The 10 best offensive linemen in the history of the Pittsburgh Steelers

Still Curtain ranks out the Steelers all-time best offensive linemen in franchise history.
Baltimore Ravens v Pittsburgh Steelers
Baltimore Ravens v Pittsburgh Steelers / George Gojkovich/GettyImages

You can't expect to be successful as a team like the Pittsburgh Steelers without stellar play in the trenches. From Chuck Noll to Bill Cowher to Mike Tomlin, the mentality of the head coach has always been to play smash-mouth football.

This isn't a game plan that can be executed without significant investments in the offensive line. While not every draft choice over the years panned out, many of these players went on to become perennial Pro Bowls while some reached legendary status as Hall of Famers.

These 10 offensive linemen stood the test of time to be listed among the greatest to ever play the game for the Steelers. Unseating any of them won't come easy for future offensive linemen hoping to crack this list.

Criteria for selection

Lumping every Steelers offensive tackle, guard, and center into one positional group and comprising rankings was no easy task. Numerous factors were to be considered as the roles and responsibilities of players on the offensive line vary.

Longevity and consistency are extremely important when it comes to a position like the offensive line. As road-graders for running backs and pass-protectors for quarterbacks, how frequently a player executed their assignment is essential to these rankings.

I also considered each offensive lineman's impact on the team. Some of the best offensive linemen in Steelers' history were able to visibly raise the performance of the players around them. Memorable moments and clutch performances in big games were factored into the ranking criteria as well.

While the offensive line operates as a collective unit, I took personal accolades and accomplishments into account, such as Pro Bowl and All-Pro selection as well as Hall of Fame status.

The top 10 offensive linemen in Pittsburgh Steelers history

10. Jeff Hartings

There were a handful of players in contention to crack the top ten Steelers offensive linemen of all time, but Jeff Hartings finds himself just inside this list. Hartings was a first-round pick by the Lions in 1996 and he spent his first five seasons in Detroit.

After he signed with Pittsburgh, however, he immediately cemented himself as a cornerstone player on the roster. Hartings was voted Second-Team All-Pro in his first season on the Steelers in 2001. Surprisingly, his best performances didn't come until he was in his 30s. In 2004 at age 32, Hartings was a First-Team All-Pro selection while earning Pro Bowl honors. He followed this up with a Pro Bowl season in 2005.

Hartings added his name to the list of outstanding Steelers centers. His lack of longevity prevents him from moving any further up the list as he he was 29 years old when he came to Pittsburgh and played just six seasons in black and gold.

9. Alejandro Villanueva

Alejandro had a most unusual career path to becoming an offensive tackle for the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Army product played both defensive line and wide receiver in college and served three tours in Afghanistan before signing with the Eagles as an undrafted free agent.

Eventually, Villanueva made his way to Pittsburgh where he climbed from the practice squad in 2014 to the starting lineup in 2015. The 6'9'' offensive tackle never missed a game in Pittsburgh and he recorded two Pro Bowls during his six-year career with the Steelers.

The Army veteran and war hero from the 75th Ranger Regiment was not only able to pursue a professional career in football after the military, he was able to establish himself as one of the best blindside protectors the Steelers ever had. Villanueva started 107 of 113 games in Pittsburgh and scored a touchdown on a two-yard pass in 2018.

8. Marvel Smith

If you grew up watching the Steelers in the early 2000s, there's no doubt you remember Marvel Smith. The big offensive lineman was selected by Pittsburgh in the second round of the 2000 NFL Draft. Smith began his career at right tackle before kicking over to the left side of the offensive line in 2003.

Though he was never considered among the top offensive tackles in the NFL during his era, Smith was the most reliable piece on Pittsburgh's offensive line during the early 2000s. The Arizona State product used his powerful frame to dominate defenders at the point of attack and he excelled as a run blocker.

Following his fifth NFL season, Smith earned Pro Bowl honors. Unfortunately, Smith had numerous seasons cut short due to injuries. His final injury in 2008 was enough to end his career and he retired at the age of 30.

7. Tunch Ilkin

You might as well refer to Tunch Ilkin as 'Steady Eddie'. The long-time Steelers offensive lineman sported the black and gold threads from his rookie season in 1980 until he departed for Green Bay after the 1993 season.

Ilkin, a sixth-round pick, spent his first three seasons proving himself to the team, and he started just two games during this span. In year four in 1983, Ilkin earned a starting job at offensive tackle and never looked back. From there, worked as the team's starting right tackle for a decade.

Ilkin was selected to the Pro Bowl in 1988 and 1989. With 176 games (143 starts) in Pittsburgh, very few offensive linemen saw the field more than Tunch.

6. Jon Kolb

There might not be a player in the history of NFL offensive linemen who was a bigger snub from Pro Bowl recognition than Jon Kolb. Despite starting for 11 years at left tackle for the Pittsburgh Steelers and aiding his team to four Super Bowl victories, Kolb never earned any personal accolades for his accomplishments.

