You’ll be hard-pressed to find a more unique center prospect than Wisconsin’s Joe Tippmann. Tippmann’s NFL draft scouting report is drawing more and more attention after a stellar first season at the middle of the Badgers’ line. What kind of upside does he possess, and how highly might NFL teams regard his talents by next April?
Joe Tippmann NFL draft profile
Tippmann is a big blocker and makes a big impact wherever he goes. That’s the one-sentence summary for Tippmann — a 6’6″, 317-pound menace who mauls defenders on the interior line.
Tippmann set that kind of tone in high school when he played tackle for Bishop Dwenger in Fort Wayne, Indiana. In both his junior and senior seasons, Tippmann was a first-team All-Summit Athletic Conference honoree. And as a senior, serving as team captain, he was the league MVP.
When an offensive lineman wins league MVP in high school and essentially wills his team to a state championship, it’s impossible to ignore. His dominance was what drew Wisconsin to him. In 2017, Wisconsin presented Tippmann with an offer, and the four-star recruit would eventually settle on the Badgers.
Tippmann redshirted in 2019 and was a reserve in 2020. And in 2021, he unexpectedly shifted over to center. At first, it wasn’t clear if he’d translate in that role with his unique size. But he grew with each passing week and was a dominant center by his final start. Now, he’s a factor in a strong center class, and he could make noise in the 2023 NFL Draft.
- Position: Center
- School: Wisconsin
- Current Year: Redshirt Junior
- Height/Weight: 6’6″, 317 pounds
Joe Tippmann scouting report
Tippmann is a rare physical specimen. Listed on Feldman’s Freaks list, he has a documented 1.65 10-yard split (a number that would have led linemen at the 2022 NFL Combine), a 635-pound back squat, and a 455-pound max bench. All the testing numbers say Tippmann is a rare talent. But how does it translate on the field?
For a center, Tippmann’s size is overwhelming. The Wisconsin C sports a tall, wide frame, with enough length to envelop opponents and keep them across his face. And for his size, Tippmann is a very explosive athlete. His reported 10-yard split reaffirms this, as does his mobility on tape.
Tippmann has rare initial quickness for a 6’6″ lineman and gets off the snap extremely quickly. He can accelerate upfield when tracking linebackers in space, and he has the athleticism to square up linebackers in the open field and surge into contact. He also shows exceptional lateral burst. As a zone blocker, he can quickly flip his hips off the snap and rush toward the sideline.
Tippmann’s initial athleticism is most appealing, but the Wisconsin C has good utility in space as well. Most notably, he shows great range as a pulling blocker. He’s able to track linebackers from hash to hash and seal off outside runs. He also showcases above-average change of direction for his size. He can use ankle flexion to turn upfield through gaps while sustaining acceleration into blocks.
Mobility is an obvious plus for Tippmann, but his overall play strength is just as enticing. Tippmann has shown he has the grip strength to maintain anchors even when wrenched off-balance by powerful push-pulls. He also has the core strength to gather and absorb rushes after anchoring inside the torso. Tippmann’s high-level combination of core and grip strength allows him to latch onto larger opponents and lock them down through reps amidst heavy resistance. Furthermore, he has the recovery strength to stymie rushes after getting worked back initially.
With his size and length, Tippmann is naturally granted high-level power capacity, which he can use to forklift larger defenders off the line when well-leveraged. He channels good force on two-hand extensions and shoves linemen back in pass protection. Going further, Tippmann uses his explosive athleticism to supplement power exertion on moving blocks, generating great push at the point of attack. And in situations where he’s wrenched off-platform, he’s able to quickly reset his feet and generate leg drive.
Tippmann’s size detracts from his overall flexibility in some aspects, but he still brings a respectable baseline in that department. The Wisconsin C has the hip flexibility to maintain his anchor amidst stress and redirect surging opponents out of plays with recovery athleticism. He can get skinny between gaps and sneak to the second level, quickly flipping his hips off the snap to wall off unblocked ends and bury gap invaders. Tippmann also owns enough flexibility to swivel around after anchoring to seal off backside pursuit defenders.
An obvious point of contention with a 6’6″ blocker like Tippmann — especially on the interior — is leverage. While it’s not an overwhelming strength, Tippmann does bring better leverage than expected. For his size, he’s impressively comfortable acquiring leverage and leaning beyond his center of gravity. He plays with natural knee bend, and in pass protection, he very naturally recollects his base and leans into blocks while maintaining his center of gravity. Meanwhile, on running reps, Tippmann can acquire leverage off the snap, lowering and surging into contact with lean.
Leverage and technique are two crucial staples of offensive line play. Tippmann is trending up with his technique as well. The Wisconsin C has shown he can flash fast hands at the start of reps to widen opponents, then attack and latch inside the torso. He has a decent sense of timing and feel for synergy with his hands. Tippmann often extends once opponents enter his wheelhouse and when he’s on base. Moreover, he shows glimpses of fast, independent hands. He can swat at opposing extensions and promptly latch.
