Tackle No Longer a Given for Steelers’ First Pick of the Draft

Mike Tomlin must find a way to finish strong if the Steelers want to keep their wildcard spotAs this miserable 2013 season wears on, I really don’t want to start looking ahead to the NFL Draft but I think there might be reason to considering the development of several players.

Early thinking had the Pittsburgh Steelers more than likely drafting an offensive tackle in the first round.

With two games to go, I’m not so sure.

Mike Tomlin and company appear to be satisfied if not happy with what has transpired in recent weeks at the tackle position.

Kelvin Beachum has done a very nice job at left tackle throughout the season despite not always looking the part of a prototypical anchor of the offensive line.

Marcus Gilbert is a guy I owe an apology too because I’ve ripped him and his toughness many times but he matured a lot this year and has done a good job at right tackle. Mike Adams is a wild-card of course. Benched in the early season, he appears to have gotten the message and has shown improvement and more consistency when he plays.

The vibe I keep getting, and I felt it again from Tomlin during his Tuesday presser, is that the team seems content with these three guys right now. Assuming the team finishes 8-8, 7-9 or 6-10, they’ll be drafting in the area of about 8-20 give or take a few spots.

That said, will the Steelers still look for an offensive tackle in the first round? I personally don’t think so. There are needs at wide receiver (assuming Emmanuel Sanders leaves), tight end, the defensive line and the secondary.

Let’s also consider the shaky record of Kevin Colbert when it comes to drafting linemen as well. Although David DeCastro looks like he’ll eventually be worthy of his first round pedigree, there are plenty of misses by Colbert.

I of course could be very wrong here and it wouldn’t be the first time, but I’m sensing a shift in the Steelers’ thinking right now. This will change as the draft is 6 months out, but I’ll be surprised if they choose a tackle with their first pick.

Marc Uhlmann writes for and co-owns www.steelcityblitz.com. Follow him on Twitter @steeldad and follow the website at @SCBlitz. He can be heard Mondays on Trib-Live Radio at 630pm ET talking Steelers and is a blogger for ESPN 970 in Pittsburgh.


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12 comments on “Tackle No Longer a Given for Steelers’ First Pick of the Draft

  1. I think if Beach finishes the last two games playing at the same level he’s been playing, that’s about half a season “above the line” as Tomlin would say.

    Gilbert and Adams are frustrating, because if you had Gilbert’s footwork with Adams’ run blocking ability you’d have a pro bowler. But let them fight it out and you’ve got a pretty solid bench option.

    A mid-round pick at tackle isn’t out of the question, but I agree with you, I don’t see it in the first. There are 3 receivers worth of a first round pick that I really really like. Sammy Watkins looks like a stronger Santonio Holmes, and Mike Evans and Kelvin Benjamin are huge targets that can also get deep in the mold of Plaxico Burress.

  2. Lets assume that Fernando Velasco fully recovers from his Achilles injury and can be signed inexpensively and that Pouncey’s knee fully recovers. If Pouncey still has excellent mobility I believe that he is an option at guard with Velasco at Center. I thought there was discussion about that in the past. I think Velasco played very well and the current crop of O-linemen (Pouncey, Velasco, Gilbert, Beachum, DeCastro, Adams and could be quite good.
    I also really like the current younger crop of D-line – Woods, Hood, Heyward and McClendon. Keisel is a true Steeler but has ended the last few seasons injured and I have not seen Fangupo do anything besides get blocked. Lets get a mid-rounder at D-Line.
    Linebacker personnel is solid. Yeah there are money issues with the chronically injured Woodley and Worilds, but is Spence is able to play, Foote, Baxter, Garvin, Carter, Sylvester, Timmons, Williams, Jones etc. We have good Linebackers.
    I like the current batch of receivers the whole way back to Moye but agree that its time to let Sanders go and get a second or 3rd round receiver. Totally agree that a TE pick would be appropriate. Miller is awesome and Spaeth is a good addition but how long can Heath Miller stay awesome?
    The Secondary – lets invest a first rounder and a second of third and open up the competition. Maybe Shamarko can replace Clark. Polomolu has a few years left at a high level but maybe taking less risk. An Ike Taylor replacement given a year to learn the system is my first round wish.
    1 Cornerback 2 Receiver 3 Cornerback 4 Big Running Back 5 Tight End 6 D-Line

