Along with cornerback and offensive tackle, center was one of the most noticeable needs for the Steelers throughout the 2023 season. After a respectable year in 2022, Mason Cole proved to be one of the biggest weaknesses among all Steelers starters in 2023.
The veteran center proved that he should be no more than a swing interior offensive lineman at this stage of his career, as Cole graded out among the worst in the league at his position. According to Pro Football Focus, Cole earned an overall grade of 53.2 this year, which ranked just 29th in the NFL. Considering there are only 32 starting centers, this is a major issue.
Even worse, Cole had a dismal pass block grade of just 32.4. This ranked 33rd in the NFL in 2023. Cole was simply a disaster in pass protection as he lacks the size, foot quickness, and anchoring strength to hold up against talented defensive tackles that can convert speed to power.
The Steelers were searching for upgrades last offseason, and it appeared they could go this route in the draft, but they ultimately went in another direction with their draft capital. If they don't feel like spending a high draft pick on a center this year or if they are serious about getting an immediate upgrade, they could explore a trade for a veteran center who can step in and plug this major hole right away.