This certainly doesn't mean he's unworthy of being listed among the top 10 offensive linemen in Steelers history. Kolb was the blindside protector for Terry Bradshaw for more than a decade in Pittsburgh.

Despite his lack of recognition in the NFL, many fans consider Kolb to be the greatest offensive tackle in Steelers' history. Kolb didn't need the added hardware to prove it. His performance on the field in the '70s and '80s speaks for itself.

5. Maurkice Pouncey

I'll be the first to admit that Maurkice Pouncey probably shouldn't have earned as many Pro Bowls as he did. The 2010 first-round pick immediately established himself as an All-Pro center in the NFL after his rookie season and ultimately wound up with nine Pro Bowls to his name.

Early in his career, there was no doubt that Pouncey was among the best players in the NFL at his position. The fiery competitor made all of the adjustments on the offensive line for Pittsburgh and was the anchor to the middle of an offensive line responsible for protecting Ben Roethlisberger.

In his last few seasons with the team, Pouncey's performance dipped and he was earning Pro Bowls based on his reputation alone. Regardless, it's hard to fake his borderline Hall of Fame resume. Pouncey started all 134 games he suited up for and earned two First-Team All-Pro selections in his decade-long career in Pittsburgh.

4. David DeCastro

David DeCastro had no business being available for the Steelers when they were on the clock with the 24th overall selection in the 2012 NFL Draft. The Stanford product felt like a home run at the time, but things worked out better than anyone could have imagined.

Most of DeCastro's rookie season was claimed by an injury that kept him out of action until Week 14. But over the next eight seasons, DeCastro proved to be a cornerstone of the offensive line. By his fourth season in 2015, the physically imposing guard began his run of six straight seasons earning Pro Bowl honors.

After it looked like DeCastro could go on playing for another five or six years, he sustained an ankle injury and the team was forced to cut him before the 2021 season. His final NFL snaps came at age 30. At his peak from 2015 to 2019, DeCastro was considered among the best guards in the league.

3. Dermontti Dawson

The top three names on this list are so good that it's almost a shame one of them has to come in third place on this list. Immediately after legendary center Mike Webster left the Steelers for the Kansas City Chiefs, nobody could have guessed that another Hall of Fame center would fall into their lap.

Dawson, a second-round pick in 1988, played his rookie season at right guard before attempting to fill Webster's shoes at center. He came about as close as any center could. Over ten years from 1989 to 1998, Dawson never missed a start for the Steelers.

The remarkable center earned First-Team All-Pro honors six seasons in a row at the height of his career from 1993 to 1998. All of Dawson's 13 NFL seasons came in Pittsburgh and he started 181 of 184 career games. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a member of the Class of 2012.

2. Alan Faneca

The greatest Steelers offensive lineman of my lifetime isn't even up for debate. Alan Faneca proved to be a cut above the rest since early in his NFL career. The LSU product was the 26th overall pick in the 1998 NFL Draft, and he would have gone much higher if teams had known what his career would be like.

Faneca didn't earn his first Pro Bowl until his fourth season, but this was accompanied by First-Team All-Pro honors. From 2001 until his final season in Pittsburgh in 2007, Faneca was considered one of the best offensive guards in the NFL. He was indisputably the best offensive lineman on the Steelers during their Super Bowl runs of the 2000s.

The remarkable offensive lineman finished his career with a truckload of hardware that included nine Pro Bowls (eight with the Steelers), six First-Team All-Pro selections, two Second-Team All-Pro selections, and two Super Bowl rings.

1. Mike Webster

Mike Webster was not only one of the best players on a '70s Steelers team full of Hall of Famers, he is one of the top centers to ever play football. From career longevity to his toughness to stay on the field and dominate play-after-play, Webster was the total package.

After starting just two games in his first two NFL seasons, Webster became a fifteen-year starter in the NFL (thirteen with the Steelers). The fifth-round pick in Pittsburgh's legendary 1974 draft class made sure his name didn't get lost in the shuffle as he continued to stack one remarkable season on top of the next.

Before waving goodbye to the Steelers and joining the Chiefs for his final two NFL seasons, Webster earned nine Pro Bowls and five First-Team All-Pros as the offensive centerpiece of a Steelers team that won four Super Bowls in the '70s. His 220 games played (194 starts) is a record that may never be broken by an offensive lineman in Pittsburgh.

The 10 best offensive lineman in Steelers history by Approximate Value (AV)

Approximate Value is a metric from Pro Football Reference that attaches a number to every player season since 1960.



Years With Team

Approximate Value


Mike Webster




Dermontti Dawson




Alan Faneca




Maurkice Pouncey




David DeCastro




Jon Kolb




Tunch Ilkin




Ray Mansfield




Ramon Foster




Larry Brown