The offseason is inevitably a period of projection and speculation, which makes it the ideal time to ponder the hypotheticals that the Pittsburgh Steelers will face over the course of the next year, whether it is addressing free agency, the draft, performance on the field, or some more ephemeral topic.
That is what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).
The range of topics will be intentionally wide, from the general to the specific, from the immediate to that in the far future. And as we all tend to have an opinion on just about everything, I invite you to share your own each morning on the topic statement of the day.
Topic Statement: Matt Feiler’s starting role in 2020 will be determined by the failure of others to secure that position.
Explanation: One way or another, Matt Feiler is going to start somewhere along the offensive line this year. It will be either at left guard or right tackle. Wherever he suits up, a big part of the equation will be simply whether or not the Steelers are comfortable with who would be starting at the other spot.
The Steelers have four candidates, two apiece, to start at either left guard or right tackle, excluding Feiler. The two candidates for right tackle have a combined two starts, and about 400 or so total snaps, most of which have come as a tackle-eligible.
In other words, there’s a good chance neither Zach Banner nor Chukwuma Okorafor display the sort of comfort as a 16-game starter that would ease the Steelers’ mind and allow Feiler to move inside. At the same time, the candidates for left guard are questionable as well, maybe even moreso.
Kevin Dotson is a rookie. That’s all that needs to be said there. As for Stefen Wisniewski, he wasn’t even on a roster to start the season. Sure, he’s a veteran reserve, but he hasn’t been trusted with a full-time starting role in years. it’s no wonder he was so quick to jump on the Steelers’ offer.
Long story short, there are very plausible scenarios for Feiler to start at either right tackle or left guard because the candidates at the position did not show themselves to be good enough to do the job.
His starting role may come down to where the Steelers feel less comfortable, but they have enough quality at both spots to fill a competent starting line even without him. Plug in Wisniewski at left guard and Okorafor at right tackle, and Pittsburgh can run its offense without a problem.
That’s not what’s going to happen—Feiler will have one of those jobs, and the line will be better off for him being there—but what I’m trying to say is that failure will not be the reason he ends up where he is.
Wisniewski is more than proven. Every time he’s started, he’s done his job. He just helped two teams win Super Bowls. Both Okorafor and Banner have a lot of talent, and are continuing to grow. At least one of them will be a starter-capable player this Fall. By 2021, both of them could be starting.