Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Improving the offensive line

It is no secret that Steelers quarterbacks have been sacked at an alarming rate over the past few seasons, and given a decline in rushing yardage this past season it is difficult to not look at the offensive line as an area of the team that requires some improvement.

But just where that improvement will come from remains to be seen. As our friend and confidant Big Dan the 'Burgh Man pointed out to us the other day the collection of offensive linemen the Steelers currently have ~ and many of whom are free agents this offseason ~ is a very young group. How young? Glad you asked. Here they are listed by their age as of the opening night of the 2009 season:

PlayerAge as of September 10, 2009
Justin Hartwig30
Kendall Simmons30
Max Starks27
Trai Essex26
Chris Kemoeatu26
Willie Colon26
Darnell Stapleton23

The question that no doubt has been asked within the Steelers' offices, and is also being asked by fans, is whether or not this group has the potential for improvement; and if so how much improvement? Looking at it a different way, is Pittsburgh better off perusing a list of top free agents or by investing more money into this group of players?

While signing a free agent may seem sexier, and discussing the draft is more fun, the answer to the offensive line issue in Pittsburgh may lie in sticking with, and continuing the development of, this cast of characters.

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