PFF’s Best-Case Draft Scenario For Steelers: Adding OL Depth

There doesn’t appear to be anything that Pro Football Focus has more sold itself on this offseason than the belief that the Pittsburgh Steelers’ top priority should be adding depth along the offensive line. Once they acquired Eric Ebron, that was the biggest checkmark remaining on their list, though they still think they should address the quarterback position.

Throughout the offseason, in every article about team needs that has come up, PFF has never failed to highlight offensive line depth as one of key focus for the Steelers. Recently, in an article listing the best-case draft scenarios for each team, this position was, yet again, the highlight.

Pittsburgh doesn’t have many holes to plug on their roster, nor do they have much draft capital in 2019 — they don’t pick until 49th overall, then they don’t pick again until 102. What they should do, though, is add some depth along the interior of their offensive line. With B.J. Finney leaving for Seattle, they are left without a reliable backup option in the event of an injury, assuming Stefen Wisniewski starts at left guard and Matt Feiler stays at right tackle. Not to mention, Maurkice Pouncey is coming off the lowest-graded season of his career and isn’t getting any younger.

I don’t know that we should assume that Stefen Wisniewski starts, however. In fact, I think whether or not he starts has more to do with Zach Banner and Chukwuma Okorafor. If either of them demonstrate the ability to be a 16-game starter, I think Matt Feiler gets moved inside, which would leave Wisniewski in the role of top backup for all three interior positions—exactly what B.J. Finney has been for the past four years.

Of course, that doesn’t change the fact that Wisniewski is already 31, so not exactly a long-term answer. Maurkice Pouncey will be 31 later this year, and David DeCastro is already 30, and as far as the rest of the interior offensive line depth chart goes, there is nobody of proven value. Perhaps Derwin Gray can develop into a backup-capable player, but it wouldn’t hurt to add some pedigree.

The last interior offensive lineman that the Steelers have drafted within the first four rounds was DeCastro himself, all the way back in 2012. Since then, they have only drafted a handful of linemen at all, the highest among them being Okorafor, a tackle, in 2018, and Jerald Hawkins, a fourth-round pick, also a tackle, in 2016. Wesley Johnson was a fifth-round pick and capable of playing all five positions, back in 2014. Gray is the only other lineman they have drafted since 2012.

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