MOBILE, Ala. — Pittsburgh Steelers scouts in Mobile for the Senior Bowl, and they got to see a treat on Tuesday. Oregon center Jackson Powers-Johnson came into the event as one of the more hyped-up prospects, hoping to solidify himself as a first-round pick. On Tuesday, he did a great job of starting to solidify that reputation as one of the best players at the Senior Bowl, and potentially in the first round.
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, is 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, but also the rare player he is coming out of college.
On the day, Powers-Johnson showcased elite core strength, and even reset his hands twice after getting beat initially underneath his pads. But he is a former wrestler and understands how to maximize leverage and win at the point of attack. It should be no surprise that he has already made a name for himself.
But while he played center for only one year, he even got some reps at guard and showed out there. That was for the first in two seasons, but that type of mentality and performance is what Powers-Johnson brings to the table.
“I just wanted to go out there and have fun,” Powers-Johnson said. “It was a good time. I didn’t want to stress about it.”
Mike Tomlin is all around these guys, but there was an in-depth group of people attending for Pittsburgh. General manager Omar Khan, assistant general manager Andy Weidl, defensive coordinator Teryl Austin, and others are in Mobile, but where Tomlin goes is usually a solid indication on just who the Steelers are looking at in the 2024 NFL Draft.
And all he did for the entire day was hang around the offensive line. He stood right on the heels of all of these one-on-ones the entire time, talking to guys like Guyton and Powers-Johnson throughout the afternoon and morning. Tomlin is not lying when he is says he is a junkie come this time of year. But the early indications are simple — the Steelers are looking at offensive line.
But it’s hard not to look at Powers-Johnson, who Tomlin was caught speaking to after Tuesday’s practice, as a key target for the team to circle back to and at least look into.
“Football is something I’ve just always loved,” Powers-Johnson said. “It’s my life’s passion. Every time I go out there, I just look to compete.”
And compete he did, to the tune of dominating throughout the entire session. Pittsburgh is clearly looking to add a center, and Powers-Johnson is the best one in the class. Zach Frazier, who is not doing team drills but only individual drills, feels like someone who is an option, too. But Powers-Johnson is a stud who is making his pitch.