Jackson Powers-Johnson

Raiders Sign OL Jackson Powers-Johnson, Finalize Draft Class

The Raiders announced on Monday that second-round pick Jackson Powers-Johnson has inked his rookie contract. As a result, all eight members of the team’s draft class are now attached to their initial NFL deals.

The offensive tackle class was a headliner in 2024, but Powers-Johnson was one of the top interior blockers available. The Oregon product served as a full-time starter over the past two seasons, establishing himself as one of the most well-regarded interior linemen in college football during that span.

Powers-Johnson spent much of his time at right guard in 2022, but last season he was used exclusively a center. That produced a stellar campaign for the 6-3, 328-pounder; Powers-Johnson won the Rimington Trophy as the country’s top center (becoming the first Pac-12 player to do so). He was also named a unanimous first-team All-American, helping cement his draft stock.

Graham Barton was the only center to hear his name called on Day 1 of the draft, but Powers-Johnson (just like Zach Frazier) was selected in the second round. Starting roles likely await all three players in their rookie seasons, but Powers-Johnson is positioned to start his NFL tenure at right guard. The Raiders used Greg Van Roten at that spot last season, but he is unsigned.

Vegas has added Cody Whitehair to the fold as an interior blocker with starting experience. The same is also true of Andrus Peat, who has seen time at both tackle and guard and signed a deal last week. Those veterans will give head coach Antonio Pierce a number of potential combinations (alongside Powers-Johnson) to consider as training camp takes place.

Here is the full breakdown of the Raiders’ 2024 draft class:

OL Notes: Guyton, Beebe, Cowboys, Commanders, LT, Raiders, Packers, Patriots

Tyler Smith delivering strong early returns at two positions — left tackle, left guard — gave the Cowboys options while constructing their draft board, and Oklahoma tackle Tyler Guyton became the team’s pick. The Guyton move points to Smith staying at guard. The Cowboys are set to give the ex-Sooners right tackle every opportunity to win the starting LT job, The Athletic’s Jon Machota notes (subscription required). Teams make the inverse move more often, with the college game’s top O-linemen most frequently coming from the left tackle spot. Guyton views himself as a more natural left tackle, however, and his development there will keep well-paid RT Terence Steele in place.

Trading down from No. 24 to 29, the Cowboys picked up an extra third-rounder (No. 73). Dallas used the latter pick on Kansas State’s Cooper Beebe, and Machota adds he profiles as the team’s Tyler Biadasz center replacement. Linked to Duke center prospect Graham Barton at No. 24, the Cowboys passed with the ex-Blue Devil on the board (Barton went to the Buccaneers at No. 26). Beebe vacillated between left tackle, right tackle and left guard with the Big 12 program. While Machota notes Beebe could be an eventual Zack Martin successor, he is on track to begin his career at center.

Here is the latest from O-lines around the league:

Draft OL Rumors: Fashanu, Latham, Fautanu, Buccaneers

Some teams in the NFL are known for drafting the best player on the board in their draft slot regardless of position. Others have made a reputation for drafting players at a position of need regardless of value. The Saints are a team that could end up in the best of both worlds later this month, according to Jason La Canfora of The Washington Post.

At 14th overall, the Saints could be in position to take a player at a huge position of need. La Canfora informs us that multiple general managers in the league have the sense that New Orleans is “all about finding players to fill immediate starting needs.” With offensive line as a big position of need at the moment, Penn State offensive tackle Olu Fashanu has been repeatedly linked to the Saints.

Drafting Fashanu at No. 14 overall would hardly be considered a reach. Fashanu projects as a prototypical left tackle and, in most rankings, ranks as the draft’s second-best tackle prospect behind Notre Dame’s Joe Alt. Getting the OT2 on the board at 14th would be a huge win for the Saints, especially if Alt goes to the Chargers at No. 5, as many suspect. If someone between the Chargers and Saints selects Fashanu, look to Alabama tackle JC Latham as another potential target in New Orleans.

