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Thursday, April 16, 2015

A look at the Steelers, final

With the draft just a few weeks away, here's the final part of our look at the Steelers as currently constructed. Today, we'll take a look at the offensive line.

The Steelers' offensive line stayed relatively healthy in 2014 and the young group had its best season.

Center Maurkice Pouncey made another trip to the Pro Bowl and right guard David DeCastro could have easily joined him there.

They will continue to be the cornerstones of this group.

Left tackle Kelvin Beachum, a former seventh-round pick, has settled in nicely at left tackle. He's no star, but neither were guys such as John Jackson or Max Starks. They just got the job done.

Beachum also will continue to get better as he improves his strength. He's smart and is a hard worker.

Left guard Ramon Foster isn't a star, either, but he's very capable. He's probably the least athletic of the team's linemen, but he's strong and solid at the point of attack.

At right tackle, Marcus Gilbert overcame a somewhat slow start to put together a solid season. Many griped after he had a tough game against Baltimore in the opener - after signing a contract extension - but Elvis Dumervil has made plenty of guys look bad. Gilbert, like Beachum, isn't a star, but he's solid.

The Steelers have reportedly picked up DeCastro's option for 2016, but I haven't confirmed anything about that yet and the team hasn't announced it. And both Beachum and Foster will be unrestricted free agents at the end of the season, so the Steelers are going to have to spend some money on the position.

Top backup Mike Adams also will be unrestricted following the 2015 season, and it's likely the team will allow the former second round pick to move on. Adams hasn't lived up to his draft status, though he was OK when he filled in for four starts last season, at least showing some fight.

Cody Wallace and Chris Hubbard are the top backups inside and neither is starter quality on a long term basis.

Alejandro Villanueva spent most of the season on the practice squad and is a project.

It's likely the Steelers will attempt to sign Beachum to an extension - possibly before training camp - and will draft at least one young interior linemen in case they are unable to re-sign Foster - though he'd like to stay.

There's also always the chance the value in the draft could be a offensive tackle if the top corners and edge rushers are gone when the Steelers select at 22. Adding a young tackle to this group who could possibly fill in at guard as well wouldn't be the worst thing in the world.


datruth4life said...

Dale, what about La'el Collins from LSU as Foster's replacement at LG? Mayock has him rated as his no. 1 tackle but I think Collins is a much better fit at guard. I think the Army guy the Steelers had on the practice squad is gonna be a pleasant surprise. I remember seeing him play in the preseason as a DE for the Eagles and he was a really good athlete. Would like to see the progress he's made after a year on the practice squad and an offseason working with Muncak.

Noel said...

I'd be happy with a lineman in the first. Lots of good players will be available even if they don't fancy any edge rushers at that spot. When you look at many of our favourite players from over the years there weren't really that many that were 1st round picks. No need to panic if they veer from the hole-filling hopes of the draftniks. I would still prefer a defensive pick but whatever makes the team stronger.

Do you think RB in the first is entirely off the table though? Even without Bell's suspension factored in there are a few guys who could easily be BPA available at that spot and think of the nightmares AFC defenses would have trying to contend with someone like Gurley (for example) in there along with Brown and Bell and Miller and an already potent offense.

Dale Lolley said...

Any of the top tackles could slide inside easily. I think Clemmings would be a killer at guard.

But that would be a fallback option if the others on their list are gone.

A first-round running back won't be in the plans.

Ryan said...

Is the 3rd round too early for Duke Johnson? If he is there in the 4th, the Steelers should run to the podium!

datruth4life said...

Dale, I'm sticking to my latest mock:

1. CB K. Johnson, Wake Forest
2. OLB Nate Orchard, Utah
3. CB/S E. Rowe, Utah
4. WR T. McBride, William and Mary
5. TE J. James, Penn State
6. DT Derrick Lott, Tennessee-Chattanooga
6. OLB Kyle Emmanuel, North Dakota State
7. OT L. Gibson, Va. Tech

Can it happen?

Anonymous said...

Steelers would be crazy not to retain Beachum, he's basically the ideal late-rounder cum starter dream scenario ala Keisel or Aaron Smith (although he was drafted in the 4th). He's gotten better every year and is solid/dependable as heck.

Patrick said...

I really think that if they were to draft an OL, it would have to be a guy you think is your LT for at least the next 7 years. Beahcum to guard wouldn't be a bad thing, with Foster a back/up and casualty after this season (not sure what the length of his deal is). But I don't think Beachum is a top ten LT and this draft could be shaping up that there is one of those at 22.

Lets not forget the o-line was flat out poor in the Balt loss. There is a little room for improvement.

Zeke R said...

Datruth, if we get those top three picks I'm going on record as saying it would be an epic draft for the Steelers.

datruth4life said...

Zeke, we can do epic. That's why they call me DaTruth, lol. Rowe is looking like a 2nd rounder right now and could be a first round pick if there is a run on CBs early. Apparently a little birdie has told Dulac that the Steelers are very high on Rowe. I think the same little birdie told him last year that the Steelers really, really liked Odell Beckham.

datruth4life said...

Dale, with Troy being placed on the reserve retired list, does that mean the team will take his full cap hit this year? Or could they put him on the list now and just designate it to occur after June 1? I wanted the $6M in cap room after the June 1 release instead of the $3.75M in additional room now but eating the $4.25M signing bonus money this year.
Either way, the Steelers should be in the best shape its ever been under the salary cap going into next year, even with extensions to Cam and Beachum this year.

datruth4life said...

And if Cam Thomas is still on this roster at the beginning of the season making $2M, then he has to have some compromising photos of K. Colbert and Tomlin some place. BTW, starting to like DT/DE/NT Goldman from FSU more and more at 22.

Zeke R said...

I don't think Eddie 90 makes it to 22, I like him too but, I think the Pats trade up to get him before he falls to us. If he makes it out of the top 12.