Last year saw five IOL go before pick 49, as Jonah Williams, Chris Lindstrom, Garrett Bradbury, Elgton Jenkins, and Erik McCoy. While the top two guys struggled with injuries their rookie year, the later three started almost the entire season as plug-and-play rookies.
2018 saw more overall IOL go, as Quenton Nelson, Will Hernandez, and Braden Smith, Frank Ragnow, Billy Price, Austin Corbett, and James Daniels were selected before pick 49. All of these players became starters early and have played the majority of games for their team except for Corbett, who has since been traded.
2017 saw only two IOL go before pick 49, one being a first-round pick (Ryan Kelly) and the other being a second-rounder (Forrest Lamp). Kelly continues the legacy of plug-and-play options, as he has been a constant for the Colts. Lamp is the only other non-instant starter, as he has only played in nine total games.
Crunching the numbers, the average number of IOL players taken before pick 49 is 4.66. This means that a player like Robert Hunt would be the realistic target at 49, while a best-case scenario says Jonah Jackson will be available and the worst-case says Netane Muti will be there. The IOL class is noticeably weaker than the OT class at the top, so the options for the Steelers will be less flashy than at OT
After looking over both positions, it would behoove the Steelers to favor the OT position if they go OL at 49. The value there is far superior to IOL, whose value will likely be more in the 3rd-4th round. Any of the OT names listed above would be a tremendous value at 49 and would present long term starting potential for the Steelers.
With OL a likely draft target, be aware of the names that make sense for where the Steelers pick. While some guys will rise and fall, the Steelers likely won’t have their top choice available when they are on the clock at 49. Be aware of the OT position as well, since it may be one of the best value spots at 49 for the Steelers.