With the recent retirement of perennial Pro Bowler Maurkice Pouncey, center is now one of the biggest needs for the Pittsburgh Steelers. History suggests the Steelers will fill that need by signing a free agent—at least as a stopgap option—while they scour the college ranks for a potential long-term replacement.
While there are attractive options available in free agency—all of whom would be an upgrade compared to Pouncey in 2020—salary cap constraints may nudge the Steelers to add a center in the first three or four rounds of the draft.
If they go that route, following are a trio of candidates, all of whom seem destined to be drafted on Day 2, though the last of the three could fall into the middle rounds.
Landon Dickerson (Alabama)
Most NFL analysts regard Landon Dickerson (6-foot-6, 325 pounds) as the best prospect at the center position. He played the final two years of his college career at Alabama after spending three years at Florida State, winning the Rimington Trophy as the nation’s best center in 2020.
But his injury history is almost certainly going to push him down in the draft, as he suffered an ACL tear in the SEC title game in December—the second ACL tear of his college career. He also suffered an ankle injury in 2017 that required season-ending surgery and another season-ending ankle problem in 2018.
Creed Humphrey (Oklahoma)
Another intriguing prospect is Creed Humphrey (6-foot-5, 320 pounds), a redshirt junior who has been a consistent three-year starter at center in college but also has the size to play guard. In 2020, the left-hander was a first-team All-Big 12 selection by the league’s coaches and media and was named Big 12 Offensive Lineman of the Year.
However, Humphrey doesn’t necessarily fit the mold of what the Steelers traditionally look for in a center, as he’s limited athletically and doesn’t perform particularly well in space. On the other hand, Pittsburgh’s new offensive line coach has said he wants to emphasize physicality, so perhaps an old-school type will get consideration from the Steelers.
Quinn Meinerz (University of Wisconsin-Whitewater)
Quinn Meinerz (6-foot-3, 320 pounds) is a name you probably haven’t heard before, as he played at Division III University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. But the former Warhawks guard was impressive going against top competition (at both guard and center) at the Senior Bowl, so much so that he is likely to be drafted no later than the fourth round.
He’s already earned a certain amount of notoriety for wearing a crop-top jersey, which exposes his ample midriff. Even more attention grabbing is his “Canada Workout” video (see immediately below), in which he looks an awful lot like a lumberjack—and even pushes over a dead tree.
Working against him getting drafted by the Steelers is the fact that he didn’t play in 2020, as Wisconsin-Whitewater’s season was cancelled. In September, general manager Kevin Colbert said the team would prefer to draft prospects who played in 2020.
“If there are two players that are close or equal, we’ll take the one that has played most recently,” he told The Ringer in September of last year. “The players that get the opportunity to play and choose to play, we feel more comfortable in their evaluations,” Colbert added.
Other Names to Remember
If the Steelers don’t select Dickerson, Humphrey or Meinerz, some other names to remember are Josh Myers (Ohio State), Drake Jackson (Kentucky), Michal Menet (Penn State), Trey Hill (Georgia) and Drew Dalman (Stanford).
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