Former Gophers center John Michael Schmitz is heading to the Big Apple. Schmitz was selected by the New York Giants in the second round (No. 57) of the 2023 NFL Draft.
The Giants did extensive homework on Minnesota’s center throughout the entire draft process. Offensive line coach Bobby Johnson attended Minnesota’s Pro Day and Schmitz took a top 30 visit to New York this spring.
The Giants really needed a starting center after Joe Feliciano and Nick Gates both departed this offseason. New York signed free agent J.C. Hassenauer earlier this month, but Schmitz should immediately start.
The former Gophers center enters a Giants scheme that features a very diverse rushing scheme. New York mixes between power and zone concepts, including counter, pullers, lead plays, outside zone, inside zone, tosses, etc. One could argue the Giants have one of the most diverse blocking schemes in the league, along with Detroit. Schmitz is seasoned in the zone schemes, but has all of the traits needed for power concepts as well. He will pick things up quickly and become a key leader of the Giants’ offensive line.
Overall, Schmitz is a rock solid center with outstanding physicality, quickness and leverage skills. In addition to those key traits, John Michael’s hip flexibility, core power, and football IQ are exceptional. Schmitz takes a very quick first step, smoothly reaches, flips/sinks his hips and walls off defensive tackles with ease. He also plays with great physicality has the power to dent defensive lineman through the whistle. Throughout his career, he hit the second level and got out in space for screen passes as needed. You could see many of these traits showing up all the way back in 2019. Since then, he’s made even more growth both mentally and physically.
Outside of the traits on the field, John Michael is an outstanding leader. He became a foundational player as P.J. Fleck and the Gophers implemented their system and culture. Schmitz not only led up front and made key adjustments, but became a pivotal voice in the locker room. Giants fans will really like his personality, work ethic and playing style.
As a result of Schmitz’s selection, Minnesota’s program made history. John Michael became the Gophers’ highest-drafted offensive lineman and center since Brian Williams in 1989. Additionally, the Gophers haven’t had an offensive lineman selected in the first four rounds of consecutive NFL Drafts since 1968-69 (John Williams – Round 1, Baltimore Colts) and Ezell Jones (Round 4, New York Jets).
Also, according to Gopher Athletics, Minnesota has had at least one player drafted in the first two rounds of the past four drafts for the first time since 1942-45.
2020 – Antoine Winfield Jr.
2021 – Rashod Bateman
2022 – Boye Mafe
2023 – John Michael Schmitz