On a calendar marking the NFL’s offseason schedule, it would be fitting if the period between mid-June and late-July were simply marked through in red marker with the word “LISTS”. This is my way of telling you that I have another list for you to dive into. Only this time it is a list free of representation from the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Pro Football Focus recently published a list of their top 10 offensive linemen heading into the next season, and no Steelers linemen made that list. Which should be no surprise, given that no Steelers lineman was featured on the site’s top 101 players. In fact, no Steeler outside of their offensive triplets at quarterback, wide receiver, and running back made the top 101.
Their list did include a total of 14 offensive linemen by my count, none of them from Pittsburgh, and their list of the top 10 linemen, as it would make a great deal of sense to do, is drawn directly from their list of the top 101 overall players. But I think the fact that no Steelers linemen are considered in their top 14 or so says something about the line overall.
The site has previously recognized Pittsburgh’s line as among the best in the league, and has called four-time Pro Bowler Maurkice Pouncey a top-five center recently, in contrast to Cody Wallace, whom they referred to as a bottom-five center. Perhaps their recognition of David DeCastro might not be at the level some might expect, but they have been high on Marcus Gilbert’s rise as well.
Speaking hypothetically in their terms, however, it is interesting to note that the Steelers still have among the best lines in football, even by their standards, without having among the elite of the elite representing them at any position.
To be fair, only one enter, the Cowboys’ Travis Frederick, even made their list, though they included eight guards, among them Kelechi Osemele, who is likely moving to tackle. Only four tackles are represented, including Joe Thomas at the top of the list and Andrew Whitworth at the bottom.
I would imagine that Pouncey, DeCastro, and Gilbert might not be too far from their top 10 list, and a case could be made for all to feature from 11-20. For his part, Pouncey’s injuries over the past three seasons have limited the amount of tape from which to judge him, but his 2014 season was his best yet.
He will have to demonstrate yet again his ability to return to pre-injury form. Meanwhile, DeCastro will have to demonstrate that his first Pro Bowl season was not his last, and not a fluke. As for Gilbert, he is looking to crack the post-season awards list.
More important than all of these rankings, however, is the fact that this Steelers line has grown up together in the past four seasons, aside from the left tackle position, and they have built a stable camaraderie that allows them to play in sync, elevating them to a level beyond their constituent pieces, no matter how highly you might think of any individual.