Today were are going to continue reviewing the Steelers’ 2011 offensive line play. A big problem area for the Steelers was their guards. The Steeler seemed to have a different group at guard every game. Consistency is important on the offensive line, and the Steelers have very little of it at guard.
Let’s look at how the individual players performed at guard this year.
I think it’s time for the Steelers to part company with Chris Kemoeatu. I was really excited about “Kemo” when he took over after Alan Faneca went to the NY Jets. Kemoeatu was bigger and stronger than Faneca. He also was supposed to have a “nasty temperament”, which is a good thing for an offensive lineman.
Little did I know that Kemoeatu would end up being a penalty waiting to happen. Kemoeatu must have accumulated more off-sides and holding penalties than all of the other offensive linemen combined. Moreover, his “nasty temperament” translated into silly unsportsmanlike conduct penalties.
The Steelers finally seemed to have had enough of Kemo’s penalties, and they benched him this past season. He ended up behind Ramon Foster and Doug Legursky, two players who were acquired as undrafted free agents, on the depth chart.
Kemo is a big, physical run blocker, but he never seemed to excel at pass blocking.
Todd Haley and Sean Kugler may want to take one more look at him. But frankly, my patience with Kemoatu has run out. Good riddance.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, “I love Ramon Foster”.
If you ever get to stand next to him, you’ll see that Foster is a big dude. More importantly, he’s a fighter. He went undrafted, yet he’s worked hard and carved out a place for himself on the Steelers’ offensive line.
He’s done better than a lot of offensive linemen who were actually drafted like Chris Scott, Kraig Urbick, A.Q. Shipley, Tony Hills, Cameron Stephenson, Marvin Phillips, and Bo Lacy. He’s even surpassed Trai Essex on the depth chart at guard.
He’s still a young guy, and I expect to see him get even better with time. But at worst, Foster is a viable backup. Not bad for a guy who didn’t even get drafted.
We already talked about Trai Essex, when we evaluated the offensive tackles. Essex played every position on the Steelers’ offensive line this year, so he is going to be included in the analysis of multiple positions.
The one thing that I’ll add about Essex is that at one point, he was behind Ramon Foster and Doug Legursky on the depth chart. Both of them were undrafted free agents. As the Steelers’ most senior offensive lineman, he should be better than that.
The Steelers should be able to find a guard in the draft of via free agency who is better than Trai Essex. In my opinion, his “position flexibility” is the only thing that keeps him on the team.
Like Trai Essex, Doug Legursky played more than one position this season. He started off playing guard, but also played center when Maurkice Pouncey was injured.
Like Ramon Foster, I like the fact that Legursky has managed to carve out a roster spot for himself despite being an undrafted free agent.
Legursky will never be a top-tier guard, and if the Steelers have the opportunity to draft one, they definitely should. Yet, I like Legursky, and I like the position flexibility that he brings to the team.
Legursky can’t play tackle like Trai Essex can, but as a guard and center, he’s better than Essex.
Yes, I know that Willie Colon is an offensive tackle, and not a guard. But one potential upgrade that the Steelers could do is to move Willie Colon to guard. I’ve been saying this for years.
Willie Colon is a mauler. He excels in run blocking. But he isn’t particularly quick footed. So he has trouble with speed rushers on the outside. That’s why he jumps off-sides and holds so often. If he were moved from offensive tackle to guard, he would be able to play in a more compact area. This would eliminate his need to anticipate, and I think his penalties would be reduced significantly. Moreover, it would accentuate his strengths and hide his weaknesses.
But that’s just my opinion. No Steelers coach has ever suggested that Colon should be a guard, and they never move him there during games (regardless of who gets injured), so I am going to assume that this move still isn’t going to happen. But that won’t stop me from suggesting it again.
Other Steelers news.
The Steelers cut Bryant McFadden earlier this week.
That sound you hear is the collective cheers of Steeler Nation.