Jets claimed OL (center/guard) Wesley Johnson off waivers from Steelers to replace the injured Brian Winters. #nyj
— Manish Mehta (@MMehtaNYDN) October 13, 2014
Once upon a time the Pittsburgh Steelers rolled the dice by cutting a promising young offensive lineman. A suspension of Ben Roethlisberger and an injury to Byron Leftwich didn’t leave the much choice. The Steelers had planned to cut Charlie Batch, but they needed to keep him.
But this young lineman had made so much progress that he’d outpaced the incumbent starting center, Justin Hartwig, whom Maurkice Pouncey had displaced.
- That young lineman was Kraig Urbik, who got claimed by Buffalo and went on to make 44 starts for the Bills while the Steelers struggled on offensive line.
The Steelers didn’t get much long term value out of their 2009 Draft. The rest of the NFL did, however, and Urbik started the trend.
Something similar could be afoot with the Steelers 2014 draft. Shamarko Thomas’ hamstring injury forced the Steelers to cut 5th round pick Wesley Johnson to make room for Ross Ventrone. The idea was that the Steelers would resign Johnson to the practice squad.
- The New York Jets had other ideas, and claimed him off of waivers.
While Wesley Johnson never played a down for the Steelers, he’d shown a lot of promise, particularly with his ability to play all 5 line positions, and made Guy Whimper expendable. [Knock on wood] the Steelers have had better luck this far with offensive line injuries, but offensive line depth has been an issue throughout the Tomlin era.
That depth just got a little thinner.