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PFF ‘Buying’ Report That Oregon’s Jackson Powers-Johnson Could Fall Outside Top 25 In Draft

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The report from ESPN NFL Draft analyst Matt Miller that Oregon center Jackson Powers-Johnson, one of the top centers in the 2024 NFL Draft, is unlikely to go inside the first 25 picks was a bit of a surprise when it broke last Friday.

Now, that report seems to be gaining steam as a likely outcome later this month.

In an article from Pro Football Focus Tuesday morning, Brad Spielberger writes that he’s “buying” the report from Miller that Powers-Johnson won’t go in the top 25 of the draft and stated that the Oregon standout’s draft day should start to get interesting when the Pittsburgh Steelers are on the clock at No. 20 overall.

“Powers-Johnson’s night should realistically start at No. 20 overall when the Pittsburgh Steelers are on the clock, and they have somewhat neglected the center position thus far in the offseason, which only increases the dot-connecting,” Spielberger writes regarding the report that Powers-Johnson might not go top 25. “The next four teams slated to pick after Pittsburgh all need interior offensive line reinforcements to some degree, with the Miami Dolphins, Philadelphia Eagles, Cleveland Browns and Dallas Cowboys either losing valuable centers/interior offensive linemen this offseason or perhaps looking to get out ahead of future needs.”

That report from Miller certainly raised some eyebrows as there are a few teams in the top 25 that have a need at center, especially the Steelers. After cutting Mason Cole in late February, the Steelers have not addressed the position in free agency or via trade, leaving it a glaring hole outside of potentially using veteran interior offensive lineman Nate Herbig at center.

The Steelers have shown interest in Powers-Johnson, having met with him at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. The Steelers also had assistant offensive line coach Isaac Williams get a good look at him at the NFL Scouting Combine, getting tossed aside by Powers-Johnson in a position drill. Additionally, the Steelers also sent offensive line coach Pat Meyer to the Oregon Pro Day in Eugene to put Powers-Johnson through position drills.

While there is interest there though, the center position isn’t all that highly valued in the NFL.

Since 2012, the highest a center has gone in the NFL draft is No. 18 overall. That was Garrett Bradbury to Minnesota in 2019, tying him with Indianapolis’ Ryan Kelly in the 2017 NFL Draft. Even Iowa’s Tyler Linderbaum, considered one of the best center prospects ever coming out of the collegiate level, fell to No. 25 to the Baltimore Ravens.

It’s just not a position that is highly valued. Add the fact that Powers-Johnson has just one year of starting experience in college and there’s a decent chance he falls out of the top 25. If that were to happen, that means the Steelers passed on him at No. 20, as did other teams with needs at center, which would certainly make things interesting on Day 2 of the draft for the Steelers.

Of course, it could all be a smokescreen, which happens around this time of year before the draft. Things get leaked to the media to push a message, and then teams go completely against it come the draft. We’ll see if that’s the case with the Powers-Johnson report.

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