Over the past few seasons, the Steelers have been unable to maintain five solid offensive lineman. Much of this has to due with continuous injuries to guys like former guard/tackle Willie Colon. Last season, the Steelers also struggled to keep a right tackle healthy. In 2013, the Steelers look to have their luck changed. The feel around Pittsburgh is that they are quite happy with their five expected starters in Marcus Gilbert, Ramon Foster, Maurkice Pouncey, David DeCastro, and Mike Adams. A starting offensive line with an average age of 24. Behind those five, are major questions. What depth do the Steelers have? Who can back up these five?
The Steelers held onto 10 offensive lineman a year ago when they finalized their 53-man roster. One being long snapper Greg Warren. With five starters, that leaves just four players for depth on the offensive line. Assuming the Steelers do the same in 2013, who could be those four players?
Kelvin Beachum is the sixth man on the offensive lineman. He is expected to be the new swing man on the Steelers’ offensive line, meaning they are working with him so that he can play all five positions on the line. Beachum proved to be the second string right tackle on the roster after being placed with the first team after starter Mike Adams was stabbed in the stomach two weeks ago. Guy Whimper did not step in as the second string right tackle which makes me think he may not be quality depth. Whimper’s only real position is right tackle.
2013 is a make or break year for John Malecki. Malecki has spent three seasons on NFL practice squads and is now ready to make a roster to be a contributor to the Steelers. He is also versatile, which makes his chances to make the 53-man roster a bit greater.
“I’m glad to have an opportunity,” Malecki said. “With Doug [Legursky] gone, it’s a little different dynamic. I understand there is a void there for someone who can fill a good backup role like Doug did for the past four or five years. I understand if I want to fill that role I have to be as good or better than Doug was and continue to get better.”
From there you may look at a couple rookies to maybe make this team. Now the Steelers did not draft an offensive lineman, but they did sign a few undrafted free agents with potential. The two most talked about must be San Diego State’s Nik Embernate and Notre Dame’s Mike Golic Jr.
Embernate helped the Aztecs run for 2,000 yards three consecutive seasons (2010-2012) at right guard. Golic Jr. is son of former NFL player/ESPN radio host Mike Golic Sr. Golic Jr. played center for the fighting Irish but moved to right tackle for the Steelers and could compete with Guy Whimper for a spot on the 53-man roster. What was Golic’s advice from his dad?
“He told me to do all the little things,” said Golic. “That starts with going in after practice and taking care of your body every day, getting ready for the next practice. He told me always have your nose in the playbook, not to be afraid to watch extra film and do all of the little things day-to-day that are going to build great habits and great play.”
Don’t be discouraged Steeler Nation. There is a total of 16 offensive lineman on the 90-man current roster. Other names could be thrown into the mix as we move on. This was just to show the depth and versatility of this young offensive line. No one is a for sure lock, but know the Steelers are moving forward with an offensive line that they hope are very productive under the leadership of Maurkice Pouncey.