PITTSBURGH -- New Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line coach Mike Munchak's first order of business was to create competition on and off the field.
So, when the Steelers had a chance to select Vanderbilt's Wesley Johnson with the club's second pick in the fifth round during the NFL Draft Saturday afternoon, Munchak pushed to make the selection. Johnson played tackle, guard and center during his college football career.
"We're real excited to get a player like this at this time in the draft,'' Munchak said. "The first thing you hear about him is that he's very versatile. He's made more than 50 starts in the SEC at all three positions, so he's a guy we feel can come in and play either center, guard and tackle, depending on where we need him to play. And he's battle-tested, playing in the SEC.
"He played well against top-level competition, week-in and week-out, so we feel that he'll be very comfortable coming into the NFL and fitting in here nicely with us. Especially, with us having so many injuries the past few years, here's a guy with an opportunity to fit into any of those spots if we need him. So, we really like him, and I'm looking forward to working with him.''
The 6-foot-5, 297-pound Johnson said he was more comfortable as a tackle, but he has played both center and guard in college. So, that versatility was what the Steelers coveted. And as far as Johnson was concerned, getting an opportunity to play for the Steelers -- his grandfather's favorite NFL team -- and for Munchak -- Johnson's favorite player as a young athlete -- was an added blessing.
"Being a Nashville guy, growing up, (Munchak) was one of my favorite players,'' Johnson said. "I know all about him, because he's a Hall-of-Famer and a great offensive line coach. So, I'm really looking forward to the opportunity. (And) my granddad probably is one of the biggest Steelers fans they have. The first present I can remember as a baby was a Steelers football.
"So, he's very excited. His family lived in Pittsburgh for a long time. He's retired and living in South Carolina, but he's a big Steelers fan. ... I'm calling him right after I get off the phone (with the media). He called my mom and is on the phone with her right now. He's fine with watching the Steelers on a big-screen TV and playing golf, but he'll have to come to games now.''
Munchak wasn't sure what position Johnson would play initially, since he just started working with his new players in the past couple weeks. But he gave an assessment about the Steelers current offensive line.
"I'm excited about this group,'' Munchak said. "Pittsburgh is a team that we've always watched, and the recent guys we've drafted ... I followed them through college and know the kind of players they are. I'm excited to work with them, (and) I think we can have a special group here.
"(And) when you bring a guy like Wesley in, that just adds to the competition. And competition brings out the best in everybody. So, that means when we open up with Cleveland, we'll be ready to play.''