The time is now for the Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line. After years of spending high draft picks on the position, this unit is poised to transform from one of the team’s biggest weaknesses to one of its strengths.
Since 2010, the Steelers have spent four high draft picks on offensive linemen.
In 2010, they began to address the line when they selected Maurkice Pouncey in the first round. The very next year they added Marcus Gilbert in the second round and then used their top two selections in 2012 on David DeCastro and Mike Adams.
With established veterans Willie Colon and Max Starks gone, it will be up to these young linemen to help lead the way for the offense.
Inexperience and injuries have slowed the development of these linemen, but this year should be different.
New offensive line coach Jack Bicknell Jr. will bring a different approach than former coach Sean Kugler.
Bicknell likes a different style of linemen than Kugler. According to an interview with Bob Labriola of Steelers.com, he wants smart, athletic linemen in the starting lineup.
It’s a combination of all the things I just said. They have to be very smart, because there’s a lot going on. You have five guys who have to be able to mesh together, work together, and it’s one area where you really have to be able to adjust on the fly. The opponent could start out in one defense, shift into another, guys walking around, whatever. You have to prepare, and then you have to be big enough and athletic enough to get the job done, which these days can be difficult. You have these huge three-technique defensive tackles, so you need some good size so as not to be overwhelmed, but you also have to be athletic enough and be able to move your feet to match up with those great athletes on defense.
With a talented group of players, Bicknell will be able to put together a solid unit that should not only be able to pave the way for the ground game, but also keep quarterback Ben Roethlisberger upright and healthy.
So what will this line look like? Here is a look at who should be in the starting lineup for the season opener.