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2024 NFL Draft

Bowen: Steelers Best Fit for Oregon C Jackson-Powers Johnson

Through all of the talk about centers, the Pittsburgh Steelers look like the clear cut best fit for Jackson Powers-Johnson.



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

The Pittsburgh Steelers have three center targets to look at in the 2024 NFL Draft who could obviously start right away. Those would be Duke’s Graham Barton, Oregon’s Jackson Powers-Johnson, and West Virginia’s Zach Frazier. While a first-round pick for them at that position seems likely, they could take one in the second round.

And, according to ESPN draft analysts Field Yates and Mel Kiper, the feedback they have heard on the stock of center prospects, especially Powers-Johnson and Frazier, is that they will go later.

“You see where we are with Jackson Powers-Johnson, I see a lot of first-round mocks with him, but most of my friends in the NFL, they are thinking more second round,” Kiper said on the First Draft Podcast. “They don’t get some of the mocks. But hey, those mocks are talking to their people; we don’t talk to everybody. But I will say on Jackson Powers-Johnson, my intel says second round on him.”

Kiper and Yates broke down Yates’ latest mock draft, in which he had Powers-Johnson at 35th and Frazier at 37th. The intel that Yates got back from the people he talked to is that he was too high on the centers.

“Mel, I mocked them early in the second round, obviously, and the feedback that I have gotten since this mock dropped is that both of the centers were too high — both Jackson Powers-Johnson and Zach Frazier,” Yates said. “Graham Barton, he’s an unimpeachable first round pick. I might have been too low on Barton with him at 20th overall. But I think that’s the range, though, somewhere in the first part of the second half of the first round.”

Steelers offensive line coach Pat Meyer travelled 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 Powers-Johnson was put through his drills by Meyer. 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. And ESPN’s Matt Bowen believes Pittsburgh is the best fit for Powers-Johnson moving forward. It might just be about where Powers-Johnson actually ends up going.

“The Steelers will feature a run-heavy attack with play-action elements under new offensive coordinator Arthur Smith. That’s a fit for Powers-Johnson, given his strength at the point of attack, instincts at the snap and the toughness he would bring to the middle of the Pittsburgh offensive line. Powers-Johnson is quick to identify stunts and close down interior pass-rushing lanes, plus he can combo/climb to create daylight in Smith’s zone run game. He played center, left guard, right guard and right tackle at Oregon, and that versatility will help his value,” Bowen wrote.

Powers-Johnson is a fantastic talent who should be a starter for a long time at the position. He has some rough spots, but he has the talent to change the makeup of an offensive line, especially in a scheme like Pittsburgh’s, which will be heavy with play-action and wide zone. So, the fit makes sense. It comes down to where the Steelers are comfortable picking him.