Steelers' brass missing from Oregon's Pro Day means top center is not on the radar

No Mike Tomlin and no Omar Khan at Oregon's Pro Day likely means no Jackson Powers-Johnson in the first round for the Steelers.

NFL Combine, Jackson Powers-Johnson
NFL Combine, Jackson Powers-Johnson / Kevin Sabitus/GettyImages

If you were in the camp of the Pittsburgh Steelers taking the best center in the NFL Draft with the 20th overall pick, you might not want to hold your breath. On March 12th, Oregon held its Pro Day, and center Jackson Powers-Johnson was one of the biggest participants on hand. Unfortunately, Mike Tomlin and Omar Khan were nowhere to be found.

Senior Bowl Director Jim Nagy confirmed the coaches in attendance. While the Steelers did send offensive line coach, Pat Meyer, this lack of representation from Pittsburgh's brass is a bad sign for the chances of Powers-Johnson going to the Steelers in Round 1.

If history has taught us one thing when it comes to the Steelers, it's that this team does not draft players in the first round that they don't have their head coach and general manager meet with first at their Pro Day.

History shows Steelers won't consider Jackson Powers-Johnson in Round 1

This is a trend that has held true for a very long time. The rule of thumb is simple: if Mike Tomlin and Omar Khan show up at a player's Pro Day, they are on the radar as a first-round candidate. If they don't, they are not.

Prior to Khan taking over GM duties, Tomlin's partner on the scouting trail was Kevin Colbert. The hope here is that the Steelers might not stay true to all of the same draft trends we have seen in the past now that there are new heads of the front office in place (assistant GM Andy Weidl being the other).

However, selecting Jackson Powers-Johnson in the first round without a Pro Day visit from Pittsburgh's lead men will go against everything we've seen from this team during Tomlin's tenure.

Like it or not, Tomlin loves to have a hand in the pre-draft process, and a player that he doesn't meet with at their Pro Day simply will not be on his first-round radar. This isn't to say that the Steelers won't draft a player at all. The representation from Meyer is a good sign that there is at least some interest... just not enough to spend a first-round pick on JPJ.

This also rules out quarterback Bo Nix and wide receiver Troy Franklin in the first round (not that there was ever a real chance of drafting these players with the 20th overall pick, to begin with).

The Pro Day scenario with Jackson Powers-Johnson is now remarkably similar to that of Creed Humphry during the pre-draft process in 2021. The Steelers only sent their OL coach to Oklahoma's Pro Day when Humphrey was working out. Without Pittsburgh's head coach and GM on hand, the Steelers passed on Humphrey twice in the NFL Draft (with their first and second-round picks).

It's also worth noting that -- although they did talk to Jackson Powers-Johnson at the Senior Bowl -- the Pittsburgh Steelers did not use one of their 45 formal visits on JPJ at the NFL Combine.

Unless the Steelers are willing to scrap these draft trends that they have held tight to for years, Jackson Powers-Johnson will not be on Pittsburgh's radar in the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft because Mike Tomlin and Omar Khan were not present at his Oregon Pro Day.