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2024 NFL Draft

Steelers Draft Profile: Proving Himself Not a New Challenge for PSU C Hunter Nourzad



Pittsburgh Steelers 2024 NFL Draft Prospect Penn State C Hunter Nourzad

Penn State center Hunter Nourzad is no stranger to needing to prove himself. The sixth-year Nittany Lions offensive lineman has had a quiet pre-draft process, thanks to what could be seen as a frustrating injury.
Nourzad has been dealing with a stress reaction in his fibula that he played through last fall, but worsened when he made the change in his conditioning from getting ready to play Big Ten football to getting ready for the NFL Combine.

Nourzad did attend the East-West Shrine Bowl before shutting down from the injury, and he was at 2024 NFL Combine, where he only participated in the bench press, medical testing and interviews. He said his medical testing came back clean — other than his problematic fibula. It’s no surprise to anyone that’s talked to Nourzad that he interviewed well.

But in terms of the ability to show off his athleticism and explosiveness, and use that to springboard his draft, Nourzad mostly missed out.

“I think it’s gone very well,” Nourzad said at Penn State’s pro day. “Obviously, I’m dealing with an injury and that’s not idea. It’s just kind a playing the cards I was dealt. Besides that, I think everything has gone really well. … I’m happy with what I’ve done.”

If his history is any indication, having to prove himself won’t be a problem for Nourzad.

A zero-star recruit out of The Walker School in Marietta, Georgia, Nourzad had one FBS scholarship offer — to Army — before he committed to Cornell midway through his senior year.
Nourzad spent four seasons in Ithaca, and graduated with an engineering degree while constructing a solid resume, playing mostly right tackle. After his four seasons in the Ivy League were up, Nourzad had plenty of Power 5 interest.

He took the biggest swing of his offers, moving three hours south to State College, where the Nittany Lions had a swath of Top 25 recruiting classed, but Nourzad immediately carved out a role.

Despite playing center in high school and tackle at Cornell, his first opportunity with the Lions came at left guard in 2022. Proving himself there, Nourzad moved back to his natural position in 2023, and had the best season of his college career. He did not allow a sack in 386 pass-block snaps, per Pro Football Focus and helped the Penn State running game to a Big Ten-best average of 185.2 yards per game.

Because of his limited ability to improve his draft stock, if he continues to conquer new challenges as a professional like he did as a collegiate player, some team could be getting a draft steal.


Measured at the 2024 NFL Combine: 6-foot-3 1/8, 319 pounds, 32 1/8-inch arms, 79 3/8-inch wingspan, 10 3/4-inch hands

Tested at the 2024 NFL Combine: 27 bench press reps

Nourzad did not test enough to be assigned an RAS score.


Nourzad is a player whose draft stock has come on late in the process. The Penn State lineman was considering a likely UDFA before February, when his average position on NFL Mock Draft Database started to spike.

Nourzad is now considered to be a mid-Day Three pick, with an average selection of No. 167, toward the end of the fifth round.

If the Steelers want to take him, they’ll be hoping Nourzad will fall to the sixth round, where the Steelers pick at No. 178 and No. 195.

Penn State Center Hunter Nourzad


There’s no question that the Steelers need a center, and while a lot of their scouting focus has been on players with higher athletic upside, them bringing Nourzad to the South Side for a pre-draft visit certainly makes him a viable option.

The center class is not deep at the top, with just four players projected to go in the first three rounds (Graham Barton, Duke; Jackson Powers-Johnson, Oregon; Zach Frazier, West Virginia; Sedrick Van Pran, Georgia), the Steelers will either have to reach to get a center, or risk not getting one while looking for value.

So if the Steelers want to shore up tackle and wide receiver early in the draft and wait on center, someone like Nourzad could be a stop-gap option for the team later on.

Nourzad could be a start-now option at center, and if the team later decides they want to go back and add a higher-upside player to the mix, his positional versatility could make him a candidate to move to guard down the road, or be a strong interior backup.

Penn State’s offense already asked Nourzad to do a lot of the things in Arthur Smith’s playbook, including a lot of outside zone runs. While he doesn’t have the upside of some players up the board, his high level of intelligence and relevant experience makes him and easy projection as a Day One impact type of player.