So far for the Pittsburgh Steelers, this has been a pretty quiet offseason so far, player-wise. Although it is sounding like the Steelers are going to be more active in free agency this year, those should start coming pretty soon once free agency opens up. Besides the signing of Jason Worilds to a multi-year contract and drafting a cornerback in the first round, the one thing I am looking forward to is seeing whether the Steelers bring back Fernando Velasco and Cody Wallace. With the hiring of Mike Munchak and return of Maurkice Pouncey, the starters are looking pretty set in place, but bringing back the two free agents (Velasco and Wallace) will definitely give the O-line some great depth and turn the unit into a force.
I think it’s obvious that Maurkice Pouncey will regain his position going into the offseason, no matter how much more recovery he has to do. I know many are wanting Pouncey to move to guard and Velasco to center because of his play in place of Pouncey, but I think that’s ridiculous. Why would you move an All Pro center to guard just because his replacement during an injury played good? You have to remember that Pouncey established himself as one of the best centers in the game in just his first 3 seasons. Now he has a hall of fame offensive line coach. Although Munchak is expected to get DeCastro going as an All Pro guard and get the young tackles playing so every “mock draft expert” won’t have the Steelers picking tackle in the first round, I think he can help Pouncey become even better. Although I don’t think it will happen this year, the Steelers need to focus on extending him. He is a young player whose rookie contract is expiring soon and it would be foolish for him to walk away. He is the leader of the o-line and should be for many years to come, hopefully falling in line as the next great center for the Steelers.
In order for the center position to be in really good hands, the Steelers need to bring back Fernando Velasco. I do admire him stepping up rather quickly into the o-line last year, but not enough to have him be a full time starter. If it came down to it, he can do the job, but I’m not saying get rid of Ramon Foster, move Pouncey to guard, and Velasco to center. Having him as an insurance plan would definitely be in the Steelers best interest. After all the linemen that seem to constantly go down, we will at least not have to worry about the center position.
Did anyone else sleep really good when the Steelers selected David DeCastro in the first round of the 2012 draft? Wasn’t that just a moment of pure happiness and knowing that there is a possibility of the line actually protecting Big Ben? DeCastro made his force felt this season. He really showed why Steeler Nation is excited about the Steelers drafting the former Stanford guard, and now he has Mike Munchak working with him. No one will benefit more with the hiring of Munchak than DeCastro. He will show him all the tricks in the book and will certainly bring the best out of the kid. It’s a really smart move by the Steelers. Ramon Foster will benefit too, but I think Foster has hit his ceiling as a guard and will never be a Pro Bowl guard. I think this may be his last season in Steel Town, and maybe a first or second round pick in the 2015 draft could be spent on his replacement.
The backup position will probably fall to Cody Wallace. He did an admirable job replacing Velasco last season and can come back for the league minimum. It would be wise to bring him back because he is still young and could also benefit with position flexibility and working under Munchak for a couple seasons. Maybe he could earn himself a payday if he starts a couple games at guard and has good showings.
Well, we know who will be in camp and which ones will make the roster, just not who will be starting. My guess is Gilbert starts camp on the right and Beachum starts on the left. I truly believe Beachum can and will be the future at the left tackle position. Again being a player that can benefit with the hiring of Munchak. Gilbert and Adams will most likely battle for the right tackle spot, and this may be the year that Gilbert breaks out. He played very well the second half of the season and could be due for a modest extension. That leaves Adams as the backup, and his play as a backup last season opened some eyes. I wouldn’t worry with Adams as the backup as he will have another season to learn and grow as a player, trying to find where he fits on the line.
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