Reading Between The Steelers Lines Post Willie Colon Move To Left Guard

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 AdamsWillie ColonMaurkice PounceyDavid DeCastroMarcus 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 StarksWillie ColonMaurkice PounceyDavid DeCastroMarcus 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 GilbertWillie ColonMaurkice PounceyDavid DeCastroMike 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 GilbertWillie ColonMaurkice PounceyDavid DeCastroJonathan 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.

  • James

    I personally think that Adams needs to have 1 hell of a good camp to be considered a starter.
    I think I would prefer Starks starting week 1 (unless Adams really proves that he deserves to start)

    If Colon is kicking inside then we would need some extra depth at tackle so bring Max back regardless (also makes Essex’s spot on the roster a little bit less secure)

  • James

    Max did a decent job last year, but Colon at LG would likely make him or anyone in the LT position better and they could cheat to the outside a little more.. a spot where Max sometimes falters.

  • I think Option 2, is both the most likely and the most desirable scenario.

    As for option 4, any scenario that has J. Scott starting is a failure IMO.

  • SteelerFanInMD

    It makes sense to leave Marcus Gilbert at right tackle rather than keep moving him around. Maybe the Steelers will go with Option 1 and begin the season using a run-heavy offense with lots of play-action passes, running mostly behind David DeCastro, until the coaches feel comfortable with Adams’ play, then transition toward a more balanced offense.

  • Until Starks has recovered from his injury, and then signs a contract with the Steelers, any option that includes him in the line up, should be considered the least likely.

  • True, but all signs point to his return.

  • What signs? Is there any news of his agent having contract talks with the Steelers FO? There are no signs, only speculation.

  • Considering the success the Steelers have had over the past two season, with rookie starters on the O-line, I don’t think the coaching staff is going to have an issue with Adams starting at LT.

  • Which is all you are likely to get at this point. The discussions of his health, the not reissuing the jersey, the fact that we all know how unlikely they are to commit to a rookie LT without a veteran presence. They only played Gilbert due to injury and Pouncey is freakishly good. They are not the norm. They are all circumstantial, but they are all we could expect at this point. I know you don’t think he’ll be signed, but my bet goes to yes.

  • You really think they would start Adams without any other backup but Scott? They will drop Scott in a second if Starks is healthy.

  • If Adams gets hurt, Gilbert can move to LT, and Colon can move back to RT.

    It’s going to be a long time before we know if Starks is healthy

  • Davew

    I would not count on Colon as week 1 starter at LG. Kugler loves to have the line play multiple positions but having a line with only 1 starter at the same position from last season is to risky for our QB. I doubt Adams starts the season at LT or RT and would bet on Foster at LG. Getting Starks back will really help this season as the new line will transistion in.

  • calisteelerfan

    The whole issue is really building the line. The O-line coach has been clear in his intention of setting the line and letting it grow together. Scenario 1 is the only true option. Even with Adams not being totally ready, getting the reps are the only way anyone will know if he is capable AND the only way he will develop. I know the thought of Starks being there is comfortable to most, but I contend you should have the young Adams, Pouncey, and De Castro working as a unit. If Adams falters, then Starks can do what he is suited for (swing Tackle). The faster Adams is brought along, the better the line will be when it counts, in the postseason. I have been foaming at the mouth since the draft, I think the Steelers are on to something special. Option one as is is better than any line configuration the Steelers have used in the past few years hands down.

  • DoctorNoah

    I can’t wait to see the line come together as a unit. Very hopeful (but guarded) for this year.

    On a side note, can we just get baseball season out of the way? It’s so utterly tedious. I loathe the summer – all the good shows are on hiatus, all the movies are high budget pabulum, and it’s all baseball, baseball, baseball. Fast forward to September, please!

  • Pete

    I like your 2nd option if Starks is ready and transitioning to option 1 when Adams is ready to go with Starks as the swing. On paper looks like this will be a formidable O line.

  • Derick

    best case imo for Adams, comes in after the BYE week @ home vs a tough test in Philly. Assuming Starks can play those first 3 weeks and gets signed as you said based off his health most likely. Scott starting would make me upset.

