Steelers show that drafting a center remains high on their to-do list

National defensive lineman Ade Ogundeji of Notre Dame (91) drills against National offensive lineman Quinn Meinerz of Wisconsin -Whitewater (71); Mandatory Credit: Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports
National defensive lineman Ade Ogundeji of Notre Dame (91) drills against National offensive lineman Quinn Meinerz of Wisconsin -Whitewater (71); Mandatory Credit: Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports /

The Steelers recently signed B.J. Finney this offseason, but their visits show that center will still be addressed in the 2021 NFL Draft. 

Even before Maurkice Pouncey retired, center was one of the positions most in need of an upgrade. Pouncey had struggled each of the past two seasons, and his play had really dropped off. In a way, his retirement was fortunate for the Steelers as it saved them some money and will allow them to go in a different direction in 2021.

When Pouncey retired, Pittsburgh technically didn’t have a single center under contract for the upcoming season. However, they eventually signed J.C. Hassenauer to his restricted tender, then when B.J. Finney became available, it was not a surprise to see the Steelers go after him. Finey has started just 13 games since joining the league back in 2017, but he had filled in admirably for Pouncey in the past when called upon.

But even with Finey signed, the Steelers are showing that they are not content with what they have at the center position, and it’s looking increasingly more likely that center will be addressed early in the 2021 NFL Draft.

Steelers show they are eying center position early

Immediately following Pouncey’s retirement, it was thought that this could be the direction Pittsburgh goes with the 24th overall pick. However, after seeing who has been showing up to Pro Days so far, that doesn’t seem likely.

The Steelers sent the house to Clemson’s Pro Day on March 11th – making running back Travis Etienne a very plausible first-round candidate – but they did not bring their top dogs to visit a few of the best centers in the draft. Still, they weren’t without representatives at their Pro Days.

Creed Humphry and Quinn Meinerz are considered two of the top three center prospects in the NFL Draft this year, and Pittsburgh made sure to scout out both of these players. New offensive line coach, Adrian Klemm, was on hand to scout Meinerz at his Wisconsin-Whitewater Pro Day on the 9th. This isn’t a player the Steelers would have sent the house to see, but the fact that Klemm was there makes him a candidate who will be in play for the team as early as round two.

Three days later, Humphrey hosted his Pro Day at Oklahoma. However, there was a schedule conflict on the 12th and Klemm headed to North Dakota State to observe offensive tackle, Dillon Radunz. But with assistant OL Coach, Chris Morgan, attending Oklahoma’s Pro Day, Humphrey still remains a candidate for the Steelers – just not a first-round candidate.

Now, it will be interesting to see how much interest Pittsburgh expresses in the other top center prospect Landon Dickerson. Dickerson suffered a season-ending knee injury last year, but should be ready for training camp. Still, with the Steelers likely to send their brass to Alabama on March 23rd, it will be hard to tell where their interest truly lies as there is a plethora of talent coming from Alabama this year.

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As of now, we know two things based on Pittsburgh’s visits: the Steelers have an interest in drafting a center, and that will likely come on day two of the NFL Draft. More information will start to unfold as the schedule remains packed with Pro Days through April 9th.