We like breaking down the tape at Steelers’ Depot. But alas, we are not former offensive lineman and don’t bring the expertise those who did it for a living have.
Former Pittsburgh Steelers’ offensive lineman Max Starks and ex-center LeCharles Bentley paired up to do an in-depth breakdown on the state of the Steelers’ current starting five. Bentley has created a successful offensive line academy that players like Kelvin Beachum have gone and trained to during the offseason. Bentley has established himself as one of the best evaluators of offensive line talent in the game.
A quick synopsis on each of the five, according to them.
Alejandro Villanueva: “On the flip side, his mechanics have not caught up with his heart. His primary issue is found with the stance. This has lead to many of the inefficient patterns he’s displaying thus far. We noticed his left heel is too high off the ground, while his foot is pointing relatively straight ahead. This inappropriate position leads him to shorten the edge way too soon upon taking his first kick into his pass set.”
They also acutely pointed out Villanueva usually run blocks out of a three-point stance, even when the offense is in shotgun and wants to sell the idea of a pass.
Ramon Foster: “Foster has the tendency to play way too flat to the line of scrimmage. He and the LT struggle to pass games off because they are on two different levels.”
We’ve written about the issues of Foster and Villanueva staying on the same level, leading to pressure and sacks. You’d have to think his lack of depth is something that is coached, or at worst, been accepted by Mike Munchak, and a new guy like Villanueva is struggling to adjust to that.
Cody Wallace: “Cody Wallace is the guy that has to do everything right on the field to be successful. He’s undoubtedly the tempo setter of this group. The issue we have with Cody is the fact he has not developed a better understanding of how to use his hands in the run game when matched up one on one.”
Bentley has always been a big fan of Wallace’s toughness and heart. While he has pointed out his physical limitations, it’s no surprise to see him get overall positive remarks.
David DeCastro: “DeCastro has not lived up to the pre-draft hype but he has developed in to a very solid guard in the NFL…DeCastro is able to get by with this bad habit because he is still relatively young and athletic for a guard. This is why you will sometimes see very good plays with him, then suddenly see something that makes you scratch your head.”
This is relatively in-line with what I wrote last week, at least from a broad evaluation standpoint. DeCastro is a good player but not a great one and hasn’t reached the potential some thought when the Steelers took him in the draft.
Marcus Gilbert: “A giant issue with Gilbert is the fact he does not have a consistent stance. We counted three different stances with the fourth being something out of a horror movie.”
They note his stance against Khalil Mack and the Oakland Raiders was his best look. They were harsher on Gilbert than I anticipated, also pointing out poor pad level as a run blocker. I’m higher on Gilbert than they are, for whatever that may be worth.
They conclude that while the Steelers’ lack name-value, they’re a tough bunch who are “holding true to the culture” Steelers’ lineman have.
The two wrote a lot more on the state of the Steelers’ line and I definitely encourage you to check out what Bentley and Starks have to say if you want to be a more educated football fan. Again, here is the link.