Steelers Projected to Target Center With Maurkice Pouncey Potential

As the saying goes, if humans don’t study history, they are condemned to repeat it. For the Pittsburgh Steelers, though, they would love a bit of recent history to repeat itself. In his newest NFL mock draft,’s All NFL Draft’s Luke Easterling predicted the Steelers to select Oregon center Jackson Powers-Johnson at No. 20 overall.

Maurkice Pouncey Jackson Powers-Johnson

It’s still early in the draft process, but Powers-Johnson is drawing comparisons to former Steelers All-Pro center Maurkice Pouncey.

“Pittsburgh could go offensive tackle in the first round for the second year in a row, but they also need an upgrade at center,” Easterling wrote. “New offensive coordinator Arthur Smith will want to re-establish a physical identity centered around a dominant ground game, and Powers-Johnson will set that kind of tone in the trenches.”

SB Nation’s Michael Beck connected Powers-Johnson’s potential to that of Pouncey. The former Steelers center made first-team All-Pro twice and second-team All-Pro three times in his 11-year career.

“Do you remember the immediate boost Maurkice Pouncey was to the Steelers offense when he was drafted? Beck wrote on X (formerly Twitter).

“I really think Powers-Johnson has that same potential.”

How Center Jackson Powers-Johnson Could Fit With the Pittsburgh Steelers

If the Steelers draft an offensive lineman in the first round, an offensive tackle would be the most obvious choice. Even if 2023 first-round pick Broderick Jones switches to left tackle, the Steelers could then use an upgrade at right tackle.

But as Easterling explained, center is another spot where Pittsburgh could get a lot better.

Steelers incumbent center Mason Cole struggled significantly in 2023. Cole has recorded a PFF grade of below 60 in four of his six NFL seasons. Then in 2023, he had a career-low 53.2 grade.

Among centers with more than 1,000 snaps, PFF ranked Cole 18th out of 20.

He struggled the most in pass protection. Among all centers who played last season, PFF rated Cole 52nd out of 56 in pass blocking.

Powers-Johnson could possibly be an immediate upgrade. ESPN and PFF both have him ranked as one of the top two centers available in the 2024 draft class.

Bleacher Report has Powers-Johnson listed as the No. 2 interior offensive lineman in the upcoming class in its latest draft rankings.

During Pouncey’s rookie season in 2010, the Steelers improved from 19th to 11th in rushing yards. Pittsburgh also allowed 7 fewer sacks during Pouncey’s first NFL campaign.

Pouncey made second-team All-Pro and the Pro Bowl as a rookie. He then made first-team All-Pro during his second season and then second-team All-Pro again in 2012.

Steelers Meet With Powers-Johnson at 2024 Senior Bowl

The Steelers aren’t only linked to the Oregon center in fun hypothetical mock drafts.

Powers-Johnson told Steelers Depot’s Jonathan Heitritter on January 31 that he meet with the Steelers at the 2024 Senior Bowl.

“Talked to Coach Tomlin yesterday a little bit,” Powers-Johnson said to Heitritter. “Just introduced myself, said hello. I had an interview with them, I think, two days ago. I think I have an interview with them tonight as well.”’s All Steelers’ Nick Martin reported that the Oregon center also spent time with Tomlin during drills at practice.

If the Steelers drafted Powers-Johnson, Cole could become a cut candidate for the team. Cutting Cole would save $4.75 million in salary cap space.

Regardless, 2024 is the final year of Cole’s contract.

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