2023 Offseason Questions: Will Steelers Consider Moving James Daniels To Center?

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.

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 answered. 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: Will the Steelers consider moving James Daniels to center?

One of the qualities the Steelers talked about most often last year for new offensive linemen James Daniels and Mason Cole was their position versatility. Both are capable of playing center and guard, though Cole is more comfortable at center. It’s been a few years since Daniels has played there.

With the Steelers signing Isaac Seumalo and Nate Herbig, both guard-first players, it has begun a great deal of speculation about what the team’s intentions are. Based on their contracts, one would assume that Daniels and Seumalo are locked into starting jobs—but where?

Seumalo’s experience at center is fairly limited, so I’m not expecting there to be much consideration about playing him there. Daniels, however, was a college center and played there at the NFL level in 2019, his second season.

If the Steelers feel like either Herbig or Kevin Dotson, the incumbent on the left side, could give them a better starting five with them at guard than Cole at center—and assuming they’re comfortable moving Daniels to center, trusting that his playing there would be a part of that improvement—then we could see Pat Meyer and the offensive line tinker with the group this summer.

One does wonder how much time they would be willing to spend with the tinkering, because they’ll want to get the top five together as soon as possible. They were presumably comfortable with Daniels’ play at right guard and Cole’s at center last season, and won’t want to shuffle chairs just for the sake of it.

But it comes down to, I suppose, what they think about Cole and whether or not he would be best suited as a quality reserve, versus the possibility of Herbig or Dotson starting at guard. For what it’s worth, Herbig and Dotson have more experience at right guard than left guard, though Dotson has played mostly on the left side since entering the NFL. Seumalo has more experience at left guard even though he started at right guard last season.

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