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.