While the Pittsburgh Steelers failed to address the offensive line position in the 2015 NFL Draft in a year in which it certainly appears that they only have about seven positions on the depth chart filled, it cannot be denied that the front office made it a priority to acquire in bulk some of the top talent available among the undrafted free agent ranks of interior linemen.
Initially signed were B.J. Finney, Reese Dismukes, and Miles Dieffenbach, each of whom was regarded as potentially draftable, but all slipped out of the draft for one reason or another, and the team was fortunate to land all three.
A fourth interior lineman, Collin Rahrig, was invited to participate in the team’s rookie minicamp. Though he was not signed to a contract afterward, he evidently made enough of an impression that the Steelers had his number handy when they needed another lineman in camp due to injury.
The interesting thing is that it was Micah Hatchie, a tackle, and not an interior lineman who went down and was waived injured. And Rahrig is certainly pegged clearly for an interior line position, having started at left guard, right guard, and center during his collegiate career.
Between these four young undrafted interior offensive linemen, the Steelers should have quite an interesting competition on their hands in training camp and in the preseason. In fact, it will be difficult to find playing time for them all—which makes having a fifth preseason game and extra week of training camp all the more valuable.
One of the most widely speculated motivations for the Steelers’ especial interest in the interior line position this offseason is the contract status of starting left guard Ramon Foster, who is playing under the final year of a three-year contract in the final season that he will be under the age of 30.
There has been a sentiment that the Steelers would like to move on from Foster as early as next season in order to find a player more suited to the athletic profile sought by Mike Munchak and offensive coordinator Todd Haley.
Since they did not use their draft resources to achieve this end, they have seemingly taken the bulk approach, hoping that at least one of these four will be able to add to the competition as interior reserves, along with Cody Wallace and Chris Hubbard.
Hubbard, after all, stands as a testament to the possibility of their future success. He was an undrafted free agent and spent his first year on the practice squad before making the 53-man roster last year.
Foster, too, was an undrafted free agent and has carved out a six-year career out of it, the majority of which consisted of him in the starting lineup. Perhaps one of these young players, with Rahrig now in the mix, could be his successor. While all of them have their deficiencies and limitations, they all have their upside as well, and one can’t ignore the pattern that the Steelers have formed here.