4 Steelers entering a make-or-break season in 2023

Steelers, Diontae Johnson
Steelers, Diontae Johnson / Joe Sargent/GettyImages
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3. C Mason Cole

I've noticed that opinions about Mason Cole range greatly. Some fans and analysts view him as a solid starter while others believe the team should replace him as soon as possible. In June, Pro Football Focus ranked the top 32 centers in the NFL, and Cole was just 22nd on their list.

Apparently, the Steelers front office might not be convinced either. After already signing a pair of guards in free agency, it looked like Pittsburgh was trying to scratch an itch at center in the 2023 NFL Draft. They spent pre-draft visits on early-round center prospects and center-capable players like John Michael Schmitz, Cody Mauch, and Steve Avila.

Their apparent interest suggests that they were considering taking a center as early as the second round of the draft this past April. Ultimately, they choose to go elsewhere on Day 2 -- giving Cole some breathing room. But that might not last long.

The Steelers are going to keep a watchful eye on Cole this year. At 27 years old and with years of starting experience already under his belt, I think it's unwise to predict a big leap in his overall play in 2023. If this doesn't come, the team could look to replace their starting center as early as the 2024 offseason. This is a huge year for Mason Cole.