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How Likely Are Steelers To Land Starting Center In 2024 NFL Draft?



The 2024 NFL Draft is shaping up to present some extremely difficult decisions when it comes to roster construction for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Unless anything drastic happens between now and the draft, they have urgent needs at center, wide receiver, offensive tackle, and slot corner. There are other positions of need, but those seem to be the consensus four-biggest holes to fill. I am going to take a look at other teams’ positions of need and attempt to decipher how likely the Steelers are to have a starter fall to them.

The first two rounds are where you are going to find your instant contributors for the most part, so the focus of this exercise will be on the first 50 picks of the draft with the Steelers picking at 51. For the first installment of this series, we are going to take a look at the center position.

After moving on from C Mason Cole the day after the Super Bowl, the only reported interest that the Steelers had in a player during free agency was veteran Mitch Morse, who came in for a visit before signing with the Jacksonville Jaguars. The centers quickly flew off the market, and those remaining either have large medical issues, or are better suited to fill a backup role. There is no way around it, the Steelers must address the center position early. There are very limited options that would be able to step in as Week 1 starters. Here are the players that have a chance:

Jackson Powers-Johnson — Oregon
Graham Barton — Duke
Zach Frazier — West Virginia
Sedrick Van Pran-Granger — Georgia

Over the last 10 draft classes, the average number of centers taken in the first round is 0.7. Four of those drafts have not had a center taken on Day One, and five of them have had just one. The only draft class that saw multiple first-round centers over the last decade is 2018 with Frank Ragnow and Billy Price.

The second round typically sees more centers taken off the board with 1.3 selected on average. So through the first two rounds over the last 10 drafts, just two centers are normally taken.

Those numbers are favorable for the Steelers, but history is just that—history. All it takes are two or three teams with a need and the Steelers could be in trouble at the position. Certainly by the third round, they should be out of options that are viable to immediately contribute.

Draft Year Round 1 Round 2 Round 3
2023 0 3 1
2022 1 1 1
2021 0 3 1
2020 1 0 2
2019 1 1 0
2018 2 2 2
2017 0 1 1
2016 1 0 2
2015 1 1 1
2014 0 1 2
Total 7 13 13

So who are the teams that could conceivably play spoiler to the Steelers’ plans of landing a starting center? For reference, here are the Steelers draft picks after the trades that took place in free agency.

Philadelphia Eagles

Hall of Fame-bound center Jason Kelce just retired which means the Eagles need a new long-term answer at the position. He played almost entirely at right guard last season, but could kick inside to be the center.

Draft Picks: 1:22, 2:50, 2:53

Dallas Cowboys

Tyler Biadasz signed with the Washington Commanders, and need a new center.

Draft Picks: 1:24, 2:56, 3:87

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Robert Hainsey has not progressed after being a third-round pick in the 2021 draft. Entering the final year of his rookie contract, they should be looking for a center in the early rounds to help protect Baker Mayfield for the next few seasons.

Draft Picks: 1:26, 2:57, 3:89, 3:92

Seattle Seahawks

This may be a little less urgent with them signing Nick Harris and drafting Olu Oluwatimi in the fifth round last year, but they could still be looking for a long-term option.

Draft Picks: 1:16, 3:81

Arizona Cardinals

Hjalte Froholdt signed a two-year deal last offseason and is entering his final season. Probably not an urgent need, but if they love a prospect they could be in play, especially with the number of picks they hold in the early rounds.

Draft Picks: 1:4, 1:27, 2:35, 3:66, 3:71, 3:90

Green Bay Packers

Josh Myers is entering the final season of his four-year deal. It probably won’t be an urgent need to address right away, but they could be in play.

Draft Picks: 1:25, 2:41, 2:58, 3:88, 3:91

Buffalo Bills

Mitch Morse left in free agency, so there could be a need. Connor McGovern might kick inside, but he has played primarily at guard.

Draft Picks: 1:28, 2:60

Carolina Panthers

Bradley Bozeman signed with the Los Angeles Chargers. They could look to shift Austin Corbett inside, but he has never played the position at the NFL level.

Draft Picks: 2:33, 2:39, 3:65

Denver Broncos

Alex Forsyth was a seventh-round draft pick last year and is currently slated to be the Broncos’ starting center after Lloyd Cushenberry III signed with the Tennessee Titans. Hard to say how much they like Forsyth as he has yet to log an NFL snap.

Draft Picks: 1:12, 3:76

The good news is, the Steelers will likely be able to select any center they want at the 20th overall selection. The Seattle Seahawks pose a risk at 16, but that might be too rich for a center with a ton of talent at more premium positions on the board. The bad news is the Steelers will have that same decision with great tackles and receivers still on the board.

If they wait until the second round, things get a little more dicey. Any of the late first-round teams could take one, and with so few clear starting options in the draft, that could start a run on the position for needy teams. It is a true toss up whether one of Barton, Powers-Johnson, or Frazier will be available at pick 51 for the Steelers. It might be too large of a gamble to take. If things start getting tight in the second round, that could be the time for the Steelers to make a trade to secure their guy. Waiting until the third round doesn’t seem like an option. They need to find the next great Steelers center.


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