According to a recent article by Pro Football Focus, the Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line finished the 2015 season ranked 10th overall in the league. That’s not overly surprising being as they were forced to start their backup center all season in addition to a former undrafted free agent at left tackle for just over half of the season.
According to PFF, the Steelers offensive line ranked 7th overall in pass blocking, 23rd overall in run blocking and 28th overall in penalties. Here is their overview.
Stud: A strong year from guard David DeCastro is something to be expected these days. 2015 was no different.
Dud: Cody Wallace may play with a nasty streak that a lot of people like, but there was a whole lot more to not like. You don’t see centers give up as much pressure as he did, draw as many flags as he did, or be at the center of so many bad blocks in the running game.
Summary: You take out Wallace and replace him with Maurkice Pouncey, and you’re looking at a group that could challenge the top three. Replace Alejandro Villanueva with Kelvin Beachum, and they could be the best. This line has really transformed over the years, and it’s only injuries that saw them drop down the rankings in 2015.
The Steelers were forced to play Cody Wallace at center all season due to starter Maurkice Pouncey suffering an ankle injury during the preseason. If you watched every game this past season, you know that while Wallace did an admirable job filling in, he was easily the weakest link of the unit. In fact, of the 35 penalties called on Steelers offensive linemen during the regular season, 13 were on Wallace. 5 others were on Kelvin Beachum and he only played in six games before going down injured.
PFF is suggesting that Alejandro Villanueva shouldn’t permanently replace Beachum as the team’s starting left tackle moving forward but there’s a very strong chance that happens being as there are no guarantees the latter will be back in 2016 being as he’s set to be an unrestricted free agent at the start of the new league year.
While Pouncey, Villanueva, David DeCastro and Marcus Gilbert will all be back next season, it’s yet to be seen whether or not guard Ramon Foster will be re-signed as like Beachum, he’s also scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent in the coming months.
Regardless of theses rankings, the Steelers offensive line played above the line as a unit in 2015. Only 33 times in 16 games was a Pittsburgh quarterback sacked and that’s exactly the same amount allowed during the 2014 regular season. Additionally, the Steelers running game averaged 4.4 yards per carry in 2015.
Will the unit be better in 2016? There’s a good chance they will as long as they all stay healthy and Foster is ultimately re-signed.