We’ve said goodbye to all of the prominent members of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ roster from a year ago. So now it’s time to introduce ourselves to the new blood. Many of them, of course, are draft picks. The team also ended up picking up numerous players via free agency. The majority of those we’ll likely be seeing in-season at some point.
Roster turnover is an inevitability in the NFL, but the 2021 season marked greater change than normal. Pittsburgh will account for some of those adjustments internally. But it will also require the supplementing of a number of new components. We’ll be reintroducing ourselves to those players over the course of this series.
The Steelers continued on Day 3 of the draft where they left off on day two: Drafting offensive linemen. After selecting center Kendrick Green out of Illinois in the third round, they used their first of six day-three picks on another, tackle Dan Moore Jr. out of Texas A&M.
The pick came following an offseason that saw them lose six-year starting left tackle Alejandro Villanueva (as well as former starting right tackle Matt Feiler), leaving them with Zach Banner recovering from a torn ACL to play on the right side and Chukwuma Okorafor to play on the left, which he hasn’t done in the NFL.
While the momentum of the offseason still appears to be heading in that direction, offensive line coach Adrian Klemm did say right after the team drafted Moore that it was his expectation that he would be able to compete right away.
Early reports from training camp did seem to be more positive surrounding him than what we’ve heard from OTAs and minicamp, but it’s worth noting that today’s practice will be the first with pads on, and, well, it’s hard to tell a lot about offensive linemen without full-contact practice sessions.
With Okorafor nursing a mild injury and the Steelers slowly bringing Banner along back from his injury, Moore has gotten plenty of opportunities to get quality reps through the early portions of training camp, and he figures to get good playing time in the preseason, as well.
If he really has the talent to start right away, I do think he will be given a fair opportunity. If not, then it remains to be seen if he will even dress for games on Sundays, because Joe Haeg is their other backup tackle, and he has a background of lining up as a tackle-eligible tight end, something the Steelers have featured in their offense for going on a decade now.
Does Moore have what it takes to start as a rookie? If so, he figures to be one of perhaps three at least in the starting lineup, in addition to Green, and of course first-round running back Najee Harris, with second-round tight end Pat Freiermuth receiving a healthy amount of playing time as well.