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State of the Steelers' Roster: Center

Sean Mahan

Age and Contract Status: 27 years old (5/28/1980), signed through 2011 with cap hits of $2.975 million (2008), $3.975 million (2009), $4.3 million (2010), and $4.3 million (2011)

2007 Analysis: Perhaps no other Steelers player had a worse year than Mahan as he struggled with the move from guard to center. Mahan really struggled when a nose tackle was lined up directly over him and that was never clearer than the Jets game when Dewayne Robertson absolutely abused him (2.5 sacks). Mahan did manage to play every offensive snap at center for the Steelers in 2007 though.

2008 Outlook: The future is pretty unclear for Mahan. Some think that he'll improve at center in his second season, which might hold water considering he'd only played the position for 8 games in his entire career prior to this season. Others say that he needs to be moved to guard and battle with Chris K and Colon while Simmons takes over at center. The only thing that we really know for sure is that since he's signed through 2011, he'll be a Steeler for at least a couple more years.

Anybody want to take odds on whether this play ended in a sack or not?

Darnell Stapleton

Age and Contract Status: 22 years old (9/21/1985), signed through 2009 with cap hits of $372K (2008) and $462K (2009)

2007 Analysis: Stapleton never stepped on the field or was even active for a regular season game in 2007. His only accomplishment was that he beat out Marvin Philip (6th round pick 2006) for the backup job despite being undrafted out of Rutgers.

2008 Outlook: He's the biggest wildcard on the offensive line because obviously the coaching staff sees something in him or otherwise they probably could have just stashed him on the practice squad for season. Darnell is still incredibly young (even younger than a lot of guys in the draft this year) so it's not out of the question that he could be the starting center in the future. We'll probably know quite a bit more about his ability after the draft because an early pick on a center will likely spell the end for Stapleton.

Needs: From my point of view, I tend to believe that center position is in need of an upgrade this offseason. Mahan really struggled in his first full season as a starter and we have no idea what Stapleton is at this point. To make matters worse, this is a pretty weak draft class for centers and there isn't a `must-have' free agent center to make a run at either. I would imagine they'll draft another center sometime during the second day. I also wouldn't be surprised to see Mahan moved back to his natural position at guard and possibly Simmons moved over to center. But any way that you look at it, there are more questions than answers at this point. Anybody have any answers? Did Mahan play any better towards the end of season as opposed to the beginning or does anyone remember Stapleton from preseason play?