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The Optimist’s Take: Tackling Guard Depth In Draft

The Pittsburgh Steelers have, by and large, been on an upward swing over the course of the past two and a half seasons after they missed the playoffs for two straight seasons, and failed to win a postseason game in four straight years.

Last season saw them gain that elusive playoff victory, though they came up short with about three minutes left in the Divisional round a week later. Their offense took off, and their defense improved, showing playmaking ability and opportunism.

But there are still a lot of unanswered questions facing the team as we crack into free agency territory. As an exercise, we like to take a stab at some of those questions, presenting arguments for the pros and cons of each side of the coin. This is the pessimist’s take on the following question.

Question: Should the Steelers use the draft in order to address their concerns along the interior offensive line?

It is certainly of little question that the Steelers have not expressed interest in addressing the interior of their offensive line—not in finding a starter, perhaps, but in adding a piece to the mix. During the course of the offseason, they brought in two intriguing veteran free agents that would have really bolstered their depth, but both chose to sign with teams that offered them better opportunities.

It may not be the team’s biggest need overall, but it’s clearly one that was significant enough for the team to kick around a couple of options hoping for a bargain, so it should not be a surprise if we see the name of a guard or center attached to one of the Steelers’ draft cards later in the week.

With center Maurkice Pouncey and guard Ramon Foster already locked up for at least a few more seasons, and guard David DeCastro likely later following suit a bit later in the offseason, there is no pressure to find somebody that can enter the starting lineup on a full-time basis.

But we have seen their backup reserves struggle in games, as Cody Wallace did frequently in filling in for Pouncey over the course of a 16-game season. And the fact of the matter is that Wallace is in the last year of his contract, by the end of which he will be 32. Combine that with the fact that he struggles more at guard than center, and you might think that the team is considering an upgrade.

Currently options are Chris Hubbard and B.J. Finney, and while the former has played just a bit, with three years in the system, and the former was a priority undrafted free agent whom the team eventually paid the equivalent of a rostered salary while on the practice squad, neither are currently exciting options.

While Pouncey was out all year, the team was fortunate with their guards staying healthy, and history suggests that they are often not so lucky. As much as it might not seem to be of pressing need, the possibility of a guard, perhaps in the middle rounds, being added to the roster, even their prior interest, has to be weighed seriously.

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