than some of his contemporaries, his place among the greatest centers in NFL history is secure, as he set the standard for technical proficiency, intelligence, and leadership at the position throughout the 2010s.

Best Centers in NFL History, National Football League Center Forrest Blue of the San Francisco 49ers
Center Forrest Blue of the San Francisco 49ers | Photo by Associated Press

21. Forrest Blue


Team(s):

- San Francisco 49ers (1968-1974)

- Baltimore Colts (1975-1978)

Accolades:

- Hall of Fame induction: No

- First-Team All-Pro selections: 3

- Pro Bowls: 4

Summary:

Forrest Blue, a first-round pick from Auburn University in 1968, became one of the most dominant and physically imposing centers of his era during his 11-year career with the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Colts. Blue's strength, athleticism, and tenacity made him a force to be reckoned with in the trenches and a key contributor to the success of both franchises.


Blue quickly earned a starting role with the 49ers and established himself as one of the league's premier centers. His ability to overpower defensive linemen, make accurate snaps, and provide a physical presence in the running game made him an essential component of the 49ers' offense.


As Blue's career progressed, he became a leader on the offensive line and a respected figure in the locker room. His work ethic, toughness, and competitive nature earned him the admiration of his teammates and coaches alike.


Blue's peak seasons came in the early 1970s when he was named First-Team All-Pro three times and selected to four consecutive Pro Bowls. His performance during the 49ers' run to the NFC Championship Game in 1971 showcased his impact on the team's success.


After seven seasons with the 49ers, Blue was traded to the Baltimore Colts in 1975. He continued to perform at a high level, anchoring the Colts' offensive line and providing stability for quarterback Bert Jones.


Throughout his career, Blue's durability and consistency were remarkable. He started 138 out of the 140 games he played, rarely missing time due to injury and always providing a reliable presence in the middle of the offensive line.


Blue's physical style of play and intimidating presence on the field made him a fan favorite and a player that opposing defenses dreaded facing. His legacy as one of the most dominant and feared centers of his era was firmly established.


Forrest Blue's legacy is one of physicality, toughness, and leadership. He epitomized the qualities of a true warrior on the football field, always ready to battle in the trenches and impose his will on the opposition. Blue's impact on the 49ers and Colts franchises during his 11-year career was significant, as he helped anchor offensive lines that supported multiple playoff runs and prolific offenses. His place among the best centers in NFL history is well-deserved, as he set the standard for physical dominance and intimidation at the position throughout the late 1960s and 1970s.

Best Centers in NFL History, National Football League Center Tom Nalen of the Denver Broncos
Center Tom Nalen of the Denver Broncos | Photo by Doug Pensinger

20. Tom Nalen


Team(s):

- Denver Broncos (1994-2007)

Accolades:

- Hall of Fame induction: No

- First-Team All-Pro selections: 2

- Pro Bowls: 5

Summary:

Tom Nalen, a seventh-round pick from Boston College in 1994, became the anchor of the Denver Broncos' offensive line for over a decade. Nalen's intelligence, technical proficiency, and consistency made him a vital component of the Broncos' success and one of the most respected centers of his era.


Nalen quickly earned a starting role with the Broncos and established himself as a reliable and skilled center. His ability to make line calls, provide excellent pass protection, and execute the Broncos' zone-blocking scheme made him an invaluable asset to the team's offense.


As Nalen's career progressed, he became a leader on the Broncos' offensive line and a respected figure in the locker room. His work ethic, attention to detail, and commitment to excellence set the standard for his teammates and helped foster a culture of success.


Nalen's peak seasons came in the late 1990s and early 2000s when he was named First-Team All-Pro two times and selected to five Pro Bowls. His performance during the Broncos' back-to-back Super Bowl victories in 1997 and 1998 showcased his impact on the team's championship success.


Throughout his career, Nalen's durability and consistency were remarkable. He started 188 out of the 194 games he played, rarely missing time due to injury and always providing a reliable presence in the middle of the Broncos' offensive line.


Nalen's intelligence and technical skills were highly regarded by his peers and coaches. He was known for his ability to make quick adjustments at the line of scrimmage and his mastery of the Broncos' complex blocking schemes.


After 14 seasons with the Broncos, Nalen retired in 2007, leaving behind a legacy as one of the franchise's most beloved and respected players. His impact on the team's success and his contributions to the offensive line's dominance during his tenure were immeasurable.


Tom Nalen's legacy is one of intelligence, consistency, and leadership. He epitomized the qualities of a true professional, always striving for excellence and dedicating himself to his craft. Nalen's impact on the Broncos' franchise during his 14-year career was immense, as he helped anchor an offensive line that paved the way for multiple Super Bowl victories and established itself as one of the best in the league. His place among the best centers in NFL history is well-earned, as he set the standard for technical proficiency, reliability, and leadership at the position throughout the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Best Centers in NFL History, National Football League Center Ryan Kalil of the Carolina Panthers
Center Ryan Kalil of the Carolina Panthers | Photo by Scott Cunningham

19. Ryan Kalil


Team(s):

- Carolina Panthers (2007-2018)

- New York Jets (2019)

Accolades:

- Hall of Fame induction: No

- First-Team All-Pro selections: 2

- Pro Bowls: 5

Summary:

Ryan Kalil, a second-round pick from the University of Southern California in 2007, became the cornerstone of the Carolina Panthers' offensive line for over a decade. Kalil's athleticism, intelligence, and leadership made him one of the most respected and accomplished centers of his era.


Kalil quickly earned a starting role with the Panthers and established himself as a force to be reckoned with in the trenches. His ability to handle defensive linemen, make accurate line calls, and provide excellent pass protection made him an essential component of the Panthers' offense.


As Kalil's career progressed, he became the undisputed leader of the Panthers' offensive line and a locker room presence. His work ethic, dedication, and competitive spirit earned him the respect and admiration of his teammates and coaches alike.


Kalil's peak seasons came in the early to mid-2010s when he was named First-Team All-Pro twice and selected to five Pro Bowls. His performance during the Panthers' run to Super Bowl 50 in 2015 showcased his impact on the team's success.


Throughout his career, Kalil's consistency and reliability were remarkable. He started 145 out of the 148 games he played, rarely missing time due to injury and always providing a steady presence in the middle of the Panthers' offensive line.


Kalil's leadership extended beyond the football field, as he was actively involved in the Charlotte community and known for his charitable work. His impact on the Panthers' franchise and the city of Charlotte was immeasurable, as he embodied the values of hard work, dedication, and excellence.


After 12 seasons with the Panthers, Kalil joined the New York Jets for the 2019 season. While his time with the Jets was short-lived, his legacy as one of the most talented and respected centers of his era was already secure.


