Having won the 2020 Burlsworth Trophy as the most outstanding college football player who began his career as a walk-on, can Pittsburgh center Jimmy Morrissey continue his unlikely football journey by being selected in the 2021 NFL Draft?
Jimmy Morrissey NFL Draft Player Profile
- Position: Center
- School: Pittsburgh
- Current Year: Redshirt Senior
- Height: 6’3 1/4″
- Weight: 303 pounds
Tony Pauline’s Jimmy Morrissey Scouting Report
Positives: Undersized zone-blocking center who is most effective in motion. Patient, fundamentally sound in all areas and displays great awareness. Bends his knees, immediately gets his hands up, and consistently blocks with proper leverage. Fires off the snap into blocks, shows explosiveness at the point, and quickly gets out to the second level.
Possesses outstanding vision, sees the blitz, and adjusts to knock defenders from their angles of attack. Effective with the shotgun snap. Does a great job quarterbacking the offensive line.
Negatives: Must improve his strength at the point of attack. Needs a running start into blocks and doesn’t move defenders off the ball.
Analysis: Morrissey was a consistent center for Pittsburgh and gets the most from his ability. He comes with size limitations yet will flourish in a zone-blocking system.
Jimmy Morrissey Player Profile
Morrissey, a Huntington Valley native, took the first steps of this unlikely journey at La Salle College High School. A three-year player for the Explorers, he helped La Salle compile a 25-7 record. As a senior, he helped them capture a Philadelphia Catholic League title. For his efforts, he was twice named an All-Philadelphia Catholic League honoree. Additionally, the Big 33 Football Classic invited Morrissey to attend.
Despite his achievements at La Salle, Morrissey was overlooked as a high school prospect. Unranked, he didn’t receive a single scholarship offer to play FBS football. Even when he sent out an email to all 128 FBS programs, he still remained unwanted. Although he received some FCS offers, Morrissey turned his back on them and chose to be a walk-on at the University of Pittsburgh.
As a walk-on, the Pittsburgh center redshirted in 2016. Having put in the work to impress in practice during that first season in Pittsburgh, he was surprised with a scholarship offer from the Panthers prior to the 2017 season. Within the space of a year, he went from being an unranked high school prospect to a starting center in the ACC. Morrissey started 12 games in 2017, making the All-ACC Academic Team.
Morrisey’s emergence at the heart of the Pittsburgh offensive line
Making the team didn’t satisfy Morrissey. In 2018, he made the team significantly better. He was named the ACC Offensive Lineman of the Week after Pittsburgh put up an incredible 654 yards against Virginia Tech. Demonstrating his ability in the ground game, the Pittsburgh center helped pave the way for 492 rushing yards. Despite suffering a season-ending injury against Wake Forest, he made history for the Panthers. His performances earned him third-team All-American honors, something no Pittsburgh center had done before.
Over the next two seasons, Morrissey would make 24 starts, extending his career total to 47 starts. He was a team captain in both seasons, demonstrating some positional versatility by playing at right guard against Boston College. Additionally, the Pittsburgh center only allowed two sacks across the two seasons as the Panthers transitioned to a more pass-oriented offense. A first-team All-ACC honoree in 2019, he earned second-team honors in 2020, ensuring three consecutive seasons on the All-ACC teams.
Following the season, he declared for the 2021 NFL Draft. However, his remarkable football journey took another twist. While preparing for the draft, the Pittsburgh center received a last-minute call up to the Senior Bowl. With less than a 24-hour notice, he drove to Mobile, digested the playbook, and lined up for the Carolina Panthers-led American Team in the game on Saturday. Morrissey impressed, seeing snaps at both center and left guard in the game.
Jimmy Morrissey’s best fits in the 2021 NFL Draft
Despite being asked to pass protect more over his last two seasons, Morrissey is best suited as a run blocker for a team that runs an outside-zone scheme. In that system, his athleticism will be able to mask some deficiencies in size and strength. He has also demonstrated leadership and football intelligence, while the versatility of playing some time at guard could see him stick on an NFL roster.
Some team fits for the Pittsburgh center in the 2021 NFL Draft include the Chicago Bears, Atlanta Falcons, Seattle Seahawks, and San Francisco 49ers.
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Oliver Hodgkinson is a staff writer for Pro Football Network. You can follow him on Twitter at @ojhodgkinson.