Draft and UDFA Haul Illustrate Steelers Set at OT


Many, including this writer, believed that the Pittsburgh Steelers were primed to make an addition or two to the offensive tackle position during the most recent free agency and draft periods. When one looked at the depth chart after the Wild Card loss to Baltimore back in January, I certainly believed that the team could be in the market for a potential upgrade.

Starting left tackle Kelvin Beachum is a technically-sound and tough player, but his lack of length and strength put him at a distinct disadvantage against the likes of Terrell Suggs on the edge. Starting right tackle Marcus Gilbert still shows flashes of inconsistency despite the large contract he signed during the summer of 2014. Plus, he always seems to miss time during the regular season due to some sort of injury.

The only experienced depth behind Beachum and Gilbert is Mike Adams, and the former Ohio State Buckeye has been unreliable at best as the team’s swing tackle after he lost his job to Beachum in 2013.

While Gilbert might be inconsistent and both Beachum and Adams are set to become unrestricted free agents next March, Pittsburgh’s brass abstained from adding any legitimate challengers to the top three players in their rotation at offensive tackle through the free agency, draft and undrafted free agency processes.

Zero offensive linemen were added during free agency and the draft. Moreover, the only players acquired as undrafted free agents were either interior linemen like Reese Dismukes, B.J. Finney, Miles Dieffenbach, Collin Rahrig, or former tackles who could likely kick inside like Micah Hatchie and Kevin Whimpey.

In turn, the aforementioned strategy played out by the front office has to please the likes of Beachum and Adams due to the fact that both are in the midst of the final seasons of their respective contracts.

Despite his physical limitations, Beachum should be second in-line behind Cameron Heyward for an extension this summer. Moreover, Adams still has the chance to be re-upped next spring if he can show signs of significant improvement this fall.

Continuity is key along the offensive line, and the lack of it was an enormous reason behind Pittsburgh’s struggles on that side of the ball from 2008-2013.

Although I figured that the acquisition of potential personnel upgrades and future challengers would have been a savvy strategy over the last couple of months, the Steelers were intent to add insurance for starting left guard Ramon Foster (also in the midst of the final year of his contract) and competition for Cody Wallace and Chris Hubbard.

Unless injuries ravage the roster over the nest few months, the Steelers appear set to roll with Beachum, Gilbert and Adams this fall. Will this particular strategy pay off for the franchise?

I have the doubts which I laid out above, but I am definitely intrigued to see how 2014’s carryover of continuity will play out at offensive tackle during the upcoming season.

Next: Steelers Offseason MMQB

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