The Pittsburgh Steelers have recently concluded their offseason schedule, complete with nine OTA practices and the three-day minicamp, and are currently off for about five weeks before they re-emerge in Latrobe for the start of training camp.
Not much is expected to happen between now and then as far as new goes regarding the team. Ideally, the players will simply be focused on getting in the best possible shape heading for the long haul that begins with training camp and concludes, hopefully, with a deep postseason run.
That means that the roster heading into camp should just about be set, so now during the dead time it’s worth taking a dip back into the positional depth charts to see where we stand following the offseason reports, continuing with the offensive tackles.
Kelvin Beachum: Beachum seems fixed in a position in which he will remain among the more polarizing players on the Steelers unless he takes a significant step—either forward or backward. Unless he becomes an elite tackle to the point that nobody can deny his talent, or he simply falls off a cliff, both sides will have what they feel is enough ammunition to maintain that he is woefully underrated or overrated.
Beachum will never be taller, and that will never be good for him at tackle. But he can get stronger, and he has over the past couple of seasons, which will help. His technique is excellent, and his work ethic is even better. Whether or not he remains in Pittsburgh for the long haul remains to be seen.
Marcus Gilbert: Now, Gilbert may not be too far behind when it comes to polarizing opinions. Last season, he cashed in on a new contract, which always raises the level of scrutiny. But he also made strides in his on-field performance, which has been anticipated for some time. Yet his history of minor injuries and ailments has continued to dog him. Still, it appears likely he is locked in for the long haul, and the truth is that the team could do a lot worse, which they have.
Mike Adams: A lot worse, for example, might apply to Adams, who was drafted just a year after Gilbert, and in the same round. Adams started four games in place of an injured Gilbert last year, and while the offense as a whole succeeded in those contests more often than not, it was truly in spite of Adams’ poor play. The team seems to like him more than most on the outside, and hopefully he will finally make strides from a technique standpoint in his second year under a Hall of Fame position coach.
Alejandro Villanueva: Not to know Villanueva, but the fact that he is fourth on the depth chart is a comment on how shallow the overall depth is at the tackle position, considering that he will turn 27 this year and has never taken an NFL snap, nor practiced at tackle in an NFL camp before joining the Steelers’ practice squad in September. Still, there is good reason that he is viewed as such an intriguing player. There’s nobody I’m more interested in seeing for myself come the preseason.
Kevin Whimpey: Decent size and good strength, Whimpey must overcome his struggles in pass protection to even stand a chance.
Mitchell Van Dyke: As with Whimpey, Van Dyke has made more progress as a run blocker than as a pass protector, which is becoming an outdated model of success in today’s NFL. Given the last few names on this list, it wouldn’t surprise me if the Steelers managed to add a veteran tackle to the mix at some point.