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History of the Decade: Offensive line

Written by Dan Gigler on .

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HISTORY OF THE DECADE: A look at the Steelers’ success and failure at offensive line in the draft and free agency since 2003 ...

7: Steelers draft picks that finished 2012 with the team

5: Steelers draft picks that finished 2012 with Buffalo or Indianapolis

Draft: The 2012 selections of David DeCastro, Mike Adams and Kelvin Beachum put to rest the misperception that the Steelers routinely skimp on the offensive line. That was never the case. Pittsburgh picked at least one (and often more) offensive lineman in nearly every draft of the last decade. Lineman are known for ample posteriors; Steelers’ selections were full of big “buts …”

To wit: Marcus Gilbert started as a rookie in 2011 but Keith Williams is now with the Buffalo Bills; Maurkice Pouncey is a three-time All Pro but his 2010 draft classmate Chris Scott is also with Buffalo, as is 2009 draftee Kraig Urbik. Another 2009 pick, A.Q. Shipley, is in Indianapolis along with 2008 selection Tony Hills. The 2006 draft brought Willie Colon but also Marvin Philip who never left the practice squad. Likewise for 2004, a draft that yielded Max Starks but also Bo Lacy. The team added a pair of multi-year contributors in 2005 via Chris Kemoeatu and Trai Essex, but struck out in 2007 with Cameron Stephenson. No offensive linemen were chosen in 2003.

Free Agents: After employing only four centers in 43 seasons, Pittsburgh had two in three years from 2007-09. Ex-Tampa center Sean Mahan was traded after one season in favor of Justin Hartwig, who came over from Carolina to anchor a Super Bowl champion line. The Steelers squeezed a productive year from longtime Cowboy tackle Flozell “The Hotel” Adams and journeyman Jonathan Scott in 2010.

Doug Legursky, Ramon Foster and Darnell Stapleton are the only undrafted free agents of note in the last 10 years.

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