While the 2020 starting offensive line hasn’t been set in stone for the Pittsburgh Steelers, it has generally been understood that, after the draft, we at least know the players, and what parts they will act out in the production of Big Ben’s Blockers, presented by Shaun Sarrett.
With Ramon Foster retiring and B.J. Finney parting in free agency, the team has since then signed veteran Stefen Wisniewski and drafted Kevin Dotson in the fourth round. Both are interior-exclusive players, with Dotson currently being guard-only, but Wisniewski has extensive starting experience at both guard and center.
Meanwhile, Matt Feiler’s position flexibility leaves him open for playing either right tackle or left guard. It is seemingly inevitable that he will play one of them, and wherever he doesn’t play, there is a fixed group of two challengers: Wisniewski and Dotson inside, and Chukwuma Okorafor and Zach Banner outside.
Or is there more wiggle room than that? Well, since you almost surely read the title before clicking, you already know. According to a recent column by Ed Bouchette for The Athletic, the coaching staff is still open to the idea of moving the third-year tackle, Okorafor, inside, believing that he has the athleticism to do so.
“The coaches have not decided whether to move Okorafor, drafted as a tackle in 2018, to guard but believe he has the size and athletic ability to easily do that”, he writes. Coming in, he was noted for his athleticism, and it was observed by his teammates during his rookie season.
“He has all the pedigree, athletic ability, looks great”, said former Steelers right tackle Marcus Gilbert during OTAs that year. “He has to just keep coming along and doing what we ask him to do, keep quiet and just come into work every day. I like his attitude”.
Alejandro Villanueva also spoke of the young tackle’s movement ability. “He’s very athletic. It’s very rare to find players that have such quick feet for his size”, he said of Okorafor. “Reminds you – I’m not going to use the name Trent Williams – you know, but he just moves very fluidly for his size. [He’s] got long arms, he’s a hard worker and so it’s a really good addition to the group”.
Frankly, I don’t really expect this to happen, but you certainly can’t rule it out. At 6’6”, 320 pounds, he is pretty big, but the Steelers have skewed big along their interior. Foster at 6’6”, and David DeCastro is 6’5”, weighing 315.
The Steelers would really like to see at least one starter emerge between Okorafor and Banner. If that has to come at guard in order to get one of them in the starting lineup, so be it. But if that were to end up happening, it would likely mean that they both failed to impress at right tackle, which would be just as concerning, given the free agency status in 2021 of both of their starting tackles.