The offseason is inevitably a period of projection and speculation, which makes it the ideal time to ponder the hypotheticals that the Pittsburgh Steelers will face over the course of the next year, whether it is addressing free agency, the draft, performance on the field, or some more ephemeral topic.
That is what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).
The range of topics will be intentionally wide, from the general to the specific, from the immediate to that in the far future. And as we all tend to have an opinion on just about everything, I invite you to share your own each morning on the topic statement of the day.
Topic Statement: Chukwuma Okorafor will be the Steelers’ starting left tackle in 2021.
Explanation: After starting 16 games at right tackle last season, and with Alejandro Villanueva remaining unsigned, Chukwuma Okorafor is potentially positioned to move to left tackle, where he was more comfortable in college. Zach Banner was re-signed, but is more likely to play right tackle.
It would be very surprising if the Steelers draft a tackle in the first round this year, with the top prospects already gone by the time they pick, and it being a deep year for the position. There will be less of a gap between late first-round picks and third-round picks at that spot than there are in most years.
They won’t want to throw too many rookies in front of Ben Roethlisberger, either. You already have Kevin Dotson entering the starting lineup, and potentially with a rookie center. Banner has one start. Okorafor is the second-most experienced lineman Roethlisberger has right now behind David DeCastro. Think about that for a minute.
There is reason to believe that he could be better at left tackle than right tackle, including the simple fact that that’s where he spent the majority of his time playing in college. But his skill set better suits him there as well.
Whether or not it would be a surprise, it is very possible that the Steelers draft tackle in the first round, and if they do, there’s a very good chance that he starts. Even a day two tackle could potentially win a starting job over Okorafor. The former third-round pick has lost multiple training camp battles for starting jobs already.
And there’s still quite the possibility that Alejandro Villanueva does get re-signed. There were reports that the team was interested in bringing him back, to the point where they asked him to hold off on selling some property here that he was going to put up. Obviously, if he comes back, he’s starting at left tackle.