2020 Pre-Training Camp Roster Review: Tackle

The last time that we took a look back at the Pittsburgh Steelers’ roster in review, it was weeks before the 2020 NFL Draft took place. It would be safe to say that quite a bit has changed since then, and the changes apply to almost every position on the roster, some major changes, some minor.

We are closing in on the opening of the Steelers’ several weeks of training camp, this time not at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, so it would be a good time to pause and take stock of where the team stands at each position as we head into the most critical process of the offseason.

Position: Tackle

Total Positional Figure: 8

Additions: 2

Deletions: 0

Players Retained:

Alejandro Villanueva: Entering the final year of his contract, things could go either way for Villanueva this year. 2019 was a bit of a down campaign, but he is still a more than serviceable option. What will his open-market price be?

Matt Feiler: The good thing is that the Steelers know they have a starting right tackle in Feiler. He has 25 starts there the last two years, with a generally high level of play, even if he won’t wow you. Whether or not they have another starting right tackle will determine if he starts there.

Chukwuma Okorafor: One of the candidates is Okorafor, going into his third season as a former third-round pick. He has started two games there in his first two seasons, but dealt with injuries last year. Zach Banner was the number two tackle on game day.

Zach Banner: As mentioned, Banner was the one who dressed for every game. Okorafor dressed once all season. Banner played over 200 snaps on offense, as the tackle-eligible. But that was almost exclusively run-blocking. Can he pass protect well enough to be a franchise right tackle?

Derwin Gray: A seventh-round pick a year ago, Gray actually spent all year stuck at guard, but he played tackle throughout his high school and college career. He also wasn’t fully healthy, and admitted he needed a ‘redshirt’ year on the practice squad. I would assume he will get some work at tackle this year.

Christian DiLauro: Like Gray, DiLauro is tackle-guard capable. He was also on the practice squad by the end of the year.

Players Added:

Anthony Coyle: Originally an undrafted free agent in 2018, Coyle has bounced around, including with the XFL earlier this year, which is where the Steelers signed him from in April shortly before the draft.

Jarron Jones: Jones, like Coyle, was also signed after playing in the XFL. He first came into the NFL in 2017 as an undrafted free agent. He was a five-tech defensive lineman in college.

Players Lost: N/A

Notes and Camp Outlook: 

Tackle contains the most significant training camp battle on the roster, ostensibly between Zach Banner and Chukwuma Okorafor, but also involving Matt Feiler. This is a big moment for both of the young tackles and will have a major impact on their future.

Let’s also not discount Gray, who while not the most athletic prospect was a capable starter at Maryland. He didn’t get a chance to play tackle last year. Now fully healthy, I’m sure he’ll be looking to show he belongs on the 53-man roster, possibly as a four-position player.

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