Ryan Kalil's legacy is one of athleticism, intelligence, and leadership. He epitomized the qualities of a true professional, always striving for greatness and leading by example. Kalil's impact on the Panthers' franchise during his 12-year tenure was immense, as he helped anchor an offensive line that paved the way for multiple playoff runs and a Super Bowl appearance. His place among the best centers in NFL history is well-earned, as he set the standard for skill, consistency, and leadership at the position throughout the late 2000s and 2010s.

Best Centers in NFL History, National Football League Center Alex Mack of the Atlanta Falcons
Center Alex Mack of the Atlanta Falcons | Photo by Jonathan Bachman

18. Alex Mack


Team(s):

- Cleveland Browns (2009-2015)

- Atlanta Falcons (2016-2020)

- San Francisco 49ers (2021)

Accolades:

- Hall of Fame induction: No

- First-Team All-Pro selections: 0

- Pro Bowls: 7

Summary:

Alex Mack, a first-round pick from the University of California, Berkeley in 2009, established himself as one of the most talented and consistent centers in the NFL during his 13-year career. Mack's athleticism, technical proficiency, and football IQ made him a valuable asset to the Cleveland Browns, Atlanta Falcons, and San Francisco 49ers.


From the moment he stepped onto the field, Mack made an immediate impact. His ability to make accurate line calls, provide excellent pass protection, and execute complex blocking schemes made him an integral part of his teams' offensive success.


As Mack's career progressed, he became a leader on the offensive line and a respected figure in the locker room. His work ethic, dedication to his craft, and commitment to excellence set the standard for his teammates and helped establish a culture of success.


Mack's peak seasons came in the early to mid-2010s when he was selected to seven Pro Bowls. His performance during the Falcons' run to Super Bowl LI in 2016 showcased his impact on the team's success, even while playing through a fracture in his leg.


One of the most remarkable aspects of Mack's career was his durability and consistency. He started all 196 games he played in, never missing a start due to injury. This feat is a testament to his toughness, dedication, and ability to perform at a high level week in and week out.


Throughout his career, Mack's athleticism and technical skills were highly regarded by his peers and coaches. He was known for his ability to execute zone-blocking schemes, pull and lead block on outside runs, and handle even the most formidable defensive linemen.


After spending seven seasons with the Browns and five with the Falcons, Mack joined the 49ers for the 2021 season, where he continued to perform at a high level and provide veteran leadership to a young offensive line.


Alex Mack's legacy is one of excellence, durability, and leadership. He epitomized the qualities of a true professional, always striving for perfection and dedicating himself to his craft. Mack's impact on the Browns, Falcons, and 49ers franchises during his 13-year career was significant, as he helped anchor offensive lines that paved the way for multiple playoff runs and a Super Bowl appearance. His place among the best centers in NFL history is secure, as he set the standard for athleticism, technical proficiency, and consistency at the position throughout the 2010s and early 2020s.

Best Centers in NFL History, National Football League Center Kent Hull of the Buffalo Bills
Center Kent Hull of the Buffalo Bills | Photo by George Rose

17. Kent Hull


Team(s):

- Buffalo Bills (1986-1996)

Accolades:

- Hall of Fame induction: No

- First-Team All-Pro selections: 2

- Pro Bowls: 4

Summary:

Kent Hull, an undrafted free agent from Mississippi State University in 1983, initially played in the United States Football League (USFL) before joining the Buffalo Bills in 1986. He quickly became the anchor of the Bills' offensive line and a key contributor to the team's success throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s.


Hull immediately earned a starting role with the Bills and established himself as one of the most reliable and intelligent centers in the league. His ability to make accurate line calls, provide excellent pass protection, and pave the way for the Bills' potent rushing attack made him an invaluable asset to the team's offense.


As Hull's career progressed, he became a leader on the Bills' offensive line and a respected figure in the locker room. His work ethic, toughness, and dedication to his craft earned him the admiration of his teammates and coaches alike.


Hull's peak seasons came in the late 1980s and early 1990s when he was named First-Team All-Pro two times and selected to four Pro Bowls. His performance during the Bills' four consecutive Super Bowl appearances from 1990 to 1993 showcased his impact on the team's success and his ability to perform at the highest level on the biggest stage.


One of the most remarkable aspects of Hull's career was his durability and consistency. He started all 170 games he played in, never missing a start due to injury. This feat is a testament to his toughness, resilience, and commitment to his team.


Throughout his career, Hull's intelligence and technical skills were highly regarded by his peers and coaches. He was known for his ability to make quick adjustments at the line of scrimmage, communicate effectively with his teammates, and handle even the most formidable defensive linemen.


After 11 seasons with the Bills, Hull retired in 1996, leaving behind a legacy as one of the franchise's most beloved and respected players. His impact on the team's success and his contributions to the offensive line's dominance during his tenure were immeasurable.


Kent Hull's legacy is one of reliability, intelligence, and leadership. He epitomized the qualities of a true professional, always putting his team first and dedicating himself to his craft. Hull's impact on the Bills' franchise during his 11-year career was immense, as he helped anchor an offensive line that paved the way for multiple Super Bowl appearances and established itself as one of the best in the league. His place among the best centers in NFL history is well-deserved, as he set the standard for consistency, toughness, and football IQ at the position throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Best Centers in NFL History, National Football League Center Jeff Saturday of the Indianapolis Colts
Center Jeff Saturday of the Indianapolis Colts | Photo by Dilip Vishwanat

16. Jeff Saturday


Team(s):

- Indianapolis Colts (1999-2011)

- Green Bay Packers (2012)

Accolades:

- Hall of Fame induction: No

- First-Team All-Pro selections: 2

- Pro Bowls: 6

Summary:

Jeff Saturday, an undrafted free agent from the University of North Carolina in 1998, became one of the most reliable and intelligent centers in the NFL during his 14-year career. Saturday's technical proficiency, leadership, and durability made him a vital component of the Indianapolis Colts' success and a key contributor to the Green Bay Packers in his final season.


After spending a year on the Ravens' practice squad, Saturday signed with the Colts in 1999 and quickly earned a starting role. His ability to make accurate line calls, provide excellent pass protection, and execute the Colts' complex offensive schemes made him an invaluable asset to the team's high-powered offense led by quarterback Peyton Manning.


As Saturday's career progressed, he became a leader on the Colts' offensive line and a respected figure in the locker room. His work ethic, intelligence, and commitment to excellence set the standard for his teammates and helped foster a culture of success.


