The Steelers are now in their offseason after failing to reach the playoffs in 2022, coming up just a game short of sneaking in as the seventh seed. They needed help in week 18 and only got some of it, so instead, they sat home and watched the playoffs with the rest of us.
On tap is figuring out how to be on the field in January and February instead of being a spectator. They started out 2-6, digging a hole that proved too deep to dig out of even if they managed to go 7-2 in the second half of the year.
Starting from the end of the regular season and leading all the way up to the beginning of the 2023 season, there are plenty of questions that need answering, starting with who will be the offensive coordinator. Which free agents will be kept? Who might be let go due to their salary? How might they tackle free agency with this new front office? We’ll try to frame the conversation in relevant ways as long as you stick with us throughout this offseason, as we have for many years.
Question: What are the odds of the Steelers drafting a center to be a day-one starter this year?
The offseason for us is a process of informed guesswork, trying to tease out what the Steelers might be thinking based on what we can gather from their actions. Thus far this offseason, those actions appear to allude to an interest in the center position.
The team signed a player in free agency last year to start at center in Mason Cole, and he has largely received good reviews. He has also stated on multiple occasions that he prefers to play center over guard; his tape agrees with that as well.
But that isn’t to say that they can’t improve upon the position by going another way—such as John Michael Schmitz, as we’ve talked about recently, widely regarded as the best true center coming out of this draft class. Could they use one of their first few draft picks to bring him in?
Schmitz is another player who is more natural at center than at guard, yet that doesn’t mean he can’t play at guard. It’s also not uncommon for teams to groom young centers along by having them play guard for a year next to a veteran center before taking over the job.
There is some resistance among fans about drafting a center, perhaps primarily because many feel it would make more sense to upgrade the tackle positions, if not left guard. And if you’re going to do the latter, the thinking goes, then draft a true guard instead of a center who can also play guard.
Still, at least as of this point in the offseason, we must give some thought to the possibility of a center’s name being called, perhaps on the second day of the draft. And if that happens, we have to presume he’ll be in the running for a starting job right away.