Steelers Draft 2012: Offensive Line

If you listen closely, you can hear the Steelers' brass narrowing down their top priority in this draft to offensive tackle. Jim Wexell breaks it down:

The numbers on the depth chart say the Steelers need guards more than they need tackles.

They have four guards, and only one – reserve Trai Essex – was drafted.

They have five tackles, and only one wasn't drafted.

The Steelers can also fall back on re-signing Max Starks once he recovers from his knee injury. Starks would give the Steelers five drafted tackles on their roster.

However, judging from comments made by the organization's top decision-makers, it can be deduced that tackle is a top priority in this draft.

Here's what coach Mike Tomlin said recently when asked about the run of injuries to wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders:

"You can't anticipate it's going to stop," Tomlin said. "The same could be said for Willie Colon."

So, the coach isn't counting on Colon staying healthy after he missed the last two seasons with soft-tissue injuries.

Is Colon busting out of his body? Is he carrying too much weight?

Tomlin doesn't know. He was unsure about Sanders and the team went ahead and re-signed Jerricho Cotchery.

So it would appear the Steelers are looking to add a serviceable tackle, but most likely in the draft.

But what's about Jonathan Scott? He's the swing tackle who started 14 regular-season games, two playoff games, and a Super Bowl in the last two seasons.

Well, here's what owner Art Rooney II said when asked recently if the team would make any more cuts for financial reasons:

"Probably more decisions are going to be made this offseason, and some contract decisions are going to have to be made."

The Steelers would save $2.2 million by cutting Scott, far more than they can save by cutting any other reserve.

Since Chris Scott and Trevis Turner haven't proven themselves, it appears the Steelers will need a swing tackle, or even a potential starter, for this season. Here are the candidates:

* Riley Reiff (6-5.6, 313, 5.23) is unlikely to slip past the half dozen or so teams that need a tackle, but he has short arms and is a bit overaged (turns 24 in December) and theoretically could fall to pick 24

* Mike Adams (6-7.2, 323, 5.34) is skewered by some and praised by others. My hunch is the Steelers want another Flozell Adams at right tackle, and that they see Flozell in Mike Adams's length, athleticism, and ability to run block. Mike's question mark is handling speed off the edge, and a mistake there can turn a game around. But my hunch is the Steelers believe Adams – who just turned 22 – is athletic enough to be coached into handling speed.

* Cordy Glenn (6-5.6, 345, 5.09) has the size and the SEC-honed athleticism (at left tackle) to step in at right tackle for the Steelers if needed. That's all I like about a guy who needs to lose weight. The Steelers probably like the former Georgia guard's versatility, but Glenn didn't play guard as well as his body type says he should.

* Jonathan Martin (6-5.3, 312, 5.38) is an enigma, and even if the Steelers like Martin's potential it's unlikely he could help them this season.

So at this point the Steelers would likely begin planning to re-sign Starks and draft a guard. But there are few first-round guard candidates:

* David DeCastro (6.4.7, 316, 5.42) is the best guard in the draft, and should be long gone, but if positional reaches at quarterback, cornerback and offensive tackle work their way into the top 23, as they usually do, someone special should fall to 24. Guards are great candidates for that dynamic.

* Amini Silatolu (6-3.5, 311, 5.39) pops on tape, albeit it's Division II tape. The low level of competition and the fact he'll turn 24 in September are strikes against him being drafted by the Steelers. A possible third strike is that Silatolu's intelligence is in question after failing to gain admission to the University of Nevada. The Steelers had him in for a visit and tried to learn more. A strong, competitive and mobile left guard is worth investigating.

* Kevin Zeitler (6-3.7, 314, 5.37) is strong, sturdy, smart and a leader, but he plays a position – RG – at which the Steelers feel comfortable. If the Steelers opt to trade down to make their first pick, no doubt Zeitler and probably tackle Bobby Massie would be part of the target group.

Wexell's Value Board for the Pittsburgh Steelers

First Round – Mike Adams, Ohio State; David DeCastro, Stanford; Cordy Glenn, Georgia.

Second Round – Jeff Allen, Illinois; Kelechi Osemele, Iowa State.

Third Round – Brandon Brooks, Miami (Ohio); Lucas Nix, Pitt.

Fourth Round -- Rokevious Watkins, South Carolina; Brandon Mosely, Auburn.

Fifth Round -- Senio Kelemente, Washington.

Sixth Round – Levy Adcock, Oklahoma State; Jaymes Brooks, Virginia Tech.


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