Though it should come as no surprise, with the Pittsburgh Steelers’ final pick of the 2023 NFL Draft, 251st overall, the team selected Maryland OL Spencer Anderson in large part due to his versatility. Though announced by the team as a guard, Anderson has started at all five spots along the offensive line.
In Mike Tomlin’s phone call to Anderson letting him know he’d be Pittsburgh’s final selection, as released by the Steelers Tuesday, you can hear Tomlin emphasis on Anderson’s versatility.
“We’re really interested in your versatility,” Tomlin told him. “So bring that can-do approach. Whatever we ask you do to positionally, be ready for it. And you’ll have an opportunity to carve out a place for yourself in this thing.”
You can hear the calls to all seven selections (though they’re all from the players’ perspective) below. If you scroll through until the end, you’ll get to Anderson’s video.
As noted in our scouting report, Anderson played all over the line at Maryland. Twelve starts at right guard, 11 at right tackle, five at center, four at left tackle, and one at left guard. It’s rare flexibility for a player and made him a worthwhile target at the end of the seventh round.
As Tomlin implied in his call, expect Anderson to move around in the NFL, too. While the Steelers often work players at one spot very early in the beginning, Anderson will shift around sooner than later. His best path to making the 53 is proving he’s capable of playing multiple spots. If he can play guard, snap effectively at center, and hold his own at right tackle, he’ll boost his odds of making the 53 with one of the final offensive line spots.
While not a punishing run blocker, Anderson brings some size and quick feet. He lacks length but is able to mirror and redirect well, meaning he should be a competent backup tackle.
The most pressing depth need Pittsburgh faces right now is the lack of a true backup center. After failing to tender J.C. Hassenauer, who signed with the New York Giants, there isn’t a clear #2 behind Mason Cole. There are some options there. Nate Herbig has played a tiny bit of center in the NFL while Ryan McCollum shouldn’t be slept on; it’ll be an open competition.
In recent years, there’s plenty of examples of versatile lineman sticking around on the team’s roster. From Trai Essex to Chris Hubbard to most recently, John Leglue, who stuck around on the practice squad due to his ability to play multiple spots and eventually filled in at left guard in 2021. That’s what Anderson needs to do in order to make the 53 and the Steelers have made that abundantly clear.