By and large, the Pittsburgh Steelers have been rather successful in acquiring and developing talent along the offensive line over the course of the past dozen years, going back to Ramon Foster as a college free agent out of Tennessee in 2009. One hopes that new faces like Kendrick Green and Dan Moore demonstrate that they run is not over.
From Kelvin Beachum to David DeCastro, B.J. Finney and Alejandro Villanueva to Maurkice Pouncey and Kevin Dotson, the Steelers have done pretty well. In fact, they’ve done well enough at times that even their ‘misses’ have turned into hits’. Kraig Urbik was a third-round pick in 2009 who would go on to have an eight-year career, only one of which was with Pittsburgh. He retired at 31 due to injuries.
Wesley Johnson was a versatile fifth-round pick in 2014 who would be an injury casualty during that season as a rookie, ultimately claimed off waivers by the Jets, where he would spend most of his career, which lasted through the 2018 season.
Then there was Penn State alum A.Q. Shipley. A seventh-round pick in 2009, he didn’t even make the Steelers’ 53-man roster, though he did spend time on the practice squad that season. He only retired this past year, again like Urbik, due to injury, having started 72 of 110 career games, spending most of that time under Bruce Arians, most recently in Tampa Bay.
As he promised when Shipley retired, Arians has now made him a part of the coaching staff, named as an offensive assistant for the time being. And working under Arians as a former player is a potentially good career path. Larry Foote went immediately from playing to coaching under the former Steelers offensive coordinator. Quarterback Byron Leftwich would get into coaching under him as well, and is now an offensive coordinator gaining buzz for head coaching jobs. They both just won the Super Bowl.
The knock against Shipley as a player coming out of college was his size, more specifically his arm length. It was presumed that it would prevent him from competing at this level, but while he did not connect in Pittsburgh, he would find opportunities elsewhere.
Arians in Indianapolis in 2012 would be his first opportunity to get on the field, where he would start five of 14 games. By 2016, while Arians was in Arizona, he had finally become a full-time starter, and started 48 consecutive games through the 2019 season, before a serious injury would end his career in 2020 at the age of 34.
There are several former Steelers players around the league now in coaching positions, including in the NFL. William Gay is one of the most recent players to enter coaching, serving as a Steelers intern in 2019 and now with Missouri State. Which current Steeler would you predict is most likely to ultimately pursue a coaching path after his player career is over?