Steelers' O-Line Plan to This Point

Steelers offensive line coach Sean Kugler showed just a portion of his plan for the offensive line last weekend. Jim Wexell discusses that and more as the Steelers break before OTAs.

We don't know much more about the Steelers' plans for their new and highly pedigreed offensive linemen than we did on draft weekend when line coach Sean Kugler said he was "going to have a few beers and think about it."

Beers down, linemen up.

Well, at least two of them were.

First-round pick David DeCastro played right guard and Mike Adams played left tackle at last weekend's minicamp. In between them were guys named Kelvin Beachum and John Malecki, so little should be read into this.

The camp with the veterans will tell more, and DeCastro said he hasn't heard any talk about playing another position. Adams, though, said "I'll probably do a little bit of both [tackle positions] when camp gets here."

So it sounds as if DeCastro will be compete for the starting right guard spot and Adams will compete with Jonathan Scott to become the backup, or "swing tackle."

Or maybe I'm just reading into it what I want to read into it.

I'm hoping that on the first O.T.A. session of the spring, on May 22, Kugler lines up, from left to right, Marcus Gilbert, Doug Legursky, Maurkice Pouncey, Ramon Foster and Willie Colon.

I would rotate Jonathan Scott and Adams at the backup tackle positions. I would make it clear to Adams, that, yes, changing positions like that is difficult for a rookie, but the job that is open is "swing tackle." Go compete for it.

Adams must first show that he's better than Scott, and proceed from there.

As for DeCastro, I wouldn't hand him a job, either. Even with a new coordinator and a new offense, I don't believe anything should ever be handed to a rookie. Now, if he clearly beats out Foster at right guard, then move Foster over and have Foster compete with Legursky.

That's a slower process than most fans want, but I would take it slowly and make sure I get it right.

Of course, we won't find out how Kugler, Todd Haley and Mike Tomlin feel about it until May 22, so stay tuned.

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The Steelers say they don't draft for need, but rarely do they leave a spot hanging wide open on the depth chart as they did this past draft with the No. 5 wide receiver spot.

The Steelers have four veteran wide receivers, and then a bunch of street free agents led by former Penn Stater Derrick Williams.

Yet, the Steelers waited until the seventh round before drafting Toney Clemons, and even he is a raw project who underachieved at Valley High, the University of Michigan, and finally Colorado University until turning it on in his final five games.

Through three full seasons and eight games of his fourth season, Clemons had 74 catches for 792 yards and 6 touchdowns.

In his final five games, he caught 25 passes for 476 yards and 5 touchdowns.

"The one unique thing is," said Steelers wide receivers coach Scottie Montgomery, "I saw him win in those last four or five ball games. … In those last games there was something that stood out to me and it's something I put a high-grading value on: He won a tremendous amount of contested battles. Contested battles, at his size and speed in the National Football League, are something that he is going to have to deal with."

That's a solid recommendation, but is it enough to hand the seventh-round pick an automatic roster spot?

"We're still capable of working potentially in free agency," said Tomlin after the draft. And I didn't get the impression Tomlin was only talking about undrafted free agents such as Marquis Maze. I would expect the Steelers to bring in a veteran free agent to at least push Clemons through camp.

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Maze, the 5 feet 8 playmaker from Alabama, went way up to make the best catch I saw at rookie minicamp. He has to be the undrafted player with the second-best odds of making the team. ... The undrafted player with the best odds is punter Drew Butler. ... The Steelers were among a few teams that invited the rookie quarterback from Oregon, Darron Thomas, to attend their rookie minicamp. It became evident early with the scattered passes why Thomas hasn't signed with anyone yet. However, one can't help but be excited about Steelers 7B pick David Paulson. The former Oregon tight end caught 31 passes from Thomas last season. Judging from what I saw from Thomas last weekend, 31 catches are quite an accomplishment. ... RB Chris Rainey, the 5-8 speedster from Florida, could join Maze to give Clemons the best competition for that No. 5 WR spot. ... It was difficult to gauge the rookies last weekend because of A.) such raw quarterbacking, and B.) no pads. But it was clear that DeCastro can get outside and seal the far edge with ease. That and the coverage skills of third-round pick Sean Spence, an inside linebacker, were the most impressive sights at the minicamp.

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