With All-Pro Corey Linsley signing with the Los Angeles Chargers in free agency, the Packers will have a new starting center for the first time since Linsley’s rookie season of 2014. Green Bay has three in-house candidates with its starting guards, Pro Bowler Elgton Jenkins and Lucas Patrick, and 2020 sixth-round pick Jake Hanson. Jenkins’ versatility might be too valuable to have him locked into center, and Hanson was not impressive during training camp.
Alabama’s Landon Dickerson is our No. 4-ranked center.
Alabama’s Landon Dickerson suffered a torn ACL during the SEC Championship Game. Three weeks later, he was suited up for the national championship game. With the victory clinched, he played the final two snaps in victory formation.
“It wasn’t about me,” he told Birmingham radio station WJOX. “It was about being out with the team one more time. I’ll admit it was a little selfish on my end because I did want to be out there dressed up, going through pregame warmups, talking with my guys one last time. This was a special team. Just being able to be a part of that and be around those guys for that moment and that game – it’s almost like a Disney movie. It’s one of those things I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”
The timing of the injury could make his rookie year the equivalent of a redshirt season. Or, perhaps not. While he didn’t participate in Alabama’s pro days in March, he videobombed an interview with quarterback Mac Jones by doing a series of cartwheels.
Well before he was an NFL Draft prospect and even a high school All-American, Dickerson at age 11 became the youngest person at his dojo to earn a black belt.
“I think his martial arts are where his work ethic came from,” his father told the Orlando Sentinel. “His instructors were really disciplined and I saw right away how that affected everything he did from that point forward.”
An Eagle Scout, Dickerson spent his first three seasons at Florida State – he started at guard as a 17-year-old freshman – before moving to Alabama as a graduate transfer for the 2019 season. He opened the year at guard before moving to center. He was voted a team captain for both seasons.
"He was a hard worker and a very outgoing dude," fellow offensive lineman Alex Leatherwood told the Tuscaloosa News. "He fit like a glove whenever he came. He was a very vocal leader and harped on the things we needed to do to get to places we wanted to go. I feel like that's a great thing to have going to the next level."
Dickerson’s career will provide quite a conundrum for team decision-makers. As a player, he is very good. As a senior, he was a first-team All-American, winner of the Rimington Award as the nation’s top center and shared the SEC’s Jacobs Blocking Trophy with Leatherwood. That award, voted on by the conference’s defensive linemen, goes to the top blocker in the league.
However, his injury history is disconcerting, to say the least. If the ACL injury to his left knee keeps him out of his rookie season, that will be one-fourth of his rookie contract down the drain. He started seven games as a freshman at Florida State in 2016 before suffering a torn ACL in his right knee. In 2017, he played in four games before a season-ending ankle injury. In 2018, he played in two games due to ankle injury.
There’s no doubting his toughness, though. In 2018, he returned a few weeks after ankle surgery to play against Louisville. He played the entire game, even though the stitches holding the wound together had split.
“I got calls from Alabama coaches and everybody telling me, ‘This damn guy. He’s one of the toughest cats we got up here,’” former FSU offensive line coach Jeff Trickett told AL.com. “He’s a hell of a guy and a hell of a football player.
“When [the NFL scouts and executives] come in and talk to him, they probably don’t have guys on their team that are going to talk to him the way he’s going to talk to him. He’s gonna be a plus for anybody who gets him, I promise you that.”
Measureables: 6-foot-5 5/8, 333 pounds, 33 1/4-inch arms. No testing (ACL).
Stats and accolades: PFF charged Dickerson with one sack in his three seasons. That was 2020, when he allowed one sack, two hits and five total pressures. Sports Info Solutions didn’t blame Dickerson for any sacks the past three seasons. In 2020, it charged him with four blown blocks (zero on runs) and no holding penalties en route to winning the Rimington Award as the nation’s top center.
NFL Draft Bible says: Dickerson has an impressive anchor at the point of attack, rarely giving an inch. Dickerson has some nice length for the position, which can help him gain leverage early in reps when working laterally. While working to the second level, he takes relatively decent angles in cutoff situations. As an athlete, Dickerson leaves a lot to be desired. He shouldn’t work laterally too often, and is better suited for a gap power system in tight confines. With a combination of power, length, versatility and solid football intelligence, Dickerson has enough traits to hold a role for a substantial amount of time at the next level.
About This Series
Packer Central is introducing you to the top prospects, both on and off the field, in this year’s NFL Draft. The series is starting with the top five at each position, then will add additional players as the draft approaches, with a focus on positions of need.