Yesterday, we went through Bob Labriola’s picks for the skill positions of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Modern-Era team. Great discussion throughout the day and hopefully we can replicate that today. Keep in mind his criteria only selects players from 1992 to the present day. You won’t see Jon Kolb or Moon Mullins on this list.
His offensive line list includes five players, two centers, a guard, and two tackles. The five are listed below and again we’ll include snippets of Labriola’s reasoning.
Center: Maurkice Pouncey – “[he] only turns 26 in July, was just voted first-team All-Pro for the second time in his five NFL seasons, one of which was spent almost entirely on injured reserve.”
Dermontti Dawson – “Everybody acknowledges [the centers]. Dermontti Dawson is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.”
“Those two guys – Dawson and Pouncey – are the heart of the Steelers’ All-Modern Era group of offensive linemen.”
Tackle: Marvel Smith – “During a six-season span in which Smith was the primary starter at left tackle, the Steelers were 63-32-1 and made the playoff four times. Smith was the starting left tackle in Super Bowl XL.”
Max Starks – “Starks was the starting right tackle in that same Super Bowl, and he was the starting left tackle in Super Bowl XLIII.”
Guard: Alan Faneca – “Big, could run, did a good job of getting to linebackers and even safeties. Alan Faneca also was a presence in those locker rooms, one of those players respected by his peers as a teammate and as a man.”
For the record, Labriola prefaced his list by noting he had to come up with a realistic set of starting five lineman. In other words, he couldn’t pick four guards and only one tackle. In this scenario, he says one of Dawson or Pouncey would play guard. Both do have an. albeit limited, background at the position.
Dawson and Faneca were no-brainer selections and his talent plus lack of other options almost assured Smith a spot on this list.
Adding Pouncey ahead of Jeff Hartings, who Labriola admits was the most difficult decision, is a debatable but understandable selection. Calling Pouncey the “heart” of the group, alongside a Hall of Famer in Dawson, might be the more egregious act. Unless Labs was waxing away, using the heart as a metaphor for the center position.
Starks was a good player but seeing him as the second best tackle really makes you think of the lack of stellar play at the position over the last two decades.
Agree, disagree with the list? Let us know in the comments section.