Steelers mock draft: Rare trade-back still lands an impressive center

Oregon Ducks offensive lineman Jackson Powers-Johnson (58)
Oregon Ducks offensive lineman Jackson Powers-Johnson (58) / Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
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The NFL draft order is set with the conclusion of the Super Bowl, and now every team in the NFL has shifted into offseason mode. For the Steelers, this offseason is poised to be a critical one. The recent success of this team has been missing, and fans are rightfully expecting more from this franchise.

The draft this season will be critical for this. Even if you are resigned to the fact that the quarterback issue likely won’t be resolved this season (as I am), having a strong team ready for a rookie quarterback next year will be critical. In order to add some extra assets and still fill needs, I have the Steelers trading back a few spots in the first round.

I don’t love to project trades, but the reasoning for this one is simple: the Steelers top need is a center, and I don’t believe that there is a center worth the pick at 20th overall. Trading back a few spots and picking up an extra third (as I did with the Texans in the draft simulator) makes the selection of a center a good value as opposed to staying pat. With that said, here is my most recent Steelers mock draft.

Jackson Powers-Johnson. Jackson Powers-Johnson. Oregon. OC. player. 515. . . Jackson Powers-Johnson. 1

Steelers mock draft round 1: Jackson Powers-Johnson, C, Oregon

As stated, I don’t think there is a center worth taking at 20th overall. That isn’t to say Jackson Powers-Johnson is a bad player, he isn’t, but I don’t see the traits that will make him one of the elite starters in the league. I personally am more inclined to target a tackle given the talent that could be available. That said, he should be a plug-and-play option and a very good one at that.

Powers-Johnson has the size you want in a center and while not an elite athlete, he moves well enough. In the run game, he is a mauler. He lacks the finesse to take on more technical rushers from the middle, but he has the strength to hold his own against power rushers. There aren’t a lot of weaknesses in his game.

That said, he also seems close to his ceiling as a prospect. He likely won’t be taking any significant steps forward once he is a pro. Again, that isn’t a bad thing, but it is the reason why I moved back a few spots and grabbed an extra third to get some more value out of the pick.