A good football team begins up front and it requires an offensive line that works as a unit and can communicate flawlessly. This does not currently describe the offensive line of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The guy responsible for the mess that is this current offensive line is Kevin Colbert.
Prior to coming to the Steelers in 2000, Colbert was the head scout for the Detroit Lions. As you know, the Lions haven’t exactly been a franchise known for winning or consistency.
Much like the current Steelers’ offensive line, those Lions’ teams were always struggling up front and rarely found good combinations of a front five.
While Colbert wasn’t the final word on who the Lions were drafting, he was the head scout so his input was crucial to each and every draft selection and free agent signing. His poor record there has followed him to Pittsburgh.
Take a look at the names of linemen drafted under the watch of Kevin Colbert since his arrival in 2000. Italics mean they are no longer with the team.
Offensive Linemen: David DeCastro, Mike Adams, Marcus Gilbert, Maurkice Pouncey, Chris Scott, A.Q. Shipley, Keith Williams, Kraig Urbik, Tony Hills, Cameron Stephenson, Willie Colon, Marvin Philip, Trai Essex, Chris Kemoeatu, Max Starks, Bo Lacy, Drew Caylor, Kendall Simmons, Mathias Nkwenti, Chukky Okobi, Marvel Smith
To be fair, some of those guys did see lots of action for past Steelers’ teams. Guys like Essex, Kemoeatu, Starks, Colon and Smith played vital roles in successful Steelers’ seasons but in the National Football League, it’s a situation of “what have you done for me lately?” Lately, it hasn’t been much.
Top picks Adams and Gilbert are clearly struggling and even DeCastro is at times as well. Yes they are young, but other young linemen seem to be doing just fine on their respective teams (see Bears two rookies). It might not be fair to give a full evaluation of these three just yet but if we are grading on a basis of ‘to this point,’ then all three would receive below average grades.
What stands out to me about those three guys is their lack of upper body strength. All three have been abused at the point of attack through the first three games with each having a few good moments and obviously bad. The footwork of both Adams and Gilbert is poor at best as well.
I will always believe that the strength of any good football team starts on the interior. Good, quality offensive linemen are necessary for the offense to truly be successful. Colbert has failed miserably, to this point, in this regard.
While we continue to throw stones at Mike Tomlin, Todd Haley and Ben Roethlisberger, let us keep in mind the guy who selects the people to be on the field and chuck a few his way.
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 4pm ET talking Steelers.