The controversy of Steelers selecting a center in first round of the NFL Draft
By Austin Lloyd
In both mock drafts and personal conversation, it seems that the Pittsburgh Steelers selecting a center in the first round of the draft is questionable to many.
Following the announcement of Steelers legend Maurkice Pouncey’s retirement, the discussions regarding the search for a new center have increased soundly throughout Pittsburgh media. It has even gone as far as resulting in some figures to highlight the center position as the paramount priority to acknowledge in the rapidly approaching NFL Draft, and I have been right there on that boat with them.
However, extensive observation tells me that the more respected mentality is still to solve less dire problems within other units on the field. These units include guards, tackles, running backs, and even linebackers. But why is this? Why is the center position still being overlooked?
Well, it’s because the act of drafting a center in the first round is rarely executed – at least when compared to the frequency of drafting players from the other aforementioned positions that early. And it would be incredibly naïve to assume that such popular narratives, that are further encouraged by fans and media personalities, never sway an organization’s decision on who to select when time is running short.
Is drafting a center a wise move for Steelers?
Now, while I would say that this is especially a charade performed by more inferior franchises, that does not mean that a powerhouse like the Pittsburgh Steelers are immune to such peer pressure. Even NFL website mogul Pro Football Focus takes apparent issue with the notion. On their draft simulator, they grade the verdict to take esteemed Oklahoma center Creed Humphrey in the first round a D- with their draft grade algorithm. So when rather notable draft sources such as PFF bash the idea as well, it would be no surprise if some teams second-guessed their initial call.
Nonetheless, I am of the belief that an organization should take whoever they need more desperately than any other player, not the biggest name available that most people have talked about. What the Steelers need more than anything else right now is a center. So if it were up to me, I would merely shut out the no-names on social media outlets, the disagreeing mock drafts, and the hotshot webpages.
There is a reason that those who fear the idea of breaking the narrative are not managing an NFL franchise, after all. The last thing a head coach or general manager should do is become just like them. When a veteran player retires without giving any warning other than to his teammates, the excuses to justify looking to the everyday masses for who to take in April are even rarer.
I would be very disappointed if the Steelers did end up taking anything other than a center in the first round of this year’s draft. Because the only logical explanation for such an outcome would be the desire to have the NFL society’s stamp of approval. If we were talking about the Jaguars or the Texans, maybe that would be less of a slap to the face. However, the Pittsburgh Steelers have historically declared that they should have no urge to please anyone but themselves. With that said, it would be quite a shame to see a reputation that elite turn out to be so thin-skinned behind closed doors.