Here are a few other rumors concerning the offensive line class of the 2024 NFL Draft:

  • While we mentioned that most rankings see Fashanu as the OT2 in this year’s draft, some have pegged Latham in that draft slot. According to Peter Schrager of NFL Network, some teams like Latham so much that he could be taken as the second offensive tackle off the board. Alabama hasn’t had the best recent history producing offensive tackles under Nick Saban. Evan Neal, Alex Leatherwood, Jedrick Wills, and Jonah Williams all serve as recent examples who have failed to live up to their draft stock. Some see Latham projecting best as a guard at the next level, as he’ll need to continue improving to play tackle in the NFL. If those teams that see him as the second-best tackle in the draft are right, though, Latham could break recent trends for the Crimson Tide.
  • Washington offensive line prospect Troy Fautanu is another player that splits teams on where he will play at the next level. While many see him projecting as an interior lineman in the NFL (the best interior lineman in this year’s draft according to some), Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post tells us that some scouts are starting to believe he can play tackle as a pro, like he did for the Huskies. He has the talent and potential to play any position on NFL offensive lines. As we’ve reported, so far, he has visited the Bengals, Ravens, Jaguars, Steelers Eagles, and Jets.
  • One team who has been labeled as a squad looking to add to the trenches is the Buccaneers. According to ESPN’s Jenna Laine, Tampa Bay is looking to upgrade at guard, center, and outside linebacker. With the 26th pick in the draft, the Buccaneers can expect to see players like Arizona’s Jordan Morgan and Kansas State’s Cooper Beebe available at guard and, perhaps, Oregon’s Jackson Powers-Johnson at center. The top tier of pass rushers should be long gone, but players like UCLA’s Laiatu Latu, Penn State’s Chop Robinson, Western Michigan’s Marshawn Kneeland, and Missouri’s Darius Robinson could be available late in the first round.

Latest On Dolphins’ Draft Plans

While the Dolphins already brought in Aaron Brewer as a potential replacement for Connor Williams, that won’t stop the organization from pursuing additional center depth via the draft. As Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald passes along, the Dolphins hosted Oregon center Jackson Powers-Johnson on a top-30 visit this week.

Powers-Johnson didn’t allow any sacks in his 829 snaps at center in 2023, earning him a first-team All-American nod and the Rimington Trophy, which is awarded to the nation’s top center. While the lineman has generally competed with the likes of Duke’s Graham Barton and West Virginia’s Zach Frazier in mock drafts, Powers-Johnson is expected to hear his name called at some point during the first two days of the draft…potentially as high as No. 21 to the Dolphins.

While a potential return to Miami remains a possibility for Williams, there’s a good chance the veteran sits out the 2024 campaign while rehabbing his ACL injury. After starting all 34 games for the Titans between 2022 and 2023, Brewer was brought in as a replacement at center. As Jackson notes, both Brewer and Powers-Johnson have experience playing offensive guard, so the team wouldn’t necessarily be setting themselves up for a competition at center.

It sounds like offensive line has been a specific focus for the Dolphins throughout the pre-draft process. Jackson notes that the organization has hosted a number of offensive linemen who are considered late first-round picks, but the organization hasn’t done the same for defensive players in the same tier. While Jackson warns that the front office wouldn’t willingly show their hand, it seems pretty clear that the Dolphins are leaning towards OL depth in the first round.

One position the organization isn’t considering with their first-round pick? A quarterback, as GM Chris Grier told reporters (via Adam Beasley of Pro Football Network). Considering both the Dolphins and Tua Tagovailoa are focused on signing a long-term pact, it’s not a surprise that the Dolphins won’t waste an early-round pick on a developmental backup. However, Grier did note that the Dolphins could consider taking a player at the position later in the draft.

Teams Viewing Steelers As Most Likely To Trade For WR?

Known more for drafting and developing wide receivers — often from Day 2 — than trading for them, the Steelers have produced an impressive track record on this front. Over the past 15 years, Mike Wallace, Emmanuel Sanders, Antonio Brown, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson and George Pickens have enjoyed varying levels of success with the team despite coming off the board after Round 1.

