American Football

Could Sam Mustipher be the Bronco starting center in 2024?


NFL: NOV 27 Bears at Jets
Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

An in-depth look with data at how Sam Mustipher played in the two seasons when he was a starter

During the 2021 and 2022 seasons Sam Mustipher played almost every offensive snap for the Bears (he missed 13 in 2022). According to PFF grade he was the 30th ranked starting center in 2021.

Mustipher had a big problem with blown blocks in 2021 relative to other starting centers; he allowed 29. For comparison Creed Humphrey (a rookie) allowed seven. Lloyd Cushenberry allowed 22.

Mustipher improved in 2022. He moved from 30th to 18th ranked by PFF overall grade.

Rank Center 2022 PFF grade
1 Creed Humphrey 89.9
2 Jason Kelce 89.4
3 Ethan Pocic 78.9
4 Connor Williams 78.4
5 Frank Ragnow 77.9
6 Tyler Linderbaum 74.7
7 David Andrews 74.5
8 Corey Linsley 74.2
9 Ben Jones 71.9
10 Garrett Bradbury 70.2
11 Connor McGovern 69.6
12 Mason Cole 67.1
13 Robert Hainsey 66.7
14 Drew Dalman 65.9
15 Jake Brendel 64.9
16 Ryan Kelly 64.3
17 Brian Allen 63.8
18 Sam Mustipher 63.4
19 Bradley Bozeman 63.2
20 Andre James 62.8
21 Ted Karras 62.6
22 Tyler Biadasz 61.7
23 Mitch Morse 61.4
24 Hjalte Froholdt 61.4
25 Erik McCoy 61.2
26 Josh Myers 60.4
27 Wes Schweitzer 59.3
28 Graham Glasgow 59.3
29 Jon Feliciano 58.2
30 Tyler Larsen 58.2
31 Coleman Shelton 58.0
32 Lloyd Cushenberry III 56.2
33 Austin Blythe 51.9
34 Billy Price 51.3
35 Luke Fortner 49.6
36 Scott Quessenberry 36.6

According to PFF, Sam got better while LC3 got worse (moving from 17th to 32nd of 36). I looked at 36 centers in 2022 because I was using total offensive snaps and there were 36 who had enough to qualify. When I did the study after the 2021 season, I was only looking at the man with the most offensive snaps at center for their respective team.

According to PFF and SIS Sam allowed two sacks in 2022 and only one sack in 2021. He got called for three penalties in 2022 (two holding) and five penalties in 2021 (three holding).

Sam only played 202 offensive snaps for the Ravens in 2023, but he did start two games early in the season (win over CIN and loss to IND). Tyler Linderbaum was the Raven’s primary starting center and ranked sixth in PFF overall grade among starting centers in 2023. LC ranked 10th.

The reason that LC3 is not the coming back to Broncos is money. Mustipher signed a one year deal that will probably be close to vet minimum (what he got from the Ravens in 2023) while LC3 got $12.5MM/yr from the Titans making him the 3rd highest paid center in the league despite never ranking higher than 10th in PFF overall grade among starting centers. Jason Kelce retired and Ryan Kelly’s contract was voided.

Players often have career seasons in the final year of their rookie deal, like LC3 did, and then never match that level of performance again. The Titans have to hope that LC3 will continue his improvement and not regress to the the player that we saw in 2022 who was, by most stats, one of the worst starting centers in the league.

While I doubt the Bronco starting center in 2024 will be the 10th best in the league, we might be surprised. Just like the OL can really help the stats of the QB, the same thing can be said of the QB helping the stats of the OL. Peyton Manning was great at making his OL look better than they actually were. So maybe whoever starts at QB for the Broncos in 2024 can provide an improvement over the play of Russell Wilson in terms of avoiding sacks and getting the ball out on time and accurately.

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