Saturday's peak seasons came in the mid-2000s when he was named First-Team All-Pro twice and selected to six Pro Bowls. His performance during the Colts' Super Bowl XLI victory in 2006 showcased his impact on the team's championship success.


Throughout his career, Saturday's durability and consistency were remarkable. He started 202 out of the 211 games he played, rarely missing time due to injury and always providing a reliable presence in the middle of the offensive line.


Saturday's intelligence and technical skills were highly regarded by his peers and coaches. He was known for his ability to make quick adjustments at the line of scrimmage, communicate effectively with his quarterback, and handle even the most formidable defensive linemen.


After 13 seasons with the Colts, Saturday joined the Green Bay Packers for the 2012 season, where he continued to perform at a high level and provide veteran leadership to a young offensive line.


Jeff Saturday's legacy is one of intelligence, consistency, and leadership. He epitomized the qualities of a true professional, always striving for excellence and dedicating himself to his craft. Saturday's impact on the Colts' franchise during his 13-year tenure was immense, as he helped anchor an offensive line that supported one of the most prolific offenses in NFL history and contributed to multiple playoff runs and a Super Bowl victory. His place among the best centers in NFL history is well-earned, as he set the standard for technical proficiency, reliability, and football IQ at the position throughout the 2000s.

Best Centers in NFL History, National Football League Center Nick Mangold of the New York Jets
Center Nick Mangold of the New York Jets | Photo by Rich Schultz

15. Nick Mangold


Team(s):

- New York Jets (2006-2016)

Accolades:

- Hall of Fame induction: No

- First-Team All-Pro selections: 2

- Pro Bowls: 7

Summary:

Nick Mangold, a first-round pick from Ohio State University in 2006, became the cornerstone of the New York Jets' offensive line for over a decade. Mangold's athleticism, technique, and leadership made him one of the most dominant and respected centers of his era.


From the moment he stepped onto the field, Mangold made an immediate impact. His ability to handle defensive linemen, make accurate line calls, and provide excellent pass protection made him an essential component of the Jets' offensive success.


As Mangold's career progressed, he became the undisputed leader of the Jets' offensive line and a locker room presence. His work ethic, toughness, and competitive spirit earned him the respect and admiration of his teammates and coaches alike.


Mangold's peak seasons came in the late 2000s and early 2010s when he was named First-Team All-Pro twice and selected to seven Pro Bowls. His performance during the Jets' back-to-back AFC Championship Game appearances in 2009 and 2010 showcased his impact on the team's success.


Throughout his career, Mangold's consistency and durability were remarkable. He started all 164 games he played, rarely missing time due to injury and always providing a reliable presence in the middle of the Jets' offensive line.


Mangold's athleticism and technical skills were highly regarded by his peers and coaches. He was known for his ability to execute complex blocking schemes, pull and lead block on outside runs, and handle even the most formidable defensive linemen.


After 11 seasons with the Jets, Mangold's career came to an end due to injury, but his legacy as one of the franchise's most beloved and respected players was already secure.


Nick Mangold's legacy is one of athleticism, consistency, and leadership. He epitomized the qualities of a true professional, always striving for greatness and leading by example. Mangold's impact on the Jets' franchise during his 11-year tenure was immense, as he helped anchor an offensive line that paved the way for multiple playoff runs and established itself as one of the best in the league. His place among the best centers in NFL history is well-earned, as he set the standard for skill, toughness, and reliability at the position throughout the late 2000s and 2010s.

Best Centers in NFL History, National Football League Center Frank Gatski of the Cleveland Browns
Center Frank Gatski of the Cleveland Browns | Photo by Associated Press

14. Frank Gatski


Team(s):

- Cleveland Browns (1946-1956)

- Detroit Lions (1957)

Accolades:

- Hall of Fame induction: Yes

- First-Team All-Pro selections: 3

- Pro Bowls: 4

Summary:

Frank Gatski, a 16th-round pick from Auburn University in 1946, became one of the most durable and dependable centers in the early years of the NFL. Gatski's toughness, consistency, and leadership made him a key contributor to the Cleveland Browns' success throughout the late 1940s and 1950s.


Gatski immediately earned a starting role with the Browns and established himself as a force to be reckoned with in the trenches. His ability to handle defensive linemen, make accurate snaps, and provide a physical presence in the running game made him an essential component of the Browns' offense.


As Gatski's career progressed, he became a leader on the Browns' offensive line and a respected figure in the locker room. His work ethic, durability, and no-nonsense approach earned him the admiration of his teammates and coaches alike.


Gatski's peak seasons came in the early 1950s when he was named First-Team All-Pro three times and selected to four Pro Bowls. His performance during the Browns' championship seasons in 1950, 1954, and 1955 showcased his impact on the team's success.


One of the most remarkable aspects of Gatski's career was his durability and consistency. He started all 144 games he played in, never missing a game due to injury. This feat is a testament to his toughness, resilience, and commitment to his team.


Throughout his career, Gatski's physicality and technical skills were highly regarded by his peers and coaches. He was known for his ability to dominate in the trenches, execute precise snaps, and provide a reliable presence in the middle of the offensive line.


After 11 seasons with the Browns, Gatski played his final season with the Detroit Lions in 1957 before retiring. His legacy as one of the most durable and consistent centers of his era was firmly established, and he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1985.


Frank Gatski's legacy is one of toughness, consistency, and leadership. He epitomized the qualities of a true iron man, always putting his team first and playing through pain and adversity. Gatski's impact on the Browns' franchise during his 11-year tenure was immense, as he helped anchor an offensive line that paved the way for multiple championships and established itself as one of the best in the league. His place among the best centers in NFL history is well-deserved, as he set the standard for durability, reliability, and physicality at the position throughout the 1940s and 1950s.

Best Centers in NFL History, National Football League Center Jay Hilgenberg of the Chicago Bears
Center Jay Hilgenberg of the Chicago Bears | Photo by Associated Press

13. Jay Hilgenberg


Team(s):

- Chicago Bears (1981-1991)

- Cleveland Browns (1992)

- New Orleans Saints (1993)

Accolades:

- Hall of Fame induction: No

- First-Team All-Pro selections: 2

- Pro Bowls: 7

Summary:

Jay Hilgenberg, an undrafted free agent from the University of Iowa in 1981, became one of the most technically sound and reliable centers in the NFL during his 13-year career. Hilgenberg's intelligence, consistency, and leadership made him a vital component of the Chicago Bears' success throughout the 1980s.


Hilgenberg earned a starting role with the Bears in 1983 and quickly established himself as one of the league's premier centers. His ability to make accurate line calls, provide excellent pass protection, and execute the Bears' complex blocking schemes made him an invaluable asset to the team's offense.


