Study: What Pittsburgh Looks For In Drafting Offensive Linemen

We are back looking at Pittsburgh Steelers’ draft trends since the Mike Tomlin era began. We’ve looked at wide receivers, the defensive line, and now, let’s look towards the offensive line.

Remember, these are just general prerequisites. There are exceptions everywhere, including within the Steelers. But we all have certain standards. It’s like dating. Find someone who smokes more than Joe Camel? Talks about their life more than anything else? Everything else might not matter. Consult your local Scrubs or How I Met Your Mother rerun and you’ll understand.

The process is the same as before.  I’ll spill all the data to you, do my best to fine some correlation and trends, and see what players at this year’s Combine fit.

Sound good? Let’s go.

2014: Wesley Johnson/OT

Height: 6’5/3
Weight: 297
Arm Length: 33 1/8
Hand Size: 10 1/4
Bench: 26
Ten Split: 1.73
Vert: 29
Broad: 9’3″
Short Shuttle: 4.64
Three Cone: 7.40

2012: David DeCastro/OG

Height: 6’4/7
Weight: 316
Arm Length: 32 3/8
Hand Size: 10
Bench: 34
Ten Split: 1.84
Vert: 29.5
Broad: 8’2″
Short Shuttle: 4.56
Three Cone: 7.30

Mike Adams/OT

Height: 6’7/2
Weight: 323
Arm Length: 34
Hand Size: 10 7/8
Bench: 21
Ten Split: 1.83
Vert: 28,5
Broad: 8’3″
Short Shuttle: 4.95
Three Cone: 7.94

Kelvin Beachum/OT

Height: 6’2/7
Weight: 303
Arm Length: 33 2/8
Hand Size: 9 3/8
Bench: 19
Ten Split: 1.85
Vert: 28.5
Broad: 8’5″
Short Shuttle: 4.8
Three Cone: 7.79

2011: Marcus Gilbert/OT

Height: 6’6/1
Weight: 330
Arm Length: 33/12
Hand Size: 9 3/4
Bench: 30
Ten Split: 1.93
Vert: 30.5
Broad: 8’2″
Short Shuttle: N/A
Three Cone: N/A

Keith Williams/OG

Height: 6’4/2
Weight: 318
Arm Length: 32 3/8
Hand Size: 10
Bench: 23
Ten Split: 1.89
Vert: 24.5
Broad: 7’9″
Short Shuttle: 5.03
Three Cone: 8.42

2010: Maurkice Pouncey/C

Height: 6’4/4
Weight: 304
Arm Length: 32 1/2
Hand Size: 10
Bench: 25
Ten Split: 1.83
Vert: 27
Broad: 7’11”
Short Shuttle: 4.92
Three Cone: 7.74

Chris Scott/OG

Height: 6’4/5
Weight: 319
Arm Length: 34 1/8
Hand Size: 10 3/8
Bench: 19
Ten Split: 1.93
Vert: 22.5
Broad: 7’6″
Short Shuttle: 5.02
Three Cone: 8.24

2009: Kraig Urbik/OG

Height: 6’5/1
Weight: 328
Arm Length: 33 1/2
Hand Size: 9 3/8
Bench: 29
Ten Split: 1.90
Vert: 25.5
Broad: 8’2″
Short Shuttle: 4.89
Three Cone: 7.87

AQ Shipley/C

Height: 6’1/1
Weight: 304
Arm Length: 31 5/8
Hand Size: 9 5/8
Bench: 33
Ten Split: 1.85
Vert: 31
Broad: 8’4″
Short Shuttle: 4.40
Three Cone: 7.46

2008: Tony Hills/OT

Height: 6’5/1
Weight: 309
Arm Length: 34 1/8
Hand Size: 10
Bench: 24
Ten Split: N/A
Vert: N/A
Broad: 8’9″
Short Shuttle: N/A
Three Cone: N/A

2007: Cameron Stephenson/OG

Height: 6’3/2
Weight: 306
Arm Length: N/A
Hand Size: N/A
Bench: 34
Ten Split: 1.88
Vert: 28.5
Broad: 8’5″
Short Shuttle: 4.81
Three Cone: 7.72

Ok. With the team drafting 12 offensive linemen, we have a metric ton of information to sift through. Because linemen is such an open-ended term, we can’t obviously take some criteria and apply it the same to the undersized guard and the long, big tackle.

So we are going to break this down into several categories. Tackles and interior lineman. And players under 310 pounds (regardless of position) and those over 310. The following is my criteria.


Be at least 6’5 300+ pounds
If < 34 inch arms, put up at least 25 reps on the bench press


Be at least 6’3 300+ pounds
Have 10+ inch hands
If < 34 inch arms, put up at least 25 reps on the bench press

310 Pounds Or Lighter

1.85 ten yard split or under
Under 7.8 in three cone
27+ inch vertical

310 Pounds Or Heavier


Here’s what I’m able to gather. If you’re a biiiig (310+) ugly, or have 34+ inch arms, you’re pretty much guaranteed to meet the criteria. The Steelers, understandably, don’t really care how you test or bench, especially knowing the guys with long arms put up less reps due to the simple physics of it. Though if you’re inside, you have to be a big guy through and through. No tiny hands allowed. It would not do well in a political campaign.

