With the 128th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers selected Texas A&M tackle Dan Moore Jr. Moore and the Steelers’ other eight picks could be packaged up into one quick, overall grade. But why not take a detailed look at each individual pick from a number of different viewpoints, before determining a final grade for the player, and later on the entire class?
I designed this exercise to look at and give letter grades based on six specific ways to view the pick (listed below), before taking all that analysis and combining it into a final letter grade. Those five viewpoints comprise much of what goes into the draft grades consumed by so many every year after the draft.
Team Need: Does the player fill a weaker spot on the roster?
Team Fit: Does this player and his skillset fit what the team likes to do offensively and defensively?
Immediate Contributor: Will the player be able to play a big role as a rookie?
Long-Term Contributor: Will the player be a significant part of the team’s future in some capacity?
Pick Value: Did the team reach on this player? Did they pick up a steal who should have gone earlier?
Other Options: Who were the other players still on the board at that selection, both overall and at that specific position?
Overall Grade: A final mark to denote whether the selection was an overall positive one, or one that could’ve been better spent elsewhere.
Each factor doesn’t apply evenly to every pick made. For example, a first round selection is expected to be an immediate contributor to the team, while a seventh-rounder is fortunate to just make the roster.
Some factors do, though. Whether picked first overall or 259th, there will always be other options on the board to compare the player to, and steals and reaches can come from any place in the draft.
Round 4, Pick 23: Dan Moore Jr., OT, Texas A&M
TEAM NEED: A
The need at tackle isn’t necessarily as pressing as the one at center, which was an open job. Pittsburgh has two players who were likely filling the starting spots on either side of the line. But the need at tackle was absolutely there. Zach Banner at right tackle shows plenty of promise as a long-term piece of the line. The same is tougher to say for Chukwuma Okorafor on the left side. The Steelers needed to address the position to push both men for time, and to compete primarily with the latter for the starting role, and give Pittsburgh another potential starting option down the line.
TEAM FIT: B+
As stated with my recent grading of Kendrick Green as the team’s pick in the third, this section is an incomplete one. Pittsburgh and new OL coach Adrian Klemm are reworking the team’s scheme in an offense led by new OC Matt Canada. Moore may fit what those men put together perfectly, or the exact opposite.
Based on the information at hand, Moore is a strong fit for what Pittsburgh is likely to do along the line. He is an athletic tackle with the ability to move and get to blocks around his area, and handle multiple types of rushes. He brings a physical component to his game as well, something the Steelers strive to see in all their linemen regardless of the scheme and type of blocking being used. Unless Canada and Klemm are really going through an absolute and total overhaul of the team’s strategy, Moore likely fits whatever they put together.
IMMEDIATE CONTRIBUTOR: C-
Moore is a fit for what the team wants to do. But as stated above, while the Steelers needed a tackle, they did have returning players scheduled to start at both spots. A first or second round pick at the position could change those plans. Moore Jr. in the fourth isn’t nearly as likely to unseat Okorafor as the starter on the blind side.
He has some areas of his game to refine before he can better compete for the starting job, and not only is he playing behind the presumed pair of starters, but one of Pittsburgh’s biggest offseason moves was the signing of tackle Joe Haeg. It’s entirely possible a great camp and quicker acclimation to the NFL level than expected could get Moore into the starting lineup, or at least reps as the primary backup. For now though, the likelier outcome is a year to learn for Moore (even projected as a possibility this morning by our Alex Kozora), and a concrete opportunity to fight for the starting job in 2022.
LONG-TERM CONTRIBUTOR: B+
The Steelers made this pick with the long-term in mind. Moore has a great chance at a long-term future with the franchise. Okorafor is in the final year of his contract. Moore would be one of the main contenders to replace him at LT if he is not back next season. Banner on the other side is about to spend his first full season as a starter. Any falters would have Moore one of the next names up.
Even if both those names retain their posts beyond this season, or the team drafts a blue-chipper early next class, Moore has ample opportunity to stick as a long-term backup on the roster. Someone who can get on either side in a pinch and do his job dependably is a tremendous asset. Even if that is Moore’s ceiling, that makes him a strong value and long-term contributor for a fourth-round pick. But I bet he gets a chance to fight for the starting job at some point.
PICK VALUE: B
Moore was projected by most to be a later Day 3 pick in the final two rounds or back end of the fifth, though some such as Gil Brandt did have him higher than that. By that measure alone, picking him 128th qualifies as a reach. However to add context, linemen were going fast and furious during the draft, thinning out what was a deeper class earlier than projected. That helps the Steelers’ case for taking him higher.
Balancing those two contrasting factors out, I don’t hate the value of this pick. Yes, it qualifies as a reach. But in the flow of the draft and with how linemen were being prioritized, Pittsburgh had to make that call or miss out on a much-needed tackle entirely. So it’s a reach, but not one so bad that the grade needs completely tanked as a result.
OTHER OPTIONS: A-
First, look at Moore in comparison to his other tackles on the board at the selection. The next ones chosen were Josh Ball, D’Ante Smith, Larry Borom, Brenden Jaimes, and Tommy Doyle. Of those, Doyle is the only one I really stop and give some major thought too, but not enough to definitively advocate for swapping the pick. Stone Forsythe is the name who I had above Moore’s for sure. His drop all the way to the mid-sixth tells me teams saw something worrisome, though.
As far as other positions, there were other players I think are worth a mention. Robert Rochell (CB), Tylan Wallace (WR), Marco Wilson (CB), and Tyree Gillespie (S) went later in the fourth, and Shaun Wade (CB) and Daelin Hayes (EDGE) headline a group of fifth-round names who could have been the selection here. Are any names who warrant calling this selection a missed pick? I have a hard time stating that, particularly given that tackle was one of the two biggest needs for Pittsburgh entering Day 3. Pittsburgh made about the best choice they could have to balance need and best player available with how the board fell to them at 128.
OVERALL GRADE: A-
Even if a day one starter wasn’t essential in this draft, there was no way Pittsburgh could afford to make its selections and not pick up a tackle among them. Even if the big boards and projections indicate it was a reach, the Steelers did well to get Moore given how the draft had fallen to them at that point and the emphasis teams placed on drafting tackles.
Playing in the SEC as a long-time starter for A&M, Moore went against the best competition in college football and held his own enough to start over 30 consecutive games. His athletic game and underlying power are a good pick-up for Pittsburgh anywhere on Day 3. He should contribute in some way by the end of his second season. Even if his ceiling never gets above being the main backup at tackle, this is a successful pick if he can reach that role. If he goes above it, it becomes one of the best values of the draft among a deep tackle class.