The last time that we took a look back at the Pittsburgh Steelers’ roster in review, it was weeks before the 2019 NFL Draft took place. It would be safe to say that quite a bit has changed since then, and the changes apply to almost every position on the roster, some major changes, some minor.
We are closing in on the opening of the Steelers’ several weeks of training camp at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, however, so it would be a good time to pause and take stock of where the team stands at each position since the build-up to the draft as we head into the most critical process of the offseason.
Position: Interior OL
Total Positional Figure: 11
Ramon Foster: Despite missing camp with a high ankle sprain, Foster made it back in time to play every snap of the 2019 season, and he did so at his typically high level, where he was ranked as one of the top pass-blocking guards in the league. He’s under contract through 2020, and through the age of 34.
Maurkice Pouncey: It’s pretty amazing to think that Pouncey is heading into his 10th season and is only now about to turn 30. 2019 was his best year since breaking his leg a few seasons ago, and saw him return to the (second-team) All-Pro list. He got a two-year extension this spring that carries him through the 2021 season.
David DeCastro: The Steelers’ best offensive lineman, period, DeCastro has proven to be everything they thought he might be when they drafted him. He was unjustly snubbed for the All-Pro list last year, though he did make the Pro Bowl. His only blemish was a hand injury that caused him to miss two games early in the year, and he was just a tad slow playing back into form after that.
B.J. Finney: Largely seen as their sixth lineman, Finney is a player the team knows is capable of being a starter, but they’re not ready to break up the band yet with Foster still playing at a high level.
Matt Feiler: Feiler started at right guard at the end of the 2017 season before he started 10 games at right tackle. He even worked a little at center in the preseason last year. He can play all five positions, but may be in-line for just one in 2019 at right tackle as the starter.
Jerald Hawkins: Entering his fourth season, after two of his first three years were spent on injured reserve, Hawkins is doing anything he can to try to keep a job, which includes expanding his repertoire to being able to line up at guard. If he makes it as a ninth lineman, it will probably be because of that.
Patrick Morris: A 2018 college free agent signing, Morris had a solid enough preseason showing that he was kept on the practice squad all year. He has for the most part worked behind Pouncey and Finney at center so far.
Derwin Gray: The Maryland tackle has said that he already worked at all four guard and tackle positions by the second week of OTAs. They are clearly motivated in seeing how versatile the seventh-round rookie can be.
J.C. Hassenauer: An Alabama alum who spent time with the Falcons as a rookie, Hassenauer emerged as one of the top centers in the AAF with the Iron this year. He has rotated with the second-team offense with Morris at center, working there while Finney was filling in for DeCastro on paternity leave during OTAs.
R.J. Prince: Prince was worked at all four guard and tackle positions last year, but he didn’t make it past rookie minicamp in 2019 after spending his rookie season (after being a former invitee a year ago) on the practice squad.
Notes and Camp Outlook:
First of all..there sure are a lot of interior-capable players on the roster. While the starting three and top reserve are set, a second interior line spot is up for grabs, though it will be Feiler’s if he doesn’t win the tackle job. Hawkins and Gray being flexed out this offseason is an interesting development that bears monitoring. Hassenauer and Morris will likely battle for one spot, which can either be on the 53 or the practice squad. Both are the only players outside of Pouncey and Finney with meaningful work at center, though Feiler dabbled in it last summer.