The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2020 season is now in the books. It ended in spectacular fashion — though the wrong kind of spectacular — in a dismal postseason defeat at the hands of the Cleveland Browns, sending them into an early offseason mode after going 12-4 in the regular season and winning the AFC North for the first time in three years.
Since then, they have lost several players in free agency who were key members of the offense and defense. Multiple starters retired, as well. They made few notable additions in free agency, and are banking on contributions on offense from their rookies, as well as perhaps a last ride for Ben Roethlisberger.
The only thing facing them now as they head into 2021 is more questions. Right now, they lack answers. They know that they have Roethlisberger for one more year, but was that even the right decision? How successful can Najee Harris be behind a questionable offensive line? What kind of changes can Matt Canada and Adrian Klemm bring to the offense? And how can the defense retain the status quo with the losses of Bud Dupree, Steven Nelson, and Mike Hilton?
These are the sorts of questions we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football is a year-round pastime and there are always questions to ask, though there is rarely a concrete answer. This is your venue for exploring the topics we present through all of their uncertainty.
Question: What are the odds of Dan Moore Jr. being able to win a starting tackle job?
Pretty much since around mid-April or so, when it became really clear that the Steelers were not going to re-sign Alejandro Villanueva, the assumption has been that Chukwuma Okorafor and Zach Banner would be the starting tackles. Banner was re-signed as an unrestricted free agent to a decent little deal, but Okorafor is still on (the final year of) his rookie contract.
The fact that the team did not address the tackle position in the draft until the fourth round didn’t help the perception that this is who they’re going with, but right since the pick was made, offensive line coach Adrian Klemm has argued that that rookie, Dan Moore Jr., would be able to compete right away.
We didn’t hear much in the way of positivity about him during the spring, but reports have been better in training camp, which shouldn’t be surprising. The offensive line is not as flashy in shorts as skill positions are.
The fact that Okorafor and Banner have been spending time out of team drills has given Moore plenty of time to get high-quality reps in. It remains to be seen, but he may even start a preseason game or two. Head coach Mike Tomlin said that all positions are open for competition, but how realistic is it that the Aggie is on the field (and not as a tackle-eligible) for the first snap of the season?