  3. I agree on some things that Marc Uhlmann but not everything. A need for TE have you gone nuts?
    I am sick and tired of people wanting a 2 TE offense. If you want that then it means you don’t care about WR’s at all. how did the formula of 2 TE’s work for the Pats. Gronk: always hurt. Hernandez: Jail. Go get Ben some WR help. Yeah Antonio Brown is good but is he the guy that will make a Big Catch in a Big Game: No Freaking Way. The DL has talent. In fact the DL should be like this: Kiesel, Woods, Heyward. CB: wait until someone of value pops up in the mid to late rounds. WR is the top need and here is why: Sanders is gone, Cotchery is getting a 2 year deal at best from someone else and Wheaton was a wasted draft pick. You people see it. The coaching staff just does not want to play him at all. Sammy Watkins and Mike Evans are my top WR choices. Benjamin won’t leave until Winston declares for the draft. They are a package deal for the 2015 draft.

    • I am most definitely nuts Vittorio but that’s beside the point. The reason I say add another TE is not to establish multiple TE sets. We need a viable pass receiving threat from the number two TE.

      Heath will be in his tenth year. Paulson, Spaeth etc are no threat to any defense. If Heath declines and he will, we need another option.

      As for DL, Keisel is gone. Injury prone, a free agent and he’s 35.

  4. Don’t be so sure about Kiesel. I’m not saying he plays every game. Kiesel is what I would call an insurance policy. Enough with the number 2 TE threat. Look at all the times the Steelers have 2 TE’s and you tell me are they the kind of team that will neglect WR in favor of a TE who runs down the middle of the field? You honestly think this team cares about a 2TE set? The only reason this team ever picks a TE in the draft other than miller is to just see what this guy has. Heath is Ben’s security blanket not the number 1 option for this team. See with this website you have a guy who finally understand that OL is waste of time in the first 2 rounds. This team cannot keep asking Brown to be “the man” cause if he wants that title he must make big catches in big games and not just accumulate Catches and Yards cause as a NO.1 WR your job is to show your QB “I’m the guy who will go and get the Big Catch and make the pay when it counts” this is not me talking I know of 1 radio host who will tell you this himself.

    • If Todd Haley is going to remain the OC then you must go get another TE. I’m not saying I like it because I believe in a three-wide base offense but Haley loves multiple TE sets.

      Thankfully he has adjusted and allowed Ben to run the no huddle with miller the only TE on the field.

      I’ll be shocked if Keisel is back. It’s time to get younger on defense.

  5. The ravens run it that kind of offense but it’s not working this year. The pats tried the same thing and look at what has happened. Gronk is always hurt and Hernandez is in jail. So you tell me why take that risk when it’s probably not going to work. I know that about the Defense but that doesn’t mean go full blown younger on the D. You need to have Vets around to work with the young guys. Everybody wants this big DT from Notre Dame why? Woods is showing that he should be that guy and McClendon is comfortable at DE. The Steelers can’t wait until the mid rounds for WR anymore. Those WR’s are never used. At best there a NO.3 or NO.4 option but the Steelers don’t need that. The Steelers really don’t want to play Wheaton and here is why: It’s not because of Cotchery or Sanders cause that is bogus. It’s because the coaching staff really don’t want him on offense. In fact they really don’t want him at all on this roster period. You make think I am nuts but ask your self this: If they didn’t want to use him from the start why would they do so now?

    • Please understand what I’m saying…. I’m not an advocate of a multiple TE system at all. Problem is that If Haley remains the OC this may be what we are stuck with. If that’s the case then we need a good 2nd TE.

