Analysis: Junior Diaz can have a successful NFL career if given the opportunity

The offensive lineman could be the first one drafted in FAU history.


Offensive lineman Junior Diaz was the sixth highest rated center at the end of the season according to Pro Football Focus. Photo by Alex Liscio.

Jensen Jennings, Staff Writer

With the NFL draft set to start April 23, the University Press sports staff will profile some of the FAU football players eligible. We’ve already looked at tight end Harrison Bryant and cornerback James Pierre; today we’ll look at one of the big guys up front, Junior Diaz. 

Since transferring to FAU from Tulane University in the spring of 2018, Diaz has been a mainstay at the center position on the offensive line for the Owls. He started all 26 games during his FAU career. 

Diaz headed into the 2019 season on the Rimington Award watch list, which is awarded to the nation’s best collegiate center. He also finished the season as a first team all conference in conference USA at the position.

The upside with Diaz is high, but will it be enough for a team to take a chance on him in the draft and allow him to become the first offensive lineman drafted in FAU history? 

Here are some of the pros and cons to Diaz’s game and what he can bring to an NFL roster: 


Diaz would bring a lot of experience to an NFL roster. He played in 52 games throughout his collegiate career with 44 starts, all at the center position. 

According to Pro Football Focus (PFF), Diaz had the highest pass blocking grade in C-USA with an 83.6. Pass blocking grades are determined by multiple different factors. Negative impacts include things like losing the block within the natural time of the pass play, giving up sacks and quarterback hurries and committing holding penalties. 

In the 493 pass-blocking snaps taken in the 2019 season, Diaz only allowed six pressures and zero sacks or hits to quarterback Chris Robison. 

Diaz also ranked high in run blocking in C-USA per PFF. They gave Diaz a grade of 71.0 which was the second-best grade in the conference. Run blocking grades are determined by multiple factors. Negative impacts include things like clear losses in run blocking, losing leverage or losing the gap, and losing too much ground in the backfield.

At the end of the season, Diaz was the sixth highest rated center in the nation according to PFF and showed he could be dominant in both the running game and passing game. 


While Diaz received high grades from PFF, he also did that playing in one of the weaker conferences in college football. According to National sportswriter Phil Steele, FAU had the 89th toughest schedule in the country at the start of the 2019 season. 

The biggest question teams will be asking themselves is whether Diaz’s numbers were inflated because of the competition he faced. He grades out as one of the highest rated centers available in this draft class but falls because of the level of competition he faced. 

Losing his chance to show scouts what he can do at FAU’s pro day due to the cancellation from the coronavirus, was another big blow to Diaz’s draft stock. Questions regarding his size and strength would’ve been answered with scouts seeing him at pro day. 

Best fit 

There are a few teams who will be looking to help bolster their offensive line and add depth at the center position. 

I’d look for the NFL teams who primarily run zone blocking schemes as a good landing spot for Diaz. He already has the experience and proven success in that scheme. 

Some of the teams who use the zone scheme are the Minnesota Vikings, Green Bay Packers, San Francisco 49ers, Kansas City Chiefs and New Orleans Saints.

It’s important for lineman to get to the second level of defenders quickly in a zone blocking scheme, and Diaz has proven he can do that. The loss of the pro day will hurt his chances to show what he can do for teams looking for offensive line depth. 

I don’t think Diaz will be the first offensive lineman drafted in FAU history, but I do think he will be signed as an undrafted free agent and will get his shot to live out his NFL dreams. 

The University Press will continue our draft profile series tomorrow with linebacker Rashad Smith. 

Jensen Jennings is a staff writer for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet him @Jensen_Jennings.