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: Zach Banner’s performance will not be a concern this season.
Explanation: Despite winning the starting right tackle job last year, Banner didn’t even get a chance to finish one game, as he suffered a torn ACL late in his debut. While he hasn’t technically ‘won’ back the job, it’s a virtual given that he will play there after re-signing one a fairly healthy two-year deal for someone with a few hundred career snaps.
Zach Banner will prove to be a quality starting right tackle. And he will be a plus run blocker as the offense gradually shifts to a unit that places more emphasis on the running game in preparation for the post-Ben Roethlisberger era, where his strength and power will be an asset.
While he is certainly a load, at 6’8” though having in recent years kept himself at a healthy weight, there may be some concerns about his ability to hold up in the pass rush. But so much of the game has more to do with brains over brawn, focusing on managing stunts and blitzes and things like that. He’s been in the system for years now, and knows how all that works.
Banner has started one game. That in itself is a problem, but it’s also true that that start left something to be desired, especially in pass protection. Now he is coming back from a torn ACL, which is going to do his performance no favors in terms of flexibility. Quick, agile edge rushers are going to be a problem, and quite possibly to a debilitating degree.
There’s a reason the Steelers drafted Dan Moore Jr. They think he can start, at some point. If Banner is struggling to protect the quarterback, and Moore makes progress, it’s not even unheard of that we could see a change in the starting lineup this year as they continue to troubleshoot what their line needs to look like in order to get the job done.