Despite Temptation, Steelers Figure To Stay Put At Tackle During Draft

Though the Pittsburgh Steelers have used two first-round draft selections, with an additional two in the second round, over the past four drafts on the offensive line, they have yet to be able to cobble together the five-man offensive line that they’ve envisioned.

Due to a combination of injury and underperformance, the most optimistic future of the line has yet to culminate. As a rookie, David DeCastro missed nearly all of 2012 with a knee injury. Maurkice Pouncey played only eight snaps last season after suffering a torn ACL. Mike Adams was benched after four games.

But Kelvin Beachum emerged at left tackle, Pouncey is expected back, Ramon Foster is solid as ever, and most significantly, the Steelers were able to acquire the services of a former Hall of Fame offensive lineman, and a highly respected offensive line coach in his own right, Mike Munchak, to replace Jack Bicknell Jr.

Given that they’ve also already re-signed Cody Wallace and Guy Whimper and are still expected to attempt to re-sign Fernando Velasco, the Steelers wouldn’t figure to have much room to draft another offensive lineman. They didn’t draft one last year either.

That’s the view that Dale Lolley also takes, believing that the team will go into the season with the pieces that they have in the hopes of finally cobbling together—and keeping together—the line that will help take the offense to the next level.

Lolley cites the fact that Ben Roethlisberger was only sacked seven times in the last seven games, and that Le’Veon Bell gained 578 of his 860 rushing yards during the course of the second half of the season, as solid evidence that the line can be expected to improve from within with the pieces in place.

Lolley also writes, however, that the draft pundits view the top tackles of this draft even more highly than those of last year’s class, of which three of the top four draft picks were offensive tackles.

Due to the depth across almost all positions in this upcoming class, the top offensive tackles are not expected to repeat as a triple threat in the top five picks of this draft class.

One of the top few tackles, perhaps, could even fall all the way to the Steelers at the 15th overall spot.

Should that happen, it could be difficult for the Steelers to not be tempted about the prospect of taking one of them. With the interior of the offensive line seemingly in place, there are still lingering questions on the outside, and adding a first-round talent could be big.

But that might not be a luxury they could afford, given the critical needs at cornerback and defensive end, not to mention the temptations of a top wide receiver. A linebacker could also be very tempting at 15th overall.

The fact that Marcus Gilbert is in the final year of his contract could complicate matters. And recent history shows that the Steelers are willing to allow their players to sign elsewhere after they hit unrestricted free agency, including Ziggy Hood, Rashard Mendenhall, Mike Wallace, Emmanuel Sanders, and Keenan Lewis.

In the end, however, I would have to concur that the Steelers are not likely to address the offensive line in this draft. Munchak himself is equivalent to a draft pick, such is the upgrade from Bicknell to himself. And while it may not appear so now, by draft day, it tends to be the offensive tackles that rise to the top of the draft anyway, so I don’t expect the Steelers to even have the opportunity to get one of the top prospects at the position.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.

  • Paddy

    They need a LT badly, Ben is getting too old to be hit every other throw. Adams Beechum abd Gilbert are not NFL caliber tackles. While Ben managed to avoid getting hit the last few games that was do to the crappy teams they played.

    The Steelers need to address that some way and the draft would be the easiest solution

  • Randy Neff

    The quickest way to mediocrity is leaving better players on the board. I don’t see Adams or Gilbert on this team next year. If the Steelers address their needs, while not drafting a tackle, then that position would be the # 1 question mark heading to camp. I don’t understand some of the draft logic being tossed around. Like Dulac saying they will take a 6’3″ WR in second round. If one is there and it makes sense according to their board, then do it. Otherwise the team better be open to all their needs. Dulac btw was certain they’d take a tall receiver last year as well.

  • Crazy Bone

    You are correct about the team needing to upgrade the tackle spot. Unfortunately the Steelers are rarely forward thinking anymore (see Keenan Lewis). I predict the Steelers will go into next off season having tackle at the top of their wish list because weed head Adams stinks and Gilbert is ordinary and can’t stay healthy. I am also not sure that an undersized Beachum can be counted on for 16 weeks.

  • tone bone

    If we draft an o lineman in the 1st 3 rounds I would highly disappointed and surprised. the problem with this team now is that we are getting to old at the money positions. we tried and missed on a lot of talent in the trenches now with Ben getting older we gotta surround him with elite weapons and solid d. Ben proved over and over including the end of last year he doesn’t need 1st lineman to win games give him a solid defensive depth and o line depth and a redzone target

  • Jollyrob68

    Only exception in round 1is Matthews. If he’s on the board you take him over anyone with the exception of maybe Sammy Watkins.

  • Rob

    Totally agree! I love how everyone is thinking Pitt will force the issue because a reciever is tall or pass on a tackle with all-pro potential of he should fall to them–or any player at any position with all-pro potential for that matter. Dave is one of the worst of them too with his Benjamin agenda.

  • Eric MacLaurin

    One thing I would add to the discussion is that after watching last season get flushed by early injuries to a paper thin line they hopefully aren’t going into a season with beech as the only person able to even fake it at LT.

  • Big White

    I think Lewan is worthy of the pick football wise. The bar fight curfuffle to me if proves to be just that, is not a deal breaker for me. He was a rock for the Wolverines.

  • Big White

    ….and i like offensive lineman with nastry streakes.

  • Steel LJ

    I agree I love this kid he could be are LT for the rest of Ben career…
    I think beech whould make a all pro LG
    Then we move Foster to RT

  • Dewayne Braxton

    You call 8-8 and beating sorry teams at the end of the year “proving it”?

