Mel Kiper Jr. mock draft suggests Steelers can wait to get their center

Landings spots of the top three centers in Mel Kiper's late mock draft suggest Steelers should wait until Round 2.
TCU v West Virginia
TCU v West Virginia / G Fiume/GettyImages

From now until the start of the 2024 NFL Draft, we will see mock drafts pouring in. With pre-draft visits soon wrapping up, we are getting a very good feel for where the Pittsburgh Steelers could be headed with their top pick this year.

If you follow the trail of breadcrumbs during Pittsburgh's pre-draft scouting, it will lead you to the offensive tackle position. Amarius Mims has checked every visit box we typically look for in a first-round pick while the Steelers have also expressed interest in JC Latham and Taliese Fuaga.

One prominent draft expert has a different route in mind.

Mel Kiper Jr. recently released his two-round mock draft, and he has the Pittsburgh Steelers going with Duke offensive lineman, Graham Barton. A tackle in college, Barton is expected to kick inside at the next level. For the Steelers, that means making a permanent move to center.

The decision to take a center in Round 1 becomes more peculiar when you consider where Kiper has the other top centers landing in the 2024 NFL Draft. According to his mock draft, Kiper doesn't believe Oregon's Jackson Powers-Johnson will be off the board until the 47th overall pick in the second round. Kiper also thinks West Virginia's Zach Frazier will be on the board in Round 2 when the Steelers are on the clock (he has Frazier being selected with the 57th overall pick).

Steelers must exercise patience when finding their center in the NFL Draft

If we knew the draft was going to shape up like this, the best thing to do would be to wait and grab a center in Round 2. In a recent study from Still Curtain contributor Andrew Falce, historical data shows that the Pittsburgh Steelers should have one of the top three centers available to them in the second round.

While the Steelers may prefer a player like Graham Barton over Jackson Powers-Johnson because of scheme fit and position flexibility, the gap between the top centers isn't big enough to be the first team to pounce at the opportunity to take one early in the draft.

It's worth noting that the Steelers recently had a pre-draft visit with Powers-Johnson. This puts the Oregon center firmly on their draft radar. If he slips for medical reasons, Pittsburgh may be willing to move back up in the second round to secure him.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are finally taking a keen interest in the center position, but they need to exercise patience when taking a center in the NFL Draft. If they play their cards right, they can land one of the top three centers while having the flexibility to go elsewhere with their first-round pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.