Steelers fallback option at center if they can't get one early in the 2024 NFL Draft

The Steelers want a center early in the upcoming NFL Draft, but they might have to take a different course of action.

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It's no secret that the Steelers need a starting center, and they need it badly. Free Agency could remain an option, but there are few starting centers out there that can be relied on for the job. Maybe the team double-dips at the position by signing a bounce-back free agent and taking a center in the upcoming draft early on. We know that Pittsburgh wants to take a center within the first three rounds.

The NFL Draft is a strange event as no one truly knows where certain prospects will go. Center is a position that normally slips in the draft, so that is some good news for the Steelers. If they do fail to get a center like Graham Barton, Jackson Powers-Johnson, Zach Fraizer, or Sedrick Van Pran-Granger, then they will have to focus on mid to late-round options. There are some fallback options if Pittsburgh has to go in that direction.

Pittsburgh could go with a one-year wonder with Hunter Nourzad

Hunter Nourzad is coming out of Penn State, but he spent his first two seasons at Cornell. During his time at Cornell, Nourzad played across the offensive line. He started games at both tackle spots before joining the Nittany Lions. He started his first season at State College as their starting left guard. He would move again during his final collegiate season.

This past year saw him move to center, and it was his best campaign yet. He didn't allow a single sack and was reliably snapping the ball. Right now, it seems like this prospect will land anywhere from round four to round six. He has limited starting experience at center, but his versatility in playing multiple positions in college will make him an interesting choice for the Steelers.

Beaux Limmer is probably the next best center after the top tier

Kind of the same situation with Beaux Limmer as Nourzad in certain aspects. Both have played multiple positions across the offensive line in college. Limmer does seem to be poised to have a stronger career in the NFL as a center than Nourzad does. Both are going to be available in the middle rounds of the upcoming draft.

One part of Limmer's game that must improve at the next level is his pass protection. He struggled at times in college, and that could show early in his career. He might be the best option to start on day one if Pittsburgh misses on the top four prospects mentioned at the top of this article. He still needs work, and it would be wise to have him develop some before becoming the starting option.

The Steelers could like the versatility that Tanner Bortolini brings

No one brings more versatility to the interior offensive line group than Tanner Bortolini. He comes out of Wisconsin after playing snaps at right tackle, both guard spots, and of course center. He played this past season at center, and he did well there. He allowed a small number of quarterback pressures and only gave up one sack this past year.

Bortolini had a quality week at the Senior Bowl, but he is not a finished product himself. He will likely go anywhere from rounds three to five. His versatility across the interior of the offensive line boosts his draft stock, but his limited time at center will hurt him in the eyes of the Steelers. He is not a finished product either but could be a good choice on day three.

Matt Lee has a ton of starting experience coming out of the NFL Draft

If all else fails and the Steelers have to either take a center late in the draft or sign an undrafted free agent, Matt Lee could be a viable option. He is someone who has a ton of starting experience during his time as a Miami Hurricane. He has held a predominant role at center since 2020 and has grown into a quality starter for them.

He could need to develop in the weight room at the next level. Many scouts are concerned about his size coming into the NFL. He has a solid game overall, but he does struggle against power moves. Lee is someone with a ton of starting experience that would be the last option for the Steelers to take a starting center option in round six or even potentially as an undrafted free agent.

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