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The Pessimist’s Take: Tackling Guard Depth In Draft

B.J. Finney

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?

Although the Steelers didn’t make it much of a secret that they were interested in the possibility of improving their interior offensive line depth as they brought in two veteran linemen with the possibility of inking one to a deal, one might choose to interpret their leaving without a contract as a sign that they feel they could better address this interest in the draft, in terms of value.

You could interpret it that way. Or you could speculate that perhaps they were simply kicking the tires on a couple of veterans hoping to stumble into a bargain, and it should be noted that both players ended up signing with teams that presented them with better opportunities for potential upward mobility.

I have already lain down the scenario that the Steelers are facing behind their starting interior trio, most especially with Cody Wallace entering his age-32 season, which also happens to be the final year of his contract, and there is no guarantee that he will be re-signed after that.

But the two fundamental questions that the team has to determine is, first, how important is this area of concern to the roster in comparison to other areas, and, perhaps more importantly, who are the candidates, and in which round, that would actually present a valuable return, who could also feasible manage to make the 53-man roster.

It’s not at all clear to me that a late-round interior offensive lineman would actually manage to make the 53-man roster, because the Steelers already potentially have three interior players that they at least have some level of interest in keeping around, so anybody brought in would figure to be a player in the middle of the draft that has a reasonable chance of competing along the line.

When you take a look at the roster, however, and see all of the other potential areas of concern, mostly on the defensive side of the ball—on all three levels of the defense—as well as potentially at wide receiver and running back, it will be difficult to prioritize the interior offensive line enough to justify pulling the trigger on anything but a pure value pick, and I don’t know that one will present itself in this draft.

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