The NFL is full of superstars. Guys are drafted in the first round and go on to long careers each year. But the average length of an NFL career is right around three seasons. For most who are trying to make it on the largest stage when it comes to professional football, the journey is not an easy one.
Enter Steelers offensive lineman Matt Feiler. Undrafted out of Bloomsburg, Feiler was simply doing all that he could to catch on with any NFL team. Originally signed as a UDFA by the Houston Texans following the 2014 draft, Feiler spent his first year on the Texans practice squad. After going through training camp again with Houston in 2015, when he did not make the 53-man roster he wound up on the practice squad in Pittsburgh instead. The 2016 season saw Feiler briefly promoted to the active roster for the Steelers only to end up back on the practice squad several weeks later. But from 2017 on, Feiler earned his spot on the 53-man roster.
Feiler spent 2017 getting a few snaps on offense as well as special teams in four different games before getting the start in Week 17 as some of the starters were resting. It was the 2018 season when Feiler made 10 starts at right tackle for the injured in Marcus Gilbert when Feiler’s career jumped to the next level.
It was another great UDFA story where a player worked hard and made the necessary adjustments to bring value to a team and grow as a player. And when the opportunity presented itself, Feiler grabbed it and didn’t let go.
Coming into the NFL, Feiler started off at tackle but quickly got acclimated to playing guard. When it comes to a reserve offensive lineman, versatility is everything. By being able to play almost anywhere along the offensive line, Feiler made himself a great asset as a reserve on game day.
In an interview with Pittsburgh media on Friday, Feiler spoke about his comfort playing a variety of positions along the offensive line. As reported by Teresa Varley of Steelers.com, Feiler is getting accustomed to playing more reps at guard.
Matt Feiler said he has always felt the most comfortable at tackle coming into the NFL, but the more reps he got at guard coming into the league he didn't have a preference. He said it's just getting accustomed to it.— Teresa Varley (@Teresa_Varley) August 21, 2020
The 2019 season saw Feiler starting all 16 games, 15 at right tackle and one at left guard. The versatility Feiler offered as a reserve has now come around to benefit the Steelers as a starter. The team can simply plug-in their best options wherever knowing Feiler can get the job done in multiple spots. And according to Steelers’ offense of line coach Shaun Sarrett, Feiler was willing to play wherever needed.
OL Coach Shaun Sarrett said Matt 'Anchor' Feiler played at a high level at tackle last year and didn't bat an eyelash when they asked him to move inside.— Teresa Varley (@Teresa_Varley) August 21, 2020
While some may be critical of the move of Feiler to right tackle based on his abilities, it really comes down more to the rest of the Steelers offensive line. Both Zach Banner and Chukwuma Okorafor each have two seasons with the Steelers and have seen playing time. As coach Sarrett also said, with the limited offseason of 2020, it made sense to start off with their offensive line using players who have more experience with the Steelers as reported by Dale Lolley of DK Pittsburgh Sports.
Steelers offensive line coach Shaun Sarrett said the decision to move Feiler to LG had to do with the loss of offseason. Makes it the easiest move. They've seen Feiler play G. Saw the other two guys play OT before. #Steelers #dkps— Dale Lolley (@dlolley_pgh) August 21, 2020
Who knows exactly what the 2020 season will bring for the Steelers offensive line. The unit is looking for a bounce back compared to their 2019 output. And with the retirement of Ramon Foster, the Steelers have multiple options when it comes to starting in Week 1 due to Matt Feiler’s versatility.
Sometimes the journey of finding a spot in the NFL can bring the unexpected. But with Matt Feiler being as versatile as possible in order to bring the most to the team as he was coming through the ranks, it may be the exact versatility the Steelers need to make their 2020 offensive line the best it can be.