The little guys have to do something beyond that to get the team’s attention. They have to show dedication in the work room with their bench and have a higher measure of athleticism.

Still, the range is not as rigid as we saw with the receivers. The hardest to make the cut are interior linemen under 310 pounds, and as the results tell us, that is where the majority of the players get their pink slips.

So let’s look at who from this year’s Combine make the cut. We’re really going to break this down. Separate the tables into four groups. In the first, we’ll look at sub 310 pound offensive tackles. Remember our criteria: height, weight, arm length, bench press (if under 34 inch arms), ten split, three cone, and vertical.

Sub 310 Tackles 

NameHeightWeightArm LengthBench PressTen SplitThree ConeVertical
Tyler Johnstone6’5/4301341.787.3130.5
Jack Conklin6’5/6308351.757.6330
Jason Spriggs6’5/530134 1/81.757.7031.5

Now, let’s look at 310+ tackles. We have fewer criteria. Height, weight, arm length, and bench press (if under 34 inch arms).

310+ Pound Tackles

NameHeightWeightArm LengthBench Press
Caleb Benenoch6’5/431134 1/8
Brandon Shell6’5/332434 3/4
Alex Lewis6’631234
Halapoulivaati Vaitai6’632034 1/4
Le’Raven Clark6’5/231636 1/8
John Theus6’6/431334 1/2
Stephen Nembot6’6/632234 5/8

Let’s move to 310 pound or lighter guards. Our criteria: weight, hand size, arm length, bench press (if under 34 inch arms), ten split, three cone, and vertical.

Sub 310 Pound Guards

NameHeightWeightHand SizeArm LengthBench PressTen SplitThree ConeVertical
Connor McGovern6’4/230610 3/832 7/8331.727.5033

And finally, 310+ guards. Criteria: weight, hand size, arm length, and bench press (if under 34 inch arms).

310+ Pound Guards

NameWeightHand SizeArm LengthBench Press
Germain Ifedi32410 3/436
Vadal Alexander32610 1/235 1/4
Matt Skura3291035 1/4
Landon Turner33010 3/832 7/830

I didn’t want to throw it in earlier and muddy things up more, but if you’re interested in my reasoning for the criteria, here it is.

– Four of the five tackles were at least 6’5. The interior players were diversed and did not have a height requirement.

– None of the five tackles drafted had shorter than 33 inch arms.

– 11 of the 12 total players weighed at least 300 pounds at the Combine.

– Four of the six interior players with data (Stephenson doesn’t have any) had at least 10+ inch hands.

– Six of the eight linemen with sub-34 inch arms put up at least 25 reps on the bench press.

– All five of the linemen under 310 pounds had at least a 27 inch vertical and a sub 7.8 in the three cone. Four of the five had a 1.84 or sub ten split.

– For players over 310 pounds, there really isn’t much to learn from. They can have 1.9+ splits (three of the six were 1.9 or worse), can jump poorly in the broad/vert, and have shuttle times all over the map. No correlation worth doing.

So let’s wrap things up and look at what the data tells us.

We have a wide array of tackles, though if you’re looking for lighter, quicker ones, your options are limited. Tyler Johnstone, who has earned buzz on here, makes the cut. Jason Spriggs predictably does too and Jack Conklin, a player I feel they could have interest in, also earns a spot. Conklin and Spriggs will be gone within the first two rounds and though the team just added Ryan Harris, I imagine they’ll take a hard look at Conklin with the 58th pick.

There are several tackles of the big and long variety with Le’Raven Clark being the highest rated one on most boards. Alex Lewis, a player I had the Steelers taking in my first mock, also makes an appearance.

Only five guards total wound up fitting. Connor McGovern is the only “light” one, putting together an impressive performance at Indianapolis. Four big uglies make an appearance, most of them with length, with the exception of Landon Turner, whose 30 reps gets him on the list.

Most of the guards were eliminated due to hand size, under the ten inch threshold (Josh Garnett) or bench press (Cody Whitehair). Same with the tackles, Taylor Decker being the most noticeable.

In all, we have 15 linemen who “make sense,” though again I caution, this is not the say-all, be-all. This is just another tool that is a useful way to help us narrow down our list. It does nothing to change my personal evaluations on individuals.

After going through three position groups, wide receiver, defensive line, and now the offensive line, we have a list of 24 players that fit the Steelers’ historical trends very well. We’ll work on cornerback next and from my early findings, there are some cleaner correlations.

About the Author

Alex Kozora
Full-time blogger from mom's basement. Marrying tape and statistics. Chidi Iwuoma is my favorite Steeler of all-time.