Following the 2012 draft, the Steelers felt they may have drafted the future at the left tackle position. What currently stands right now makes that statement true, but it is not the player the Steelers envisioned as “the future.” Right now, the Steelers have benched the player they envisioned as the starter in place of the player they took in the 7th round of the 2012 draft in Kelvin Beachum.
Beachum may currently be the starter for the Steelers at left tackle, but undersized at 6’3 and 303 pounds, the young man out of SMU is most likely not the long-term starter the Steelers have in mind. It brings forth the question: who is the answer, long-term, at the Steelers left tackle position?
While some may dispute it, the Steelers offensive line looks fairly set at 4/5 positions. David DeCastro has been playing at a very above-average level, and Ramon Foster has played solid as usual. While Marcus Gilbert still appears to be “growing into the NFL,” so to speak, he has shown flashes of potential, and has done a decent job at his position. Finally, Fernando Velasco has been a fantastic signing at the center position, with Pouncey going down against the Tennessee Titans, but in the long run, it still is Pouncey’s job. While many people as of late have not been the biggest Pouncey fans, Maurkice is a much better run blocker, and has the ability to be a much better pass blocker than he has been. Pouncey may be overrated, but he is a better option than Velasco at this point. Quite honestly, Velasco will most likely be signed away by another team at a price the cap-strapped Steelers wouldn’t even be able to pay.
The biggest question of concern in the long-term looks to be left tackle. If the Steelers want to keep up in the passing league the NFL is becoming, they need to make sure Ben Roethlisberger is kept upright. Quite honestly, Ben Roethlisberger might look like Tom Brady or Peyton Manning back in the pocket, if he were given the time to do so.
Who are the Steelers options for next season and beyond? Levi Brown may have been considered an option, depending upon how he preformed, but following a trip to I.R., the former Penn State Nittany Lion looks to be on his way out of Pittsburgh next season.
On the other hand, the Steelers may look inhouse to Mike Adams who they originally saw as the future at the position. After all, Mike Tomlin did say that while Mike Adams would be benched:
I think it’s going to have an opportunity to define him and his career. There are a lot of solid professional guys that have been through ups and downs, the emotions and so forth. The guys that show staying power and the guys that respond to it appropriately, that roll their sleeves up and go to work, are steady, solid players.
If Mike Adams can turn his career around, it would save the Steelers big time, because they would not need to spend another hight draft pick on an offensive lineman. Personally, I believe the door has not yet been shut on Mike Adams, because while many expect players now-a-days to come straight out of college and play at a high level, the reality of it is that some come along at a slower pace. For the Steelers sake, hopefully he is just a late bloomer.
Otherwise, if Kelvin Beachum is not playing at the level the Steelers expect, and Mike Adams just isn’t meant to be the franchises left tackle, following this career defining moment, then the Steelers may have to go back to the drawing board, and draft a left tackle with what looks to be a higher draft pick. Names such as Taylor Lewan from Michigan, Jake Matthews from Texas A&M, or even Cyrus Kouandjio from Alabama come to mind.
If the Steelers can avoid drafting a left tackle in the 2014 NFL draft, it will open opportunities up to draft a defensive back, wide receiver, or a defensive lineman.
But, at this point, all I know is the rest of the 2013 season is an audition for Kelvin Beachum, and possibly Mike Adams, for the left tackle spot of the future. After all, competition often brings out the best in people.
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