What Does The Future Hold For Ramon Foster?

By Christopher DiMarino

There are a few battles this offseason that excite me. While many of the rookies are just beginning to arrive, many positional battles are already being created. One of the more intriguing stories will be Ramon Foster. He did a very good job last year considering many had him pegged as a depth player. Where does he fit in with the 2012 Steelers and beyond? Can he make a move to a different position or challenge his teammates for a starting position?

Foster has made it very far considering he went undrafted. He was signed as unrestricted free agent (UFA) after the 2009 draft passed him by. He was a three year starter at Tennessee who played left guard as well as right tackle during his days as a Volunteer. Foster made the roster in the 2009 season as a backup to Chris Kemoeatu in the left guard position and he clocked some minutes on the field in relief of Kemoeatu that year. During this past season, Foster played the same second fiddle originally, but eventually took over the starting right guard job early in the season due to injuries.

This has been a big offseason for Steeler offensive lineman. Kemoeatu was cut as a result of his injury issues and the price tag associated with him. Max Starks still hasn’t been picked up as he recovers from knee surgery and Trai Essex went “Biggest Loser” on us. The team weathered these changes by drafting David DeCastro to play right guard. They took this a step further when they drafted tackle Mike Adams with the intention of swinging right tackle Willie Colon to left guard. DeCastro and Colon would represent the odds on favorites to win the guard positions given that they represent big investments to the team. DeCastro is a first round pick and gift who dropped several spots in the draft after being considered a top ten player by some. Colon on the other hand was given a very lucrative contract just under a year ago.

The good news is that Foster earned a lot of respect from Sean Kugler for his performance last year. He can use this, combined with the fact that this will be his fourth year in the position for leverage when competing. DeCastro is very new and Colon will have to adjust to a new position. The bad news is that while many consider Foster a threat to start, Doug Legursky got the start at right guard originally last year. This happened while Foster was backing up Kemoeatu on the left. So would it be wise to say that Foster can compete at whichever position offers the biggest prospect for him to play? Maybe, but last year when a starting guard job was up for grabs he didn’t win it originally.

Can Foster compete at either guard position or will he line up on the left side mostly in camp? I found a pretty good article that explains the difference between all the offensive line positions. Basically, left guards are preferred for their size, strength and pass blocking ability. Pulling is also a big part of the Steeler offense, and while they aim to be more omni-directional, pulling is a needed skill for a left guard. Typically since the best rushers are put on the quarterback’s blind side (offensive left side), the best pass blockers are put on that side. While both tackles and guards need to do everything well, this is the typical method of determining what player is better suited for which side. It makes sense that Colon, a right tackle, moved to left guard instead of right.

So the bottom line is that Foster might get more work at left guard as he competes with Colon in camp. He will unlikely win that job, but I can guarantee that he is a very important player this season. He’s a considerable backup in case of injury, and Colon hasn\’t played but one game in the last two seasons. He brings competent skill at a fairly low price tag in addition. He has started at both guard spots and did not represent a big threat to the offense’s success in doing so. Being a former offensive lineman, I can guarantee you that the differences between right tackle and left guard are much more drastic than you think. At the same time, these guys have been playing all over the offensive line for a long time. They develop such close bonds with their linemates that a transition shouldn’t be a long or difficult one Colon. The one thing I can guarantee is that if Colon falters for any reason, Foster will be there to pick up the pieces and keep the Steelers going full steam ahead.

  • Eric_ritchey

    Ramon did an excellent job for us so far and more than held his own against his opposition. he stays. j scott needs cut and big max once healthy needs to be back here in case adams needs a yr to develop.

  • greeny

    Foster is a great injury substitute at guard positions. Moving Colon to LG allows for more flexibility with the line in case of injury. Bronco Legursky will focus more as a back up center

  • Jprankster2005

    I think it would be wise and nice to sign Foster to a 2 or 3 yr. contract this yr. If they can get him cheap…… I would say 3 yr. 6 million with 2 million guarnteed…….. Legursky I also think would be nice to lock him up for a couple yrs……But I’m more confident we could get Legursky back next yr. for cheaper then we could Foster if both were FA’s….. I would love to see Foster signed def… We have a good OL and actually have some quality Depth….. if they release Scott it will free up some money plus the money they already have to sign a couple of these guys up, Before there FA’s next yr…..

  • Jprankster2005

    I completely agree……. Scott needs to of already been gone….. And Starks will help Adams alot I would think……. And having Foster as a backup with them guys…….We will have a nice OL……And should give Foster a couple extra yr. contract

  • Cols714

    Isnt legursky the top backup at LG?

