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2024 NFL Draft

A Nightmare Scenario Could Come to Fruition for the Steelers in Round 1



Pittsburgh Steelers Jackson Powers-Johnson

It’s no secret, offensive tackle and center are two major needs for the Pittsburgh Steelers in this year’s draft. Completing the rebuilding process of the O-line is pivotal, especially in Arthur Smith’s offensive scheme that is very run-game oriented.

They need to pair Broderick Jones with an elite tackle, Dan Moore Jr. hasn’t showcased that he’s the answer. Center is also a glaring hole and something that the Steelers have been trying to address since Maurkice Pouncey’s retirement following the 2020 season. The Kendrick Green and Mason Cole experiments were complete disasters.

Brad Gagnon of Bleachers Report thinks the Steelers might be out of luck at 20th overall, however, as he believes there will be a run-on with offensive lineman. Creating a nightmare scenario for Omar Khan and Company.

“When they’re on the clock in the No. 20 spot, primo offensive linemen (Ola) Fashanu, (JC) Latham, (Troy) Fautanu, (Taliese) Fuaga, Amarius Mims and Jackson Powers-Johnson are all gone,” Gagnon wrote in an article describing every team’s nightmare scenario in one sentence.

Gagnon didn’t mention Duke offensive lineman Graham Barton or West Virginia center Zach Frazier. The depth at offensive line, especially at tackle, is pretty deep in this year’s draft. The Steelers might not get the top guy on their board, but there should be someone suitable at 20th overall. If not, it would be a perfect chance trade back. They could also trade up if there’s an offensive lineman that they really covet. Anything is on the table with general manager Omar Khan, honestly.

Mark Kaboly of The Athletic envisions the Steelers trading up for a blue chip offensive tackle, just like they did last year with Broderick Jones.

“This is the most likely scenario for the Steelers,” Kaboly wrote. “Last year, they moved from 20 to 17 and all it cost them was the 140th pick because they pinpointed Jones as within reasonable reach to pull the trigger. The Steelers could find themselves in a similar situation that might result in the same plan.

“It’s not a secret the Steelers are interested in a right tackle. They brought in 11 offensive linemen for pre-draft visits, with some of the top right tackles in the draft in Amarius Mims, Tyler Guyton, Troy Fautanu and Taliese Fuaga, as well as centers Jackson Powers-Johnson, Zach Frazier and Graham Barton.”

Barton has picked up steam as the favorite to be the Steelers’ first round pick lately. Pittsburgh is also reportedly bullish on Frazier.

Field Yates and Mel Kiper of ESPN both have the Steelers selecting the highly-touted, versatile Duke Blue Devil at 20th overall in their mock drafts.

Tony Pauline of Sportskeeda took it a step further with adding speculation that the Steelers will end up landing Barton at 20th overall.

“Speculation from people in the league familiar with the organization is that Graham Barton of Duke will likely be the pick,” Pauline wrote. “The reasoning is simple: Barton was an accomplished offensive tackle at Duke and projects to be a center in the NFL. The Steelers need help at both positions and Barton’s ability to line up at either makes him attractive.”

NFL Network analyst Brian Baldinger is also on the Graham Barton to Pittsburgh train.

“The Pittsburgh Steelers know how to draft centers. They got a bunch of them in the Hall of Fame. Center is a position of need. There’s no question about it,” Baldinger said during a draft debate on NFL Total Access Wednesday. “Last year, they started the (offensive line) rebuilding process with drafting Broderick Jones, trading up to get him. (Getting) Isaac Seumalo. I think they have to finish it. Mason Cole has been released, Nate Herbig is the only center on the roster.

“But, I like Graham Barton at Duke. You’ll see him at left tackle, but he started as a freshman (in) his final five games at center. And I think a lot of teams project him as a center. I think he’s just more athletic than Jackson Powers-Johnson. I think the Steelers value the athletic ability like they did with Dermontti Dawson, a bunch of other guys that Pittsburgh had great success with. So, I’m going with Graham Barton at center with the 20th pick, and I think the starts the run-on (with) centers in this first round.”