Nick Wass/Associated Press
The Steelers spent second-round picks on offensive tackles in successive drafts, but they won't protect their quarterback’s blind side in 2014.
That responsibility will go to a seventh-round pick from the latter of those drafts: Kelvin Beachum. He started 11 of the season’s final 12 games and helped hold opposing defenses to just seven sacks in as many games to close the year.
Unlike the opposite side of the offensive line, the Steelers’ left side is composed of players who weren’t highly coveted out of college.
Ramon Foster, who went undrafted out of Tennessee in 2009, was pressed into duty at left guard in his rookie year. Fast forward five seasons, and he is suddenly the Steelers’ most experienced lineman.
With another solid season under his belt, he will likely hold down the left guard spot again in 2014.
Because of the Steelers’ legacy at the center spot, many felt Maurkice Pouncey was too quickly anointed as the next Pittsburgh great at the position.
He earned All-Pro bids in each of his first three seasons, and some questioned whether he was deserving of the honor. After all, he might not even be the best center in his own family.
Nonetheless, what he has been since being drafted is the Steelers’ best lineman. He was thrown into the fray almost immediately and responded by becoming the unequivocal leader in the trenches.
Pouncey suffered a season-ending injury in the opening week, and that was reflected in a miserable running game and lackluster pass protection. Steelers fans are eager to see how the offense performs in 2014 with Pouncey back in the mix.
David DeCastro’s rookie season was injury-riddled and miserable. One game into 2013, things didn’t appear to be getting any better.
He inadvertently took out teammate Pouncey and ended the center's season in the team’s opening game. Fortunately, DeCastro didn’t allow this incident to ruin his season as well.
In Pouncey’s absence, DeCastro took the reins as the team’s best offensive lineman. He and Pouncey finally (and hopefully) taking the field together in 2014 is an exciting prospect for Steelers fans.
This position is the one most in question on the O-line.
As previously stated, the Steelers have two second-round picks at the offensive tackle spot on their roster: Marcus Gilbert and Mike Adams. But with Beachum’s spot on the left side seemingly safe, only one can secure a starting role.
As the only offensive lineman to start all 16 games, Gilbert appears to be the favorite at this point. But a poor camp performance from him—or a strong one from Adams—could change that at a moment’s notice.