There has been a lot of talk about fixing the Steelers run game this off-season. Most of which centers around drafting a running back, even as early as the first round. Drafting a running back early will not solve the problem however. Pittsburgh will not have success until they fix their offensive line. This unit has been declining for years, and now it has come to a head. An already below average group has lost two starters in Alejandro Villanueva and Maurkice Pouncey. Here is the projected starting lineup as of today:
LT – Zach Banner
LG – Kevin Dotson
C – BJ Finney
RG – David DeCastro
RT – Chuks Okorafor
This is an unimpressive group to say the least. The entire left side of the line has a total of three career starts. The “starting” center is a career backup. David DeCastro is coming off his worse year as a pro, and Chuks Okorafor is an average right tackle at best. Add that all up, and this could be a long year for the Steelers offense.
So how did we get here? Well, it’s a really simple answer actually. It begins and ends with the draft. The Pittsburgh Steelers have all but ignored this unit in the since the 2012 draft where they selected DeCastro in the first round. Since then they have only selected five offensive lineman total in eight years of drafting. Furthermore, they have not invested higher than a third round pick on any of those selections. To put this into perspective, the Steelers have drafted almost as many quarterbacks (3) as they have lineman (5) in this same time frame. Take a look at the five lineman and where they were drafted, and see the lack of investment at his position:
2020 Kevin Dotson (4th round)
2019 Derwin Gray (7th round)
2018 Chuks Okorafor (3rd round)
2016 Jerald Hawkins (4th round)
2014 Wesley Johnson (5th round)
Taking all this into consideration, it is almost a forgone conclusion Kevin Colbert will draft at least two players along the offensive line. At a minimum, they need a center to replace Maurkice Pouncey. A tackle would be a priority as well unless the Steelers are more bullish on Banner and Okorafor than the rest of us are. A late round guard wouldn’t be a shock either judging by the depth at that position. Our latest mock draft reflects this line of thinking. Steelers Mock Draft 3.0: The Post Pro-Day Edition
Just drafting a running back in the first round is not the answer to fixing the Steelers run game. This team must start investing in the offensive line as the solution to the running woes. Given the fact Pittsburgh has very little cap room to play with, the answer must come from the draft. While plugging rookies into the starting lineup is not ideal, a massive upgrade in talent is necessary. The Steelers have all but ignored the offensive line for years both through the draft and in free agency. It will take a substantial reinvestment to fix a problem which has been building for some time now.