Art Rooney II admitted it’s not often centers go in the first round. It takes a special talent to break into the top 32. But Maurkice Pouncey had that talent. And Rooney II knows he’ll be missed on the field and in the locker room.
“It’s fair to say that centers don’t get drafted number one that often,” Rooney said. “But Maurkice was certainly a special player. We thought he would be a special player. He turned up and he certainly was a special player in a lot of different ways. And we’ll miss him.”
Pouncey’s great career is well-documented. He’ll be down in Steelers’ history as a long line of great pivots joining the likes of Ray Mansfield, Mike Webster, and Dirt Dawson. He may never end up in the Hall of Fame but he could work his way into the conversation in the way Hines Ward is on the “so close but not quite there” level. But that’s a conversation for another day.
Now the question is if the Steelers can fill his shoes. And if they view another center in this draft as being a special enough talent to draft in the first round again.
If there is any name who checks the boxes, it’s Alabama’s Landon Dickerson. Talent and character aren’t the issue. He’s first-round in both those categories. Health is the major concern after Dickerson had repeated knee and ankle injuries in school. Pre-draft reports indicated teams were worried about his medical history, though team reports aren’t uniform and Steelers’ doctors could be comfortable with what they evaluated.
No matter how the Steelers view things, center is a major need and has to be addressed early in this draft. Maybe not at #24 but at worst, by the end of Day 2. Other centers the team could consider include Wisconsin-Whitewater’s Quinn Meinerz and Ohio State’s Josh Myers.