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Tomlin Hints Center Is Earlier Draft Priority Than Wide Receiver


For all those Pittsburgh Steelers fans sweating about the team’s need for a starting-caliber center and receiver, Mike Tomlin and the organization are aware.

During the NFL Annual Meeting in Orlando, Tomlin spoke to reporters about the team moves this offseason, including the seemingly pressing need for both a center and wide receiver.

The Athletic’s Mark Kaboly tweeted after the meeting that Tomlin acknowledged there is still work to be done at the wide receiver and center position. However, while both are pressing needs, Tomlin seemed to hint that center may be more important for the team when it comes to the NFL draft, noting that after the top names, no one else is “plug and play.”

Tomlin said that he believes there are several wide receivers in the draft that can contribute immediately to the team when they are selected. He wasn’t as confident with the center class though, stating that after the first few there aren’t many plug-and-play options at the position.

If draft media is to be trusted, that would mean Oregon’s Jackson Power-Johnson, West Virginia’s Zach Frazier and Duke’s Graham Barton would be a part of the Steelers’ plug-and-play options. Georgia’s Sedrick Van Pran may also be in that list, but the consensus board seems lower on him.

Tomlin also acknowledged there are still options in free agency. For center that would include the likes of the Brian Allen and Connor Williams, though the latter is still recovering from a torn ACL.

Though traditionally a guard, Tomlin echoed Omar Khan’s thoughts of noting in-house center candidate Nate Herbig, as shared by The Athletic’s Mike DeFabo.

“Obviously, we still got Herbig on our roster, but we’ve got some work to do there, whether it’s continued in free agency and/or the draft,” said Tomlin via DeFabo. “ We’ll get something done, obviously, at that position.”

Wide receiver is regarded as among the draft’s deepest positions while free agency offers the team more options than center. Possible names include Tyler Boyd, Josh Reynolds, and the looming chance of a big splash, like the Steelers trading for the San Francisco 49ers’ Brandon Aiyuk. 

I’m no betting man, but based on that answer I would stake a large amount of money that Herbig is not the team’s starting center Week One. Scanning through the free agent options, I doubt the answer will come from there either.

If not Herbig or free agency, the draft will be the Steelers only remedy. Given Tomlin’s comments, that is likely to occur early, potentially ahead of wide receiver, making for a short list of names Pittsburgh will target.

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