The Steelers released long-time All-Pro right guard David DeCastro on Thursday. While the loss of DeCastro simply puts another question on the Steelers’ already questionable offensive line, they are going to have to replace him in some way.
There are already rumors swirling around the Steelers could take a long, hard look at free-agent guard Trai Turner. Turner is one of the limited options still on the market that could feasibly start for the Steelers at guard.
So, what happens if the Steelers somehow do not agree to terms with Turner? Who do they have in-house that could maybe take over that role? Let’s take a look.
As it stands right now, Finney may be the odds-on favorite to take that job if Turner is not signed to the team. Having played lots of games at both guard and center for the Steelers in the past, Finney was a solid, steady player who the Steelers could rely upon in a pinch. Due to conditioning concerns last season, Finney was unable to find the same success with Seattle and Cincinnati, but he believes he can return to form this season.
Even with that in mind, however, it would be much better if Finney was the top backup at guard rather than the incumbent starter. He certainly is not bad, but he is more of a good backup than he truly is a reliable starting guard. His heavy hands and strength do make him a nice fit for the mindset Adrian Klemm wants to instill.
Do not forget that the Steelers drafted Green in the third round of the 2021 NFL Draft. While he is expected to be a guy who can compete at center early, there is also a truth that he played more at guard at Illinois than he did at center. Is it completely out of the question that the Steelers could look to Green to play guard with Finney at center?
No, that can not be ruled out completely. Green’s athleticism is ideal and Finney has lots of experience and the football IQ to play at center. However, with how much Green has been training at center this offseason, it would be a seismic shift for a rookie who is already learning a new system.
The Steelers brought in Coward from the Chicago Bears in the offseason. Unfortunately, thus far in his career, Coward has been marred by inconsistency. His feet are a little heavier than what most coaches would like. He has lots of raw power and aggressiveness, but Coward’s hands are a mess with both placement and timing.
While Coward certainly fits the Klemm profile in terms of his mindset, he is also stiff when moving laterally. Thus, how much of a fit can he truly be in a heavier zone scheme like the one Matt Canada wants to run? He seems like an odd fit, and one that does not make all that much sense.
Another contender here is Hassenauer, who started a few games for the Steelers last season. With experience at both center and guard, Hassenauer might be the odd man out of the interior offensive line room. Still, if he shows out enough, he could be a contender to take this job. However, there is little confidence that Hassenaeur inspires. He is not entirely athletic and his technique on all levels is a mess. Thus, if he is the starter, the Steelers are in a great deal of trouble.
The Steelers’ other free agent that they brought in, Joe Haeg is a do-it-all lineman who can play all five spots on the offensive line. While Haeg may be viewed as a swing tackle type as it stands, he can certainly play on the interior. In fact, Haeg may be better on the interior with a lack of length that can force him to overcompensate and get off-balance at tackle.
Haeg is extremely smart and moves relatively well for his size. While he may lack the true nasty that the Steelers are looking for, his lateral mobility and loose hips do make him an ideal candidate to be a high-level puller and zone blocker. This may be slightly unlikely, but only because Haeg is viewed more as a depth option at tackle.
The Steelers brought Collins in from the Vikings after he spent four often injured seasons in Minnesota. Collins is a guy who is massive and actually moves relatively well for his size. There is some versatility as he can move inside and outside, but Collins should not be expected to step up to the starter. On an offensive line with as many question marks as the Vikings, Collins was not able to step up in a reliable, starting capacity throughout his career.