The offseason is inevitably a period of projection and speculation, which makes it the ideal time to ponder the hypotheticals that the Pittsburgh Steelers will face over the course of the next year, whether it is addressing free agency, the draft, performance on the field, or some more ephemeral topic.
That is what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).
The range of topics will be intentionally wide, from the general to the specific, from the immediate to that in the far future. And as we all tend to have an opinion on just about everything, I invite you to share your own each morning on the topic statement of the day.
Topic Statement: The Steelers’ offensive line depth is sufficient (even if the starting offensive line is not).
Explanation: I remember when I first started reading Steelers Depot over a decade ago and Dave Bryan was steering the ship pretty much on his own. The thing that stuck out to me the most was his offensive line breakdowns, and during the 2010 season, his takeaway was that, at least there wasn’t much of a drop-off from the starters to the backups. This year, the line may have a strength in depth that it may lack in top-end quality.
The Steelers’ offensive line faces a lot of questions, but depth is not one of them. We don’t necessarily know who is going to be starting at left tackle, or left guard, or perhaps even center or right tackle, but we know that there are options.
Joe Haeg is a veteran with a lot of starting experience, and Dan Moore Jr. has the makings of a future starter, if he’s not starting this year already. Rashaad Coward has run first team all offseason, and it wouldn’t be a shock if he starts. B.J. Finney is a 12-game starter in the past. You can’t ask for much better depth. Really, it’s better than they had last year.
Just because you don’t know who your starter is doesn’t mean that you have two. It could just as easily mean that you have neither. There is no escaping the fact that the Steelers lost four starters from last season’s offensive line. And three of the projected starters this year—or two, anyway—are players who were backups to those starters.
It may well be that the backups are close in talent to the starters, but that doesn’t make it a good thing. There’s a reason Trai Turner was available when he was signed. There’s a reason the Bears didn’t bring Coward back as a restricted free agent. Finney is basically a year out of football and was unwanted by multiple teams. There are qualifiers and concerns for all of these guys.