With the 2015 NFL Draft 9 days away, Steel Curtain Rising’s pre-draft analysis of the Pittsburgh Steelers draft needs analysis has covered the offensive line positions of center and guard and today the focus is on tackle.
Analyzing Steelers Depth at Offensive Tackle – The Starters
A quick look at the Steelers depth chart at offensive tackle reveals one player who is doing what he was drafted to do, and another two who appear to have been switched at birth.
The Pittsburgh Steelers drafted Marcus Gilbert in 2011 in the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft with the idea that they would bring him along slowly. When Willie Colon found himself a casualty of the Debacle in Baltimore on opening day 2011, the Steelers turned to rookie Marcus Gilbert as his replacement.
Gilbert started 13 games that season including the playoff loss to Denver. He returned to his starting role in 2012, but injuries limited him to 5 games. Gilbert was back in 2013 starting 16 games, although he was challenged for his spot early in the season.
- His play stabilized, and the Steelers rewarded him by resigning him in the summer of 2014.
The person who mounted that challenge to Gilbert in early 2013 is Kelvin Beachum, the Steelers 2012 7th round pick. Going into his sophomore season, Beachum appeared to be carving a role for himself as the team’s 6th lineman, showing himself able to play all five positions on the line. Of course, the opening day disaster at Tennessee saw Beachum thrust into the role as starting center.
- He didn’t stay there long, as Mike Adams struggled at left tackle, and ultimately was replaced by
Beachum, who has held down the starting role since. While Beachum isn’t the second coming of Tony Boselli, he does continue the Steelers tradition of solid play at left tackle in the vein of John Jackson and/or Max Starks.
Analyzing Steelers Depth at Tackle – the Back Ups
The Steelers once considered Mike Adams as a first round player, but surpsied many in 2012 by taking him in the second round after he failed a drug test. The Steelers hopped Adams would show enough in camp in 2012 to win the starting role, but ultimately he didn’t, and Pittsburgh brought Max Starks back for a final season.
- Adams did get the starting nod in 2013, and he was a complete disaster.
IT would be both wrong and unfair to pin 2013’s 0-4 start on Mike Adams shoulders. But he was a prime contributor, unable to offer Ben Roethlisberger even the most basic of protections, to the degree that some wondered aloud of Roethlisberger wasn’t losing his ability. The benching served as motivation for Adams, and Adams has done well in spot duty, including four starts.
- Still, as Adams enters the fourth and final year of his rookie contract, word is the Steelers interest in bringing him back is low.
Priority Status of Offensive Tackle for Steelers in 2015 NFL Draft
There’s no such thing as having “too many good tackles” in the NFL.
The position is simply too vital to a team’s success as the first four games of 2013 revealed. The Steelers have two solid starters and one good backup. Kelvin Beachum will be a free agent next year. The Steelers must decide if he’s their future at left tackle, or if they want a player to more closely fits the prototype for the position.
Moreover, the way the draft is breaking down, tackle could easily be the best available player by the time the Steelers get to pick at number 22. The priority status for tackle for the Steelers in the 2015 NFL Draft must be considered Moderate High.