  • J_swancreations

    any chance the Steelers would dip into the Veteran free agency pool.. if Adams is not ready.. Starks injury not healed.. and Colon questionable? using Scott on line .. scary. Foster and Essex? … Foster plays descent.

  • SteelSpine

    Thanks DaveB thorough job including every scenerio. And happens to be my exact thoughts on each of our lineman.

    I woulda added Good thing they didnt move Colon to center, because of never-ending list of puns from TV commentators: “Ben up under colon. Receives it from colon”.

  • Pat

    Starks won’t be back

  • Grw1960

    Well we have a pretty decent idea on who could be the starting five OL players barring injury.

    Now , it will be a long worry some summer for a large group of guys wantin those last 4 back up spots.

  • Corinth75

    I hope they get Starks back or Adams is ready. Last year when Scott was on the line I wondered if it was a actual player or a cardboard cut out of a lineman.

  • SteelerDave

    Colon when healthy is a heck of a player, we have to cross our fingers that his injury issues are behind him. If Colon can play and stay healthy we have a ton of options. Moving him to LG is ideal in my view considering his size and skill set. He may never make the pro bowl as a LG but he will be among the top ten LG’s in the league.

    One thing not mentioned is Beachum or Lee. If either one of them develops enough then it sends J Scott packing even faster. Beauchum is a great kid who played LT but should be moved inside. However I say lets groom him as a swing man between LT and LG.

    Assuming Starks does not return (though I hope he does to help Adams and start until Adams is more ready) it leaves our O-line as LT – Adams/Gilbert/Beachum, LG – Colon/Foster/Beachum, C – Pouncey/Legursky, RG – DeCastro/Legursky/Lee, RT – Gilbert/Foster/Lee

    Those are the 9 which I am hoping for on the O-line, dropping Lee if Starks can sign and is healthy in which case it becomes, LT – Starks/Adams/Beachum, LG – Colon/Foster/Beachum, C – Pouncey/Legursky, RG – DeCastro/Legursky, RT – Gilbert/Starks/Foster

    Either scenario where we are weakest is at RT behind Gilbert. However given DeCastro’s tremendous (a word not used lightly) pulling ability to the left from the RG spot, we can get away with and even excel in the run game being much more 50/50 to the left or the right though expect the majority of our runs up the middle.

  • James

    Anyone know if Pouncey can pull (like Dawson used to at center)? If he can that would be 3 very athletic and versatile interior linemen

  • Dj

    Isnt Foster a possible option at RT? He came into the league as a tackle and its been said that he has position flexability.

  • Kenneth Wilt

    It would be 2….Pouncey and Gilbert.

    In addition, it isn’t like you took Faneca OUT of your line, you are removing Legursky and Foster as starters. Colon has worked on the line with Pouncey, as he did this in camp at RT last year. Colon is not a rookie and DeCastro if everything is right is a special player. That should make the guards formidable. That leaves Gilbert next to better guard than he had last year and a year older. I think we may see Starks back and pushing Adams. If Adams starts, it shows that he won the job, if not it will be 3 guys back at their starting spots, only the guards would change. And don’t tell me J. Scott was the starting LT last year at the beginning of the year. Yeah, he was and look how that worked out. We went and got a guy who wasn’t even playing to play better than him.

  • Granger_md

    Gilbert and Adams are the tackles. The only question is who play left and who plays right. Starks is not the answer. Any starting scenario with him involved is bad juju!

  • Frankthebuc

    Go back and watch the Denver game after Adams left, Scott is not that bad in the right scheme. Also, go back and watch the Green Bay Super Bowl. Scott played well. I am not a Scott supporter but he is not as bad as people make him out to be.

  • Jimmy

    Dave, You have outdone yourself on this one. Option:1 is the best. Even if Starks get healthy, I like the replacements of Foster, Essex, Legursky and Big Max to rotate on the Offensive Tackles.Option:1 will be the Sexiest Steeler Offensive Line Ever! Dear God, Can you make this happen?