Outside of Ben Roethlisberger, the biggest source of consistency for the Pittsburgh Steelers over the course of the past half-decade has been its offensive line, which has arguably grown better and better with each passing season. They are the only team to have sent three linemen to the Pro Bowl in each of the past two seasons, and all three of those linemen return.
In fact, the only change for years is the departure of Marcus Gilbert, who was traded at the start of the new league year for a sixth-round pick. That was not because of the quality of his play, but because of a combination of the fact that he has been unable to stay healthy and because they have other candidates to man the position.
The rest—Alejandro Villanueva, Ramon Foster, Maurkice Pouncey, and David DeCastro—has been together and stable for years. The interior offensive line in particular has been locked in place since 2013, while Villanueva came into the mix a little bit later.
It all adds up to arguably their best single position group on the entire roster, to the point where it has become hard for everyone to ignore. CBS even ranked the Steelers as having the best offensive line in the league heading into the 2019 season, even though they don’t have the right tackle situation stabilized.
Another offensive line ranking was recently released by Pro Football Focus, and while they didn’t place the Steelers at the top of the list, they still cracked the top five with ease, ultimately ranked third behind a pair of NFC East teams, the Philadelphia Eagles and the Dallas Cowboys.
It will be tough for the Steelers to replicate the efficiency that their offensive line maintained in 2018, but then again, it will be challenging for any team in the league. Le’Veon Bell now finds himself with the Jets, and Antonio Brown with the Raiders, but their offensive line remains the one consistent in the Steelers’ ever-changing offense.
The Steelers finished first in the site’s offensive line rankings for the 2018 season, receiving their Offensive Line of the Year Award. Of course, they have since then made a change at the right tackle position, and they were rightfully high on Gilbert’s play, at least when he was on the field.
Between Matt Feiler and Chukwuma Okorafor, somebody will have to hold down the fort at the position this season in order for the team to maintain its status quo. The quality of the offensive line, particularly in pass protection, has been vital to whatever success that they have had in recent years, and that must be maintained.