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Mike Tomlin Acknowledges Steelers Must Make Move at Center

Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin acknowledged that the team must make a move at center after releasing starter Mason Cole.



Pittsburgh Steelers center Mason Cole
Pittsburgh Steelers center Mason Cole gets ready to snap the ball against the Cincinnati Bengals on Dec. 23, 2023. - Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

ORLANDO, Fla. — Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin acknowledged the elephant in the draft room: the Steelers don’t have a starting center.

Speaking to the Pittsburgh media for the first time since the end of the 2023 season during the NFL owner’s meetings on Sunday, Tomlin admitted that the team has work to do at the center position before the start of the regular season.

While general manager Omar Khan pointed to the positional flexibility of guards Nate Herbig and James Daniels when he spoke on the matter at the 2024 NFL Combine, Tomlin was more forceful in insisting that the Steelers will add to the position over the upcoming weeks.

“It’s still a work in progress,” he said. “Obviously, we’ve still got Herbig on our roster, but we’ve got some work to do there, whether it’s continued in free agency and/or the draft. We’ll get something done, obviously at that position, but you can say the same thing about some other obvious positions where we might be short on the depth chart from a number standpoint.”

Asked about the center position in the 2024 NFL Draft, Tomlin said that he didn’t see it unlike any other position, where there are a limited number of potential 2024 starting options.

“There’s going to be a segment of guys in the draft pool that are going to be ready to go and then there’s going to be a larger body that isn’t,” he said.

 Oregon’s Jackson Powers-Johnson, Duke’s Graham Barton, West Virginia’s Zach Frazier and Georgia’s Sedrick Van Pran are all considered first or second-day draft picks.

Tomlin has already had experience in starting a rookie at center in his tenure, drafting Maurkice Pouncey in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft and Kendrick Green in the third round of the 2021 NFL Draft. It’s safe to say that one of those acquisitions worked out better than the other.

But Tomlin made it clear that the leadership responsibilities of the center position won’t hold him back from starting a youngster at that spot, if that’s the way the Steelers end up leaning.

“I think it can be (a leadership position),” Tomlin said. “But it’s not as much of a requirement as you can say the quarterback discussion.”

At this point, the Steelers might not have much of a choice. The free agent market at center has been significantly picked over, with Mason Cole — who the Steelers released earlier this offseason — as the top remaining free agent on the roster.

RELATED: Will the Steelers Sign a Free Agent Center?