For the past couple seasons the Pittsburgh Steelers have fielded what could be called a makeshift or good-enough offensive line that miraculously pulled out a Superbowl championship against the Arizona Cardinals, and another championship appearance that resulted in a close loss to the Green Bay Packers.
Built on the foundation of one of the best defenses the NFL has seen in the better part of a decade, the Steelers became Superbowl champions for the fifth time, and first since Terry Bradshaw was under center.
A then-sophomore Ben Roethlisberger was guarded by household Pittsburgh names such as Marvel Smith, nine-time Pro Bowler Alan Faneca, center Jeff Hartings, Kendall Simmons, and the only offensive line member still active, Max Starks.
This past offseason saw the Steelers assign their biggest issue, the offensive line.
After years of plug and play with lineman coming and going due to injury and performance issues, Pittsburgh elected to use their first two draft picks to select Stanford's David DeCastro and Ohio State's Mike Adams.
DeCastro is highly considered the best guard prospect to come along in recent years, and with great luck and patience, fell into the Steelers' lap with the 24th pick in the 2012 Draft.
Mike Adams, who had previously failed a drug test before the draft asked the Steelers for a second chance interview, and was selected with the 56th-overall pick.
Although Adams is expected not to start immediately, a few quality substitutions at the beginning of this season could catch offensive coordinator Todd Haley's eye, possibly requesting the rookie tackle get more playing time.
DeCastro is expected, if not destined, to start from day one. With Max Starks anchoring the blind side, Maurkice Pouncey entrenched at center, and Marcus Gilbert playing somewhere on the right side before he finally finds a permanent position, it is not certain where DeCastro will be placed.
Best case scenario is that DeCastro is able to fill the void at left guard that has never been permanently replaced after Alan Faneca left.
With rookies DeCastro and Adams, old reliable veteran Starks, Pro Bowler Pouncey, and the up-and-coming Marcus Gilbert protecting Roethlisberger the Steelers can expect a serious increase in protection.
If all goes well and the young guys develop on schedule, the Steelers could see the formation and evolution of the best offensive line they've had in quite a while.
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