Originally posted on Bleed Black & Gold  |  Last updated 6/18/12

TAMPA, FL - SEPTEMBER 26: Rookie center Maurkice Pouncey of the Pittsburgh Steelers points during the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium on September 26, 2010 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)

Maurkice Pouncey is about to enter the third year of his career for the Steelers.  He has been everything everyone could have wanted in a first round pick and more.  Pouncey almost instantly came in and made his presence felt.  He did not waste any time impressing his coaches and his teammates.

Pouncey was named the starter before the regular season even began his rookie year.  That is a big thing for a rookie to do in the Steelers organization.  He beat out Justin Hartwig to become the Steelers new center for the future.  Pouncey held down the position for the entire season. 

He was extremely impressive.  Pouncey earned All Pro and Pro Bowl honors.  That is definitely something that does not happen with a rookie offensive linemen.  Especially not in the Pro Bowl.  The Pro Bowl is normally a popularity contest and offensive linemen tend to stay in the spot until they can’t play anymore whether they deserve it or not.  For Pouncey to be voted in is a big deal. 

In the playoffs Pouncey injured his ankle.  That injury held him out of the Super Bowl that season.  Pouncey continued to suffer through the injury all last season as well.  He still earned All Pro and Pro Bowl honors again.  During this offseason Pouncey decided to have surgery on that ankle.  He is now 100% and feels better than ever. 

Pouncey is about to break into a new level in this league.  He is about to go from great to elite.  He is finally healthy.  He can play on two good legs instead of one.  It will show off his athleticism and his strength.  That is something that seemed to be lacking with Pouncey due to the injuries.

Another thing on Pouncey’s side is that he will be better surrounded by talent.  Pouncey has played in the past 2 seasons with guys who were not drafted or injured on either side of him.  He has had to overcome their weaknesses and help them while still covering his own area.  That is a lot to ask of one guy.

He has been with guys like Chris Kemoeatu who can barely walk anymore and has not been picked up by any NFL team since his release by the Steelers.  After Kemo went down with an injury in jumped Doug Legursky and Ramon Foster.  Both of these guys were undrafted free agents when they got to the team.  Both are skilled but not the caliber of linemen that you usually see in the NFL.  They both are good swing back ups and can make an impact but not a full season impact.  They are just not at that level.

The Steelers changed that this offseason.  Pouncey now has First Round Pick David DeCastro to his right and Willie Colon to his left.  DeCastro is expected to be the next Alan Faneca or Steve Hutchinson.  Pick one, it does not matter to me which one, they were both out of this world.  Since DeCastro is expected to be a top guard in the NFL Pouncey will have some protection on his right side. 

Willie Colon will also be an upgrade at guard.  He was expected to play guard coming out of college.  He was expected to be a good guard but due to need at first and stubborness of Bruce Arians second Colon remained at tackle.  Colon will just be getting his feet wet at the position but should be good to go by the time the regular season starts. 

Pouncey will be able to do his job and take care of himself.  He won’t have to be turning his head in a circle wandering which guy he has to make up for on every play.  He should be able to go out and play.  This line is now solid and as it gels it could become one of the better offensive lines in the league.

Since Pouncey is healthy and will be able to do what he can do we will see a whole new guy this year.  He can take his talent and use it like he is supposed to.  He can take his guy out and bounce to the next guy in the way.  It will open up more running holes and a create a better pocket for Ben Roethlisberger.

Roethlisberger will not be the only player to benefit from the drafting of DeCastro and Mike Adams.  Pouncey will benefit just as much.  It will take him from great to Elite and nothing should stand in his way.

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