Originally posted on Bleed Black & Gold  |  Last updated 1/16/12

The Steelers go into the offseason with no Left Tackle.  The most important position on the line is vacant at the moment.  Max Starks is having ACL surgery so he is out of the picture for the moment.  He is also a Free Agent so he was not a given anyways.  Jonathan Scott is on the roster for one more season but no one wants that.  He was awful over there at the beginning of the year.  That is why we signed Starks and he started the first week he came in off the street.

Whether the Steelers have to draft of pick up a Left Tackle in Free Agency is going to come down to Marcus Gilbert.  Gilbert played Left Tackle at Florida.  He also played the position for the Steelers during the preseason.  That is where it looked as if Gilbert was headed before the start of the season.  An injury to Willie Colon put Gilbert at Right Tackle for the Steelers though.

Gilbert played well for a rookie at Right Tackle.  He was even mentioned as the future at Right Tackle for the Steelers by Coach Tomlin.  In my opinion Right Tackle is where Gilbert belongs.  That is where he is comfortable and where he is already improving for this team.  For the Steelers though Left Tackle may be the place where he has to end up.  The Steelers other starter quality offensive lineman on the team that plays tackle is Willie Colon.  He is not playing the left side.  He is right tackle only.  So unless Gilbert plays the left side the Steelers will need to make a move in free agency or in the draft.  It would be more helpful to the team if he does even if it is not his best spot.

So Marcus Gilbert this is a challenge to you.  Can you get better in the offseason and make it so the Steelers do not have to spend the money they do not have on one.  It would be a huge lift to this team if he could do that.  Gilbert would make it so he and Pouncey would hold down the two most important spots on the line.  It would make it easier to build the rest of the line around them.  Something the Steelers desperately need to do.

In Free Agency the Steelers will most likely do what they always do and not go after the big name.  That is nothing out of the ordinary. They will most likely start by following Max Starks’ recovery from injury and see where he is.  Starks will sit on the free agent market until he is healthy.  By that point most teams should have a pretty full roster and the Steelers may be able to get Starks back cheap.  He can continue to be a one year stop gap until we find a suitable replacement.

Moving on to the Free Agents from around the league it is slim pickings for the Left Tackle spot.  The best available player is Demetrius Bell from Buffalo.  He is most likely going to get the Franchise Tag slapped on him by the Bills.  He will never even make it to the market.  Then you have to move to Arizona where former Penn State offensive tackle Levi Brown is.  Brown played Left Tackle for the Cardinals this season and did not play it that well.  If we to go after Brown he would be another guy playing out of position at Left Tackle.  Just a lateral move.

The guy who intrigues me that should come cheap is Jared Gaither.  Gaither is a former Raven who played for both the Chiefs and the Chargers this season.  Gaither played well for the Chargers at the end of the season.  He is a space eater as a Left Tackle.  At 6’9 and 340 pounds Gaither is mostly just hard to get around.  He has had a little bit of an injury plagued past and should not cost much to get here.  The intriguing part about Gaither is that he is only 25 years old.  If not for the injuries he could be a premier tackle in this league.  Given the right situation and an entire offseason with a team Gaither could be sneaky good.  I hope the Steelers take a good look at him.

In the draft where the Steelers are picking there are most likely 2 guys who should be available at the pick.  One is ridiculously over hyped.  The other is an up and comer who only played Left Tackle at the end of last season but should have been there the entire time.  He played well there.

The overhyped is Mike Adams from Ohio State.  He is up there on everyone’s list with the perfect size and all the ability in the world.  He just has never used it.  Adams has been ranked high his whole career and if you look at his play it never reaches what everyone talks about.  Adams is an under achiever.  He has the tools and skills but it never panned out.  He will go high in the draft because of his numbers not his play.  His play says late second to fourth.  His size says top 20.  I hope the Steelers do not reach for this guy.

They could reach out for the second guy though.  Zebrie Sanders out of Florida State.  Sanders is best known for his play against Florida when he does not move when the ball is snapped.  That is not what he is about.  He played Right Tackle most of his career as Andrew Datko was the starter for Florida State.  He did well at the position but it looks like he was in the wrong spot all a long.  Sanders moved to Left Tackle after Datko was injured and he thrived the second half of the season there.  With some coaching and a full season under his belt Sanders looks like he could be a steal late in the first round.  Sanders could climb the boards before draft day though as he gets measured and people see all of his tape.

After that it is slim pickings on both ends.  The tackle class falls off until the late third early fourth round.  Free Agency gets no better.  Marcus Gilbert is the key to all of this though.  If he can get in shape for minicamp before the draft it could make things much easier on the Steelers.  They can build their offensive line in other areas or rebuild their aging defense.  A lot is riding on Gilbert’s shoulders.  I hope he is ready for it.


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