´ Steel Curtain Rising: Pittsburgh Steelers 2014 Draft Needs: Guards and Center

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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Pittsburgh Steelers 2014 Draft Needs: Guards and Center

With the 2014 NFL Draft fast approaching, Steel Curtain Rising is reviewing the Pittsburgh Steelers areas of need, now turning its attention to center and guard, two separate positions with some overlapping personnel.

With nary a draft pick or a free agent signing, the Pittsburgh Steelers situation is already better than it was on opening day 2013 when David DeCastro’s ill fated cut block took out Marukice Pouncey’s ACL, forcing Kelvin Beachum to play center for the first time in his football life, so thin was the Steelers offensive line depth.

By all accounts Maurkice Pouncey’s recovery is proceeding as expected and the Steelers have come to terms with Cody Wallace. Fernando Velasco, who torn his Achilles vs. Baltimore on Thanksgiving, could also give the Steelers an additional option after June 1st. Velasco has gotten zero interest from the free agent market, and the Steelers would have better insight into his condition than other NFL teams.
  • The important issue is that both Wallace and, if he returns, Velasco, have position flexliblity to play guard or center.
As it stands the Steelers are well staffed at guard, with Ramon Foster and David DeCastro. Foster is a solid guard and DeCastro showed signs in 2013 of growing into the dominant guard the Steelers thought they were getting in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft. The Steelers have Guy Whimper who can play either guard or tackle and 2013 undrafted rookie free agent Nik Embernate who is a gaurd who was injured in training camp.

Steelers Current vs. Future Personnel Needs and the 2014 NFL Draft

Appearances can be deceiving. The Steelers are in a very good position now at guard and center. But that might not be true for long. As commentators have noted, the Cleveland Browns decision to match the 5 year 42 million dollar offer to Alex Mack can and will have repercussions in Pittsburgh.

Maurkice Pouncey is in the final year of his rookie contract. Despite struggling with injuries he’s made the Pro Bowl in every season he’s played more than 8 plays in. His market value has been set, and that value is high. Perhaps too high for the Steelers.
steelers nfl draft 2014 needs priorities scale guard center

Over at Behind the Steel Curtain (full disclosure, I also write for BTSC) the idea of trading Pouncey has been floated – that’s not what this article is about.

The Steelers most certainly would have liked to have signed Pouncey, and signed him to a handsome contract, and they probably would have done so this summer.
  • Now their ability to do so is in doubt.
That raises the possibility that they’ll take a center early in the draft. And if they don’t, and they’re planning on counting on Wallace or Velasco for the long term, then they need to restock their bench at guard.

That raises the need-priority status at both guard and center from moderate to moderate-high.

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