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Steelers position-by-position review: Guard

February 11, 2012 By: Admin Category: Uncategorized

This is Part 2 in our position-by-position review.  If you haven’t read Part 1, click here.

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.

Chris Kemoeatu
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.

Ramon Foster
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.

Trai Essex
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.

Doug Legursky
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.

Willie Colon
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.

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7 Comments to “Steelers position-by-position review: Guard”

  1. I agree with almost everything.

    1) Tackle is in a worse shape than guard (due to uncertainty - Gilbert making switch to LT, Colon not playing in 2 years, Starks injured and NO ONE behind them).

    2) Foster may not be a pro bowler but is a perfectly capable starter

    3) Kemo should be gone - too much money to be a backup and the Steelers need cap room

    4) C.Scott is probably more of a guard than tackle making the situation at tackle worse off

    5) I will quibble on Colon - He’s no pro bowler either but he had improved before his series of injuries. He may make a better guard but the Steelers will not move him to guard in the upcoming year - there is too little at tackle, they won’t spend the money to get a good FA tackle (they won’t even have the $ to spend if they wanted to), and they will unlikely find a T who can start in the draft (Gilbert was an exception).

    Speaking of the draft, even though I beleive T is in a worse situation than G, I could see the Steelers using the 1st pick on a G over a T as the 24th pick might be the best G in the draft while it might be the 4-5th T taken. The only position worse off that T and G is DT (which I’m sure Don will cover in depth when he gets to the D-line…We could be looking at McLendon to start…oh my!)

  2. John,
    I think you may be exactly right about the Steelers potentially getting the top guard in the draft at #24, but only being able to get the 4th or 5th best OT at that draft slot.

    And you’ve read my mind when it comes to the DT position. I’ve been saying for 3 years that the Steelers needed to find an heir apparent to replace Casey Hampton. But did they listen to me? Noooooooooo.

  3. You guys have it covered. Good comments by John. Foster, Leg and Colon are serviceable with huge drop-offs after that. (Im assuming that Kemo is gone; Essex is kept only if we have nothing else. (Was Keith Williams OG THAT bad of a pick last year that we had no spot for him?)
    If we do go DT (Poe, Cox) then IMO look to get an OT and OG in rnds 2&3, there are some interesting and solid players (in no order Sanders, Brooks, Ryan Miller, Potter, Osemele, Masse & MCCants) to consider. Or do you go OG in Rnd 1 with Glenn or Zeitler and Ta’amu in Rnd 2. Is anyone sold on Adams as our LOT in Rnd 1? (Adams and Gilbert anchoring the ends with Pouncey in the middle doesn’t sound bad. ) If you are Adams then Ta’amu then one of the above as an OG.

  4. I agree with just about everything said. Foster is pretty good, Colon is a guard playing tackle, and Essex and Legursky are versatile back ups. I highly doubt that Colon will get put at guard, though, and Kemoeatu needs to go now. I’m thinking David DeCastro or Cordy Glenn are possibilities.

    As for NT, Hampton is probably gone, and Hoke is retired. A high draft pick will probably be used (Ta’amu hopefully) and I’d imagine an FA pick-up would be possible. Not a big name, of course, that’s not the Steelers’ style. Maybe someone like Sammie Lee Hill from Detroit, though he’s a restricted free agent, so it would depend on the tender on him. Everyone else is a little too old for a team trying to get younger. Oh, and there’s Steve McClendon, though I think he’s a little too undersized to be a starter. He’s flashed a couple of decent pass rushing skills, but I don’t see him as more than a nickel/dime rusher.

  5. I too agree with you on the OGs.

    The strange thing about Foster is, he never seems to be the starter when the break camp. But ends up working is way in during the season. I’d like to see him get better in camp.

    But I think they’ll take an OG early, and work him in to the starting line, but probaly not for a year or so.

  6. Jim,
    You’re right. Foster is never named the starter at the beginning of the season, but by the end of the season, he’s the starter.

    I don’t understand why they never seem to acknowledge his contribution. He’s big. He’s strong. And he seldom makes stupid mistakes (like Chris Kemoeatu does).

    He’s not a star, but he’s definitely a serviceable NFL offensive lineman.

  7. I agree that Colon should be moved to guard, I think a more natural position for him. Foster has done well, Legursky is a great player to have on the bench. If you sign Starks (yes I would) here is the starting lineup:

    Starks,Colon,Pouncey,Foster,Gilbert. That is not a bad lineup. Draft a few kids and get them ready. We have to draft DL this year.


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