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Could James Daniels be Steelers Solution at Center?

Could the Pittsburgh Steelers turn to James Daniels as their solution at the center position or will they look elsewhere?



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

The Pittsburgh Steelers are just two weeks away from the NFL Draft and still do not have a center option on the roster besides Nate Herbig. But could the need not be at center, but at guard, because the team has plans to move James Daniels to center?

Omar Khan was asked that at the NFL Combine last month and his answer was not completely clear, but it did not inspire a ton of confidence in that being a legitimate option.

It could, you know, he has position flexibility. But James really had a good season at guard and we were really encouraged by that. We feel like he got better every week,” Khan said.

Daniels has played center in the past, and done it well. Daniels split time between center and guard with the Chicago Bears in 2019. He started both his sophomore and junior year at Iowa at center, and that play is what got him drafted into the NFL. He played well there, but had his best NFL season in 2023 at right guard, meaning that moving him brings clear risk of opening up a hole. 

While moving Daniels from guard to center would simply shift the hole over one spot, the Steelers have more depth at guard, where Herbig is signed as a backup.

Herbig is also an option to move to center himself. He has played all three interior positions in his NFL career, but has played the least center, making just 49 snaps between 2020 and 2021 with the Philadelphia Eagles. Herbig played guard and tackle in college at Stanford, so his move to center would be much more dramatic, but he has done it in the past and is certainly a serviceable NFL lineman.

But regardless, if you think the Steelers should move Daniels, it does not seem like that is the likeliest outcome. With Graham Barton, Jackson Powers-Johnson, and Zach Frazier around in the NFL Draft, those three could be the starting center right away.