For the last 4 years the Steelers have struggled big time with winning in the trenches. It has been a rather gradual progression of poor offensive linemen play. Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert have both been on the record saying they worked together closely on drafting. Tomlin has hand picked a couple of these guys Kendrick Green included.
Mike Tomlin misses
During the draft process Mike Tomlin has a lot of weight of who is drafted. Kendrick Green being a versatile guy who can play multiple spots on the line fits the mould Tomlin wants. With veteran guys now retiring one after another Tomlin is pushing a youth and versatility movement. Should Tomlin have this much control? Me personally, I don’t think a coach should have as much say in the draft process. You have scouts and a general manager for a reason and it’s important to let them do their jobs. Look at Bill O’brien and how well that worked out. Look at Bill Belichick since Brady has left. They have had a hard time bringing in offensive talent and have missed on multiple free agents.
Matt Nagy basically ran the Bears in the ground by having too much control over the team as well. When one guy has this much control it can really hinder a team. It is unknown how much influence Tomlin had with the drafting of Najee Harris, Pat Freiermuth or Kenny Pickett. The concerns surrounding the team makes you wonder if these picks were actually worth it. Do not get me wrong, I absolutely love all these guys they are studs. The problem you run into, they have spent a lot of capital on the offensive side of the ball the last couple of years.
It feels like the Steelers could be in a much better situation than they are now if they focused more on the line. They will obviously never sign a big time free agent to bring in to sure up the line so they need to spend higher draft capital to anchor the team for the next decade. When you look back on all the successful Steelers teams they ALL had a all-pro center and at least one other anchor on the line. After multiple low quality offensive linemen signings and late picks on project guys who are not guaranteed they almost seem to be approaching it with let’s load the offense and hope the o-line gels. It is clear this approach has not been successful.
I think the Najee pick was the right one. However that draft still had a few quality linemen in the second round and they chose Pat. I love Pat but there is reason to believe that Pat would have been there in the third and if they did not believe so, they could have moved up to grab him and a quality lineman. You simply have Najee running into brick walls and with his high usage could really shorten his career.
Moving onto the Pickett and Pickens picks. This one is tough, I think Pickett is the future and Pickens will take over the top spot on the depth chart. However, why have all these weapons with no time to throw and no offensive stability? This is a lipstick on a pig situation and was really painful to watch last season. I still think the team will be better than last season overall. They will greatly miss Ben. He may have played too long but they always had a chance with his clutch performances and ability to take over a game late but the slow starts really killed them.
Without Ben’s IT factor the team will still be better. You have 3 guys who can extend a play with their legs much more efficiently than Ben could at that stage of his career. They all have good arms and should be able to mask the offensive line issues better. The NFL is just full of elite quarterbacks and fast ferocious defenses which makes having good offensive line play crucial. Don’t get me wrong there are maybe only a handful of elite offensive lines so with that being said they don’t need to be elite. They need to be serviceable, fundamentally sound and not make it easy for opposing defenses.
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