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2024 NFL Draft

Ex-NFL OL Tabs Jackson Powers-Johnson as Perfect Steeler

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Pittsburgh Steelers Jackson Powers-Johnson

Dave Dameshek and former NFL offensive lineman Geoff Schwartz debated on the Minus Three Podcast recently if the Pittsburgh Steelers should draft a center (a need) or the best player available on the board. 

Dameshek noted that the Steelers literally don’t have a center on the roster right now, but the need for a center shouldn’t trump a player like Texas defensive lineman Byron Murphy if he’s available at 20th overall.

“You know what’s borderline essential for the winning teams these days? Is inside pressure. The guys who can do it. Three down, interior defensive lineman, and this might be one in (Byron Murphy). I feel like, you kind of have to take that guy, not the position of need,” Dameshek said.

The center position is often labeled as not valuable enough to warrant a first round selection. Schwartz doesn’t agree with that mindset.

“I made this about the Steelers, for example, but really the center position. We talk about the value of that position. Is it as valuable as other positions? I’ll tell you this, though. Was (Maurkice) Pouncey valuable to Pittsburgh? Like, if you draft that center, and he’s good, you get 10 to 12, 15 years. It’s pretty good value, right?” Schwartz said.

While Dameshek thinks best player available should strongly be considered at 20th overall, it wouldn’t shock him if the Steelers went the center route given their robust history at the position.

“I love the consistency of the way teams win. People, you know in Pittsburgh, people love like, ‘Dude, Steelers, they play defense and they run the ball,'” Dameshek said. “And it does feel like, to me, (Omar) Khan, (Mike) Tomlin, (Andy) Weidl, really do want to do exactly that. And the center, you talk about what the Steelers are known for, specifically. From (Mike) Webster to Dermontti Dawson to Maurkice Pouncey. That’s a pretty strong lineage.”

Dameshek then asked Schwartz, who’s a former Oregon Duck, if Oregon center Jackson Powers-Johnson is the ideal pick for the Steelers at 20th overall.

“I think he’d fit really well with what they want to do,” Schwartz responded. “And the mindset of him, I know him well. Like his mindset is very Pittsburgh. Like blue collar, he just loves football. Like that’s an entire life. He is a football guy. He doesn’t have many holes. Like when you watch him play, there’s not much negative in there. He spazzes out every now and then. But his ability to just be big in the middle of an offense. He’s a really good pass protector, which I think will be important, because you have two quarterbacks there who hold onto the ball as long as possible. So having pass protectors (is crucial).”

Jackson Powers-Johnson visited Pittsburgh on Wednesday for a pre-draft visit, but they are not the only team he has visited so far. The Dallas Cowboys, who own the 24th overall pick, the Carolina Panthers, Chicago Bears, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers all met with him. All of those teams have picks in the late first round or early second round, aside from Chicago, who could try to target him in a trade-back scenario.