When it comes to the construction of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ offensive line for 2020, the question that it really comes down to is this, and only this: do they have somebody other than Matt Feiler who can line up and start at right tackle?
No matter what the answer is to that question, the Steelers have options, and whichever options are not in the starting lineup will be the backups. But if neither Chukwuma Okorafor nor Zach Banner perform to a level that the team is comfortable with this offseason, then that means Feiler will have to stay put, and presumably Stefen Wisniewski will start at left guard.
His primary competition at that point would be rookie fourth-round pick Kevin Dotson, but given the circumstances, the odds are stacked against any rookie competing for a starting job, especially for a player coming from a background that didn’t even warrant is being invited to the Combine.
“We’re very comfortable with Matt’s position flexibility”, general manager Kevin Colbert said after the draft, adding that the right tackle job is “going to be determined maybe not by what he brings to the table but maybe by what others around him bring to the table in terms of guard depth or tackle depth. He provides us that type of flexibility. We’ve got complete confidence in him, and we’re excited about taking a look at what the young guard has”.
In other words, if they are comfortable with Wisniewski at guard, but not Okorafor and Banner at tackle, then he is going to start at tackle. If they find that one of those end players is a suitable starter for the position, then, most likely, he will start and kick Feiler inside.
At this point, I really don’t think Feiler has to ‘win’ a job. He is just going to be put wherever the team needs him to be most, whether that’s on the outside or at guard. He has two career starts at guard versus 25 at tackle, but he has also gotten a lot of work inside during offseasons in his first five years.
Okorafor is the Steelers’ 2018 third-round draft pick. He has started two games at right tackle, including one last season when the team moved Feiler inside to guard to replace Ramon Foster while he was injured. Banner is a former fourth-round pick from 2017 who was first acquired by the team during training camp in 2018.
After spending that year as a healthy scratch, Banner earned the gameday swing tackle role and played over 200 snaps as a tackle-eligible tight end. When the time came for somebody to start at tackle, however, they called upon Okorafor.
How much time there is to sort out this competition is yet to be determined. We are living in times of uncertainty right now, and it’s unknown when teams will be able to report to their facilities, but needless to say, for the purposes of sorting out the starting lineup, at least, the sooner the better.