It is arguable no team has strung together a run of homegrown WR talent like this in the modern game, but rumblings continue to emerge about the Steelers being ready to pull the trigger on a trade. A report earlier this week indicated the team had inquired about Brandon Aiyuk and was interested in trading for a wideout, and the Washington Post’s Jason La Canfora submits another offering in this direction.

Rival execs view the Steelers as the team potentially the most motivated to acquire a receiver via trade. While a Tee Higgins move will not happen — unlikely to be moved, Higgins definitely would not be dealt within the division — teams certainly are monitoring the 49ers regarding an Aiyuk swap.

Although Sean Payton and Broncos GM George Paton said (via the Denver Gazette’s Chris Tomasson) he has spoken with Courtland Sutton recently, the 6-foot-4 wideout showed by far the most chemistry with Russell Wilson last season. The team currently employing Wilson may be interested in reuniting the two, as Sutton is staying away from Broncos workouts in hopes of a new contract.

The Broncos nearly traded Sutton to the Ravens last year, and after their Jerry Jeudy asking price dropped drastically (from a first-rounder to accepting fifth- and sixth-rounders from the Browns), Sutton probably will not cost a second-round pick — Denver’s hope in 2023 — entering his age-29 season. Aiyuk will be more difficult to acquire, and it is worth wondering if the Steelers would pull the trigger, given the fifth-year wideout’s extension price and the AFC North franchise’s success finding receivers in the draft.

This draft is set to produce yet another deep receiver crop, which stands to lower prices in trades. But the Steelers may need more than one starter. Dealing Johnson to Carolina in a deal that brought back cornerback Donte Jackson, Pittsburgh has little surrounding Pickens presently. A slot player and a second boundary option would stand to be in play for the Steelers. The 6-foot-4 Sutton (signed through 2025 on a $15MM-per-year deal) made some of last season’s best catches, working as a deep threat and red zone target (10 2023 TDs) for Wilson. The 6-foot Aiyuk, who is tied to a fifth-year option worth $14.1MM, has displayed a bit more versatility in Kyle Shanahan‘s system.

If the Steelers are to execute a trade, they could devote more draft resources to other positions. Pittsburgh is targeting help at center and tackle, with The Athletic’s Mark Kaboly indicating a right tackle addition is on the team’s radar (subscription required). They hosted 11 O-linemen on “30” visits, including Georgia’s Amarius Mims, Oklahoma’s Tyler Guyton, Oregon State’s Taliese Fuaga along with interior O-lineman Graham Barton (Duke), Jackson Powers-Johnson (Oregon) and Zach Frazier (West Virginia), Kaboly adds. They also met with Washington O-lineman Troy Fautanu. Daniel Jeremiah’s big board lists each of these players as top-30 talents; the Steelers pick at No. 20.

The Steelers, who cut two-year center starter Mason Cole, look to be considering moving 2023 first-rounder Broderick Jones — their primary right tackle to close the season — to the left side, where he primarily played in college. That would leave three-year LT starter Dan Moore Jr. in limbo. Pro Football Focus has not been a Moore fan, but the former fourth-round pick — who is going into a contract year — has started 49 career games. After the team drafted Jones to step in for Chukwuma Okorafor, the latter is now with the Patriots. A tackle move — one that may be definitively in the Steelers’ Round 1 plans, as this is a deep class — would stand to give Jones a long-term bookend.

Pittsburgh’s Jackson trade aside, a cornerback will also be targeted — just likely not in Round 1 — according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Gerry Dulac. Jackson is in a contract year, while the team cut Patrick Peterson. Mike Tomlin said a Peterson reunion will be considered, but the likely Hall of Famer is going into his age-34 season.

Dulac adds the Steelers also like Missouri defensive lineman Darius Robinson, whom the Tigers used across the formation. Ranked 39th on Jeremiah’s big board, the 285-pound defender might not be available for Pittsburgh without a second-round trade-up. The Steelers hold the No. 51 overall pick. In fact, ProFootballNetwork.com’s Adam Caplan notes Robinson is expected to be off the board at some point late in the first round. The Steelers have Cameron Heyward under contract for one more season, his age-35 campaign.