The Pittsburgh Steelers have a crisis thrust upon their hands this offseason, or more than one, and arguably, the biggest one isn’t even surrounding Ben Roethlisberger and the quarterback position. it’s about the men up in front of him whose job it is to keep him upright.
While the offensive line has already met with somewhat of a regression over the course of the past couple of seasons, the situation has only grown worse with confirmed and projected departures. Already, center Maurkice Pouncey has announced that he will be retiring, and the only other center on the roster is not of starter quality.
Three offensive linemen who began the 2020 season as starters are pending free agents, and it’s more than possible that at least two of them do not return. Left tackle Alejandro Villanueva is the surest bet to depart. Matt Feiler, who started at guard last year but has more experience at tackle, will also be a free agent, but would be easier to retain.
Then there is Zach Banner, who opened the season at right tackle, but suffered a torn ACL in the first game. Chukwuma Okorafor started the remainder of the season after having lost a training camp battle for the position.
It’s difficult to know for sure who the Steelers will even have available to them by the time the prime free agency period is over, but no matter what happens, they can’t afford to let it preclude them from addressing the problem in the draft. And general manager Kevin Colbert seems to feel that this is a good draft to need a tackle.
“The draft itself, it’s stronger at the tackle position than it is at the interior. Center and guard traditionally is not a very strong group in any draft”, he said earlier this week to reporters. “The tackles are unusually deep this year. I think we can add players through the draft, and hopefully we’ll be able to do some type of business in free agency, and we’re always gonna look at our own players first”.
We have already seen multiple different tackles mocked to the Steelers in the first round this year. There is a good chance that we see half a dozen tackles or more actually go off the board in the first round, as well. Pittsburgh will likely want to land one of them—but then again, there will be a lot of players from a lot of positions on their board. They have a lot of holes to fill.