As many of you know from past posts, Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette stated that he believes the Pittsburgh Steelers will let tackle Kelvin Beachum test free agency after the 2016 season. This move would make almost zero sense to me, for many reasons. Beachum is the only player on the roster who could play left tackle at even a serviceable level. He even surpasses that and plays at quite a high level, making many forget he was a 7th round draft pick. He is a high character guy who knows the offense and is comfortable. He could hold down the left tackle position for many years to come. Mike Adams is also another tackle with an expiring contract. After not living up to his 2nd round status and underperforming so far during his career, it is very easy to think that he will not be offered an extension.
It seems like if Dulac is correct, the Steelers will have two open tackle positions: left tackle and backup tackle. If that is the case, Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert will likely have to look to free agency or the 2016 NFL Draft to find some replacements.
From where we stand here in mid-June and taking the past into the consideration, the Steelers almost never pick in the top 10, (not since 2000, selected Plaxico Burress with the 8th overall pick) which is where you will normally find your plug-and-play left tackles. The Steelers are rarely active players in the free agency market, but may have to dive in if none of the three tackles on the current roster make exceptional strides. Those players include Alejandro Villanueva, Mitchell Van Dyk, and Kevin Whimpey.
Defensive end turned tackle, Army veteran Villanueva, was on the practice squad last year and is receiving much attention this offseason. He will try to push out Adams to earn a spot on the 53-man roster. He has yet to take an NFL snap. Huge unknown, but has one of the best offensive line coaches in Mike Munchak to help his progression. Villanueva has already shown determination, asked to pack on some weight and has went from 277lbs to roughly 338lbs.
Van Dyk is one of the forgotten offensive lineman on the roster. At 6’7”, 299lbs he sure has the size to play the tackle position. Some reports I’ve read on Van Dyk say that he is a tough and scrappy guy who is best suited for the zone blocking scheme. I’ll be looking forward to Alex Kozora’s training camp articles hopefully featuring Van Dyk’s name a few times.
Another UDFA tackle signed was Whimpey, who has some serious strength to him, bench pressing 225 39 times at his Pro Day. He will also try to earn a spot on the practice squad to fight for a spot in the future.
The team was carrying Micah Hatchie but just placed him on the waived/injured list.
Where we stand right now, the Steelers could look to final cuts for a hidden gem at tackle. If not, what you’ve just read is what you will have battling moving forward.