For several years, partially due to no fault of their own, the Steelers philosophy of offensive line building was “plug and patch.” The Steelers went from five years from 2005 to 2010 without using a premium pick on offensive line.
- And during that span they ended in two Super Bowls with undrafted rookie free agents starting on their offensive line.
As Steel Curtain Rising observed a year ago, it was almost as if the Steelers were defying gravity – winning in spite of a poor offensive line. But the house eventually began winning its money back in and Ben Roethlisberger was left to foot the bill.
The Steelers reacted by drafting
- Maurkice Pouncey, center, in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft
- Marcus Gilbert, tackle in the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft
- David DeCastro, guard, in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft
- Mike Adams, tackle, in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft
Unfortunately, for much of 2012 it appeared their efforts were all for nought. David DeCastro got hurt in training camp. Early on run blocking was woeful. Willie Colon had trouble transitioning to guard.
- For a brief spell the line improved, and the Steelers, dare we say, had the look of a Super Bowl contender.
But then Willie Colon got hurt (again). Mike Adams was injured at times, Marcus Gilbert, after injuring so many team mates, got injured himself, and appeared to have regressed before that.
And by the time the Steelers headed to Baltimore for a late season show down, Pouncey was playing guard, Doug Legursky was playing center, Kelvin Beachum was starting it was musical chairs on the offensive line, a tune Steelers Nation got oh too familiar with in 2008, 2010, and 2011.
All of this goes to show you that the offensive line remains a need for the Steelers in the 2013 Draft. Willie Colon is gone. Doug Legursky may not be brought back, and Marcus Gilbert has some people worried.
- Is offensive line the most pressing draft priority for the Steelers?
No, and this is something that has been true for a long time.
But if a quality tackle or guard falls to the Steelers in the 2nd or 3rd that they expected to be gone and has a much higher grade than everyone else on the board, the Steelers would be foolish to ignore him.
The Mike Tomlin era has made one lesson abundantly clear:
- You can never have enough quality offensive lineman.