As Hilgenberg's career progressed, he became a leader on the Bears' offensive line and a respected figure in the locker room. His work ethic, attention to detail, and commitment to excellence set the standard for his teammates and helped foster a culture of success.


Hilgenberg's peak seasons came in the mid to late 1980s when he was named First-Team All-Pro twice and selected to seven Pro Bowls between 1985 and 1991. His performance during the Bears' Super Bowl XX victory in 1985 showcased his impact on the team's championship success.


Throughout his career, Hilgenberg's consistency and durability were remarkable. He started 142 out of the 163 games he played, rarely missing time due to injury and always providing a reliable presence in the middle of the offensive line.


Hilgenberg's intelligence and technical skills were highly regarded by his peers and coaches. He was known for his ability to make quick adjustments at the line of scrimmage, communicate effectively with his teammates, and handle even the most formidable defensive linemen.


After 11 seasons with the Bears, Hilgenberg played one season each with the Cleveland Browns and New Orleans Saints before retiring in 1993. His legacy as one of the most technically proficient and consistent centers of his era was firmly established.


Jay Hilgenberg's legacy is one of intelligence, consistency, and leadership. He epitomized the qualities of a true professional, always striving for excellence and dedicating himself to his craft. Hilgenberg's impact on the Bears' franchise during his 11-year tenure was immense, as he helped anchor an offensive line that supported a dominant defense and contributed to multiple playoff runs and a Super Bowl victory. His place among the best centers in NFL history is well-earned, as he set the standard for technical proficiency, reliability, and football IQ at the position throughout the 1980s.

Best Centers in NFL History, National Football League Center Jim Langer of the Miami Dolphins
Center Jim Langer of the Miami Dolphins | Photo by Associated Press

12. Jim Langer


Team(s):

- Miami Dolphins (1970-1979)

- Minnesota Vikings (1980-1981)

Accolades:

- Hall of Fame induction: Yes

- First-Team All-Pro selections: 3

- Pro Bowls: 6

Summary:

Jim Langer, an undrafted free agent from South Dakota State University in 1970, became one of the most dominant and influential centers in the NFL during his 12-year career. Langer's technique, intelligence, and leadership made him a key contributor to the Miami Dolphins' success throughout the 1970s, including their perfect season in 1972.


Langer earned a starting role with the Dolphins in 1972 and quickly established himself as one of the league's premier centers. His ability to handle defensive linemen, make accurate line calls, and provide excellent pass protection made him an essential component of the Dolphins' high-powered offense.


As Langer's career progressed, he became a leader on the Dolphins' offensive line and a respected figure in the locker room. His work ethic, attention to detail, and commitment to excellence set the standard for his teammates and helped foster a culture of success.


Langer's peak seasons came in the mid-1970s when he was named First-Team All-Pro three times and selected to six consecutive Pro Bowls from 1973 to 1978. His performance during the Dolphins' perfect season in 1972 and their Super Bowl victories in 1972 and 1973 showcased his impact on the team's championship success.


Throughout his career, Langer's consistency and durability were remarkable. He started 141 out of the 151 games he played, rarely missing time due to injury and always providing a reliable presence in the middle of the offensive line.


Langer's technique and football IQ were highly regarded by his peers and coaches. He was known for his ability to make quick adjustments at the line of scrimmage, communicate effectively with his teammates, and handle even the most formidable defensive linemen.


After 10 seasons with the Dolphins, Langer played his final two seasons with the Minnesota Vikings before retiring in 1981. His legacy as one of the most dominant and influential centers of his era was firmly established, and he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1987.


Jim Langer's legacy is one of technique, intelligence, and leadership. He epitomized the qualities of a true professional, always striving for excellence and dedicating himself to his craft. Langer's impact on the Dolphins' franchise during his 10-year tenure was immense, as he helped anchor an offensive line that supported one of the most dominant teams in NFL history, contributing to multiple championships and a perfect season. His place among the best centers in NFL history is well-deserved, as he set the standard for technique, consistency, and football IQ at the position throughout the 1970s.

Best Centers in NFL History, National Football League Center Dwight Stephenson of the Miami Dolphins
Center Dwight Stephenson of the Miami Dolphins | Photo by Associated Press

11. Dwight Stephenson


Team(s):

- Miami Dolphins (1980-1987)

Accolades:

- Hall of Fame induction: Yes

- First-Team All-Pro selections: 4

- Pro Bowls: 5

Summary:

Dwight Stephenson, a second-round pick from the University of Alabama in 1980, became one of the most dominant and technically proficient centers in NFL history despite his relatively short career. Stephenson's athleticism, intelligence, and leadership made him a key contributor to the Miami Dolphins' success throughout the 1980s.


Stephenson earned a starting role with the Dolphins in 1982 and quickly established himself as one of the league's premier centers. His ability to handle defensive linemen, make accurate line calls, and provide excellent pass protection made him an essential component of the Dolphins' offense.


As Stephenson's career progressed, he became the undisputed leader of the Dolphins' offensive line and a respected figure in the locker room. His work ethic, attention to detail, and commitment to excellence set the standard for his teammates and helped foster a culture of success.


Stephenson's peak seasons came in the mid-1980s when he was named First-Team All-Pro for four consecutive years from 1984 to 1987 and selected to five straight Pro Bowls during the same period. His performance during the Dolphins' playoff runs in the 1980s showcased his impact on the team's success.


Throughout his career, Stephenson's athleticism and technical skills were unmatched. He was known for his ability to execute complex blocking schemes, pull and lead block on outside runs, and handle even the most formidable defensive linemen with ease.


Unfortunately, Stephenson's career was cut short due to a devastating knee injury he suffered during the 1987 season. Despite his relatively short career, his impact on the game and his reputation as one of the most dominant centers in NFL history were already well-established.


Stephenson's legacy as one of the greatest centers to ever play the game was recognized when he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1998, becoming only the second center to be inducted into the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.


Dwight Stephenson's legacy is one of athleticism, technical proficiency, and leadership. He epitomized the qualities of a true professional, always striving for greatness and leading by example. Stephenson's impact on the Dolphins' franchise during his eight-year career was immense, as he helped anchor an offensive line that supported multiple playoff runs and established itself as one of the best in the league. His place among the best centers in NFL history is undeniable, as he set the standard for athleticism, technique, and dominance at the position throughout the 1980s, despite his career being cut short by injury.

