Steelers Draft Grades: Pittsburgh Aces Second-Round Pick

The Pittsburgh Steelers landed the exact player they should have in Round 2.
Oct 23, 2021; Fort Worth, Texas, USA;  West Virginia Mountaineers offensive lineman Zach Frazier
Oct 23, 2021; Fort Worth, Texas, USA; West Virginia Mountaineers offensive lineman Zach Frazier / Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports
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For the Pittsburgh Steelers, the ultimate goal was very simple going into day two of the NFL draft. Get a starting center, particularly, get one of the big three centers still remaining on the board. Pittsburgh accomplished that and completed their offensive line rebuild. Most major analysts would agree that the Steelers completed the goal, but just what did they think of this pick, and was it really as good as it read on paper:

Dane Brugler: 34th overall, OC 3

“A four-year starter at West Virginia, Frazier was the starting center in head coach Neal Brown’s balanced scheme, using both zone and gap principles. He put together an All-American resume (on and off the field) during his time in Morgantown, starting 37 consecutive games at center before his broken leg in the 2023 regular-season finale. Frazier is a leverage-based blocker with the knee bend and grip strength expected of a four-time state champion high school wrestler (he won the genetic lottery for a center — his father’s side were football players and his mother’s side were wrestlers). At times, his hands get out in front and his feet are late to catch up, but he consistently finds a way to stay under control and finish. Overall, Frazier might not boast elite athleticism or length, but he is good enough in those areas and will win over NFL teams with his core strength, football IQ, competitive toughness and understanding of leverage. He projects as a quality NFL starting center the moment he is drafted.”

Lance Zierlein: 107th overall, OC 5

“Sawed-off frame with short arms and terrific power once he gets locked in. Frazier’s lack of ideal arm length will be a problem for some evaluators and could cause him problems on the next level. Frazier has bulldozer drive strength in his lower half but allows his hands to do too much grabbing and hugging at times. He has quick eyes and a firm punch in pass protection, but because of his lack of length and recovery ability, he’s going to have issues if he’s forced to protect on an island. Frazier has the potential to be a good backup or eventual starter, but he needs to play with consistent inside hands and must stay tight to his targets in order to mitigate his physical deficiencies.”

My Analysis: 38th overall, OC 3

Stout frame with solid muscle distribution and overall strength. His wrestling background is evident from the jump with some serious ability to generate torque and displace first-level defenders, while also being able to finish with authority at the second level. Has a strong awareness of second-level defenders, gaps, and angles when it comes to attacking that level of the defense.

Looks for work in pass protection when the situation allows for it and will punish defenders. Plays with a super low center of gravity that gives him a very low pad level to generate leverage and combines that with his hand usage that helps him generate a ton of torque. Could use some guard/chip help when faced with stand-up edge rushers who align over the center, which can exploit his lack of wingspan.

While testing doesn’t show it, there is a lot of explosiveness out of his stance and lateral spunk when it comes to his ability to reach on outside zone plays, often being able to get to the 3 technique. Can consistently be asked to pull on as the lead blocker on gap and power scheme runs. 

Unbelievably gritty and willing to fight through injury and has endeared himself to so many football coaches for his unwillingness to quit.

Frazier should step in on day one and bring in a ready-made skillset as the former high school wrestling champion has some strong hands-on contact that translates to all aspects of the field. His movement skills make him a very scheme-diverse player in the run game and with his tenacity and torque generation, he should prove to be a plus multiplier in that regard. His pass protection should prove to be at least functional and still has room for growth. Frazier provides both a solid foundation to start immediately and a future to be optimistic about ceiling wise.

Grade: A

Pittsburgh accomplished the most important mission of day two to acquire a starting center after shoring up their offensive tackle situation in round one. Frazier provides a day one ready skillset and his combination of tenacity and movement skills should be an effortless fit in Arthur Smith’s scheme. The Steelers complete the offensive line rebuild with flying colors and there is much reason to be optimistic about this group for years to come, especially if Broderick Jones develops into the player the Steelers drafted him to be.

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Nicholas Martin

NICHOLAS MARTIN

Nicholas has been watching the Steelers his entire life. He has been writing about the Steelers since 2016. Prior to All Steelers, he contributed over at Behind The Steel Curtain.