In 2008 the Steelers rebuilt their offensive line twice, once in the preseason and once during the season and walked away with Lombardi number Six.
In 2010 the Steelers seemingly needed to rebuild their line in the middle of games and came a drive away from bagging Lombardi number Seven.
The only position the Steelers seem set at is center, with Maurkice Pouncy and Doug Legursky.
At guard Chris Kemoeatu and Ramon Foster were starting at year’s end, with Doug Legursky poised to push either man. But none of these men expects to contend for a Pro Bowl spot anytime soon.
Offensive tackle is an extremely volatile position for the Steelers. Flozell Adams wants to play – if he can start. Max Starks will be back, but he’s coming back from neck surgery. And Willie Colon will be a free agent whom the Steelers appear unlikely to resign.
After that the Steelers have Jonathan Scott, who’s a good back up, Tony Hills who shocked Steelers Nation by making the team but then did nothing. Chris Scott, a rookie who began 2010 on the PAP list will also be back but remains an unknown commodity.
The Steelers opened the 2008 season with Mike Tomlin saying the team needed to “get younger and stronger on both lines.” Well, the Steelers offensive line has gotten younger since then, but except at center it is difficult to argue that they’re really “stronger.”
The Steelers need to bolster their line in the 2011 NFL draft, and they need to do it early.
- Draft priority of offensive line for the Steelers in 2011: High.
Since Tomlin’s aforementioned “younger and stronger” edict the Steelers have made some progress in getting stronger with the addition of Ziggy Hood.
Youth, still remains elusive.
Ziggy Hood came into his own at the end of 2010, justifying the faith and patience the Steelers showed in drafting and developing him in 2009.
Aaron Smith promises to be back in 2011, but how effective or durable can he be now that he’s pushing his mid-30’s and has finished 3 of the last four seasons on the injured list?
Casey Hampton and Chris Hoke both continue to go strong, but both are also pushing their mid-30’s, with no one behind them.
Brett Kiesel took his play up a notch, and while he suffered some minor injures, can be counted on to keep his performance “above the line” in 2011.
Behind these men the Steelers have Steve McClendon and Sunny Harris. Both men might become serviceable back ups but neither promises to push for playing time.
The Steelers could conceivably contend for a championship in 2011 with their same line intact, but they really do need to approach this draft with an eye toward the future.
- Draft priority of defensive line for the Steelers in 2011: High.