In case you missed it, the Pittsburgh Steelers signed another free agent tackle on Sunday and this time it’s one with some pedigree attached to him. Signed was tackle Zach Banner, who was originally drafted by the Indianapolis Colts in the fourth-round of the 2017 NFL Draft out of USC. Banner is a very large tackle at that as the team officially has him listed on their website at 6-8, 360-pounds. During a Monday morning interview on Steelers Nation Radio with Tunch Ilkin and Craig Wolfley, Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert talked about the recent addition of Banner and explained why he may have still been unsigned this late in the offseason.
“He’s got his weight under control at this point,” Colbert said of Banner. “You know, he’s had a few weight issues in his past and he’s just a big person. He’s actually six-foot-eight and he weighed in at 362, I believe it was yesterday. And that’s really lean for a six-eight guy. Big Al’s right at 6-9, but Al’s a little bit longer and leaner, you know, he’s going to be in that 330 range.”
After explaining that Banner ultimately spent his rookie 2017 season with the Cleveland Browns following him being cut by the Browns and playing some with them as a reporting offensive lineman, Colbert went on say how the Steelers new offensive lineman might be worked in the rest of training camp and the preseason.
“So, he’s got a chance either as a tackle or maybe even inside at guard,” Colbert said. “He played mostly tackle in his career at USC. So, again, it’s an opportunity for him. It’s Lincoln Kennedy’s son. Lincoln was a big guy as well who was a really good athlete and who had played 11 years. So, Zach, I think, he’ll have that opportunity. He’s here, let’s make the most of him and see what he’s got.”
Lincoln Kennedy, in case you didn’t already know it, was selected by the Atlanta Falcons in the first-round, ninth overall, during the 1993 NFL Draft. He went on to play 11 seasons in the NFL with the Falcons and Oakland Raiders and was ultimately named to the Pro Bowl three times and an All-Pro once during his career.
Later during his Monday introduction of Banner, Colbert talked a little more about what led the team to signing the big offensive lineman and the path he has taken so far to get himself to Latrobe.
“Like I said, he was with Cleveland and then he was with Carolina through the spring and then they cut him,” Colbert explained. “And I’m not sure why they did, but he was out from, I believe they cut them in June, so you know, we were looking for another offensive lineman. There was some video out on him, his agent did a nice job of putting a video together of him training at his current weight and that was enticing. Again, he was a bigger kid coming out of USC, I believe he was 370 at that point and maybe got his weight down to 355 for the combine. But bigger guys have trouble maintaining their weight and it’s nature, it’s how they were born.”
It will now be interesting to see if Steelers offensive line coach Mike Munchak is able to work his magic with Banner and especially being as he has some level of pedigree associated with him. We’ll check in later today with Alex Kozora later this evening to see Banner lined up at tackle or guard during Monday’s practice and on what side. One would think that Banner will ultimately make his preseason debut on the field with the Steelers Thursday night against the Green Bay Packers.