With Maurkice Pouncey announcing his retirement, I’ve spent the past couple days looking back through old highlights of his I’ve tweeted out. Pouncey had plenty of elite traits, ones that will put him in the Hall of Fame conversation, but one of my favorite was his aggressiveness in pass protection. If he was uncovered in pass pro or was picking up a stunt, the dude made defenders pay.
To illustrate what I mean, here’s a couple examples.
— Alex Kozora (@Alex_Kozora) October 29, 2019
— Alex Kozora (@Alex_Kozora) November 5, 2019
— Alex Kozora (@Alex_Kozora) November 21, 2018
— Alex Kozora (@Alex_Kozora) December 19, 2017
Violent, aggressive finishing in pass pro. And look at those dates. 2017, 2018, 2019. Not that long ago.
But for Pouncey and the rest of the Steelers’ offensive line last season, they didn’t play this way. They weren’t physical. They were passive. No one attacked stunts or worked uncovered the way Pouncey did in those clips. For whatever reason, this line didn’t play with an attitude, something new offensive line coach Adrian Klemm said in a recent interview.
As Pittsburgh reinvests in its starting five, this is one of the traits they must look for. It’s not the *only* one but it has to be evident with whoever they draft. It’s simplistic to say but this line needs a swagger and presence like it used to have. Make the opposing defensive line feel every block, become hesitant when crashing on stunts, and get ear-holed and knocked to the ground by adjacent, uncovered linemen.
In a strong offensive line class, there’s plenty of prospects who fit that bill. At center, my favorite is Alabama’s Landon Dickerson. He shows all those violent traits every good offensive linemen needs. Here’s just one of a half-dozen clips you could pull from his Crimson Tide tape.
My first draft profile will be on Alabama center Landon Dickerson. Active eyes, anticipates stunts/blitzes especially when he's uncovered, and I like how physical he is in pass pro. Steelers' line needed more of that in 2020. #Steelers pic.twitter.com/vBuMQwUo32
— Alex Kozora (@Alex_Kozora) January 18, 2021
Dickerson is a first round talent. The issue? Medical. He has a lengthy injury history of two torn ACLs, including one suffered just a few months ago, to go along with two serious ankle injuries. Team doctors could take him off the Steelers’ board based on his health alone. But if they clear him, Dickerson would be great value at #55. His attitude is what Maurkice Pouncey showed and what this current Steelers’ line needs.