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: Dan Moore will be the Steelers’ starting left tackle by the start of the 2022 season.
Explanation: The Steelers invested a fourth-round draft pick in Texas A&M tackle Dan Moore during the 2021 NFL Draft. In speaking about him after the draft, their plan seems to be to immediately throw him into the mix to compete for a starting job. He could in theory win one this year, but even if he fails to, Chukwuma Okorafor is a free agent after this season.
Given that the competition is something less than remarkable — not to take a shot at Chukwuma Okorafor, but at least up to this point in his career, he hasn’t shown himself to be somebody whom you’re not looking to upgrade from — it’s more than reasonable to wager that Dan Moore Jr. can wrest the starting left tackle job from his mitts by next year.
In fact, it’s reasonable to believe it is possible it happens this year. After all, Okorafor wasn’t actually a starter last season. He only entered the lineup after an injury to Zach Banner, and one can certainly critique his performance. One might even argue that the quick passing attack was in part a response to the lack of time the offensive line was giving Ben Roethlisberger to throw.
Even assuming the 2021 season is too early for Moore to step in, giving him a year should provide enough time to develop. Okorafor probably isn’t even going to be re-signed, given the Steelers’ perennial salary cap situation.
Dan Moore Jr. is a player with physical gifts, and talent. But you don’t get taken in the middle of the draft if you’re a shoo-in to become a starter down the road, let alone by the start of your second year. And right now it doesn’t matter if it’s Okorafor or somebody else. It could even be Joe Haeg stepping up.
But I’m certain that tackle is still on the Steelers’ radar. If they’re in a position to draft a franchise left tackle next year — ideally in the second round after landing a franchise quarterback in the first — they’re not going to pass just because of Moore.