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Kaboly: Steelers ‘Do Not Want To Have To’ Address Center In First Round Of NFL Draft

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In just 22 days the 2024 NFL Draft will kick off in Detroit, giving the Pittsburgh Steelers and GM Omar Khan a great opportunity to plug some major holes on the roster, especially in the trenches on both sides of the football.

One of those holes is at the center position after the Steelers released Mason Cole in late February after he started every game the last two seasons and missed less than 50 total snaps in that span. The Steelers have yet to address the position in free agency and though they are looking at the trade market, according to Khan, nothing has happened, and nothing is likely to happen at the position before the draft.

Which shifts the attention to the first round of the upcoming, focusing on the center position where names like Oregon’s Jackson Powers-Johnson, Duke’s Graham Barton and West Virginia’s Zach Frazier are popular ones connected to the Steelers.

According to The Athletic’s Mark Kaboly though, he is of the belief that the Steelers do not want to address center in the first round and would rather do it on Day 2.

“I’ve been told that they don’t want to have to take a center in the first round. Now that changes if everything’s gone and that’s still the best guy available there, but they’d much rather get their center in the second round or potentially third round,” Kaboly said during an appearance on the 93.7 The Fan Joe Show with host Joe Starkey and co-host Paul Zeise. “I mean, if you’re giving up a potential Broderick Jones part two to grab a center in the first round, there’s no guarantee you’re getting a Creed Humphrey. …So I’m going with tackle over center right now. Center’s tough.

“I don’t know why you get rid of Mason Cole until you’re absolutely sure that you have somebody replacing him. Maybe they like [Nate] Herbig enough.”

The decision cut Cole without another realistic option on the roster was a bit puzzling. But Khan stated that they wanted to do the professional courtesy of giving Cole an opportunity to pursue other opportunities around the league. As of right now, Cole remains a free agent.

The Steelers’ attention at the position has been on the draft in what is a strong class at the position with Powers-Johnson, Barton and Frazier headlining the group while Georgia’s Sedrick Van Pran-Granger, Arkansas’ Beaux Limmer and Penn State’s Hunter Nourzad are intriguing options later in the draft.

If the Steelers were to pass on a center in the first round, it would make a trade up almost a requirement in the second round to try and land someone like Frazier or Powers-Johnson, should they fall. So it creates a really tough position for Khan and company. They cannot skimp on the center position again, but it’s also not a position of great value in the draft historically, putting them between a rock and a hard place.

Pittsburgh should have its pick of options in the first round at center or offensive tackle with names like Georgia’s Amarius Mims, Alabama’s JC Latham and possibly Oregon State’s Taliese Fuaga at the position to go with the center options.

It will be fascinating to see what the Steelers do in the draft. Based on what Kaboly is hearing, they don’t want to address center in the first round, but that will all depend on how the board falls. Depending on that decision on April 25 at No. 20 overall, that will shape the rest of the draft for Pittsburgh over the following two days.



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