While we’ve had plenty of discussions over the Pittsburgh Steelers’ offensive tackle outlook as it relates to the NFL Draft, one top draft analyst believes Pittsburgh will also have its eye on the interior offensive line. Pro Football Network’s Tony Pauline is one of the best in the business, and throughout the offseason, including in a recent article, he is convinced the Steelers will have their eye on center early in this year’s draft.
In one of his latest “draft rumors” articles, Pauline repeatedly ties the team to the top centers to the draft.
“The Houston Texans also need a blocker on the pivot, while the Pittsburgh Steelers and Indianapolis Colts are also in the market for a center,” Pauline wrote.
Pittsburgh signed Mason Cole last season, and he proved to be a stable and competent player in the middle. Not an All-Star but certainly an upgrade over Kendrick Green, a durable (or at least able to play hurt, which he often did) and veteran force. Despite Cole’s starter-level contract and play, the Steelers have done their homework on the interior offensive line in this pre-draft process. Florida’s O’Cyrus Torrence, Minnesota’s John Michael Schmitz, and TCU’s Steve Avila were all brought in for visits.
Pauline mentions those names throughout his post, implying the Steelers will consider Schmitz at #32.
“With the Steelers and Colts selecting at the top of Round 2, no one believes it’s possible Schmitz makes it to the Jets in the middle of the round,” he wrote.
Pittsburgh picks at #32 and #49 in the second while the New York Jets have back-to-back picks at #42 and #43, which seems to be Pauline’s floor for Schmitz. Pauline also mentions a name less talked about in this process, at least by Steelers Nation: Wisconsin’s Joe Tippmann.
“Pittsburgh, Houston, and Arizona also like Tippmann. Additionally, if he falls out of Round 1, I feel confident in saying Tippmann won’t make it past the 35th pick, presently owned by the Indianapolis Colts.”
Again, that hints at Tippmann being in play at #32 for Pittsburgh. He’s tall — perhaps a little too tall — and highly athletic and started each of the last two years. The Steelers’ pre-draft interest in Tippmann throughout this cycle is light but he is another name that can’t be discounted if the team is searching for a center.
If there’s an interior position to address, it would be the pivot. Guard has been addressed with the signings of Isaac Seumalo and Nate Herbig, the latter of whom will quality depth. In theory, James Daniels could move to center and the team drafts a guard but he’s still most likely to remain at his RG spot.
Pittsburgh hasn’t been shy about loading up in the trenches this year. To hear it from Pauline, the Steelers’ 2023 draft class could be heavy on the offensive line in the first two rounds, though Pauline also spent plenty of time discussing the chances of the Steelers taking a CB – like Maryland’s Deonte Banks – at #17 and then getting a center/guard at #32. We’ll get an answer in a week.