In this year’s NFL draft, the Jets selected former Wisconsin center Joe Tippmann with the 43rd overall pick. Today, we break down Tippmann in detail.
The 22-year old Tippmann is listed at 6’6” and 317 pounds and was an honorable mention all-Big Ten selection last season. He was a two-year starter for the Badgers.
Tippmann was rated as a four-star prospect as a high school recruit and he headed to Wisconsin where he would redshirt his first season in 2018. He then played in just two games as a redshirt freshman.
Having won the starting center role ahead of the 2021 season, Tippmann started 10 of 11 games and then started all 12 regular season games in 2022 before announcing he would be entering the 2023 draft and opting out of his team’s bowl game. He was named as an honorable mention all-Big Ten selection for 2022.
Tippmann was unable to work out at the scouting combine or his pro day due to injury, but several teams showed interest in him ahead of the draft and he was widely considered a likely top-50 selection. The Jets eventually drafted him in the second round, with the 43rd overall pick.
Now let’s take a look at what Tippmann brings to the table, divided into categories.
Tippmann is big for a center and pad level will be something he will always need to be conscious of at 6’6”. Despite only having an average arm length, his wingspan is long, as he obviously has a wide torso.
Much like Will McDonald, Tippmann is a player who could have lit up the combine if he’d been able to do a full workout, but he was unable to do so - or to work out at his pro day - due to injury. He did showcase some good strength with 30 bench press reps at his pro day though.
Again, like McDonald, Tippmann has been included in Bruce Feldman’s “Freaks” list, which listed him before the 2022 season, revealing that he has run an exceptional 1.65 10-yard split and displayed incredible strength with a 635-pound back squat and a 455-pound max bench press.
Although he didn’t record any official speed or agility numbers, these are attributes Tippmann demonstrates on film. The Jets likely consider him a superior athlete to John Michael Schmitz, in whom they were also reportedly interested.
Tippmann played exclusively at center in 2021 and 2022, but he was a tackle in high school, so he had to learn the position first. Opening day in 2021 was the first time he had ever played the position in a real game.
In 2020, he played just 11 offensive snaps, all at right guard. With his ability to block on the move and his experience at center and tackle, this is likely a position he could learn to play at the NFL level if necessary, but clearly the Jets have brought him in primarily to groom him as their center of the future.
Wisconsin’s program has a reputation for operating a run-based attack and that’s not altogether inaccurate, but Tippmann was still required to block regularly in true pass sets.
His overall record is good, as he gave up just one sack in his career and less than 10 total pressures over the past two seasons.
Here’s one place where his size is a real asset in preventing early pressure up the middle. He is also strong enough to anchor against big linemen who look to collapse the pocket.
It’s rare to find any examples of Tippmann actually getting beat, but here’s a play where his man got past him for a pressure.
Tippmann exhibits excellent strength at the point of attack, showcasing the ability to drive his man back off the line.
At the point of attack, he is able to use his strength to control his man and open up lanes in the running game.
He also has the athleticism to block on the move, as a zone blocker, on reach blocks and climbing to the second level. On this play he pulls and finds a target well in space.
Tippmann shows nastiness in how he finishes his blocks, often taking his man to the ground as he does here at the second level.
With his strength at the point of attack, Tippmann is someone you can run behind in short yardage situations.
However, the Badgers weren’t always limited to plowing up the middle, because Tippmann has the versatility to lead the way on the outside too.
Here’s one place where Tippmann’s pad level is particularly vital to his success. If blockers can get under his pads, they can stand him up initially, giving the linebackers a chance to bottle up runs even though he is so strong he will often regain the advantage and drive his man back.
Wisconsin is a team whose own fans have often complained about how rare it is for them to have success on screen passes. Even when they tried these, Tippmann was often just a decoy or staying in to block.
He certainly has the ability to get out in front and find a block in space, as he’s shown on some of his run blocking plays, but this just wasn’t something Wisconsin did much of so there aren’t a lot of examples of him showing what he can do on such plays.
Although he is tall, Tippmann can fire off the line effectively and get low enough to drive his man back.
However, his primary flaw is a tendency to lean into blocks, which can see him over-balancing and losing control.
This play demonstrates well how Tippmann can have a tendency to over-rely on his strength to win a leverage battle. His technique and pad level are far from perfect here, but he keeps his hands inside with a strong grip on his man to regain the control and take the man down.
It’s imperative that he does keep his hands inside though, otherwise he’s going to get called for holding on plays like that one.
He has had a few bad snaps in his career, although this isn’t something that has been a constant issue.
Tippmann only had three penalties in his first year as a starter but he had six last year. Most of these were for holding but his only penalty after week eight was a 15-yard penalty for a chop block.
As noted, he takes opposing players to the ground a lot and will use his strength in leverage battles and these are situations where he will need to be careful.
It’s unlikely that Tippmann will play special teams this year, although if he doesn’t win a starting role, the team could opt to use him on the placekicking unit. He played a few snaps at both guard and tackle in that role in 2020.
Tippmann, who was a two-time academic all-Big Ten selection, is regarded as someone with excellent knowledge of the game and a good communicator. He made all the calls and checks at the line with the Badgers.
As with most centers, he was sometimes tasked with being the spare man and keeping his head on a swivel. He’s usually adept at picking up and passing off stunts, but the only sack he gave up in college was when he reacted late on one.
He is also good in the running game at peeling off at the right time to find a second assignment and deals with run blitzers decisively and aggressively.
Tippmann is regarded as having excellent character. He is described as humble and calm off the field, but conscientious about his work and preparation and someone who leads by example.
His high school coach described Tippmann as the nicest guy on the team and he’s someone who has said he cares about each and every one of his teammates.
Tippmann missed the combine and his pro day due to a hamstring injury, but the bigger concern is that he had labrum repair surgery in each shoulder.
He initially had his right shoulder fixed in December 2020 and then had the same surgery in the left shoulder in January 2022. He had 11 pins put in one shoulder and 10 in the other. The good news is that before the surgery on the left side, Tippmann said that the first surgery was a complete success and he had felt great ever since. Clearly he started the entire season in 2022 after the second one too, so that’s a further good sign.
While Tippmann is bigger than all the centers the Jets have had since Nick Mangold retired, there are some rumors they were targeting some bigger options in free agency, so bringing in Tippmann could be a further indication that they wish to shift towards a bigger presence who can be an asset in terms of slowing down interior pressure and on short yardage runs than the incumbent Connor McGovern.
Whether Tippmann will be ready to start in year one remains to be seen but the Jets are planning on an open competition and Tippmann’s smarts and versatility should serve him well.
Wisconsin has a running game that uses both zone and man concepts, so he won’t be scheme-limited in terms of picking up a pro system.
The Jets are looking for a long-term starting center and Tippmann will be groomed for that role, whether or not he wins the job this season.
He’s a player who flashes dominance but does at times rely upon his strength and athletic ability rather than his technique. When matching up against NFL players who might be able to match him in terms of his size or movement skills, he’ll initially find this challenging and will need to keep working to perfect his techniques so he has the best chance of being successful on a consistent basis.
It’s rare to find a player at this position with such a combination of size and athleticism, so it’s fair to suggest that Tippmann arguably has more upside than any center in this year’s draft. The Jets will do everything they can to try and unlock this potential, as Tippmann looks like a promising selection who will hopefully contribute early.