Maurkice Pouncey has been one of the best centers in the NFL since being drafted by the Steelers 18th overall in the 2010 draft. The Steelers had allowed the offensive line to deteriorate and the drafting of Pouncey showed they were finally trying to address the situation. They have since drafted David DeCastro, Marcus Gilbert and Mike Adams all in the first and second rounds respectively. Now to this point guys like Gilbert and Adams haven’t really lived up to expectations but at least the Steelers were trying to solidify the line. Whether or not the picks actually pan out remains to be seen.
The big problem is, and is for most teams, the fact that these guys cannot seem to stay healthy for an entire season. DeCastro missed almost his entire rookie season and just missed the game against the New England Patriots. Mike Adams missed a few games his rookie season and though he hasn’t been hurt in 2013, he has been benched due to poor play. Marcus Gilbert had been able to stay healthy for the season until being injured last week against the Patriots and was limited in practice all week due to an ankle injury according to Dave Bryan of Steelersdepot.com.
It makes any continuity on the offensive line impossible because every position is just a revolving door every single year. Obviously the LT position is considered the most important position on the offensive line because they protect the quarterbacks blindside. A close second in my opinion, would be the center position because he is the guy who makes all the calls and touches the ball on every play. No one ever realizes whether or not they have a good or bad center until there are a few bad snaps to the quarterback.
As I stated, Pouncey has been one of the best centers in the league since being drafted however, he’s also been injured each year of his career also. It has been minor injuries that have just knocked him out of a game or two and they have been as serious as in 2013. Pouncey missed the Super Bowl against the Green Bay Packers due to an ankle injury and he was lost for the entire 2013 season due to a major injury. Now we all know that his knee injury was DeCastro’s fault for diving head first into nothing but Pouncey’s knee. It doesn’t change the fact that the team has not been able to count on Pouncey for an entire season to this point in his career.
The Steelers, in a stroke of brilliance, knew the injury history of Pouncey and decided to have no backup centers on the active roster going into week one this season. Regardless if Kelvin Beachum had practiced it at some point in camp there is no way he was ready to step in and play the position. After watching Beachum struggle in his first game action at the position, the Steelers were lucky to find a guy like Fernando Velasco off the street. You might think that the Velasco signing really means nothing in the grand scheme of things because of how bad the Steelers’ season has gone but the veteran has been very solid for the team.
I know it is going to sound like a crazy idea but maybe the Steelers should consider keeping Velasco and moving Pouncey over to guard. Especially if the team is able to draft a top tier tackle in the 2014 draft. If they get a guy like Jake Matthews and plug him in at LT, you move Pouncey to LG, Velasco at C, DeCastro at RG and have Mike Adams and Marcus Gilbert compete at RT. I’m not saying that Velasco is as talented as Pouncey but there has not been a huge step down with him at center.
Pouncey’s injury history makes it hard to count on him and every time the team loses him it shakes up the offense. It’s rare that a team has a capable guy like Velasco behind their starting center because you don’t really expect to use that guy. If you move Pouncey to guard you would significantly improve that position and at least have some consistency at the center position. It would be much easier to replace him at guard than it is every year to replace him at center.
Honestly, I don’t see this ever happening because I don’t see Pouncey ever allowing the team to change his position. Especially considering Pouncey’s rookie contract is almost up and he will be expecting to be paid like a top center in the league. I think this should at least be in consideration though because something needs to be done to really solidify this line and stop getting Ben Roethlisberger killed.