Best Centers in NFL History, National Football League Center Maurkice Pouncey of the Pittsburgh Steelers
Center Maurkice Pouncey of the Pittsburgh Steelers | Photo by Rob Leiter

10. Maurkice Pouncey


Team(s):

- Pittsburgh Steelers (2010-2020)

Accolades:

- Hall of Fame induction: No

- First-Team All-Pro selections: 2

- Pro Bowls: 9

Summary:

Maurkice Pouncey, a first-round pick from the University of Florida in 2010, quickly established himself as one of the most talented and consistent centers in the NFL during his 11-year career with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Pouncey's athleticism, technique, and leadership made him a cornerstone of the Steelers' offensive line and a key contributor to the team's success throughout the 2010s.


From the moment he stepped onto the field, Pouncey made an immediate impact. His ability to handle defensive linemen, make accurate line calls, and provide excellent pass protection made him an essential component of the Steelers' offense.


As Pouncey's career progressed, he became the undisputed leader of the Steelers' offensive line and a respected figure in the locker room. His work ethic, toughness, and competitive spirit earned him the respect and admiration of his teammates and coaches alike.


Pouncey's peak seasons came in the mid-2010s when he was named First-Team All-Pro two times (2011 and 2014) and selected to nine Pro Bowls (2010-2020). His performance during the Steelers' playoff runs throughout the 2010s showcased his impact on the team's success.


Throughout his career, Pouncey's consistency and durability were remarkable. He started all 134 games he played, rarely missing time due to injury and always providing a reliable presence in the middle of the Steelers' offensive line.


Pouncey's athleticism and technical skills were highly regarded by his peers and coaches. He was known for his ability to execute complex blocking schemes, pull and lead block on outside runs, and handle even the most formidable defensive linemen.


After 11 seasons with the Steelers, Pouncey retired in 2021, leaving behind a legacy as one of the franchise's most beloved and respected players. His impact on the team's success and his contributions to the offensive line's dominance during his tenure were immeasurable.


Maurkice Pouncey's legacy is one of athleticism, consistency, and leadership. He epitomized the qualities of a true professional, always striving for greatness and leading by example. Pouncey's impact on the Steelers' franchise during his 11-year career was immense, as he helped anchor an offensive line that paved the way for multiple playoff runs and established itself as one of the best in the league. His place among the best centers in NFL history is well-earned, as he set the standard for skill, toughness, and reliability at the position throughout the 2010s.

Best Centers in NFL History, National Football League Center Mick Tingelhoff of the Minnesota Vikings
Center Mick Tingelhoff of the Minnesota Vikings | Photo by Associated Press

9. Mick Tingelhoff


Team(s):

- Minnesota Vikings (1962-1978)

Accolades:

- Hall of Fame induction: Yes

- First-Team All-Pro selections: 5

- Pro Bowls: 6

Summary:

Mick Tingelhoff, an undrafted free agent from the University of Nebraska in 1962, became one of the most durable and consistent centers in NFL history during his 17-year career with the Minnesota Vikings. Tingelhoff's toughness, intelligence, and leadership made him a key contributor to the Vikings' success throughout the 1960s and 1970s.


Tingelhoff earned a starting role with the Vikings in his rookie season and never relinquished it. His ability to handle defensive linemen, make accurate line calls, and provide excellent pass protection made him an essential component of the Vikings' offense.


As Tingelhoff's career progressed, he became a leader on the Vikings' offensive line and a respected figure in the locker room. His work ethic, durability, and no-nonsense approach earned him the admiration of his teammates and coaches alike.


Tingelhoff's peak seasons came in the late 1960s and early 1970s when he was named First-Team All-Pro five times (1964-1969) and selected to six Pro Bowls (1964-1969). His performance during the Vikings' four Super Bowl appearances (IV, VIII, IX, and XI) showcased his impact on the team's success.


One of the most remarkable aspects of Tingelhoff's career was his ironman streak. He started all 240 games he played in, never missing a single start in his 17-year career. This feat is a testament to his toughness, resilience, and commitment to his team.


Throughout his career, Tingelhoff's consistency and technical skills were highly regarded by his peers and coaches. He was known for his ability to execute precise snaps, make quick adjustments at the line of scrimmage, and provide a reliable presence in the middle of the offensive line.


After retiring in 1978, Tingelhoff's legacy as one of the most durable and consistent centers in NFL history was firmly established. He was eventually inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2015, a well-deserved recognition of his impact on the game and the Vikings franchise.


Mick Tingelhoff's legacy is one of durability, consistency, and leadership. He epitomized the qualities of a true ironman, always putting his team first and playing through pain and adversity. Tingelhoff's impact on the Vikings' franchise during his 17-year career was immense, as he helped anchor an offensive line that paved the way for multiple Super Bowl appearances and established itself as one of the best in the league. His place among the best centers in NFL history is well-deserved, as he set the standard for toughness, reliability, and longevity at the position throughout the 1960s and 1970s.

Best Centers in NFL History, National Football League Center Mel Hein of the New York Giants
Center Mel Hein of the New York Giants | Photo by John Lindsay

8. Mel Hein


Team(s):

- New York Giants (1931-1945)

Accolades:

- Hall of Fame induction: Yes

- First-Team All-Pro selections: 5

- Pro Bowls: 6

Summary:

Mel Hein, the New York Giants' first-round pick from Washington State University in 1931, became one of the most dominant and versatile centers in the early years of the NFL. Hein's toughness, athleticism, and leadership made him a key contributor to the Giants' success throughout the 1930s and early 1940s, playing both offense and defense.


Hein immediately earned a starting role with the Giants and established himself as a force to be reckoned with on both sides of the ball. His ability to handle defensive linemen, make accurate snaps, and provide a physical presence in the running game made him an essential component of the Giants' offense. On defense, he was equally impressive, showcasing his tackling skills and ability to disrupt opposing offenses.


As Hein's career progressed, he became a leader on the Giants' roster and a respected figure in the locker room. His work ethic, durability, and versatility earned him the admiration of his teammates and coaches alike.


Hein's peak seasons came in the late 1930s when he was named First-Team All-Pro five times (1934-1940) and selected to six Pro Bowls (1934, 1935, 1938-1941). His performance during the Giants' NFL Championship victories in 1934 and 1938 showcased his impact on the team's success.


One of the most remarkable aspects of Hein's career was his durability and consistency. He started all 170 games he played in, never missing a game due to injury. This feat is a testament to his toughness, resilience, and commitment to his team.


Throughout his career, Hein's athleticism and versatility were highly regarded by his peers and coaches. He was known for his ability to excel on both offense and defense, playing nearly every minute of every game and rarely taking a break.


After retiring in 1945, Hein's legacy as one of the most dominant and versatile centers of his era was firmly established. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1963, a well-deserved recognition of his impact on the game and the Giants franchise.


