Steelers Offensive Line Still Needs Depth Added To It

The Pittsburgh Steelers normally like to carry eight or nine offensive linemen on their 53 man roster during the season. As we sit here in March, they only have six linemen under contract that we can pencil in as definitely making the roster.

Once you get past Maurkice Pouncey, David DeCastro, Marcus Gilbert, Mike Adams, Ramon Foster and Kelvin Beachum, it makes you wonder who the other two or three players will be that will round out the group.

For starters, the Steelers still do not have a clear-cut backup center on the roster that can also serve as an interior guard swingman. Doug Legursky is still an unsigned unrestricted free agent, and while it is possible that he might ultimately be re-signed, he is a known liability at both of the guard positions. Sure, John Malecki is under contract, but he has long been regarded by many as being Legursky-lite. He has a lot to prove in training camp this year. Unless the Steelers plan on developing Beachum to be the ultimate five position swingman, this needs to be addressed between now and the draft.

What about a third tackle? Do the Steelers have one on their roster right now? Beachum played right tackle last season due to injuries to both Gilbert and Adams. Long-term, however, he looks to be more of an interior guy that can play right tackle in a pinch and playing left tackle has to certainly be out of the question for him, even though that was his primary position at SMU.

The re-signing of Foster was a smart choice. His position flexibility and durability likely made that decision an easy one. He showed in the season finale against the Cleveland Browns, and even early in the year during the preseason, that he could play right tackle in addition to both guard spots. But do the Steelers really regard him or Beachum as the third tackle on the team?

What about Max Starks? Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette wrote on Tuesday that the Steelers didn\’t seem to have interest in bringing him back, and besides, Starks said after the season ended that he still thinks that he can start and that he is not interested in returning to Pittsburgh as a backup. We will see if both sides change their tune after the draft, but as of right now, it seems unlikely that he will be back.

The Steelers reportedly called about Jake Long prior to him signing with the St. Louis Rams, but that call was likely made to find out if he had somehow been marked down by accident, as there is no way he could have been afforded otherwise. His brother Joe Long was signed by the Steelers late last season to the practice squad, but he will never be confused for his bother and figures to be a training camp body at this point.

The free agent tackle market is pretty thin right now. Eric Winston, who played for new offensive line coach Jack Bicknell Jr. last season with the Kansas City Chiefs, is currently available, but his price tag is likely to high.

Unless Legursky and a reliable free agent tackle are signed between now and draft day, you would think that both of these positions will remain in play during the draft. Position flexibility will be a must for an interior lineman, should one be drafted. Would this mean that Jonathan Cooper could still be in play in the first round? I\’m still not ready to rule that out as a possibility, especially if Legursky remains unsigned. Cooper can play all three interior positions and it would allow Foster and Beachum to be the backup right tackle. Whoever starts at right tackle, be it Gilbert or Adams, would be the backup to other one at left tackle. That makes sense.

So while the 2013 Steelers offensive line is shaping up to be a good one, they are still a few missing pieces that need to be added between now and training camp.

  • steeltown

    I see Malecki making the 53man roster as the backup 3way interior lineman, also the other guy currently on the Team that I think has a chance is OG Justin Cheadle, who has been described as a mobile zone blocker..

    I see the Steelers drafting OL at some point, obviously if Cooper or Warmack are available it might be one of them, but that remains to be seen. If either one of them is drafted, you can count one of the previously mentioned (Malecki, Cheadle) as having no chance of making the final roster, you only need so many interior linemen

    I fully expect them to carry 9OL this season, so it will be interesting to see what happens in the upcoming draft, they really could draft a Tackle or a Guard.. or both if the opportunity presents itself

  • Mr irrelevant

    We’re drafting Brian winters ol from kent state prob 4th rd. Bicknell worked him out at og and ot as well as oc. He’s started at lt lg and rt @ kent st (zone blocking scheme)

  • steeltown

    Would love that pick

  • Dan

    Would it be possible to use long snapper Greg Warren be a possibility as a back up Center? I see him listed at 252lbs so maybe he’d just get bowled over trying to block, but it seems like somebody who uses up a roster spot ought to be able to do more than long snap.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    I feel as of now we have a good starting OL. It could become instantly better by drafting Cooper but I feel it is more of a luxury. We do need depth but we can get that later.

