As great as McClure has been, we need to start thinking about finding a long term replacement for him.
From here until the draft, I'll occasionally be taking a look at each position and giving a quick rundown on how badly we need to upgrade at that position and give a handful of prospects that we might be able to obtain that could help us at that position. This time, we're taking a look in the trenches with the offensive line.
From a fan's perspective, trying to figure out offensive linemen can be one of the most boring and repetitive things there is in football. They're big, they're slow, but they're also very strong. Generally, they do the same thing on every play: Find a man and prevent him from doing his job.
However, as boring as it may be, they're the most important piece of the puzzle, and possibly the most important position of them all on the football field. A happy and healthy offensive line will keep a backfield happy and healthy as well, and that can make a so-so offense turn into a good offense in a hurry. Don't forget that everyone who makes it to the NFL can play ball, they just don't always end up on the best teams.
Join me after the jump and we'll talk up some offensive line prospects.As far as free agency goes, I think we should be more concerned with retaining the OL we might lose (Clabo, Dahl, Blalock) than trying to acquire outside talent. I'm a big believer in consistency and chemistry, so in my opinion, the more we can leave alone, the better. That said, it never hurts to take a look at offensive linemen because you never, ever know what might happen down the road.
We may or may not draft an O-Lineman this year, but if we're considering pulling the trigger at 27, here are a few prospects that might be waiting around.
The trick to this is that the O-Linemen's draft stocks keep changing, so there's really no way to know for sure who will get picked where so it's more of just speculation at this point.
Nate Solder, Colorado: Solder is an absolute behemoth of a man, standing 6'9" and weighing 315 pounds. His combine numbers were mixed, with only 21 bench press reps, but a 5.05 40 (wish I had the 10/20 numbers) and a 32 inch vertical jump height were some of the best numbers for OL at the combine. His massive height (and, we can assume, long arms) probably did not do him any favors in the bench press. Solder is rated as a high pick, though I worry he might be a little too tall and lose some lower leverage because of it. I can't imagine this being good on his knees, either.
Gabe Carimi, Wisconsin: Some of you may have noticed that I referenced this man in the Saturday Six Pack, showing an article that portrayed a man who was a little too confident in himself for his own good. A scouting report from FFToolbox.com suggests that Carimi is a mauler of a run blocker and plays very aggressively and with a mean streak. (Does that sound familiar?) He's not quick enough currently to play left tackle, but if he's coached up, he may be able to shift into that role.
Mike Pouncey, Florida: Pouncey, as many of you know, is the brother of Steelers' center Maurkice Pouncey, who played exceptionally well in his rookie year in Pittsburgh. Many are wondering if his brother Mike can move from guard to center, and the results have been mixed up to this point. His pro day workout wasn't spectacular, but it was solid. His combine numbers were mixed as well. His 40 was decent (5.12) but his vert (25") and broad jump (8') were less spectacular. However, his 3 cone a 20 yd shuttle times were very good, which suggests a strong short distance burst and quickness. At his pro day, his arms were measured at a little over 31 inches long each, which is short for a lineman desiring to protect the passer.
Anthony Castonzo, Boston College: But of course I couldn't type this up without including one of Matt Ryan's former linemen, who played very well all four years of college. He's also a pretty big dude - he's 6'7", 308, and his combine numbers were solid, though not spectacular. I actually didn't know this, but he's projected to go in the late teens in the first round. I hadn't even heard anyone talk about him. Guess that's how it goes. He's projected to be a tackle in the NFL despite some teams working him out as a guard. He also possesses four years of starting experience, most of which were with inexperienced quarterbacks. That will bode well for him at the next level.
There's a few prospects who might fall to us at 27. With these O-linemen, you never really know what you're going to get. In my opinion, I don't think we should take an OL early in this draft. I feel like we could do better with the 27th pick, even if it meant trading down a bit to stockpile picks.
What do you all think? Are there any late-round or FA O-linemen you think might be worth a look? Let's talk trenches!