Over on Twitter yesterday, I asked Steelers’ Nation for who they think will be the starting Week 1 tackle against the New York Giants.
The results? A tie. Literally.
Of the over 1500 people who voted in my Twitter poll, Zach Banner and Matt Feiler each shared 36.1% of the vote. The only clarity was Chukwuma Okorafor coming in third place with 27.7% of the vote.
That’s pretty crazy. It was a close race the entire time as the poll was up, as you’d expect, with Banner and Feiler briefly leading, but things ended in a tie.
It’s a reflection of how I feel about the situation. Less so about Feiler, my belief is he’ll be starting at LG, but who will be the RT – Banner or Okorafor. The door is wide open for either.
The case for Banner is that he was the better player last season. Talent’s never been an issue for him. He was a top recruit out of high school, thrived at USC, and was a 4th round pick in the NFL (who probably only fell due to weight concerns). That weight issue caused him to tip the scales at over 400 pounds and nearly fall out of the league. He’s gotten his weight down in Pittsburgh and climbed the ladder, from mid-camp add to being a legitimate starting option. His concern will be clearing that final hurdle and dealing with speed rushers off the edge.
Okorafor was a raw, developmental type drafted in Mike Munchak’s final year. He looks the part, moves well, and cliche as it sounds, has tons of “upside” but was one of the team’s most disappointing players last preseason. He offered no challenge to Feiler for the RT spot and spent most of the year inactive, losing his hat to Banner. However, Okorafor got the nod at RT the one time Feiler kicked inside against the Rams. He’s also apparently healthy after offseason shoulder surgery, which could explain why he was so underpowered in 2020.
It’s truly a best-man-win scenario. Okorafor and Banner have lots to prove; Okorafor needs to show the investment in him was worth it while Banner’s in a contract year and playing for his financial future. I don’t know who’s going to win it and judging off the poll I posted, fans are just as split.