Mel Hein's legacy is one of toughness, versatility, and leadership. He epitomized the qualities of a true ironman, excelling on both offense and defense and playing through pain and adversity. Hein's impact on the Giants' franchise during his 15-year career was immense, as he helped anchor both the offensive and defensive lines, contributing to multiple championships and establishing himself as one of the best players of his era. His place among the best centers in NFL history is well-deserved, as he set the standard for toughness, adaptability, and dominance at the position throughout the 1930s and early 1940s.

Best Centers in NFL History, National Football League Center Kevin Mawae of the Tennessee Titans
Center Kevin Mawae of the Tennessee Titans | Photo by Al Bello

7. Kevin Mawae


Team(s):

- Seattle Seahawks (1994-1997)

- New York Jets (1998-2005)

- Tennessee Titans (2006-2009)

Accolades:

- Hall of Fame induction: Yes

- First-Team All-Pro selections: 3

- Pro Bowls: 8

Summary:

Kevin Mawae, a second-round pick from Louisiana State University in 1994, became one of the most technically proficient and consistent centers in the NFL during his 16-year career. Mawae's intelligence, athleticism, and leadership made him a key contributor to the success of the Seattle Seahawks, New York Jets, and Tennessee Titans.


Mawae earned a starting role with the Seahawks in his rookie season and quickly established himself as one of the league's premier centers. His ability to handle defensive linemen, make accurate line calls, and provide excellent pass protection made him an essential component of each team's offense.


As Mawae's career progressed, he became a leader on the offensive line and a respected figure in the locker room. His work ethic, attention to detail, and commitment to excellence set the standard for his teammates and helped foster a culture of success.


Mawae's peak seasons came in the late 1990s and early 2000s when he was named First-Team All-Pro three times (1999, 2001, 2008) and selected to eight Pro Bowls (1999-2004, 2008-2009). His performance during the Jets' playoff runs in the early 2000s and the Titans' playoff appearance in 2007 showcased his impact on the teams' success.


Throughout his career, Mawae's consistency and durability were remarkable. He started 238 out of the 241 games he played, rarely missing time due to injury and always providing a reliable presence in the middle of the offensive line.


Mawae's technique and football IQ were highly regarded by his peers and coaches. He was known for his ability to execute complex blocking schemes, make quick adjustments at the line of scrimmage, and handle even the most formidable defensive linemen.


After retiring in 2009, Mawae's legacy as one of the most technically sound and consistent centers of his era was firmly established. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2019, a well-deserved recognition of his impact on the game and the teams he played for.


Kevin Mawae's legacy is one of intelligence, consistency, and leadership. He epitomized the qualities of a true professional, always striving for excellence and dedicating himself to his craft. Mawae's impact on the Seahawks, Jets, and Titans franchises during his 16-year career was immense, as he helped anchor offensive lines that supported multiple playoff runs and established himself as one of the best centers in the league. His place among the best centers in NFL history is well-deserved, as he set the standard for technique, reliability, and football IQ at the position throughout the late 1990s and 2000s.

Best Centers in NFL History, National Football League Center Dermontti Dawson of the Pittsburgh Steelers
Center Dermontti Dawson of the Pittsburgh Steelers | Photo by George Gojkovich

6. Dermontti Dawson


Team(s):

- Pittsburgh Steelers (1988-2000)

Accolades:

- Hall of Fame induction: Yes

- First-Team All-Pro selections: 6

- Pro Bowls: 7

Summary:

Dermontti Dawson, a second-round pick from the University of Kentucky in 1988, became one of the most athletic and dominant centers in NFL history during his 13-year career with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Dawson's quickness, strength, and technique made him a key contributor to the Steelers' success throughout the 1990s.


Dawson earned a starting role with the Steelers in 1989 and quickly established himself as one of the league's premier centers. His ability to handle defensive linemen, make accurate line calls, and provide excellent pass protection made him an essential component of the Steelers' offense.


As Dawson's career progressed, he became the undisputed leader of the Steelers' offensive line and a respected figure in the locker room. His work ethic, dedication, and commitment to excellence set the standard for his teammates and helped foster a culture of success.


Dawson's peak seasons came in the early to mid-1990s when he was named First-Team All-Pro six times (1993-1998) and selected to seven consecutive Pro Bowls (1992-1998). His performance during the Steelers' playoff runs throughout the 1990s, including their Super Bowl XXX appearance, showcased his impact on the team's success.


Throughout his career, Dawson's athleticism and technical skills were unmatched. He was known for his ability to pull and lead block on outside runs, execute complex blocking schemes, and handle even the most formidable defensive linemen with ease.


Dawson's consistency and durability were also remarkable. He started 181 out of the 184 games he played, rarely missing time due to injury and always providing a reliable presence in the middle of the Steelers' offensive line.


After retiring in 2000, Dawson's legacy as one of the greatest centers in NFL history was firmly established. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2012, a well-deserved recognition of his impact on the game and the Steelers franchise.


Dermontti Dawson's legacy is one of athleticism, dominance, and leadership. He epitomized the qualities of a true professional, always striving for greatness and leading by example. Dawson's impact on the Steelers' franchise during his 13-year career was immense, as he helped anchor an offensive line that paved the way for multiple playoff runs and established itself as one of the best in the league. His place among the best centers in NFL history is undeniable, as he set the standard for athleticism, technique, and consistency at the position throughout the 1990s.

Best Centers in NFL History, National Football League Center Mike Webster of the Pittsburgh Steelers
Center Mike Webster of the Pittsburgh Steelers | Photo by George Gojkovich

5. Mike Webster


Team(s):

- Pittsburgh Steelers (1974-1988)

- Kansas City Chiefs (1989-1990)

Accolades:

- Hall of Fame induction: Yes

- First-Team All-Pro selections: 5

- Pro Bowls: 9

Summary:

Mike Webster, a fifth-round pick from the University of Wisconsin in 1974, became one of the most durable, consistent, and intelligent centers in NFL history during his 17-year career, primarily with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Webster's toughness, technique, and leadership made him a cornerstone of the Steelers' dynasty in the 1970s and a key contributor to the team's success throughout the 1980s.


Webster earned a starting role with the Steelers in 1976 and quickly established himself as one of the league's premier centers. His ability to handle defensive linemen, make accurate line calls, and provide excellent pass protection made him an essential component of the Steelers' offense.


As Webster's career progressed, he became the undisputed leader of the Steelers' offensive line and a respected figure in the locker room. His work ethic, dedication, and no-nonsense approach earned him the admiration of his teammates and coaches alike.


