With good reason, there’s a lot of questions that the Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line will need to answer in 2021 concerning the overall quality of the unit. That’s not a bit surprising on the heels of the unit being overhauled this offseason. So, what is the overall national view of the Steelers offensive line with training camps around the NFL now getting underway? Probably just as you would expect. In short, not favorable, and especially when it comes to Pro Football Focus.
In PFFs recent and updated offensive line rankings for 2021 that were released on Thursday, Steve Palazzolo has the Steelers unit ranked 31st overall with only the New York Giants being behind the group.
Below are the first and last paragraphs from Palazzolo’s analysis of why he has the Steelers ranked 31st overall.
With three new starters up front, Pittsburgh’s offensive line enters 2021 with its most question marks in years. The unit regressed to 17th in our final 2020 rankings after years of exemplifying the way offensive lines should be built — with solid starters and limited weaknesses in the starting lineup.
The Steelers enter 2021 with big question marks all over the place, and their offensive line looks like a bottom-tier unit unless players develop across the board.
In the middle of his reasoning, Palazzolo breaks down each projected starter on the Steelers offensive line based on the site’s grading of each and as you would imagine, it’s not very favorable overall. You can read it all yourself if you have the stomach.
While I would expect the Steelers offensive line to be ranked in the bottom quarter of the NFL at this point of the offseason, it does feel like a 31st overall ranking is a bit harsh. After all, guards Trai Turner and Kevin Dotson should at least count for a little something. Turner, who by no means is the player he once was just a few years ago, does have a proven track record prior to him dealing with injuries the last few seasons. If he can stay healthy in 2021, he should at least be serviceable. As for Dotson, the future looks bright for him as he heads into his second season. He very well could become a top 10-15 guard in the NFL in 2021.
While its understandable that most will be down on tackle Chukwuma Okorafor as he heads into his fourth NFL season, at least he is making the move to the left in 2021 and that’s his more natural side. As for the team’s right tackle, Zach Banner, he did play okay in his limited snaps at the position in Week 1 of 2020 before suffering his season-ending knee injury.
As for center, we’ll see if rookie Kendrick Green can win the job outright this summer. You would hope he can with him being a third-round draft pick this year and with the bar for him to clear this summer only being B.J. Finney and J.C. Hassenauer.
Make no mistake about it, the Steelers 2021 offensive line needs to at least be average or better in 2021 if the team expects to compete week in and week out, especially when it comes to the run blocking part. The team drafted running back Najee Harris in the first round as part of them attempting to fix their ground game, which has been awful the last few seasons. Harris, however, can’t fix it all on his own.
In summation, I get the Steelers offensive line being ranked very low overall heading into training camps, as there certainly are a lot of questions that the unit needs to answer in a hurry in 2021. I do not, however, get them being ranked next to last.
We’ll find out soon enough if PFF’s 31st overall ranking for the Steelers offensive line was justified, as there are now just 52 days until the team plays their first game of the 2021 regular season.