  • Jprankster2005

    I would say Foster will be……. Legursky will backup Center and Guard

  • Jrobdove

    It looks like the line maybe well on the way to being set for a while. Adams, Colon, Pouncey, DeCastro, Gilbert as starters. Starks, Foster, Legursky, Essex with the possibility of the 7th round tackle getting a spot as back ups. The Steelers may only keep 4 of the 5 back ups and Essex and Starks may be on a short time due to age and the Steelers trying to get younger.

  • Harold

    I’m going to take an opposing view on this one. I think $2 million per year is too much for Foster (or any back up OG). I think Foster is just average at both run and pass blocking. He rarely gets a push in the run game, especially on short yardage and goal line. He is not light on his feet, whether pulling at OG or pass protecting at OT. He tends to make significant mistakes as far as awareness. (the fumble-return-TD in the Baltimore game) (Bens broken nose). I don’t hate Foster. I’m just not as impressed as some people seem to be. And we are scrimping every dollar to try and extend Wallace Brown Sanders

  • Frankthebuc

    It is starting to look like Gilbert will be the starting LT. I am hearing that more and more.

  • Kingmagyar

    2 million is way too much for a backup Guard that can only play guard as far as I know. With Essex being able to play every position on the line including center, and Legursky being able to play G and C Foster could actually not make the team at his 1.2 million salary. He more then likely won’t be signed next year as a UFA either. Not much of a future for Foster in Pittsburgh unless as stated in the article above Colon is injured. I would think Essex and Legursky are active on game days as well for their position flexibility leaving Foster an inactive most of the time. He better get better at playing tackle again as well as Guard to have a chance.

  • Jprankster2005

    Look what there paying a guy like Scott….. I only 2 million guarnteed…. Like a 1 million signing bonus….. this yrs. salary only guarnteed……

  • Jprankster2005

    And there not going to extend Sanders until after this yr.. he’s been hurt they want to see what they have I’m pretty sure….. Yes they are trying to sign Wallace and possibly Brown….. But you gotta sign others also, To have a strong team a couple of players don’t make the team….. We have Sly, Worilds, Wallace Brown, Sanders,Foster, Legursky, Lewis mundy and a couple others that will be FA’s yes some we are only restricted but if they want to keep a guy like Foster or Legursky there best option probably would to be to sign em this yr….. As well as lewis or we will be looking for another CB….. I understand Wallace and Brown but there not going to break the bank and I think something in the form of what they did with Gronk they could do with Brown…… Backload the contract…..

  • chris dimarino

    I like both views, I think the variable is Foster’s contributions this year. If he gets reps either by earning them or injuries, I think he could be in for a decent contract. If he backs up and rarely sees the field, he won’t get much, even though he is an important depth player. As valuable as the Steelers know that he is, no other teams will give him much if anything.

  • Jprankster2005

    Foster willl make the team, He’s could of easily been a starter…… But you have your opinions….. I like Foster and think they should sign him for a few more yrs…. And I think he plays better than Essex….. And Essex has lost alot of weight also…….

  • Jprankster2005

    I agree, If they feel he will play a role on this team this yr. and the future they should sign him up, If not then take the chance after the season…. But I think he’s the 5 or 6th best guy we have on the Line…. And for the person that said he won’t make the team your out of your mind…….

  • PK

    Foster is really not that good. His below average run blocking matches his below average pass-protection. He’s a backup, at best, on a team looking to compete for a championship.

  • SteelersDepot

    Could not disagree more. Foster was the most consistent lineman the Steelers had last year and worked very well inside Gilbert last year. I grade the OLINE weekly and Foster made great improvement once getting the right guard spot.

  • PK

    “Some of the starters have areas to work on. Pro Football Focus rated Scott as the third-worst run blocker among tackles last season while Kemoeatu was penalized 10 times, the fourth-highest total among guards. Moving last year’s starting right guard, Ramon Foster, to the bench is warranted as he tied for second in sacks allowed at the position with six. ”

    Its a reach to say Foster is ‘starter quality’.

    But, if you say so, i guess it true.

  • SteelersDepot

    You are talking about Scott? Foster allowed just 3 regular season sacks last year and 1 QB hit according to PFF. Was he a dominating run blocker? No, and I never said he was. He made giant strides over his play in 2010 like I said in my first reply. Will he start over DeCastro? No. Is he garbage? No. He offers fine experienced depth on the oline this year. Some folks choose to ignore fact I guess. He graded out as the top Steelers olinemen last year according to PFF as well.