Here’s an Idea: Let’s Move Willie Colon to Guard!

Well, well, well. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review‘s Scott Brown writes what a lot of us have been thinking since the Steelers drafted Willie Colon in 2006.

In a piece looking at the organization’s draft needs, Brown notes:

The Steelers want Flozell Adams, who proved to be a revelation at right tackle last season, to return for 2011, and the 13th-year veteran has given every indication that he intends to do so. Max Starks and Willie Colon, the team’s starting tackles for most of ’08 and ’09, are expected to make full recoveries from their respective neck and foot injuries.

“If all three are with the Steelers next season it could give the team the flexibility to experiment with Colon at guard — or simply make it harder on the coaches to settle on the top five linemen.

I’d happily welcome Flozell back in 2011. He was the second-best o-lineman on the team after Maurkice Pouncey, and as JJ pointed out at various points last season, probably more important. The falloff from Flozell to Trai Essex is more pronounced than Pouncey to Dougie Legursky. While Essex played well in a reserve role, given the choice between having Pouncey or Flozell on the field, I’ll begrudgingly take Flozell.

Brown’s contention that this could be an opportunity for the Steelers to kick Colon inside to right guard is … well, also the same stuff fans have been screaming for years. A couple problems with that: every time the subject is mentioned, the Steelers say it ain’t happening. Maybe they have finally changed courses, or maybe Brown is spit-ballin’. Either way, I don’t think it’s the worst idea ever. In fact, I fully support it (just like you!).

I can’t even remember the reasons the Steelers would trot out whenever the “Hey, when are you moving Colon inside?” questions started but I think it had something to do with him being the team’s best option at right tackle. Well, that’s no longer true.

Another issue, and this is something JJ and talked about on a previous podcast: depending on how the labor deal plays out, Colon could be a free agent. Assuming the Steelers try to re-sign him, Willie will probably want tackle money over “Guess what? You’re moving to guard!” money. That could be a problem. And if Colon walks, the problem grows. A 2011 starting lineup of Starks, Kemoeatu, Pouncey, Colon and Flozell would be remarkable. And even if Colon signs elsewhere, Pittsburgh has plenty of options to play right guard. But god forbid Flozell gets hurt next season, not to mention what will happen to the line in 2012 when Flozell’s contract expires.

Brown, who seems to have solid Steelers sources, doesn’t attach the “Colon could play guard” sentiments to anyone in the organization, so for now we’re just speculating.

As for my post last week wondering about the Steelers’ biggest first-round draft need, Mike Mayock throws some baking soda on my “We need a cornerback!” grease fire.

“If you’re looking for a cornerback at the end of the first round, you might have a problem.” Duly noted.

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  • EasyLikeSundayMorning

    I wonder if the lack of a new CBA last year cost Colon more money than any other player in the league. Guys like Woodley had to wait longer for their big paychecks but most will eventually be paid (or already have). But the combo of being a UFA instead of an RFA and then getting hurt has probably cost Colon many millions of dollars.

    • GlennW

      Yep. On the other hand, last summer Colon’s agent was talking about Willie being one of the top RTs in the league who was destined to make his money in free agency, and the Steelers weren’t biting on that kind of talk as a negotiation opener. I’ve long felt that these kind of more marginal players should make sure they cash in at least once in what is an injury-plagued profession, before gambling with their futures. Many/most don’t see it that way though.

  • EasyLikeSundayMorning

    I asked this in another thread: could Flozell play RG? He seems great “in a phone booth” but not as good in space. Due to his size and strength, he could probably handle most NTs. This could allow Pouncey to use his mobility and pull more, and I’m guessing he’d be better at that than Kemo.

    If Colon is healthy, he could be the RT, and paying him starter RT money would make more sense if he’s actually a starter at RT.

  • Anonymous

    The full Mayock transcript is here:

    http://fifthdown.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/02/21/mike-mayocks-thoughts-on-combine/#more-74588

    Steelers-relevant portions:

    MAYOCK: “I think corner and offensive line are their two most obvious areas of need. Pittsburgh is one of those teams that typically takes the highest rated player at their biggest position of need. And Kevin has done a great job with that.

    Remember, these are my preferences. Pittsburgh might like the kid from Texas. They might like the kid from Miami. I happen to think the kid from Miami to me is a second or third round corner. He’s not a first round corner.

    The kid from Texas, Aaron Williams, to me I’m still trying to figure him out. I’ve watched about three or four of his tapes, and he’s the guy that could fit in at the end of the first round.

    Aaron Williams, I think would be interesting to them. He’ll tackle. He’s kind of a physical guy, bigger corner. He might be the guy that they look at. If it’s not corner, then I think it has to be offensive line.

    I thought they did a great job keeping it together with all the injuries they’ve had this year. But they’ve got to go get one of those big tackles that I’ve already mentioned or get one of those inside guys. One way or another, they’ve got to upgrade the athleticism of the offensive line.”

    • http://www.steelerslounge.com/ ryan

      Awesome. Thanks for posting this.

    • DC in ATL

      Thanks for the link. There were a couple other interesting Mayock observations that are relevant to the Steelers:

      “I think depending on what you’re looking for ‑ and this is how I always look at it ‑ if you’re looking for a corner at the end of the first round, you might have a problem. If you’re looking for a defensive end, a defensive tackle or maybe an offensive tackle, you’re in luck.”

      And

      “It’s a pretty good year for interior offensive linemen. You don’t necessarily have to get them in the first round.”

      This one was cool:

      “The most impressive corner I’ve ever seen in my life from a physical perspective was the day I walked into the Pittsburgh training camp in 1981 as a tenth round pick. They had a guy named Mel Blount who redefined the position at 6’4″ and they changed the rules because of him.”

  • Randy Steele

    Brouchette published this exact item in his PG-plus column today. It was part of an interview he had with Tomlin and two other reporters. It was Tomlin who said that he wanted to retain Flozell and play him and RT, and the coaches would then consider moving Colon to guard.

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