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Steelers offensive line starters have promise but come with risks

While it didn’t take a nuclear scientist to figure out, the Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line woes have certainly been a source of great discontent for not only the team’s success but also for the fans. By now you are aware that the Steelers first two draft picks in the 2012 NFL Draft were both offensive linemen and that by all indications David DeCastro and Mike Adams will be penciled in as starters for opening night in Denver in September.

The Steelers for me are right up there with the wife and kids in terms of things I love and even with the ones we love we often have disagreements. While some Steelers’ bloggers and writers like to blow sunshine up your rear end we at like to give it to you straight and if that means being critical of the team then so be it.

Let me also say, I love what the Steelers did in the draft. On paper, it could certainly be one of the finest in team history, but let’s get them on the field before we start handing out Hall of Fame rings. I also appreciate the moves to shore up this depleted offensive line as I am tired of watching our franchise QB defend himself as if he were in the movie ‘300.’

Here comes the ‘but’ you may have been anticipating… If this offensive line goes into Denver as many are perceiving it to, meaning Adams, Willie Colon, Maurkice Pouncey, DeCastro and Marcus Gilbert then I have serious concerns and you should too. Yes, it is an immediate upgrade over pretty much anything else we’ve had the field in recent years, but there are pitfalls.

Take Adams for example. Does Ben Roethlisberger really want a rookie left tackle protecting his blind-side? I’m going to suggest ‘no’ he does not. I still believe that Gilbert will stay on the left for the time being but we’ll see. Adams could prove to be more than capable, but few rookie left tackles have great seasons so stay tuned to this one.

Speaking of Gilbert who had a very nice rookie season, the question is will he be able to stay healthy? Seemed like every time I looked up last season he was coming off the field with a stinger or sprained knee or something.  Missing a few plays here and there is tolerable, but he cannot afford to miss games.

Many fans believed that Willie Colon should have been moved to guard a long time ago especially considering his short arms and wide frame. Here’s the issue with Colon though; this is a guy who has played in exactly one half of a football game over the last two seasons. Prior to his biceps tear, he had a torn achilles’ tendon the year before. These are injuries that roughly only 40% of NFL players ever truly recover from. Essentially, Colon is a snap away from another major injury as they all are in the game of football but you get the idea.

Another guy whose health has now come into question is Maurkice Pouncey. For the last two seasons he has battled high-ankle sprains and has missed pretty significant time when you really think about it. Doug Legursky was of course valiant in his play in Super Bowl XLV but he is not nearly as talented as Pouncey who has to be healthy if this O-line is going to lead the team anywhere.

Am I suggesting that perhaps the only stable piece of this five-man band is the rookie David DeCastro? I believe I am. Not only is he a smart guy but durable as well.

Obviously I’m as giddy as a kid in a candy store at the prospect of what this offensive line could potentially do, but I believe it would be a severe miscalculation to assume these guys will start all 16 games together. This is where the Legurskys’ and Trai Essex’ and Ramon Fosters’ of the world will have to perform.

One way or another, the Steelers know they are taking serious risks with this potential starting five and especially with Adams at left tackle. Nothing would make me happier than to be proven wrong and that these five will lead us to number seven in 2013, but there are obstacles and challenges that all Steelers’ fans need to be aware before we get too deep into the season.

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