Webster's peak seasons came in the late 1970s and early 1980s when he was named First-Team All-Pro five times (1978-1981, 1983) and selected to nine Pro Bowls (1978-1985, 1987). His performance during the Steelers' Super Bowl victories in 1978 and 1979 showcased his impact on the team's championship success.


Throughout his career, Webster's consistency and durability were remarkable. He started 217 out of the 245 games he played, rarely missing time due to injury and always providing a reliable presence in the middle of the Steelers' offensive line.


Webster's intelligence and technical skills were highly regarded by his peers and coaches. He was known for his ability to make quick adjustments at the line of scrimmage, communicate effectively with his teammates, and handle even the most formidable defensive linemen.


After 15 seasons with the Steelers, Webster played his final two seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs before retiring in 1990. His legacy as one of the greatest centers in NFL history was firmly established, and he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1997.


Mike Webster's legacy is one of durability, consistency, and leadership. He epitomized the qualities of a true ironman, always putting his team first and playing through pain and adversity. Webster's impact on the Steelers' franchise during his 15-year tenure was immense, as he helped anchor an offensive line that paved the way for four Super Bowl victories and established itself as one of the best in the league. His place among the best centers in NFL history is undeniable, as he set the standard for toughness, reliability, and football IQ at the position throughout the 1970s and 1980s.

Best Centers in NFL History, National Football League Center Jason Kelce of the Philadelphia Eagles
Center Jason Kelce of the Philadelphia Eagles | Photo by Perry Knotts

4. Jason Kelce


Team(s):

- Philadelphia Eagles (2011-2023)

Accolades:

- Hall of Fame induction: No

- First-Team All-Pro selections: 6

- Pro Bowls: 9

Summary:

Jason Kelce, a sixth-round pick from the University of Cincinnati in 2011, has established himself as one of the most athletic, intelligent, and vocal centers in NFL history during his ongoing career with the Philadelphia Eagles. Kelce's quickness, technique, and leadership have made him a cornerstone of the Eagles' offense and a key contributor to the team's success throughout the 2010s and 2020s.


Kelce earned a starting role with the Eagles in his rookie season and quickly proved himself as one of the league's premier centers. His ability to handle defensive linemen, make accurate line calls, and provide excellent pass protection has made him an essential component of the Eagles' offense.


As Kelce's career has progressed, he has become the undisputed leader of the Eagles' offensive line and a respected figure in the locker room. His work ethic, dedication, and passion for the game have earned him the admiration of his teammates, coaches, and fans alike.


Kelce's peak seasons have come in the mid-to-late 2010s and early 2020s, during which he was named First-Team All-Pro six times (2017-2019, 2021-2023) and selected to nine Pro Bowls (2014, 2016-2023). His performance during the Eagles' Super Bowl LII victory in 2017 and their subsequent playoff runs has showcased his impact on the team's success.


Throughout his career, Kelce's athleticism and technical skills have been unmatched. He is known for his ability to pull and lead block on outside runs, execute complex blocking schemes, and handle even the most formidable defensive linemen with ease.


Kelce's consistency and durability have also been remarkable. He has started every game since entering the league in 2011, a testament to his toughness and reliability.


In addition to his on-field accomplishments, Kelce has become known for his passionate speeches and leadership, both in the locker room and in the Philadelphia community. His iconic "underdog" speech during the Eagles' Super Bowl parade in 2018 has become a rallying cry for the team and its fans.


As Kelce continues his career, his legacy as one of the greatest centers in NFL history continues to grow. His impact on the Eagles' franchise has been immense, as he has helped anchor an offensive line that has paved the way for multiple playoff runs and a Super Bowl victory. His place among the best centers in NFL history is secure, as he has set the standard for athleticism, intelligence, and leadership at the position throughout the 2010s and 2020s.

Best Centers in NFL History, National Football League Center Clyde Turner of the Chicago Bears
Center Clyde Turner of the Chicago Bears | Photo by Associated Press

3. Clyde Turner


Team(s):

- Chicago Bears (1940-1952)

Accolades:

- Hall of Fame induction: Yes

- First-Team All-Pro selections: 7

- Pro Bowls: 10

Summary:

Clyde "Bulldog" Turner, a first-round pick from Hardin-Simmons University in 1940, became one of the most dominant and versatile centers in the early years of the NFL. Turner's toughness, athleticism, and leadership made him a key contributor to the Chicago Bears' success throughout the 1940s, playing both offense and defense.


Turner immediately earned a starting role with the Bears and established himself as a force to be reckoned with on both sides of the ball. His ability to handle defensive linemen, make accurate snaps, and provide a physical presence in the running game made him an essential component of the Bears' offense. On defense, he was equally impressive, showcasing his tackling skills and ability to disrupt opposing offenses.


As Turner's career progressed, he became a leader on the Bears' roster and a respected figure in the locker room. His work ethic, durability, and versatility earned him the admiration of his teammates and coaches alike.


Turner's peak seasons came in the early to mid-1940s when he was named First-Team All-Pro seven times (1941-1944, 1946-1948) and selected to ten Pro Bowls (1940-1944, 1946-1948, 1950-1951). His performance during the Bears' NFL Championship victories in 1940, 1941, 1943, and 1946 showcased his impact on the team's success.


One of the most remarkable aspects of Turner's career was his durability and consistency. He started all 138 games he played in, never missing a game due to injury. This feat is a testament to his toughness, resilience, and commitment to his team.


Throughout his career, Turner's athleticism and versatility were highly regarded by his peers and coaches. He was known for his ability to excel on both offense and defense, playing nearly every minute of every game and rarely taking a break.


After retiring in 1952, Turner's legacy as one of the most dominant and versatile centers of his era was firmly established. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1966, a well-deserved recognition of his impact on the game and the Bears franchise.


Clyde "Bulldog" Turner's legacy is one of toughness, versatility, and leadership. He epitomized the qualities of a true ironman, excelling on both offense and defense and playing through pain and adversity. Turner's impact on the Bears' franchise during his 13-year career was immense, as he helped anchor both the offensive and defensive lines, contributing to multiple championships and establishing himself as one of the best players of his era. His place among the best centers in NFL history is well-deserved, as he set the standard for toughness, adaptability, and dominance at the position throughout the 1940s.

Best Centers in NFL History, National Football League Center Jim Ringo of the Green Bay Packers
Center Jim Ringo of the Green Bay Packers | Photo by Associated Press

2. Jim Ringo


Team(s):

- Green Bay Packers (1953-1963)

- Philadelphia Eagles (1964-1967)

Accolades:

- Hall of Fame induction: Yes

- First-Team All-Pro selections: 6

- Pro Bowls: 10

Summary:

Jim Ringo, a seventh-round pick from Syracuse University in 1953, became one of the most technically proficient and durable centers in NFL history during his 15-year career with the Green Bay Packers and Philadelphia Eagles. Ringo's quickness, intelligence, and leadership made him a key contributor to the Packers' success throughout the 1950s and early 1960s, including their NFL Championship victories in 1961 and 1962.


