Creed Humphry might be Steelers most likely first-round pick in 2021

Oklahoma Sooners offensive lineman Creed Humphrey (56). Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Oklahoma Sooners offensive lineman Creed Humphrey (56). Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports /

The Steelers are going to be focusing heavily on a center after Maurkice Pouncey retired. Here’s why Creed Humphry is their most likely pick. 

One of the most vivid thoughts in my mind from the Steelers playoff loss to the Browns didn’t come from anything that happened in that game; it was what aspired after. While nearly everyone in the stadium clearout out, Ben Roethlisberger and Maurkice Pouncey sat together and talked for a good while – no doubt about what the future had in store for them.

Since the end of the season, there has been much speculation about Pouncey’s possible retirement – even an early leak that said he planned to retire. As of last week, that retirement is now official. Pouncey finishes his career with 9 Pro Bowl appearances and two first-team All-Pro honors.

So what does this mean for the Steelers future at center? Currently, the Steelers are roughly $30.6 million in the hole, according to Over the Cap, and finding the cap space to re-sign a few of their own players will be a daunting enough task (let alone finding the money for outside help. Though Pittsburgh could be interested in signing a free-agent center this offseason, it might not be in the cards.

Steelers will look to address center in the NFL Draft

Because of this, we have to assume that the 2021 NFL Draft will be the perfect opportunity for the Steelers to replenish the position. While there are plenty of other needs to be addressed, Pittsburgh is going to have 8 draft choices to do so.

Though it’s possible that Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert could look to draft an offensive tackle or even a running back in the first round to improve the running game, center will likely be their most dire need.

Unfortunately, there aren’t a ton of high-quality center options this year, and the position really thins out after the top three players in my opinion. Oklahoma’s Creed Humphrey is the number one center on my draft board, and I don’t see that changing come April. Humphrey didn’t have the best run-block grade among centers this year, but he has a very well-balanced skill set that gives him an immensely high floor in the NFL.

As a senior in 2020, Humphry took another step forward. He has the ability to turn and seal off defenders in the run game, and he doesn’t have many issues finding the second level and getting his body on a linebacker. However, it’s the passing game that Humphrey really thrives, his quick feet and sound technique are sure to make him a quality pass protector in the NFL, and he would be an immediate upgrade over the Maurkice Pouncey we’ve seen over the past two years.

Humphrey will have a  second-round grade by a lot of draft analysts, and you could argue that taking him at pick 24 might be a little bit rich. However, the Steelers may not be willing to take a chance with who might be available to them in the second round, and Humphrey doesn’t have any holes in his game. In addition, he was thoroughly impressive during Senior Bowl week.

Must Read. Steelers mock draft: Pittsburgh goes CB first before attacking OL. light

Some other options for the Steelers include Alabama’s Landon Dickerson and Wisconsin-Whitewater center, Quinn Meinerz. However, Dickerson has had an array of concerning knee injuries, while Meinerz is coming from an incredibly small football program. After Pouncey’s retirement, Creed Humphrey no doubt is in play for the Steelers in round one.