Turning the attention to his lower-body mechanics, Tippmann has fast, active feet off the line and has shown he can keep a strong, wide base when absorbing contact. He carries fast feet into blocks and can use his fast feet to adjust angles and build momentum. Furthermore, the Wisconsin C has shown he can recollect a uniform base amidst contact and absorb rushes with a stable lower body.
Especially for centers, awareness is another vital trait and one that Tippmann has flashed. As a help blocker, he’s able to drag on adjacent defenders with one-arm extensions while remaining cognizant of activity across the line. He has the awareness to flip around and wall off overpursuing defenders with his frame on moving blocks. And when working upfield to the second level, he can quickly strike, retract, and stack blocks.
Tippmann mends his game together with a great baseline level of physicality. The Wisconsin C consistently relocates defenders and paves lanes upfield and will punish defenders who sacrifice leverage to seek contain by sending them into the dirt.
Tippmann’s areas for improvement
Tippmann’s size and athleticism culminate in tantalizing upside. But his size also contributes to several drawbacks, most noticeably his leverage. While Tippmann has shown he can acquire leverage off the snap, his tall frame can make it tough to manage it consistently. Shorter opponents can easily get under Tippmann’s pads, exploit superior leverage, and generate movement.
Expanding on Tippmann’s leverage, the Wisconsin C can be tugged over his center of gravity relatively easily. Angled stunts can cause him to lurch and lose balance, and he sometimes retracts too far upright heading into contact, allowing defenders to get under his pads and quickly shed. In space, his pad level can be too high, impacting his ability to drive power through and sustain blocks.
Leverage will be an area of concern moving forward for Tippmann. But there are other areas of improvement to note. His length, while good, might not be quantifiably elite. At his size, he naturally needs to take a few steps to gather himself in space at times, and he doesn’t have elite change of direction. His strength also falls short of the elite mark at times. His frame is a bit lean and can be worked back by powerful opponents.
At times, Tippmann can better align his base to maximize torque and rotation off the snap. His rotational freedom can be more consistent on clubs and extensions. Moreover, Tippmann can better load his base when exerting power. His tall frame can make it difficult for the Wisconsin C to align his base beneath him adequately. Additionally, when blocking in space, Tippmann’s feet sometimes stall at contact. He can better carry and sustain leg drive into moving blocks upfield.
Operationally, Tippmann is still a work in progress, even if he’s shown recent growth. The Wisconsin C’s hands can be too wide on extensions, exposing his torso to power. Additionally, he’ll occasionally bear hug opponents on moving blocks, increasing his susceptibility to penalties. At times, Tippmann can be more efficient at loading and exerting power with his hands. His placement and precision can improve with independent hand-fighting, and he sometimes attempts to extend while imbalanced. He can still strive for greater synergy.
Tippmann’s footwork can be more controlled at times when tracking back in pass protection. His footwork is staggered and imbalanced when matching opponents. With his staggered feet, Tippmann’s base can become too narrow on occasion, impacting his balance and range of motion. It doesn’t help that he sometimes shows moderate stiffness when he needs to redirect to combat outside/inside moves.
As expected for a player who’s still gaining experience, Tippmann’s awareness can improve. His vision as a help blocker is questionable at times. He sometimes misses free rushers from wider alignments. Going further, Tippmann can overpursue blocking angles when tracking upfield and be late to stack upfield to linebackers after chipping linemen off the snap.
Current draft projection for Wisconsin C Joe Tippmann
Off of his 2021 tape, Tippmann grades in the late Day 2, priority Day 3 range. Though he’s not quite at the level of John Michael Schmitz and Sedrick Van Pran in the 2023 NFL Draft center class, he has the necessary upside to potentially reach their tier or even surpass it, with added development in 2022.
Few centers have the physical foundation that Tippmann has. Though his size can cause issues with leverage, his combination of size, athleticism, functional strength, and power capacity is rare. Tippmann is explosive off the snap, rangy as a pulling blocker, and delivers great force and physicality at the point of attack. And when he’s latched, it can be very hard for defenders to break free.
Also encouraging is that Tippmann is far from a liability with his leverage. For his size, he’s surprisingly competent when it comes to acquiring proper pad level and playing beyond his center of gravity. Through that mechanism, he can channel power and effectively attack blocks in the trenches. And if he can be more consistent with his leverage, he has a near-dominant physical skill set.
Beyond finding consistency with his leverage, Tippmann will need to keep refining his technique and improving as a help blocker in 2022. But the physical traits are there to support an early-round ascension for Tippmann in the 2023 NFL Draft. At his max projection, he could fight to be the first center off the board. And he has the traits to be a scheme-versatile impact starter in the NFL.