While the Pittsburgh Steelers have seen themselves downgraded in the rankings at certain position this offseason following the loss of Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell, there still appears to be at least one area their dominance is unquestioned heading into 2019.
With all five starters who played the majority of the snaps along the offensive line last year set to return, the consensus opinion among the experts suggests the Steelers should have one of the best offensive lines once again this season.
As per the rankings released by Pro Football Focus on Tuesday, Pittsburgh has the third best offensive line in the league, eclipsed only by the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys.
3. PITTSBURGH STEELERS
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUP:
Left Tackle: Alejandro Villanueva
Left Guard: Ramon Foster
Center: Maurkice Pouncey
Right Guard: David DeCastro
Right Tackle: Matt Feiler
“It will be tough for the Steelers to replicate the efficiency that their offensive line maintained in 2018, but then again, it will be challenging for any team in the league. Le’Veon Bell now finds himself with the Jets, and Antonio Brown with the Raiders, but their offensive line remains the one consistent in the Steelers’ ever-changing offense.”
Where PFF see the Steelers as one of the best, Sean Wagner-McGough of CBS Sports has Pittsburgh ranked at the top, with the Eagles in second spot and the Cowboys third in his article from Tuesday.
“The Steelers are bringing back four of five starters up front. Everyone except right tackle Marcus Gilbert, who was traded to Arizona, will be returning. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the Steelers lost respected offensive line coach Mike Munchak to the Broncos. Still, from a talent standpoint, the Steelers are loaded.
“However, it is worth noting that from a statistical standpoint, the Steelers -- like the Eagles -- weren’t all that impressive as a run-blocking force in 2018. They finished 15th in run blocking, per Football Outsiders. That said, they were a dominant pass-blocking unit, checking at fourth while allowing only 24 sacks -- the fourth-fewest in football.”
“The biggest concern is Munchak’s absence, but the Steelers are talented enough to overcome his departure.”
The significant loss of Mike Munchak notwithstanding, there is a lot to like about the group the Steelers will take into training camp. With the re-signing of Ramon Foster earlier in the year, Pittsburgh retains four starters who have played together consistently since 2015. And having started 10 games in 2018, Matt Feiler gives the team a strong option at right tackle to replace Marcus Gilbert.
The quality of talent is not simply limited to the starters either, with B.J. Finney arguably good enough to start on most lines around the league, while tackles Chukwuma Okorafor, Jerald Hawkins and Zach Banner provide the Steelers enviable depth at the position.
Assuming new coach Shaun Sarrett can keep them all going in the right direction, there is every reason to believe that Pittsburgh will end the season with one of the highest graded offensive lines in football.