An interesting story came out over the weekend to little fanfare. In fact, it is one that sounds almost impossible to believe for Pittsburgh Steelers fans, the Steelers made a late push for unrestricted free agent offensive tackle Jake Long. Of course, they were too late, as Long was already working out details on his contract with the St. Louis Rams.Marcus Gilbert, who is coming off a season ending injury, would be penciled in to that spot. These are all great reasons to make such a move, but there are a couple problems with the scenario. First, this goes against everything the Steelers have done in the past in free agency. Secondly, it is hard to see where they would be able to swing the salary cap space for a move such as that. If they are serious and want to improve the offensive line, it would likely have to come from the draft.
One prospect that may be available at number 17 if things fall the right way on draft day is Lane Johnson, offensive tackle from Oklahoma. While this is unlikely to happen, as he will probably be the third tackle off the board going somewhere in the top 15, stranger things have taken place.
The 6-6, 310-pound tackle is extremely athletic with intriguing upside. A two-year starter at offensive tackle, he is still learning the position after starting his college career as a tight end and defensive end. During his time at tackle, he developed into a solid edge blocker in the pass happy Big 12 Conference. At the Senior Bowl, he demonstrated those pass blocking skills and was one of the more impressive prospects to make the trip to the All Star Game.
He followed up that performance with a tremendous NFL Combine, where he demonstrated the quick feet and agility that made him a solid left tackle in college. In all, he put up solid numbers with a 4.7240-yard dash and recording 28 reps at 225.
With all of the holes that the Steelers have to fill, it would be hard to see them take another offensive lineman early in the draft. Although, it would not be impossible, especially if a player like Johnson falls into their laps. At this point, it does not look like any position except quarterback, kicker or punter would be off the table at number 17.
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