Wexell: What about the OL?
What about the OL?
John Malecki (USA TODAY Sports)
By Jim Wexell
Posted Apr 27, 2013
The Steelers touched on most of their needs this draft weekend except one big one: depth for the offensive line.
“We didn’t see the value when we were making these picks,” said Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert. “We will continue to finish out the college free agents and maybe look at some veteran guys, too.”
The Steelers have only two reserves with any NFL experience, Kelvin Beachum and John Malecki, and both saw their first action last season.
Of course, free agents Max Starks and Doug Legursky could be in the back of Colbert’s mind, but Starks won’t be easy to re-sign as a backup, or for minimum wage. The Steelers had also talked to Houston Texans interior backup Antoine Caldwell prior to the draft.
The Steelers did touch up their return game slightly with college part-timers, third-rounder Markus Wheaton and fifth-rounder Terry Hawthorne, but coach Mike Tomlin said the possibility exists that he’ll keep Antonio Brown as a punt returner and possibly Emmanuel Sanders as a kickoff returner.
Backup quarterback was also addressed with the drafting of Landry Jones in the fourth round. Colbert said he’s “comfortable with the four guys we have right now,” meaning he has no plans to re-sign either Charlie Batch or Byron Leftwich.
Colbert said the team was looking to add 16 free agents after the draft and that the rookies will report next weekend for a minicamp.
Colbert and Tomlin were expectedly pleased with the Steelers’ haul and made a few additional points.
* Colbert on drafting Le’Veon Bell over other remaining running backs: “You look at his career average, it’s right at 5.0. He’s a big guy. He can go from being very patient to knowing when to hit a crease. He knows when to insert on those zone run schemes, and he can. He’s a big kid that can block and he’s got nice, soft hands. He actually volunteered to catch punts later in the season and they trusted him to do it.”
* Tomlin on starting a rookie linebacker (such as Jarvis Jones) in the Steelers’ system: “I think it’s a daunting task for rookies to start in any system and play and perform well. Obviously it’s difficult when you have established veteran players like we have with a lot of continuity. … We are not going to close the door on him. This is about people taking advantage of opportunities so he’ll be given that.”
* Colbert on Ben Roethlisberger taking on the role of mentoring Jones: “It’s really not his duty to do that. … I think Landry can learn from a guy like Ben just by watching him, being around him, being in the meeting rooms, on the practice fields, during games. I think he can serve that but it’s really not his duty to mentor the young players.”
* Colbert on the salary cap: “I think as we stand right now we are in pretty good shape. … We will certainly have to look at veterans that flush out and see if we can make them fit. Right now we are in a good spot. We will be able to sign these guys and potentially have a cushion going into the season without having to make too many more moves.”
The Steelers undrafted free agent list of 15 includes seven offensive linemen. Here's the official list:
The 15 undrafted rookies include defensive end Brian Arnfelt (Northwestern), linebacker Alan Baxter (Northern Illinois), guard Nik Embernate (San Diego State), wide receiver Reggie Dunn (Utah), offensive tackle Mike Farrell (Penn State), offensive tackle Mike Golic, Jr. (Notre Dame), defensive end Cordian Hagans (Louisiana-Lafayette), guard Chris Hubbard (UAB), defensive tackle Omar Hunter (Florida), long snapper Luke Ingram (Hawaii), center Joe Madsen (West Virginia), running back Curtis McNeal (USC), center Ivory Wade (Baylor), defensive tackle Anthony Rashad White (Michigan State) and wide receiver J.D. Woods (West Virginia).
Training camp positional battles: Steelers need a backup center.
By SteelCityRoller on May 1 2013
It actually isn't enough to have one of, if not the best players in the entire league anchoring the offensive line. Pittsburgh needs another center.
While most spectators at training camp will be watching the battles for the starting spots, the Pittsburgh Steelers will be more concerned with finding their reserves.
In the past, the team has been able to rely on Doug Legursky to backup not only the guard slots, but also at center behind Maurkice Pouncey. Legursky was never able to lock down any starting positions when they became available, but he was more than serviceable in place of Pouncey. Legursky started in Pouncey's stead in Super Bowl XLV, the loss to the Green Bay Packers.
With Legursky no longer on the team, the Steelers will have to find a new insurance policy. Pouncey hasn't exactly been injury prone during his NFL career, but he has missed important time to repeated ankle and leg injuries. In 2012, having a qualified backup center in Legursky allowed the Steelers to move Pouncey to guard, as the team scrambled to address the loss of Willie Colon to the trainer's table.
Exploring the roster exposes several possible candidate's to fill Legursky's shoes, but none of them invoke the same confidence as their predecessor.
The first name which comes to mind is Kelvin Beachum, one of Pittsburgh's four seventh-round draft picks from 2012. However, the team currently wants to mold him into a guard, contrary to the tackle he was forced to play during the latter half of his rookie season. When Beachum was drafted, the coaches felt he had a "center's intelligence". Unfortunately, many took such a statement to mean they intended to make Beachum a center. They have never implied as such, and are not likely to force too much upon the transitioning Beachum.
The second most likely candidate would be John Malecki, who split time between the scout team and the active roster last season, playing only at guard. He is not a priority choice when setting the pecking order for either guard spot, but he obviously has enough talent to maintain the coaches' interest.
Beyond Beachum and Malecki, the remaining options come in the form of undrafted rookies. The team signed two collegiate centers - Ivory Wade, Baylor (6-4, 313) and Joe Madsen, West Virginia (6-3, 310). The Steelers may even consider one of their guard prospects for a positional change, like Justin Cheadle or Nik Embernate; however, considering the importance the reserve center has carried during Pouncey's tenure, the team will most likely want someone who is already experienced, needing only fine tuning.
Beachum and Malecki will maintain an advantage to win this role entering training camp, but a strong performance by one of the other candidates this preseason could just earn somebody a roster spot.
Golic played Center at ND if I'm not mistaken.
The depth on the OL right now is frightening as in there isn't any. There is a whole bunch of hoping and wishing going on for the OL. Unfortunately that hasn't helped for the past 3-4 years.
Originally Posted by Oviedo
It's almost a given that one or more of the starters will go down to injury at some point. I'm really surprised they didn't draft any OL. Then again, there were so many needs to fill.
Hall of Famer
OL seems no different then quite a few positions depth wise. If a starter goes down we will be playing rookies at safety, OLB, potentially ILB.
I think we will see the Steelers add at least one veteran post June 1 when the money from cutting Colon becomes available. Caldwell could be a possibility as a veteran to back up guard and center, and I could see at least one veteran tackle being brought in.
As long as Gilbert is on our team the OL will be a revolving door... the guy is a walking injury.
i agree hoping this year he can stay on the field rather than sidelines in street cloths
Originally Posted by feltdizz
Keep Golic, Embernate and Beachum
Maybe they like what see from Joe Long. His brother is a great tackle. OK he lost several games last two years due injuries but still I think he´s a very good player. Or they are thinking take somebody after June 1st with the money from release Colon. Anyway is rare they don´t select a OL with any of their nine picks. I want to think they have a plan B.
my car's out back
if you're ready to take that long walk