The Pittsburgh Steelers began their offensive line rebuilding process in 2010 by picking Maurkice Pounce with their first round pick and effectively concluded that process in 2012 when they picked David DeCastro in the first round followed by Mike Adams in the second.
After years of injury-induced turmoil on the offensive line, the Steelers appear to have learned that you can never have too many good offensive lineman on your roster. That’s a lesson well taken, but does it mean that the Steelers should make guard a high priority in the 2016 NFL Draft?
Steelers Depth Chart @ Guard Entering the 2016 NFL Draft – the Starters
Ramon Foster made the team in 2009 as an undrafted rookie free agent, and since then he’s appeared in 102 games and started in 87 of them. Foster has been both durable and dependable, and served as an important mentor to Alejandro Villanueva after Kelvin Beachum went down. The Steelers have resigned Foster, leaving little doubt about his future in Pittsburgh.
Starting on the other side of Pouncey is David DeCastro, who after an injury marred rookie season, is developing into a the ass-kicker the Steelers envisioned when he fell to them in the 2012 NFL Draft. DeCastro has played in 51 games and has started in 50 of them. The Steelers are expected to ink DeCastro to a long term deal this off season.
Steelers Depth Cart @ Guard Entering the 2016 NFL Draft – Backups
The depth behind Foster and DeCastro is both thin and untested. Outside of Cody Wallace, who also serves as the primary backup at center, none of the players have any NFL regular season game experience to speak of.
Chris Hubbard is the team’s most experienced backup, having appeared in 7 games in 2015 and one game in 2014 after spending all of 2013 on the Steelers practice squad.
- Behind Hubbard, the Steelers have B.J. Finney and Cole Manhart.
B.J. Finney was part of the Steelers 2015 undrafted rookie free agent class and spent the entire season on their practice squad. The Steelers signed Cole Manhart to reserve/futures contract earlier this year, and Manhart spent time in the Eagles and Saints training camps, and joined the Oakland Raider’s practice squad in December 2015.
Steelers 2016 Draft Need at Guard
Clearly, the Steelers are not going to invest a number one pick in a guard. Their needs simply do not justify that. The fact that Chris Hubbard is still around shows that the Steelers see something they like in him, and the Steelers have a way of developing undrafted rookie free agents into solid NFL lineman.
- Between Foster, DeCastro and Wallace, the Pittsburgh Steelers have 3 men who can play guard in the NFL.
That’s good. But one injury can change the Steelers calculus at guard in a hurry. The Steelers needs on the defensive side of the ball are so acute that they can probably safely ignore guards in rounds 1-3, but after that they need to take a serious look at who is left on the board when their time comes.
Therefore, the Pittsburgh Steelers 2016 draft need at guard must be considered Moderate.