Predicting the 53: Pittsburgh Steelers Offensive Linemen

Steelers offensive linemen

“Predicting the 53” is a series we will continue throughout the off-season where we predict which 53 players will make up the Pittsburgh Steelers final roster. This post will focus on the Steelers offensive linemen, a group that was once towards the top of the NFL but took a step back last year. On top of that, they lost Ramon Foster to retirement in the off-season. Some players will likely be shuffled around in an attempt to return the group to their elite status.

Predicting the Pittsburgh Steelers Offensive Linemen

The Starters (4)

That’s not a typo. So far, there are only four Steelers offensive linemen who are locks to be starters in 2020. Maurkice Pouncey will enter his 11th straight season as the starting center. David DeCastro will be the right guard for the ninth straight season. Joining those two All-Pro caliber players will be Alejandro Villanueva at left tackle. The former Pro Bowler will be looking to earn himself another contract in Pittsburgh. Finally, Matt Feiler will undoubtedly be a starter, it’s just unclear in which position. He might move into left guard to replace Foster, or he might stay at right tackle where he played last year.

There’s not a whole lot to talk about here. Feiler is the only real wildcard. But his position will likely be determined by the performance of others in training camp, not his own performance. If no one stands out at the left guard position, then Feiler might be asked to kick in. If no one establishes themselves as a starter at right tackle, then Feiler may have to stay out there. Wherever he ends up, Feiler can be relied on to be a very solid player. He’s not one of the league’s elite offensive linemen, but he’s reliable and can be counted on at either position.

The Rest (4)

The position battle at left guard will play a role in determining Feiler’s role. Battling for that spot will be veteran free agent signing Stefen Wisniewski and rookie fan favorite Kevin Dotson. Wisniewski might have the edge due to his experience as an NFL lineman. With a shortened off-season, Dotson might not have sufficient time to get adjusted to life in the NFL. To go with that, he is making the transition to left guard, which is no easy task for a rookie. That said, Dotson has the higher upside. Wisniewski is like Feiler; he’s a solid player who won’t let you down when he’s called on. He’s getting up their in age, though, and his small contract insinuates that he was brought to Pittsburgh as a backup interior lineman. Dotson has a mean streak and is phenomenal in the run game. Pairing him with Pouncey and DeCastro could give opposing defenses nightmares.

The other important position battle among Steelers offensive linemen will be at right tackle. Fan favorite Zach Banner will be battling with former third-round pick Chukwuma Okorafor for that spot. Banner had some good tape last year when he was used as a sixth offensive lineman in jumbo packages. Despite playing less over the course of the season, Okorafor got the start over Banner when the team had to shuffle the offensive line around for a game. Maybe that was a sign that the team trusts him more as a full-time starter. Hopefully training camp is long enough for a clear winner to emerge between these two. One of these two being the starter at right tackle, with Feiler moving into left guard, seems to be the most likely outcome for now. But one of these guys will have to step up and prove they are capable of being a full-time starter.

The Predictions

Starters: Alejandro Villanueva, Matt Feiler, Maurkice Pouncey, David DeCastro, Zach Banner
Reserves: Kevin Dotson, Stefen Wisniewski, Chukwuma Okorafor
Miss the cut: J.C. HassenauerJohn KeenoyChristian MontanoJarron JonesAnthony CoyleChristian DiLauroDerwin Gray

Note: With the changed rules allowing up to 55 active players on gameday with one being an offensive lineman, Derwin Gray and J.C. Hassenauer are the two Steelers offensive linemen most likely to be used in that role.

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