The long awaited move, at least by me, of Willie Colon to left guard is now complete. While it is never good to speak in absolutes, I can almost guarantee you that the interior of the offensive line left to right will now be Colon, Maurkice Pouncey and David DeCastro baring any injuries. I know Mike Tomlin will likely say that DeCastro hasn\’t been given anything yet, but let\’s be honest, DeCastro is NFL ready right now and is your week one starter at right guard, the position he played at Stanford. (Man it still feels good typing that out.)
With the interior of the line now set, there goes the absolutes; the question now becomes the tackle spots. Marcus Gilbert was told before heading into the offseason that he should prepare to play left tackle in 2012, but this was way before Mike Adams was drafted. There are probably just four realistic options now based on a few scenarios that include Max Starks returning or Jonathan Scott staying. Let\’s have a look at each.
|Mike Adams||Willie Colon||Maurkice Pouncey||David DeCastro||Marcus Gilbert|
The first option which many are pointing to already has Adams playing left tackle and Gilbert staying put at right tackle, where he is best suited and likely will end up long term assuming Adams works out and keeps his nose clean. The down side to this would be having a rookie left tackle next to a former right tackle who is switching sides. Adams has all of the tools, as I have pointed out several times since he was drafted, but he has to get them all together and organized now in his tool box. Will he be able to accomplish that by week one? This scenario also puts two rookies starting on the offensive line as well on the road in Denver. This group better get a lot of work in the preseason.
|Max Starks||Willie Colon||Maurkice Pouncey||David DeCastro||Marcus Gilbert|
The next option is based on Starks returning after he is recovered from his knee surgery by the start of the preseason. They should know where Adams is at in his progress by the start of camp and that figures to be the time Starks should be ready to try to get cleared for action again. Starks could then start the season at his most natural position and Adams can continue his development until he is ready to take over at left tackle. The experience of Starks would also give Colon some experience to his left as he settles in at left guard. Gilbert of course would then be able to stay at right tackle. Starks would become the swing tackle once Adams is ready to assume the left tackle spot. Depending on how well Starks plays, that might not be needed for a little while.
|Marcus Gilbert||Willie Colon||Maurkice Pouncey||David DeCastro||Mike Adams|
The next option has Gilbert and Adams flipped. Adams played left tackle his entire time at Ohio State and if you think he can learn the right side and make that adjustment, why couldn\’t he just be ready to play left tackle instead. Either he has the skills and is ready by week one to play the left side or he doesn\’t. In addition, Gilbert would have to spend most of camp acclimating himself to the left side. This lineup would go against everything the Steelers normally do as you would have three players playing new positions and it would also mean that two rookies would be playing side by side on the right side. I would use the Chewbacca defense to combat this as a likely scenario, “This does not make sense!”
|Marcus Gilbert||Willie Colon||Maurkice Pouncey||David DeCastro||Jonathan Scott|
We start to go way off the suggested course with this next scenario that has Scott playing right tackle and Gilbert playing left. This assumes Starks is not brought back, Scott and his salary are kept and Adams is not ready by week one. We all know that Scott can\’t play left tackle, but he did have some acceptable snaps at right tackle last year. Playing Scott as a starter is like finding a bag full of three year old fireworks. You light each one off hoping that it just doesn\’t blow up in your face. For every one that doesn\’t, you bless yourself with the sign of the cross and then continue on to lighting the next one. This scenario is what I would call right tackle Russian roulette. The only upside is that DeCastro might be able to help him cheat the edge a little more than he normally would be able to do with Ramon Foster to his left. BANG!!!!
Those are your four options for the Steelers offensive line at this point and I really only see the first two as the only realistic of the four right now after the Colon move. Adams development and Starks health will ultimately decide which option the Steelers will use. I really have been leaning to Starks hopefully being healthy by week one as Adams really has a lot of progress to make in my opinion to be ready to play against Denver.