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Bears draft positional analysis: Center

Florida State's Rodney Hudson might be the first center selected in the NFL draft. Andrew Shurtleff/US Presswire

Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith said unrestricted free agent Olin Kreutz remains a part of the plans for 2011, but a lack of resolution on that front and uncertainty about potential replacement candidates could have the club searching for a center in the NFL Draft.

Here’s a quick look at our top 20 at the center position, and what round they’re projected to be taken:

The next 10: 11. Ryan Bartholomew, Syracuse, 6-1, 302; 12. Colin Baxter, Arizona, 6-3, 311; 13. Kevin Kowalski, Toledo, 6-3, 300; 14. Howard Barbieri, Rutgers, 6-5, 3-5; 15. J.C. Brignone, Mississippi State, 6-1, 309; 16. Chase Beeler, Stanford, 6-3, 285; 17. Ryan McMahon, Florida State, 6-2, 285; 18. Ryan Pugh, Auburn, 6-1, 307; 19. Beau Warren, Virginia Tech, 6-3, 292; 20. John Gianninoto, UNLV, 6-3, 292.

Position grade: C-

Analysis: Although Smith expressed a strong desire to re-sign Kreutz, general manager Jerry Angelo seemed lukewarm about the notion, and mentioned young players such as Edwin Williams, and Lance Louis as potential options at the position. As it stands, the Bears don’t have a bona fide center under contract. So there’s a strong possibility the team will explore bolstering the spot. Even if the Bears are able to re-sign Kreutz, who will be 34 next season, the club needs to be looking for his heir apparent.