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2024 NFL Draft

Dan Orlovsky Thinks Steelers Will Land Jackson Powers-Johnson



Pittsburgh Steelers 2024 NFL Draft Target Oregon OL Jackson Powers-Johnson

Oregon center Jackson Powers-Johnson has been heavily linked to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the pre-draft process. It’s no secret that the Steelers need a center, so it makes sense. Brooke Pryor selected Powers-Johnson in ESPN’s beat writers mock draft. She’s one of many reporters and analyst to tab the highly-touted Oregon center to land with Pittsburgh at 20th overall.

“The Steelers used free agency to get most of their ducks in a row, signing for Russell Wilson and trading for Justin Fields,” Pryor said. “But they’ll use the draft to get perhaps the most important duck in Powers-Johnson, using their first-round pick on an offensive lineman for their second year in a row. The team released starting center Mason Cole just prior to free agency, meaning that Powers-Johnson, a Rimington Trophy winner for the nation’s best center, will be expected to contribute flock early.”

Pryor’s colleague, former NFL quarterback and current ESPN analyst Dan Orlovsky joined Zachary Smith of Steelers Now on Around The 412 to discuss the Steelers’ draft, and he also predicted that the Steelers would take Oregon center Jackson Powers-Johnson in the first round.

Orlovsky thinks Powers-Johnson would be perfect in Arthur Smith’s zone scheme.

“I think center, and the type of center, is probably the primary person that they should get,” he said.

Powers-Johnson has shot up boards after a fantastic Senior Bowl, but the media might be jumping a bit on his stock if some of the reports are any indications.

Matt Miller of ESPN has not heard the same love for Powers-Johnson in the league. While he could be a late first-round pick, Miller doesn’t think he would be a Top-25 pick.

“In talking to scouts over the past two weeks, it sounds like teams are not as high on Oregon center Jackson Powers-Johnson as the media consensus. JPJ had a strong early performance at the Senior Bowl before leaving the second practice with a hamstring injury. It was that early impression that saw him rise up draft boards. He followed that up with a good showing in position drills at the combine but didn’t participate in most of the other drills — he did only the bench press and vertical/broad jumps — before shutting it down. The feedback I’ve received from teams is that while he might go in the first round, it’s unlikely that he would be selected in the top 25 picks based on where teams are ranking him,” Miller wrote.

Steelers offensive line coach Pat Meyer traveled to Eugene for Oregon pro day to watch Powers-Johnson, according to Senior Bowl director Jim Nagy. Head coach Mike Tomlin and general manager Omar Khan were not in attendance, which usually is a sign for future Steelers first-round picks.

But why is Powers-Johnson supposedly falling down boards, or why is he thought of as a guy who could later? Dane Brugler might have revealed that in his draft guide, The Beast, on Wednesday, where he cited Powers-Johnson’s medicals as important.

“The medicals will be important after he battled multiple injuries, including groin and hip issues in 2023 along with multiple concussions over his career,” Brugler wrote.

In addition to that, Powers-Johnson pulled his hamstring at the Senior Bowl. Mel Kiper had Powers-Johnson drop all the way to 47th in his latest mock draft on Wednesday. This adds fuel to the fire that he might drop.

But there is interest from the Steelers, as Powers-Johnson was put through his drills by Meyer at Oregon’s pro day. In the past, that has been a sign of the team going after someone in the class. This was the case for George Pickens, Joey Porter Jr., and others on the team in the past.

It’s rare for a center to go in the first round, but Powers-Johnson has played himself into legitimate first-round hype. His movement skills for someone of his size, over 330 pounds, are so rare. And yet, he has only started for one legitimate season. For someone that inexperienced at center to play the way he did speaks to coaching and the rare player, he is coming out of college.

On his lone day at the Senior Bowl, Powers-Johnson showcased elite core strength and even reset his hands twice after getting beat initially underneath his pads. But he is a former wrestler and understands how to maximize leverage and win at the point of attack. It should be no surprise that he has already made a name for himself.