The Pittsburgh Steelers will have a new starting left guard in 2020 due to veteran Ramon Foster retiring during the offseason. That new left guard is likely to be Matt Feiler, who has been the team’s starting right tackle for nearly the last two full seasons. On Monday, the Steelers veteran right guard David DeCastro met the media and during his Zoom session, he was asked about Feiler and if he would have any advice for him in making that position switch if asked for it.
“I see Matt as pretty veteran,” DeCastro said of Feiler, a former undrafted free agent out of Bloomsburg University. “I don’t think he needs any tips. I think he’s played all around, bounced around. I’m going to miss him at right tackle. I had a really good time playing with him last year, but I think it’s obviously best for the group for him to be a left guard and it’s a good choice.
“And I think he’ll be pretty solid. He’s a tremendous player. He’s built for it. He looks in great shape to play guard. He looks even stockier and more anchor-ish than before. So, he’s ready to go.”
So, is being stockier and anchor-ish really that important when it comes to making a move from tackle to guard?
“Yeah, for sure,” DeCastro said. “You’ve got to sacrifice a little, bulk up a little bit. You want some bigger guys, maybe not as necessarily as athletic and quick, because there’s some big, strong freaks in the middle.”
There certainly are some big, strong freaks in the middle of defensive lines around the NFL and Feiler found that out firsthand last season when he made one start at left guard against the Los Angeles Rams due to Foster being out injured. That game required him to go up against Rams All-Pro defensive tackle Aaron Donald, one of the league’s best players.
While Feiler was far from perfect last season in his lone start at left guard against the Rams, he did represent himself very well at the position and against Donald as well. That lone start at left guard made it become clear that the Steelers might could let longtime backup interior offensive lineman B.J. Finney leave during the offseason via free agency even if Foster were to ultimately retire or be jettisoned.
After Foster decided to retire early in the offseason, Finney did indeed wind up leaving via free agency. The Steelers essentially replaced Finney with veteran interior offensive lineman Stefen Wisniewski and he’ll now likely backup DeCastro and Feiler at both guard positions and Maurkice Pouncey at center as well. The Steelers also drafted guard Kevin Dotson in the fourth-round this year and he should make the team’s 53-man roster as a backup as well.
The 2020 season is a big one for Feiler for several reasons as not only is he making the move from right tackle to left guard, it’s also his final year as a restricted free agent. In short, Feiler, who will be an unrestricted free agent in March if not re-signed by the Steelers before then, could cash in big in 2021 with a solid 2020 season at left guard. The Steelers might not be able to afford Feiler next offseason so the former undrafted free agent offensive lineman will essentially be auditioning for a lot of other NFL teams throughout the 2020 season.