The more I think about it, the more I think Kevin Colbert has been one step ahead of us yet again. Pittsburgh is going to go with the best player available (BPA) in Round 1, without any finger on the scale in favor of an Offensive Tackle. The numbers suggest that as the most likely outcome – there are a lot of good Tackles – but it’s far from written in stone.
Here’s my thinking. First, please compose your own scouting profile on Al Villanueva. Ready? I bet it reads something like mine:
- A long, tall, athletic Tackle with very good feet, this player excels at positional a/k/a ‘get in the way’ blocking and has a nice ability to re-anchor if he gets caught by a bull rush. No one will ever get a free run at his Quarterback without going through this Size XL human being, which pretty much guarantees time to throw for a QB with an average to quick release. This player is, however, a poor dig-em-out run blocker. His get-in-the-way ability will usually leave a RB with some useful angle to run at, but this Tackle will not wedge a hole open that the scheme did not create.
Sound about right? That describes, imho, an average+ blindside protector who needs to have a mauling, power oriented counterpart at the opposite end of the line. One Villanueva-type OT is marvelous. Two of them is an issue, because they’ll combine to really limit the running game.
Next step. Please compose your own scouting profile of Chuks Okorafor. Has the penny dropped? You might as well block, copy and paste. And that, I am coming to believe, says quite a lot about the Steelers’ 2020 issues on the offensive line.
First, it explains why Zach Banner was able to beat out Okorafor for the starting Right Tackle job. Banner, like Feiler, is very powerful man with good length and adequate feet. He pairs well with Villanueva because one does “A” exceptionally well but is only okay at “B”, while the other specializes in “B” but is only solid at “A”.
Second, it explains both the struggles in the running game, and the ability to keep Roethlisberger upright despite throwing what seemed like thousands of balls every game. With Feiler at Guard and Banner hurt, the team had two OT’s who excelled at positional blocking and no one to create power in the run game. Especially without a blocking TE and/or a healthy Fullback.
To test this, please make a Villanueva copy in your head and move him to Right Tackle in place of Okorafor. Play both of the AV clones. Are your results any different? Not mine.