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Steelers Analysis

Five Backup Center Options the Steelers Could Sign



Jimmy Morrissey Steelers
Kenny Pickett (8) and Jimmy Morrissey (67) September 19, 2020 David Hague/ Pittsburgh Sports Now

The Steelers have set their initial 53-man roster, which hardly means they will not add anyone. With a bevy of players to watch on the waiver wire, the Steelers have some needs they could fill. After trading Kendrick Green, if they do not love their options at center, it could be a spot they look to upgrade. Who are some players that could fit the bill?

Trystan Colon

The Jets tried to trade Trystan Colon, a versatile swingman on the interior who mainly plays at center, but with three center options on the Jets’ roster, Colon found himself on the outside looking in of a loaded room. His steadiness and high floor in pass protection intrigue me when looking at Colon, who stuck with the Ravens for three seasons as a solid but unspectacular player. In a league that is stricken with an offensive line depth shortage, Colon will find a home.

As a run blocker, Colon offers enough to get your squeeze; he did play for the Baltimore Ravens, after all, so that seemed like a given. Regarding backup centers, they need to be able to do the job without things hitting the fan as a complete disaster. Colon checks that box for any team looking to add him, including Pittsburgh.

Jimmy Morrissey

Kenny Pickett’s college center while playing at Pitt, Jimmy Morrissey, makes a good deal of sense for Pittsburgh if they want to upgrade to this position. However, the caveat should be that even with injuries along the offensive line in Houston, they opted to trade for Kendrick Green instead of believing in Morrissey. Read into that how you may wish, but Morrissey has multiple years of NFL experience.

Like Colon, he has enough experience to give you baseline traits that allow him to play at an NFL-capable level. Morrissey’s football IQ stands out as a big positive, and while he is not an elite athlete, he has some nimble feet in pass protection. Yet again, if the team wants just a baseline guy to be a dedicated backup center, Morrissey could check that box.

Matt Farniok

Matt Farniok hit the waiver wire in the same mold as Morrissey after the Cowboys released him, providing both center and guard versatility. Giving you a high floor, Farniok is a solid run blocker who plays better at center than guard. He is an aggressive setting center, fitting in with Pat Meyer’s ideas of using aggressive sets. His pass protection can sometimes be shaky, which makes him a backup.

As a backup center, Farniok could give the Steelers a road-grading offensive line that can clear lanes in the run game. The goal for a backup center would be for things not to fall apart whenever they would be in, and Farniok can do that in the mold of B.J. Finney.

Tyler Larsen

This is an interesting case of the Washington Commanders releasing Tyler Larsen and hoping to sneak the veteran through to re-sign him. It should be noted that Larsen is a vested veteran and not subject to waivers, so Washington’s plan to bring him back is tentable, but could the Steelers give Larsen something to think about? A veteran in the NFL, Larsen brings all the things that a veteran backup center and swingman on the interior should bring.

He is more of a pass protector first, and with a young quarterback, that is never better. You can bet that the slide calls and blitz pickups would be crisper, and in general, the operation would run well with Larsen as the backup center. This will seem more complicated to pull off with the Commanders hoping to bring him back, but Larsen is as solid an option out there right now.

John Molchon

A versatile pivot player along the interior, John Molchon can play all three interior spots and work at center. The Buccaneers surprisingly waived him, but he has four years of experience in the NFL at this point. That is enough of a veteran option for Molchon to be an intriguing option, if not for the active roster at least the practice squad.

He can run hot-and-cold in the run game but is steady in the pass protection part of his game. His athleticism and leadership traits pop on tape and in his interviews. So, he could be an intriguing option for Pittsburgh to circle to if they want to add someone.

Ultimately, I am not sure anyone on this list above is a noticeable upgrade over Nate Herbig as a backup center. While the Steelers have yet to see him play there in a game, they have seen that in practice and Herbig has a definable track record as a backup center in Philadelphia. It seems likelier he just holds onto the spot.