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Steelers draft profile: Jackson Powers-Johnson (Center, Oregon)

Could the Steelers draft another JPJ?

NCAA Football: Oregon at Arizona State Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Approaching the 2024 NFL Draft, we’ll be scouting as many of the top prospects that the Pittsburgh Steelers could have their eye on anywhere from Rounds 1 through 7. We’ll breakdown the prospects themselves, strengths and weaknesses, projected draft capital and their fit with the Steelers.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have a major hole at center following an underwhelming performance from Mason Cole, who will likely be cut this offseason. This is a simple game of connecting the dots. Pittsburgh will be looking to add a new starting center, and this guy is likely the cream of the crop in the 2024 NFL Draft Class.

The basics on Jackson Powers-Johnson

  • Postion: Center
  • Class: Junior (Oregon)
  • Size: 6’3, 320 pounds
  • Age: 21 years old
  • Projected draft round: 1st or Early 2nd

Jackson Powers-Johnson scouting report

The Senior Bowl is a big opportunity for NFL Draft prospects to make a name for themselves - and Oregon Center Jackson Powers-Johnson has done just that. The 6’3, 320 lbs. former anchor of the Ducks high-octane offense is extremely versatile, playing just about every position on the OL for Oregon’s offense the past three seasons. If that wasn’t enough of an indication of his athleticism, he also played some DEFENSIVE TACKLE!

Powers-Johnson is the prototypical NFL Center. He’s polished, powerful, and poised — the three P’s. Could the next “P” be “Pittsburgh Steelers?” To be determined.

I watched three games from this past season to help give you some visual context as to why Johnson-Powers is widely considered the best center prospect in this class.

Oregon vs. Washington 10-14-2023

You can tell JPJ was a standout guard as he frequently showed his ability to take on multiple defenders in a downhill run scheme that often featured inside zone rushes. Here he displays perfect hand placement as he’s able to clear the way for RB Bucky Irving.

Powers-Johnson finishes every play with authority, displaying the mean streak that will have NFL GMs salivating. He would immediately endear himself to an Arthur Smith ground-and-pound offense. Watch the top of your screen here as he gives the defender a little TLC after creating a rush lane for Irving yet again.

As if you needed more evidence of JPJ’s ability to clear space between the tackles, he displays his powerful shoulders on this run and just discards the poor defender.

Oregon RB Irving had 127 yards and two TDs in this game. He owes Powers-Johnson dinner.

vs. Washington State 10-21-2023

I know it’s just one play from one game, but if there’s one thing JPJ needs to work on it’s getting stronger in his upper body. He occasionally gets knocked off the ball at the snap which shuts down a run play pretty quickly. Generally, when you see a tremendous athlete like this that’s the one thing that eludes them. However, this is easily fixable.

Once again, his athleticism is on full display here, as he ends up about five yards down the field by the time this toss sweep develops. He loves contact. Pay close attention to how 58 finishes his block on the sideline. WOW! That poor defender has a family!

vs. Washington 12-1-2023 (Pac-12 Championship Game)

You can see a theme developing here - it’s important to watch these players against tough competition. I could have posted some clips from his game against Portland State, but unfortunately, I don’t think he’ll see many alums from that fine institution in the big leagues.

Here I’ll feature JPJ in passing situations exclusively. Watch his lower-body strength below, as he stands firm and allows quarterback Bo Nix to have a clean pocket.

Although this play doesn’t go for many yards, JPJ gets out on the edge and nearly gets to the second level as he shows his ability in space. Once again, watch the finish. It should at the very least give you a good chuckle.

I like to end these with my favorite clip, and this is one of the best things you’ll see in any draft profile all year. Watch big number 58’s motor on this play. He runs side by side with Nix, who is a very mobile quarterback. This is a center, ladies and gentlemen. Not a tight end. A freaking center!

Strengths

  • Insane athleticism
  • Plays bully ball
  • Smart, instinctive
  • I didn’t see one bad snap in three games.

Weaknesses

  • Could improve upper body strength
  • Length limitations
  • Sometimes he plays with reckless abandon and overshoots his natural path

What others are saying about Powers-Johnson

Jackson Powers-Johnson’s fit with the Steelers

There are a few things at play here. Powers-Johnson could step in and be an immediate plug-and-play starter for Pittsburgh. However, players at his position don’t often get drafted in the first round. For economic reasons, there’s a firm belief that you can find good centers later in the draft, as the position is just not prioritized in the same way tackle and guard are. However, there are facts to help dispel that notion.

From 2011-2018, just four centers were drafted and then went on to the Pro Bowl in their first five years. Only one of them was taken outside the first round. That was recently retired Eagles’ center Jason Kelce. So, if you take a guy that high - there’s a good chance he’ll be pretty darn good.

I think Powers-Johnson is probably worth a first-round pick, but it’s certainly debatable if he warrants being selected 20th overall — especially over one of the top offensive tackles in the class.

What are your thoughts on Oregon center Jackson Powers-Johnson? And which draft prospects would you like to see profiled next? Let us know in the comments below!