New series we’re kicking off to take us throughout the summer. We’ve written about the best players in franchise history and the most underrated on the current edition but we’ve never gone through the list of most underrated position-by-position. Not the best ones to ever wear a Pittsburgh Steelers’ uniform but ones who fans have – and shouldn’t – forgot.
Still in the trenches with the most underrated guard.
Ramon Foster/OG – 2009-Present
It is, I’ll admit it, sort weird to include someone on this list who we are all still watching play. But if you’ve heard me speak or read about my thoughts on Foster, this one shouldn’t be a surprise. I’m happy he seems to be getting some more credit now that the entire offensive line is being recognized.
But still, the focus is placed on the rest of the line: Maurkice Pouncey because he’s elite, David DeCastro because he’s close, Alejandro Villanueva for his story/progression, and Marcus Gilbert for the high draft pick (and how underrated league wide he is). Foster draws a straw but it’s the shortest one.
He’s started 101 career games and by the time his career is over, he’ll be somewhere around the 115-120 range. Minimum. By that point, he should pass Craig Wolfley in that category, placing Foster behind only Alan Faneca and Sam Davis for the most starts by a Steelers’ guard.
When this era is behind us, and us old geezers reflect on the Ben Roethlisberger era, you can bet it’ll be DeCastro who gets mentioned the few times someone brings up guards. He’s already made two Pro Bowls and another All-Pro team. More of those are in his future, especially in a voting system where if a linemen gets recognition once, he can ride off name value for a decade.
But Foster’s steady, consistent play on an offensive line that wasn’t always like that, especially early on in its rebuild. He was a leader to his fellow linemen, all younger than him, and for the team as their NFLPA representative. He was – is – solid in pass pro and the run game – and a patient, sometimes punishing, blocker.
I know he is far from the most athletic or even most talented guard to ever play in the league or come through the Steelers’ organization. But there’s a lot of tangible and intangible good he’s brought to the team. From his on-field performance, over the last two years, he’s given up just 4.5 sacks, to that leadership and working with guys like Villanueva to bring them up.
An unselfish career, one which started as a longshot. UDFA to starter, it’s a career that’ll be easy to forget. But one that shouldn’t.
All Underrated Team
QB – Bobby Layne
RB – John Henry Johnson
FB – Dan Kreider
WR – Ron Shanklin
TE – Eric Green
OT – John Jackson
OG – Ramon Foster