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Pitt sees offensive line shuffling in spring practices

Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

As is standard this time of year in the offseason, Pitt is shuffling some guys around on the offensive line. That's pretty typical and is no different this year with spring practices underway.

With tackle Adam Bisnowaty and guard Dorian Johnson graduating, Pitt has two open slots on its line. Brian O'Neill, who started last year at right tackle, is moving over to the left to replace Biz while backup Jaryd Jones-Smith takes his spot at right tackle. Last year's center, Alex Officer, heads over to left guard to replace the spot left vacant by Johnson and backup Connor Dintino looks to have the lead for the center job. The lone returnee at the same position is right guard Alex Bookser.

The Post-Gazette, I should add, also has a look at some other positions, if you're curious.

That might seem like chaos but I expect Pitt to fare well on the line again. Is it as strong as last year's group? Nope. Last year's line had two (what should be early-round) NFL Draft picks on it in Bisnowaty and Johnson. But there's still a lot here. O'Neill will be in his third-year as a starter and Bookser, his second. Officer is in his fourth year as a starter and while he's moving to guard from center, he started at guard in 2015, so it's not a new position for him at all. That's three guys with starting experience under the belts at their 2017 positions, with the exception of some movement to left or right.

Jaryd Jones-Smith is a new full-time starter, but he does have four spot starts in his career. And he's been with the program for four years heading into this season and has plenty of experience. You might also remember that he was expected to be a starter in 2015 before suffering a season-ending injury in conditioning workouts. Jones-Smith should get the most playing time he's ever had but he is more than capable.

Dintino is the biggest question mark, obviously, since his experience is limited. He's also new to offense having just moved there last year after coming over from defense. Dintino, of course, is no lock here. The other guys aren't necessarily either (in particular, if you read Pat Narduzzi's comments in that Post-Gazette link about newcomer Jerry Drake, you wonder if Jones-Smith's job is even safe) but they look much more firm with all of the experience they have.

But while the Dintino move has some concerns, the good thing to know is that Pitt still has Officer for this season. If Dintino struggles in practices, they can always move Officer back there and insert someone else at guard.

The offensive line has some questions and is a little weaker than last year. But it still returns enough to be considered a strength of the team.

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