It seemed every couple of weeks the coaching staff was making changes on the fly to maybe the most important unit on the team.
Somehow though, it worked. The improvement in the Steelers record started coming about the same time that the offensive line started to come together.
There was a huge improvement in pass protection, and in the run game.
Back in October when it looked like the Steelers could be picking in the top 5 I thought the Steelers need to do whatever they have to in order to grab a stud left tackle, Jake Matthews.
Then something amazing happened… The Steelers’ 2012 7th round draft pick, Kelvin Beachum took over at left tackle and the offense started moving the ball.
This took the Steelers out of the top 10 in the draft, but it also, in my opinion took away their need at left tackle.
Mike Tomlin wouldn’t say anything definitive but offered an obvious challenge to Beachum saying “I will not allow him to have an opportunity to exhale or seek comfort in regards to [being the starting left tackle].”
While I appreciate Tomlin’s motivational tactics, Beachum is not a man that needs it. Kelvin has shown he’s one of the most motivated players on the team in terms of getting better, and I have no doubt he can become a very good left tackle.
The interior on the offensive line will be Ramon Foster, Maurkice Pouncey, and David DeCatro. After those guys though, it’s a little bit fuzzy.
Fernando Velasco and Cody Wallace played great at the center position in 2013, but both will be free agents. I imagine either one could backup 3 positions, so my hope is that both of them are given new contracts.
I also was a big fan of undrafted free agent Nik Embernate who made some noise in camp last season, but was put on injured reserve following an ACL and MCL tear. If healthy, he could definitely make the team.
The right tackle position will most likely be a battle between Marcus Gilbert and Mike Adams. Gilbert will probably start camp as the starter, but I still wouldn’t count out Adams.
I think that Adams won’t ever have the footwork to play on the left side, but he showed in his rookie season he can be an asset in the run game. I still think he could turn out to be a quality starting RT.
There’s always a chance that a guy like Jake Matthews or Greg Robinson takes a tumble in the first round. If so you can change your plans. Remember, nobody expected David DeCatro to get out of the top 10.
However, barring something crazy happening, I think the Steelers won’t look at offensive line this off-season other than possibly some depth picks on day 3.
…I think that might be the first time in the past 5+ years that could be said for the Steelers.