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: Stefen Wisniewski is the best starting left guard candidate, irrespective of the ramifications of the right tackle situation.
Explanation: There is a sense that the Steelers are interested in Matt Feiler playing left guard for the health of their long-term future, at the same time giving rise to either Zach Banner or Chukwuma Okorafor at right tackle, to solidify the lineup. But Wisniewski has over 100 starts under his belt as an interior starter. Feiler has started two games outside.
The experience gap is overwhelming and undeniable, and Wisniewski’s level of play over the course of his career stands on its own. While it may be true that he has had less consistency in his starting opportunities in recent years, simply watching him while he’s playing shows the quality of guard that he is. It should also be noted that the bulk of this stretch came with the Eagles, who have had one of the top offensive lines in football.
All credit to Feiler, who has proven himself to be a legitimate NFL player over the course of the past three years, but the truth is that he has solidified himself at tackle over the past two or three years. His start at left guard against the Rams last year was not one of his better games.
It’s not easy to prepare to start one position all year and then to start at another position, and a different type of position, a week later. Feiler was handed an unenviable task, and one that was given to him specifically to match up against the best defensive player in the NFL. So that can hardly be held against him.
Like he showed in transitioning to tackle, if given the proper opportunity, Feiler can establish himself as a true starting guard as well as he did at tackle. Jacks of all trades can become masters of one if given the chance. And the reality is that he has more offseason experience practicing at guard than at tackle. His talent level justifies the optimism, as does the fact that he has five years of experience in the Steelers’ system.