It’s hard to believe that Pittsburgh Steelers guard Ramon Foster is now entering his seventh year in the league as it seems like only yesterday that he was signed as an undrafted free agent out of Tennessee and attempting to win a roster spot during training camp. Foster, however, is now entering the final year of his current contract, so the team needs to probably start thinking about who will succeed him if 2015 is indeed his final season in Pittsburgh.
The Steelers drafted versatile lineman Wesley Johnson out of Vanderbilt last year in the fifth round of the draft but they wound up losing him via waivers to the New York Jets when they waived him in order to make room on the roster for safety Ross Ventrone, who was promoted from the practice squad due to fellow safety Shamarko Thomas being injured.
While the Steelers did lose Johnson, they still had Chris Hubbard, who was originally signed as an undrafted free agent out of UAB in 2013. Hubbard, who entered this offseason as an exclusive rights free agent, signed a one-year contract in January, so at the very least he will be back in training camp once again fighting for a spot on the 53 man roster. The jury is still very much out on Hubbard, however, but based on his play with the Steelers during the last two preseasons, his long-term ceiling doesn’t appear to be very high.
Should the Steelers suffer an injury at one of their two guard spots in 2015, odds are good that backup interior lineman Cody Wallace would be the next man up. While Wallace certainly plays with a nasty demeanor, he’s really best-suited to play center and thus asking him to play guard over a long stretch of games is probably not something that any Steelers fan wants to see.
While starting left tackle Kelvin Beachum does have some experience at playing both guard and center, it’s very obvious that he’s a better fit outside. In addition to that, the Steelers would likely have to start Mike Adams again at left tackle if Beachum were to ever have to kick back inside. I don’t know about you, but that’s something that I’m not sure I’m ready to see again in the near future.
So far during the offseason, the Steelers have shown interest in several linemen that possess position flexibility during their Pro Day trips across the country. Their Tuesday stop in Gainesville even included them spending time with potential late-round draft prospect Max Garcia, who played center, guard and tackle during his college career. The aforementioned Johnson had the same kind of position flexibility as Garcia, so it appears as though the front office and coaching staff are once again looking for a similar-type player as the one they drafted last year.
The good news when it comes to offensive linemen is that they generally don’t take long to groom if they are highly rated. In other words, if the Steelers draft another one late this year and he doesn’t pan out, they can address the position again a year from now in the earlier rounds.