It was in 2010 that the Pittsburgh Steelers began in earnest to rebuild their offensive line, starting with center Maurkice Pouncey taken in the first round that year. Three more starters were drafted over the next two years, joined by Ramon Foster from the 2009 undrafted class. Eventually, Alejandro Villanueva would step into a role as well, and then Matt Feiler.
That group is now a decade on. Foster just retired. Pouncey is moving into year 11 and is 31 years old. David DeCastro, in year nine, is on the wrong side of 30 as well. Both the team and the group inside of the meeting rooms are aware of the fact that the time has come to invest in the line again and to plan for the future.
From what the Steelers have put together so far, though, Pouncey likes what he sees as far as the future of the line is concerned—possibly the future of the line that extends beyond his own playing career. It’s one of the topics that he discussed while speaking to reporters earlier today before practice.
“It’s been a fun experience. As you get older, they bring in guys, and you’re just so built on trying to create them and help them become great players so they can go on and be there, have great careers and futures”, he said.
“I think the Steelers have done a great job of bringing guys in as far as draft picks and free agency”, he went on to say. “The young guys they’ve got coming up now, as far as [Kevin] Dotson, Chuks [Okorafor] and [Zach] Banner, I think the Steelers are headed in the right direction”.
It isn’t all a one-way street, though. As a leader of the team, of course, Pouncey takes it on as his responsibility to nurture these young linemen and help to prepare them for the future. But at the same time, their enthusiasm livens something up in the old veteran.
“I just enjoy the moments, because as you get older you kind of lose some of the stuff that you look forward to”, he told reporters, not dissimilar to something Ben Roethlisberger said years ago as his wide receiver group got younger around him. “Them guys have brought a lot of energy back to the room, and I really appreciate that”.
As for the future, both Pouncey and David DeCastro are under contract for the next two seasons, as is Okorafor but Villanueva, Feiler, and Banner are all playing out the final year of their current contracts, so that movement on the line may well happen sooner rather than later. Dotson, of course, is on the first year of his rookie deal, while Stefen Wisniewski, signed in free agency, is also on the books through 2021.