Steelers must sign a capable free agent center before the 2024 NFL Draft

Pittsburgh must cover their bases by adding a veteran center to their roster before the draft.

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The Pittsburgh Steelers are a team with many traditions over the years. Super Bowls, toughness, running game, defense, etcetera.

There is another tradition many take for granted until it is apparent that tradition is not being upheld. The tradition I am speaking of is having a quality center along their offensive line.

Since the 1966 season, the Steelers have had 5 centers that have started the majority of their games. In those seasons Ray Mansfield (1966 to 1975), Mike Webster (1976 to 1988), Dermontti Dawson (1989 to 2000), Jeff Hartings (2001 to 2006), and Maurkice Pouncey (2010 to 2020) have manned the center position in Pittsburgh more than any other players.

Since Maurkice Pouncey retired, the Steelers have not had the best luck at the position. Kendrick Green and Mason Cole are two names Steeler fans would love to forget after their starting stints.

The front office must focus on addressing this need before the draft with a veteran option. They cannot afford to bank on a center falling in their laps at the draft and then be stuck in panic mode if the draft falls another way.

The center position is essentially the quarterback of the offense. They are typically responsible for calling out protections and checks at the line for the rest of the offensive line. If you don't have someone who is experienced and can execute the pre-snap side of the position, the rest of the line will suffer as it has with poor play in recent seasons.

Steelers must add a starting-caliber center to their roster before the draft

Right now, the likely starter if they did not add to the position would be Nate Herbig. The comfort level of a depth offensive guard from 2023 being the starting center for 2024 should not be high at all.

While Herbig is a great depth piece to have, there are veteran options out there with recent starting experience at center. Brian Allen, Nick Gates, and Connor Williams are all potential free agent options the team should consider that have recent experience.

There are a few centers the Steelers can consider in the draft to supplement a veteran signing but there is no guarantee they can land one of the starter-ready options. Graham Barton, Jackson Powers-Johnson, and Zach Frazier may be taken before the team feels comfortable selecting them and, if that happens, they could be left scrambling and that is never good.

Pittsburgh can end a drought of subpar play from their center position this offseason via the draft, but, they must have a veteran in place before the draft as a backup plan. The Steelers have become known for great center play and it is time to revive that tradition for another decade after some recent lackluster years.