  • RW

    No one’s talking about Barrett Jones out of Bama, but the guy is the ultimate swing man. Would love the Steelers to grab him in the 2nd or 3rd – forget Cooper. There are other pressing needs on this team (WR/ILB/S/RB).

  • RW

    I just remember James Harrison trying to long snap when he got hurt and snapping it over our punter’s head… instantly justified the roster spot for me..

  • Jollyrob68

    If Coopers on the board he will be tough to bypass. I’d like the Steelers to inquire about the availability of Rodger Saffold from The Rams. He isn’t happy they signed Jake Long & he’s in the last year of his rookie deal. I’d trade a 2nd or 3rd for him or even trade Gilbert.

  • Pete

    I would love to see Cooper or Warmack drafted if they are available. Assuming the Steelers would keep the core intact it would leave the OL in great shape for years to come. With Pouncey, DeCastro and Adams there are 3 potential pro bowlers. Adding another high quality guy wouldn’t hurt.

  • If they draft Barrett Jones in any round, I doubt he would be a back up very long, the guy can play.

  • dgh57

    Sign Ryan Lee back off the Practice Squad of the Saints if he is still there!!

    Since Foster was resigned and Lewis was let go I see them not drafting Cooper or Warmack(even though I wouldn’t mind them still doing so)and drafting a Safety! I know they can still draft Cooper in rd. 1 and a Safety later. There’s so many possible ways they can go!

  • Bradys_Dad

    Re-sign Lego. Pouncey is an incredible center but he’s missed a few games each year of his tenure with injuries. Lego is reliable and effective at center and let’s face it – he’s inexpensive as far as quality back ups go. Is he a great guard – not as displayed thus far but if given the reps and time he’d fill in temporarily in that role as well with little difficulty. He knows the assignments and he’s brighter than your average bear. Center is arguably the most important line position (some may say LT) and he’s a known commodity who knows the offense. This should be a no brainer signing.

  • RW

    Great – I’d take Foster as a backup any day. Barrett Jones is a baller and can play any position on the line.

  • Dan

    I strongly agree we should have an expert long snapper, just suggesting that player should also fill another role as well.

  • Steve

    Leave a message…

  • charles

    Ryan Lee is about right. But, Starks value is hard to overvalue and he needs to be resigned and voila we have 3 tackles. Luv Leggs but he gets ruined. I think it was Legursky who could not contain Habib and instead of 7 to Wallace against Green Bay it was 7 for them!

  • charles

    Sounds very relevant.

  • LucasY59

    The O-linemen that I think have a chance of being drafted by the Steelers would be Jonathan Cooper, Chance Warmack, Barret Jones, Kyle Long or Brian Winters in the earlier rounds (1-4), maybe Dallas Thomas, all are guys that could be Solid starters and other than Cooper and Warmack (who would most likely be Starters day one) would provide really good depth and position flexability untill they get a starting spot.

    I like the depth that the O-line has. there are alot of guys with good experience, which is suprising because their is also alot of youth on the line as well (thanks or no thanks to the fact there have been so many injuries on the line the last two years) If they finally get lucky enough to not have the injuries this coming season the O-line should be VERY good! I am looking forward to them being one of the stronger units on the team.

    I think Foster will probably start at LG unless he’s beat out by Beachum or a draft pick, if he isn’t a starter he is a very good depth player who is an ok emergency RT as well both G positions. Beachum is also a good backup covering RT and G there was also talk of Beachum at C when he was drafted. I think because of that depth, Legursky and Starks will not be brought back unless there is an injury or they get no interest from other teams and come back for a minimum contract. Malecki and a draft pick would be the other backups. If they can avoid the injury problems, they have enough talent, experience and position flexability that they would only need 8 on the 53 man roster. I also like the idea of signing back Lee from the Saints and he could be the 9th

    maybe keep Cheadle/Long or an 6th/7th/UDFA on the practice squad.

  • walter mason

    Draft Cooper

  • joed32

    Lee is under contract with the Saints for 2013 and 2014 not on the PS. The only way we could get him is if he is cut, which could happen.