The following is the third of seven position-by-position 2012 Pittsburgh Steelers NFL draft analyses:
Current makeup: Maurkice Pouncey
Last five drafts: Pouncey is living up to his first-round selection in 2010. A.Q. Shipley (seventh round, 2009) is still trying to find a spot in the NFL.
Top centers available: Peter Konz, Wisconsin; Philip Blake, Baylor; Ben Jones, Georgia; Michael Brewster, Ohio State; David Molk, Michigan
The Steelers might take: Quentin Saulsberry, Mississippi State
Analysis: The Steelers don't need to select a center, because if Pouncey gets injured again, they have Doug Legursky and Trai Essex to switch over from guard. However, they may pull the trigger on a center-guard combination, like Saulsberry, in the later rounds because they like their linemen to be versatile.
Current makeup: Ramon Foster, Doug Legursky, Trai Essex, John Malecki
Last five drafts: The Steelers enjoyed more luck with free agents Foster and Legursky than draft picks Cameron Stephenson (fifth round, 2007), Kraig Urbik (third round, 2009) and Keith Williams (sixth round, 2011).
Top guards available: David DeCastro, Stanford; Kevin Zeitler, Wisconsin; Jeff Allen, Illinois; Brandon Brooks, Miami, Ohio; Tony Bergstrom, Utah
The Steelers might take: Brooks; Bergstrom; Amini Silatolu, Midwestern State; Brandon Washington, Miami; Senio Kelemete, Washington; Lucas Nix, Pittsburgh
Analysis: The Steelers would like to upgrade the guard position after releasing Chris Kemoeatu and re-signing unsung Foster, Legursky and Essex. Their lack of success with drafting true guards should make them hesitant in taking one in the first two days of the draft (rounds one-three). However, they may take a gamble on a guard early on the third day, especially one that has tackle experience, such as Silatolu, Washington and Kelemete.
Current makeup: Willie Colon, Marcus Gilbert, Jonathan Scott, Chris Scott, Trevis Turner
Last five drafts: Gilbert (2011, second round) earned a lot of experience as a rookie but is now shifting from right tackle to left. Chris Scott (fifth round, 2011) will get a final shot with the team this summer, and Tony Hills (2008, fourth round) didn't play much in Pittsburgh and is now not playing in Denver.
Top offensive tackles available: Matt Kalil, Southern Cal; Riley Reiff, Iowa; Jonathan Martin, Stanford; Cordy Glenn, Georgia; Mike Adams, Ohio State; Bobby Massie, Mississippi
The Steelers might take: Glenn; Adams; Massie; Kelechi Osemele, Iowa State; Zebrie Sanders, Florida State; Mitchell Schwartz, California
Analysis: If the Steelers are unsure of Gilbert's development and Colon's health, they need to take a highly-regarded tackle. Glenn, Adams and/or Massie could be available to them with the 24th pick of the first round, and Osemele, Sanders and Schwartz are more second- and third-rounders. If the Steelers are feeling confident with their current group of tackles, they'll still select one in the later rounds to bring in as a project.
Coming Sunday: Wide receivers and tight ends
- Buck Frank