Steelers Rookie OL Wesley Johnson Showed Versatility During OTA Practices

Over the course of the last three weeks of OTA practices, we haven’t heard much about Pittsburgh Steelers rookie offensive lineman Wesley Johnson. On Thursday, however, Bob Labriola of Steelers Digest provided a nice little update on the Steelers fifth-round draft pick out of Vanderbilt.

Wesley Johnson, the fifth-round pick from Vanderbilt, is on the path to making himself into the perfect bottom-of-the-depth chart guy as a rookie. That might not sound like praise, but a rookie bottom-of-the-depth-chart guy has to be versatile enough to play a bunch of different positions while also having enough talent to develop into something more. Johnson has been playing in a bunch of spots so far, and he doesn’t make stupid mistakes. And bottom-of-the-depth-chart is better than on the practice squad.

Like many of you, this is exactly the kind of thing I was hoping to hear about Johnson. Nobody expects him to win a starting job this year, but if he can upgrade the bottom of the offensive line depth chart in 2014 and make Guy Whimper expendable, you can’t ask for much more than that.

With backup center/guard Cody Wallace reportedly missing practice time last week due to the birth of his child, Johnson reportedly saw some time at center. While he didn’t play a lot of center at Vanderbilt, the position is not foreign to him. You never know when that kind of position flexibility will be needed when it comes to the Steelers offensive line due to all of the injuries we’ve seen that unit suffer over the last several years.

When the Steelers open training camp, it will be interesting to see how much time Johnson gets at either guard spot. While he mostly played left tackle at Vanderbilt, I think he’s best suited to kick inside at the NFL level. Of course you’d like him to be position flexible enough to play some right tackle as well, so perhaps we’ll see him do some of that during training camp.

While Ramon Foster is only 28-years-old, he’s only under contract through the 2015 season. Should Johnson show during the preseason that he has upside as a guard, it’s possible that he succeeds Foster.

Johnson has an excellent shot at making the Steelers final 53 man roster out of training camp and you can bet we’ll be breaking down his play during the preseason. This update from Labriola is brief, but there’s enough in it to know that he’s headed in the right direction.

  • James Kling

    Yep, this is what I thought we’d be getting in Wes: a fundamentally sound, smart player who can man all 5 OL spots in a pinch. Got into a fight with Cam Heyward, so he’s got a little piss and vinegar, too. With Munchak being his coach from year 1, this could turn out to be the sort of surprise pick no one’s much talking about. For now, he’s playing the role we need him to play though.

  • steeltown

    Very nice.

  • Eric MacLaurin

    It’s going to be so interesting to watch the evolution of the offensive line this year!

    The year over year evolution of the entire team is unusually interesting this year but the Oline with Munch has so much potential for change, Pouncey is the only player you can be sure starts at a specific spot. He and Decastro are the only players you can even be sure will start. It’s exciting to know you have an awesome position coach you can trust and more than enough talent to work with. As long as he really gets to sculpt his vision and make any changes he wants I know we will have an above average line this year. Injury dependant of course.

  • Matt Manzo

    How come you get excited about these reports but not the reports about JBrown?
    Seems like they’re saying the same thing? Played multiple positions, didn’t make any mistakes.

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    I’ve been thinking the same thing lately.

    Our whole offense is going to revolve around those guys up front. If they excel in run blocking… you KNOW Bell and Blount will excel. If they excel in pass blocking… you KNOW Ben will excel.

    We all expect the Pouncey-DeCastro-Foster combo to play well. But let’s just fantasize for a moment and imagine that Munchak can get our tackles to play above average… We could make a nice run in the playoffs.

  • charles

    The ‘piss and vinegar’ is what Heywood also showed his first year, as did Jack Lambert.

  • charles

    Just keep in mind that good D beats high octane O like rock beats scissors.

  • charles

    He didnt get into any scraps