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 answered, 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: How early should the Steelers consider drafting an interior offensive lineman?
The Steelers have signed four (arguably) starter-capable interior offensive linemen over the course of the past two offseasons. Shockingly, that doesn’t mean that they suddenly have the best interior offensive line in the league, though they should have a pretty strong one at the least.
But the job doesn’t need to be done, not if they don’t want it to be. Now, they’re probably not going to focus much on guards right now, but it’s not out of the question that the Steelers decide to draft a center on the early side of the draft.
Which brings us to today’s question: how early should the Steelers consider drafting an interior offensive lineman? After signing James Daniels, Isaac Seumalo, Mason Cole, and Nate Herbig in the past 13 months, all of whom are under contract through at least 2024, what is the next move, and when does it get made?
The best center in this year’s draft is widely considered to be John Michael Schmitz out of Minnesota. The Steelers have already brought him in for a pre-draft visit, so it’s pretty clear that they are open to the idea of drafting him, as well as other interior linemen based on their pre-draft interests.
It’s important to remember that this is the first year, the first free agency, the first draft class of the new front office and scouting department. They will have different ideas about what certain areas of the roster should look like, and we’re already seeing a big influence from the likes of Andy Weidl, the highest-ranking new face.
Because of that, I think that substantially increases the odds of the team addressing this area earlier than many might think they would. But how early should they consider it? Is the first round too early? What about the pick at 32?
Are other needs just too important when you already have three or possibly even more starter-capable players there? Would a player like Schmitz be a “luxury” in light of all the other spots on the roster that need addressed?