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Offseason Assesments: Offensive Line

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Now that Mike Tomlin finished filling out the coaching roster, it's time to turn our attention toward player retention and acquisition for 2007. The first step, of course, is assessing Pittsburgh's needs, then walking through the different solutions. Teams fill their needs two ways, obviously: via free agency and through the NFL Draft.

We'll start our assessments today with a look at the offensive line.

The biggest looming question is whether the Steelers will be able to retain starting tackle Max Starks. Starks is a restricted free agent, which means he'll have the opportunity to negotiate a contract with any other club until April 21st. If an offer is made, the Steelers have the opportunity to match this offer; if no contract is negotiated with another team, Starks' rights revert back to Pittsburgh. Expect Pittsburgh to do what it takes to keep Starks. I can't see them going with Willie Colon just yet.

Elsewhere on the line, center Jeff Hartings, as good a career as he's had, isn't getting any younger. The Steelers are in solid shape at both guard spots, with both Simmons and Faneca locked in. That leaves left tackle, where Pittsburgh can go with either Trai Essex or Marvel Smith, or turn to free agency.

Looking at the draft, expect Pittsburgh to strongly consider both USC's Ryan Kalil and Penn State's Levi Brown.