Center Maurkice Pouncey kept a close eye on the recent NFL Draft, checking in on who his new Steelers teammates would be. When he learned the first two picks, and three overall in the draft, were going to be joining him in the offensive line room he couldn't help but be thrilled.
"It's definitely exciting," said Pouncey. "The draft picks we got are really, really good picks. Hopefully they get in here ready to work. I know all of the guys will be excited about it and I know the coaches will be too."
The Steelers selected guard David DeCastro in the first round, tackle Mike Adams in the second and guard Kelvin Beachum in the seventh round, continuing a trend that started when Pouncey was a first-round pick in 2010 and tackle Marcus Gilbert a second round pick in 2011.
"It's always good to add on and improve your room with good, young, talented offensive linemen," said Gilbert. "We are looking forward to having them in our room. I think our coaches addressed what we needed. We needed depth in the offensive line room with the injuries last year. These young guys can come in and help us tremendously."
If there is one thing everyone on the line is hoping for this year it is stability. There were nine different starting combinations on the line last year, beginning week one when tackle Willie Colon was lost for the season. Injuries throughout the year had the coaches continually shuffling the line, something that nobody wants this year.
"You have to build chemistry with who you play next to," said Gilbert. "If you build a bond with the guy you are playing next to that can help tremendously. With all of the injuries it was difficult, especially going into the next week not knowing who you will have. It was frustrating last year, but I think we have a lot of guys that can come in and help us and are willing to push and get ready to play."
It's too early to know what type of role the draft picks will play, but the veterans are anxious to work with them and get them up to speed and ready to roll.
"I talked to DeCastro and Adams after the draft," said Pouncey. "They were both excited about it and ready to get to work. They sounded young and excited like I was. I remember when I first got drafted and Hines Ward called me and I figured it was my time to start doing that so I reached out to a couple of them, especially the offensive linemen."
Gilbert also spoke with both, and is willing to share some of the lessons he learned as a rookie. Gilbert didn't have the advantage of a full offseason last year because of the NFL lockout, and wants to be certain this year's draft class doesn't waste a minute learning the offense before training camp.
"They are willing to come in and follow the older guys lead and compete and help the team any way they can on the field," said Gilbert. "They need to know how to study the game as a professional. Around this time last year I missed it and never really learned how to watch film and break down an NFL defensive scheme. I went into the season not knowing all of those details and how you see the game as an offensive lineman. I think these guys will have a better understanding. They won't need to rush through plays and getting to know the different schemes.
"It's basically learning how to handle the week as a professional. I followed the lead of the older guys on the team and seeing how they really handled themselves during the week and prepared. What I learned is the harder you go during the week in practice and the film room, the easier the game will come to you."
While Pouncey and Gilbert might still be young players themselves, they are more than willing to step up to the plate and be leaders this year.
"Coach (Mike) Tomlin addressed that with both of us," said Gilbert. "He wants us to take a bigger lead and make it our room and get these guys going. We want to bring a lot of energy to the offensive line room.
"It means a lot that he wants that from us. It shows how invested the coaches are in you and what they think you are able to bring to the table. I think last year I was able to show them that. It just means a lot. I took a lot from the older guys last year as far as leadership. I want to take it to the next level."