Steelers draft interests show they aren't done beefing up the interior OL
By Tommy Jaggi
Since the last generation of offensive linemen departed, we figured the Pittsburgh Steelers were going to get serious about addressing the trenches. Last offseason, Kevin Colbert signed free agents James Daniels and Mason Cole as some of his final moves as general manager. That clearly wasn't enough. Though the offensive line took a slight step forward in 2022, it still pales in comparison to what most NFL teams have.
In Omar Khan's first offseason as GM, the Steelers have added two more interior offensive linemen in Nate Herbig and Isaac Seumalo. These additions mean that failed former third-round pick, Kendrick Green, will certainly be kicked off the roster, while two-year starter, Kevin Dotson has likely been pushed to the bottom of the depth chart.
Somehow, this might not be enough. It's been said that Khan and assistant GM Andy Weidl really value the offensive line, and that's already very evident. However, even with all of their additions over the past two offseasons, the front office still has expressed a strong interest in beefing up the trenches.
Steelers continue to meet with top IOL draft prospects
Just before free agency kicked off, the Pittsburgh Steelers scheduled a pre-draft visit with Florida standout offensive guard, O'Cyrus Torrence. This seems like it would be easy to overlook. In the days following, the Steelers would go on to sign OG Nate Herbig and later OG Isaac Seumalo.
But landing these two starting offensive guards apparently didn't satisfy that itch. Late in March, Pittsburgh scheduled visits with Minnesota center John Michael Schmitz and TCU guard Steve Avila.
Many consider Schmitz to be the best center prospect of the 2023 NFL Draft. Though he doesn't have the size and athletic traits of a player like Creed Humphrey did coming out a few years back, he has earned tremendous grades from Pro Football Focus over the past three years and projects as a long-time starter at the center position in the NFL.
Meanwhile, Avila might just be the best interior offensive lineman prospect in the entire 2023 draft class. The TCU star has excellent tape all across the offensive line and has played guard, center, and tackle. Avila could be selected as early as the back half of the first round in the NFL Draft.
Steelers may be eyeing their long-term center
So what does this all mean? With Seumalo, Daniels, Cole, Herbig, and Dotson already making for an incredibly deep interior offensive line, the Steelers could be looking for another. My best guess is that, despite their incredible depth, they are still looking for a long-term center.
Since Maurkice Pouncey retired, the Steelers have experimented with players like Kendrick Green, J.C. Hassenaur, and Mason Cole. Of the three, Cole was clearly the best of the group, but he's still just an average starter at best by NFL standards. Khan and Weidl may not be content with this.
Based on the interest that they continue to express in some of the top interior OL prospects in the NFL Draft, the Steelers front office may view Cole as their backup center and are looking for a long-term replacement. Though there isn't a Tyler Linderbaum-level center this year, Avila and Schmitz project as 8-10 year starters at the next level.
In addition to the apparent interest in the interior offensive line, the Steelers are still eyeing offensive tackles early in the draft. However, don't be surprised if they do address both tackle and center in the first two days of the draft this April. Their recent pre-draft visits and clear interest shows that they probably aren't done reshaping the interior OL just yet.