Your perfect offensive line for the Steelers, it’s something that every member of the Steeler Nation has dreamed about for years since winning Super Bowl XL. During the Bill Cowher era, right up until the last few years of his coaching career to date, the Steelers placed a premium on replenishing the offensive line every year in free agency and in the draft. Interestingly enough during those years we saw more free agents come in and perform well rather than draft picks. Much of that was due to the time period, especially early on with free agency in it’s infancy as compared to how things were today. Bringing in a player didn’t cost the money it does now.
Then things began to taper off and the line started getting old, players were getting injured more and the depth was questionable. The team was able to overcome those question marks by eventually winning their 6th Super Bowl title, as we all remember Ben Roethlisberger saying ” Who’s laughing now O-Line, who’s laughing now”.
Fast forward to a week beyond the 2012 NFL draft. In the rear view mirror we see names like Maurkice Pouncey and Marcus Gilbert, and most recently top draft picks David DeCastro and Mike Adams. It shows a concerted effort on the part of the team to find a way to keep Ben Roethlisberger from being on the ground so much. Realizing your $100 million investment has been sacked 314 times in his career will do that to you. That’s an average of just over 39 sacks per season.
The possibilities are numerous now with the Steelers, Sean Kugler will have his work cut out for him figuring out who to put where. In a perfect world the remaining roster spots are filled with players that step up over and above the competition rather than just winning by default like in past years.
Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette recently released his observations on how the Steelers offensive line could look this season:
LT – Mike Adams
LG – Willie Colon
C – Maurkice Pouncey
RG – David DeCastro
RT – Marcus Gilbert
The most interesting one in this whole mix might not be the rookies, the health of Pouncey’s ankle, or the continued developement of Marcus Gilbert but rather Willie Colon.
Colon would be the elder statesmen on the line if this situation or a similar one eventually holds up. When he was drafted in the 4th round in 2006, many experts saw him as a guard. Most fans feel today that he would more suited for that position. If Steelers offensive line coach Sean Kugler feels that way too, we could finally see him develop into the type of player that many fans have dreamed about. He’s not a bad tackle, let’s be clear about that. When you look at his build, 6’3″ 320 lbs, he just looks the part of a guard more than a tackle. The Steelers obviously still have faith in him even with his injury history; signing him away from the Bears before last season.
He doesn’t have the quickest feet though which to me suggests that he would be more suited to playing RG rather than LG. The Steelers love to pull to the right side of the line, guys like Alan Faneca excelled at that for years. Even more recently Chris Kemoeatu was known for being one of the better pulling guards in the league. His injuries though and inability to control his post play temper eventually caused his release.
This is one of possibilities I could see unfolding at this point:
LT – Marcus Gilbert
LG – David DeCastro
C – Maurkice Pouncey
RG – Ramon Foster or Willie Colon – I could see these two battling it out and either way it ‘s a win because of the depth you’ll end up with.
RT – Mike Adams – If he’s your future then put him in like they did with Gilbert last year and let him learn on the job. The end results will be well worth it. Knowing how the Steelers normally operate though we shouldn’t count on two rookies starting on the offensive line unless injuries dictate such a scenario unfolding. If that holds up then you would Foster at RG and Colon starting at RT, eventually giving way to Mike Adams.
Some see Adams as the eventual LT for the Steelers since he played that position in college. I personally wouldn’t be too keen on having a rookie protecting Ben’s blindside so I’d rather have Gilbert stay there and then let Adams move to RT at least for the time being.
There are many options that can still unfold but to me there are a few that really stick out as the obvious standouts, based on how things are now. As the offseason moves forward we’ll get a better idea of who is ready to step up and make this Steelers offensive line great.