Ringo earned a starting role with the Packers in his rookie season and quickly established himself as one of the league's premier centers. His ability to handle defensive linemen, make accurate line calls, and provide excellent pass protection made him an essential component of the Packers' offense.


As Ringo's career progressed, he became a leader on the Packers' offensive line and a respected figure in the locker room. His work ethic, dedication, and consistency earned him the admiration of his teammates, coaches, and even the legendary Vince Lombardi.


Ringo's peak seasons came in the late 1950s and early 1960s when he was named First-Team All-Pro six times (1957, 1959-1963) and selected to ten Pro Bowls (1957-1965, 1967). His performance during the Packers' NFL Championship victories in 1961 and 1962 showcased his impact on the team's success.


Throughout his career, Ringo's consistency and durability were remarkable. He started all 182 games he played, never missing a game due to injury and always providing a reliable presence in the middle of the offensive line.


Ringo's technique and football IQ were highly regarded by his peers and coaches. He was known for his ability to make quick adjustments at the line of scrimmage, communicate effectively with his teammates, and handle even the most formidable defensive linemen.


After 11 seasons with the Packers, Ringo was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles in 1964, where he continued to perform at a high level and provide veteran leadership for four more seasons before retiring in 1967.


Jim Ringo's legacy is one of technique, consistency, and leadership. He epitomized the qualities of a true professional, always striving for excellence and dedicating himself to his craft. Ringo's impact on the Packers' franchise during his 11-year tenure was immense, as he helped anchor an offensive line that supported multiple championships and established itself as one of the best in the league. His place among the best centers in NFL history is well-deserved, as he set the standard for technical proficiency, reliability, and durability at the position throughout the 1950s and 1960s.

Best Centers in NFL History, National Football League Center Jim Otto of the Oakland Raiders
Center Jim Otto of the Oakland Raiders | Photo by Associated Press

1. Jim Otto


Team(s):

- Oakland Raiders (1960-1974)

Accolades:

- Hall of Fame induction: Yes

- First-Team All-Pro selections: 10

- Pro Bowls: 13

Summary:

Jim Otto, an undrafted free agent from the University of Miami in 1960, became the epitome of toughness, consistency, and excellence during his 15-year career with the Oakland Raiders. Otto's grit, technical prowess, and leadership made him the cornerstone of the Raiders' success throughout the 1960s and early 1970s, as he helped the team transition from the AFL to the NFL and establish itself as a dominant force in professional football.


From the moment he joined the Raiders, Otto became an instant starter and never relinquished his role. His ability to handle defensive linemen, make accurate line calls, and provide excellent pass protection made him an indispensable component of the Raiders' offense.


As Otto's career progressed, he became the unquestioned leader of the Raiders' offensive line and a revered figure in the locker room. His work ethic, toughness, and unwavering commitment to the team earned him the respect and admiration of his teammates, coaches, and even his opponents.


Otto's peak seasons spanned more than a decade, as he was named First-Team All-Pro ten times (1960-1965, 1967-1970) and selected to 13 consecutive Pro Bowls (1960-1972). His performance during the Raiders' AFL Championship victory in 1967 and their appearances in Super Bowls II and XI showcased his impact on the team's success.


One of the most remarkable aspects of Otto's career was his durability and consistency. He started all 210 games he played, a testament to his toughness and dedication to the game. Despite playing through numerous injuries and enduring incredible physical pain, Otto never missed a start in his 15-year career.


Otto's technical skills and football IQ were unmatched during his era. He was known for his ability to make split-second adjustments at the line of scrimmage, communicate effectively with his teammates, and neutralize even the most dominant defensive linemen.


After retiring in 1974, Otto's legacy as one of the greatest centers in NFL history was firmly established. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1980, a fitting tribute to his unparalleled contributions to the game and the Raiders franchise.


Jim Otto's legacy is one of toughness, consistency, and excellence. He epitomized the qualities of a true warrior, playing through pain and adversity and always putting his team first. Otto's impact on the Raiders' franchise during his 15-year career was immeasurable, as he helped lead the team to multiple championships and establish itself as a powerhouse in professional football. His place atop the list of the best centers in NFL history is undisputed, as he set the gold standard for grit, technical mastery, and leadership at the position throughout the 1960s and early 1970s.



The Enduring Legacy of the Best Centers in NFL History


Throughout the history of professional football, the center position has produced some of the most reliable and impactful players to ever grace the gridiron. Legends such as Mike Webster, Jim Otto, Dwight Stephenson, and Dermontti Dawson have left indelible marks on the game with their exceptional skills, leadership abilities, and unwavering dedication to excellence.

As the NFL has evolved, the role of the center has become increasingly complex and demanding. From the iron men of the past who played both offense and defense to the technicians of today who excel in pass protection and run blocking, the position has adapted to meet the demands of modern offenses. These elite centers are now tasked with not only delivering precise snaps and anchoring the offensive line but also making critical line calls, recognizing defensive schemes, and even pulling and leading the way for running backs. Their ability to impact the game in multiple ways, from providing a stable platform for the quarterback to paving the way for game-breaking runs, can be the difference between a dominant offensive performance and a struggling unit.

The centers we've highlighted in this article represent the cream of the crop, each having made a lasting impact on their teams and the league as a whole. From the cerebral mastery of Mike Webster and the unmatched toughness of Jim Otto to the technical brilliance of Dwight Stephenson and the consistency of Dermontti Dawson, these players have set the standard for what it means to be an elite center in the NFL.

As the game continues to evolve, a new generation of centers is poised to carry the torch and build upon the legacies of those who came before them. Players like Corey Linsley, Ryan Kelly, Frank Ragnow, and Creed Humphrey possess the skills, leadership, and drive to one day join the ranks of the all-time greats and shape the future of the position.

The center position has a rich history filled with some of the most reliable and impactful players in NFL history. These legendary linemen have not only redefined what it means to play the position but have also left a lasting impact on their teams, their communities, and the game as a whole. As the NFL moves forward, the legacy of these all-time great centers will continue to inspire and influence the next generation of players, ensuring that the position remains the backbone of every successful offensive line for years to come. Read next: Ranking the 25 Best Fullbacks in NFL History - Take a look at the 25 best fullbacks in NFL history, from trailblazers like Jim Brown to versatile stars such as Mike Alstott.

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