  • Dewayne Braxton

    Correct, the undersize non-athletic Beachum will get exposed. People forget that the tackles needed TIGHTEND HELP! Without it Ben would be on injured reserved!

  • walter mason

    Yea me too. Instead we have an offensive tackle that gets stupid drunk in a bad area of town, starts a fight with people half his size and almost gets himself killed. It doesnt hurt to have a lineman with some brains as well.

  • Zach

    It depends on who is available at 15.

    IMO their top board should be something like Clowney/Robinson/Watkins/Matthews/Mack/Evans/Barr/Fuller/Pryor/Dennard/Lewan/Shazier/Gilbert would you agree?

    In early rounds, Steelers have been drafting BPA according to their evaluation (e.g. 2012-De Castro, M. Adams; 2013 Jarvis Jones, Bell), so if one of the OTs Robinson/Matthews/Lewan is there at 15 and is their BPA, they will take him, otherwise no tackle. Same in other early rounds. At later rounds, it seems they give a high weight to upside, so who knows what their evaluation is. At least, that’s the only way I can justify they taking Landry Jones in 4th round, trading our 3rd for Shamarko, and trading up in round 4 to get Ta’amu in 2012. This year they reportedly hosted a visit of OT Henderson, which is a 6-th round prospect.

  • Zach

    Also, the last 3 OT we got (M Adams, K Beachum, M Gilbert) all had pre-draft visits. Lewan didn’t visit, but Tomlin and Munchak were seen at his pro day. Colbert was at Robinson’s and Matthews’ pro day. Comparatively, I think that the OLB position last year was more solid that our OT position this year, and we still took Jarvis Jones. It would be a miracle if Robinson or Matthews are there at 15, but Lewan could be there. Again, it all depends on their board and who is still available at 15. IMO they wouldn’t pass on a stud OT (Robinson/Matthews/Lewan) for a need position CB where the prospects (Dennard/Fuller/Gilbert) seem to have a lower grade than the OTs. No Patrick Peterson available this year…

  • Ellwood Davis

    If we fixed the OL by getting the OT’s we need, the offense could flourish with the WR’s we have. The Steelers are at risk with the tackles we have, none of which has distinguished themselves as NFL calibre. In today’s NFL, you must have solid play at OT to win. If we could get Lewan in Rd 1 and Richardson in Rd 2, we could send off our dead weight OL by next year.

  • Toddy Bravo

    Dude, you think like a fan, not FO personnel or coaches. You completely fail to recognize the makeup of our current roster and the limitations that causes. You can scream for Lewan from the mountain top, but the fact remains that we cannot spend another high pick on an OL, nor do I think we need to. I’ve said it 100 times–this line will not remain static, but will improve. a) Our interior line is among the best in the league. b) The tackles will improve. c) The line, as a whole, will be a strength this year. We’ll draft a versatile OG/OT in the later rounds, just like I’ve been saying from the beginning. Then, you’ll see the line perform well this year and will probably avoid talking to me because you’ll realize I was right all along.

  • Steel LJ

    We got to get Beech on the field LG would be an ideal fit for him and foster I think could hd down the right side no problem… I say we trade up if need be to get a LT….now that a line u could hang your hat on

  • Shane Mitchell

    Mike Adams made fools of the Steelers front office for drafting him after taking him off their board, given what has come out about his so called stabbing, I wont be surprised if he is done with the Steelers, No way can they put their trust in this guy any longer. Hate to say it, but they need another tackle.

  • Steel LJ

    To go in to the season with the same line and to expect a different out come is insanity

  • Dewayne Braxton

    See what Steel LJ wrote below. Wish all you want. All of the meaningful statistics say they stink. Notice that you do not list anything factual to state your case. By the way, the best interior lines usually have a probowler. DeCastor is a good player but not a probowler, yet. And the main fact is not that we cannot invest another high pick on the Oline. The fact is that we cannot rank 27 or 28 in the rushing and win!

  • Zach

    Thanks for the info on Schofield, this is also a possibility should he be there at the end of round 3 (our only pick in this round is #97).

  • Zach

    Couldn’t agree more — one would think they should seriously consider a trade up starting at #9 (Bills) should a stud LT prospect be there (Matthews, Lewan). That solidifies our OL for the next 6, possibly 8-10 yr if we get Pouncey extended. Since we don’t have a 3rd rounder to trade (comp picks cannot be traded), that would most likely take our next year’s 2nd rounder (I doubt the Bills would take our next year’s 3rd). They have to be really high on one of the OTs to make such a trade.

  • Toddy Bravo

    Same line? Did you forget that we’re getting our Pro Bowl Center back, who played all of about one series last year? Did you also forget that: a) the Steelers are still very high on Embernate, who was also injured, b) I never said we shouldn’t draft a linemen, just not in the 1st round, and c) the Steelers added one of the best o-line coaches in football to coach up all of our high draft choices along the o-line?

  • Steel LJ

    I love the hire of mike but he can’t change tha fact that Gilbert is soft and Adams is lazy that’s stuff u just can’t fix…just ask my pops he’s been saying it about me for years lol

  • Toddy Bravo

    lol. I definitely won’t even attempt to argue with your pops, but I do think that any and all problems on the field with Adams and Gilbert can be fixed. Whether or not the Steelers are over Adam’s off-field issues is another question entirely.

    Go Steelers.

  • Toddy Bravo

    “I’m glad Mike Adams is a Steeler.”

    -Kevin Colbert-

  • T R

    did you forget we hired Munchak.. that will make a world of a dffernece there with pouncey back too Levon starting teh season with Blount.

  • Steel LJ

    Did u forget to read my post 2 before this one..iam not say mike won’t make a different I just think there no hope for Adams and Gilbert.. I hope iam wrong