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Mason McCormick’s Trajectory Could Impact James Daniels’ Future

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James Daniels warms up ahead of Steelers vs. Ravens on Jan. 1, 2023 in Baltimore. (Mitchell Northam / Steelers Now)

On paper, the Pittsburgh Steelers should be set on the offensive line for years to come with two first-round pick bookend offensive tackles, a plug-and-play center and two solid veteran guards. One of those veteran guards, James Daniels, is heading into his final year on his contract.

Mark Kaboly of The Athletic thinks Steelers’ fourth-round selection Mason McCormick could be groomed to take over Daniels’ spot at right guard in 2025.

“Put it this way. If he does, we’ll find out by the start of the season because if they see something that they really like here in the OTAs, in the training camp, and then in the preseason, they don’t approach James Daniels for an extension,” Kaboly said during a recent appearance on 93.7 The Fan. “You’re like, OK, we got a guy waiting in the wings here who can maybe play this year. A guy who can maybe take over long term here. So we’re not gonna look at James Daniels.’ I don’t think he’ll push him this year, but I think we’ll be able to tell if they think he’s a long-term starter by what they do with James Daniels.”

Pittsburgh Steelers OG Mason McCormick

Pittsburgh Steelers guard Mason McCormick at rookie minicamp, May 10, 2024 – Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

On paper, McCormick could be a steal because of his measurables, but offensive line guru Brandon Thorn has some legitimate doubts.

“McCormick’s another one of those guys I was lower on than most. I had a fifth-round grade on McCormick. It was tough to come to terms how different his film was with how he performed at the Shrine Game and how he tested,” Thorn said on the latest episode of his Trench Warfare podcast. “He didn’t play to that level of testing, in my opinion, on film. I was just kind of overwhelmed with his film at South Dakota State. He has the size, the length, the square power, as a puller was all his best film as a puller. But in terms of base blocks, angle drive blocks, I just didn’t see it.”

After playing exclusively left guard at South Dakota State, McCormick got snaps at right guard on Day 1 of rookie minicamp. It doesn’t matter where the Steelers put him, though, McCormick just wants to contribute.

“At South Dakota State, they prepared me for everything. They wanted us to be as versatile as possible, and I think that’s something that could help all of us at this level,” McCormick said. “I’m ready for whatever they throw at me, I just want to help the organization in anyway that I can.”