We started this series with less than two weeks remaining to the draft, knowing that nearly all of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ pertinent personnel decisions will have already been made. Over the course of the series, we will be reviewing the team’s roster turnover position by position in an effort to help us project what their plans will be for the 2018 NFL Draft.
The Steelers had 10 players scheduled to be unrestricted free agents this offseason and have re-signed four of them, those being Le’Veon Bell, Justin Hunter, Stevan Ridley, and Daniel McCullers. The only unrestricted free agent to sign elsewhere has been Chris Hubbard. They resigned nine exclusive rights or restricted free agents, from Fitzgerald Toussaint and Mike Hilton to Chris Boswell and Roosevelt Nix.
Also of note were the released of William Gay, Mike Mitchell, and Robert Golden, the three most veteran players in the secondary. The team has signed three outside free agents in Jon Bostic, Morgan Burnett, and Nat Berhe. Now we examine how these moves and their pre-draft hints shape their future based on position since the offseason has begun.
Position: Interior OL
Total Positional Figure: 6
Offseason Additions: 1
Offseason Deletions: 1
Ramon Foster: The only player older than Foster on the team is Ben Roethlisberger, and nobody else has been here longer either. Foster has solidified himself as the uncontested starter at left guard for the past five seasons, but at 32 and in the final year of his contract, it’s clear that a transition of some sort is on the horizon.
Maurkice Pouncey: The third-longest-tenured player left on the team (with Antonio Brown), Pouncey is not the All-Pro he once was, and truth be told, I’m not sure he will be again. Even if he may not be among the very best in the league, he is still very good, and he may reach that level again. He’s been healthy for two years now, at least.
David DeCastro: Simply the best in the game, or at least very near the top at any given time. Heading already into his seventh season, DeCastro has become everything the Steelers hoped he could be back in 2012. His exceptional pulling ability is finally matched over the past two years with his steady improvement in pass protection.
B.J. Finney: The third-year pro has made seven starts over the past two years, including two spotty starts at center (one ending early due to injury) and five quality performance at left guard. I think it’s safe to say he is the heir apparent there.
Matt Feiler: Also on the tackle list, Feiler’s versatility is what kept him around. Though he came into the league as a tackle, and was the emergency backup there the first half of last season, he’s spent most of the past two years working at guard. He was rewarded with the start at right guard in the season finale and acquitted himself quite well.
Parker Collins: A recent addition as an undrafted free agent, Collins has some aggressiveness that the team will surely try to nurture.
Chris Hubbard: Though he only ever started games at tackle, Hubbard was a six-position player including tight end, and he received playing time at all six spots over the course of his career.
Notes And Draft Outlook:
The offensive line is one of the most stable areas of the team, if not the most stable, but change is inevitable. While I think tackle is a bigger priority, the aging interior is a concern. Assuming Finney succeeds Foster in a year or two, for one thing, depth will be needed, and Pouncey might not be long to follow even if he is young for an eight-year veteran.