With the news of Maurkice Pouncey’s retirement on Friday, the probability of the Steelers taking a center at No. 24 skyrocketed. Certainly not a sexy position, but critical to the offense’s success in 2021 and beyond.
Our friends over at Draft Wire will be rolling out prospect rankings this week, but they’ve given us a sneak peek at their top players at the center position.
Without further adieu…
Landon Dickerson, Alabama
AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis
Pro Football Focus gives Dickerson an overall grade of 91.3 — 76.2 pass blocking, 92.8 run blocking. He allowed three sacks each in his first two seasons at Florida State but has only given up one sack since 2018. In 1,269 pass-blocking snaps, the 6’6, 325-pound center has allowed 34 quarterback pressures. He also has some experience at left and right guard. Durability is a big concern. In five seasons, Dickerson suffered four season-ending injuries: Torn ACL (2016, 2020) and ankle (2017, 2018). His sole healthy season was in 2019. If the Steelers roll with the risk and draft Dickerson, they’d better have a reliable backup beyond J.C. Hassenaur.
Creed Humphrey, Oklahoma
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Humphrey earned an overall PFF grade of 81.9 — 68.4 pass blocking, 86.4 run blocking. In three seasons (redshirted freshman year) — including playoffs — he didn’t give up a single sack. The 6’5, 320-pound Sooner earned the starting nod in his first season (2018) and allowed 30 QB pressures in 1,359 pass plays. Durability doesn’t appear to be an issue for Humphrey, as he never missed a game in 39 matchups.
Josh Myers, Ohio State
AP Photo/Jay LaPrete
Touted as one of the best centers in Ohio State’s history, Myers’ blocking helped lead the way for the school’s first-ever 2,000-yard running back, J.K. Dobbins, and Heisman Trophy finalist Justin Fields (51 total touchdowns). According to PFF, Myers grades at 65.4 overall — 65.9 pass and 63.9 run blocking. The 6’5, 312-pound center allowed six sacks in 30 games and 755 pass plays.
Quinn Meinerz, Wisconsin-Whitewater
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Meinerz never played center at the collegiate level, but that’s how he’s being projected heading into the NFL draft thanks to a strong showing at the Reese’s Senior Bowl. Coming from a small school, the 6’3, 320-pound Warhawk’s versatility to play any interior position should help his stock come draft time. Meinerz helped the offense lead the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference in rushing (195.7 yards per game) and first downs (310), average 30.1 points and 376.7 total yards per game and allow only 21 sacks for the season. Unfortunately, Wisconsin-Whitewater’s 2020 football season was canceled due to COVID.
Drake Jackson, Kentucky
AP Photo/Bryan Woolston
Overall, PFF grades Jackson at 84 — 69.9 pass blocking and 85.7 run blocking. In 1,364 pass plays, he’s allowed just one sack in his Kentucky career (47 games; 44 consecutive starts). He was the anchor of the Wildcats’ offensive line for four seasons and, during his redshirt freshman and sophomore seasons, blocked for current Steelers running back Benny Snell. In those seasons, Jackson helped Snell become Kentucky’s all-time leading rusher and the first player in school history to rush for 1,000 in three straight seasons. According to Reese’s Senior Bowl executive director Jim Nagy, Jackson separated his shoulder on the second snap of the Senior Bowl but played the rest of the game.