      Defensively, I’d rather go with the youth movement. Give me Heyward, Woods and McLendon across the front three.

  6. I never said that. If you remember when he was in Arizona it was just 3 WR’s and Kurt Warner. I don’t want a 2nd TE as a catching option there is no point to it at all. Give me 1 of 2 top WR’s in this draft and let Ben run the show for most of the game but not the whole game. People want Ike Taylor gone and that is absurd. If he goes who is the NO.1 CB. If they play a rookie that already would spell bad things for this team. I see the first 3 rounds the way it needs to be done: 1st:Watkins or Evans, 2nd:OLB and 3rd round:OL. The reason why I say OLB in the 2nd is this: In case either Jones or even Worilds get hurt. A backup plan wouldn’t hurt this team. I admit that I didn’t like Worilds and I don’t want to see him go but how can fans and the team be sure this guy can handle that LOLB spot for a full season. It’s easy to have success in spot starts but to start at that position for an entire season that is totally different.

    • The offense he is running is his KC offense. I want the AZ offense but ARII clearly wants the ground and pound. I don’t want a TE in the first at all. Would like a big WR or top DB but if Haley is back then a top TE should be an option.

  7. I totally agree with steeldad on this topic. The Steelers have wasted too many first and second round picks on linemen and they have ignored obvious weaknesses in other areas. Now, I must admit, some of these first round picks at offensive line have paid off, ie. Pouncey, DeCastro. After that though, some have played reasonably well, while others have been complete wastes of draft picks, ie. Adams.
    So, with the Haley style offense, the obvious first pick in the draft for the Steelers should be a TE or big WR. A TE would be a better option considering that great TEs are hard to find later in the draft, while there are always a number of good WRs in the later rounds in the draft. If Haley is still the OC or not next year, the Steelers need a good, young TE for the future. Let’s face it, Miller has been the most reliable and, at times, dominating player the Steelers have had for many years. But, unfortunately, Miller is getting older and the Steelers need to get younger at the TE position, and the young TEs they currently have are totally useless, ie. Paulson.
    Don’t quite understand why Vittorio is so against the 2 TE offense. Offenses in the NFL are always changing and using 2 TEs does work. The Patriots were dominating with Gronk and Hernandez. It was just a series of unfortunate events that caused the Patriots to scrap the 2 TE offense. You can almost guarantee that the Patriots will be looking to draft another big TE/WR that can catch in order for them to continue using 2 TE schemes. Besides, many NFL offenses use these TEs like WRs now that it is like having another WR on the field with these 2 TE schemes.
    So, I would hope that the Steelers do look to draft a dominating TE in the first round, preferably Jace Amaro or Eric Ebron. Although, between the 2, I like Amaro, (that is if he opts to enter the draft), because he is most similar to Miller in that he is a very good receiver as well as a good blocker. I would even consider Mike Evans because he has good size and is a great receiver.
    Other than a TE, the Steelers need to consider drafting a DB in the first round after they clean house and release Taylor, Clark, and possibly Polamalu. The Steelers need to start cleaning house.

  8. Taylor and Troy are staying. If you let them go who starts in there place. I want no part of a DB in the 1st round starting in ike’s spot next year. It just spells doom for that secondary. Secondly a 2 TE offense means you have no WR’s to use. The Pats ran that offense cause other Welker who else was there that scared you. There other TE’s are the kind to be incorporated into the offense, they are there for blocking purposes and I have no problem with that. I have looked over the WR class and after Evans, Watkins and Lee who else out there is a guy you would put as your NO.2 WR. ARTII is a coward and everybody in this city knows that. I doubt you disagree with me on that. Here is a man who does not want to accept that it’s a Passing League and few teams are plus 50% running team. Ben is clearly your best player so why take the ball out of his hands to play a style of game that is suited for a KC or TEN. This team relies on pass more than run and how many people can argue that. BAL is a another team that ran a 2TE offense but they won a number of big games that to the WR’s and not the TE’s.

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