2021 Offseason Questions: Could Dan Moore Jr. Be Surprise Starter In Opener?

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2020 season is now in the books, and 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, and 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, and 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 quote with the losses of Bud Dupree, Steven Nelson, and Mike Hilton?

These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked. There is rarely a concrete answer, but this is your venue for exploring the topics we present through all their uncertainty.

Question: Could Dan Moore Jr. possibly be a surprise opening-day starter for the Steelers at right tackle?

Zach Banner has played something like 12 snaps since his return from an ACL injury that he suffered about 11 months ago. He ‘earned’ the starting right tackle job last training camp, without a preseason, against Chukwuma Okorafor, who has become the default left tackle after Alejandro Villanueva’s departure.

But are we unnecessarily dismissing the possibility of rookie fourth-round pick Dan Moore Jr. actually being the opening-day starting right tackle? Banner did not travel with the team for last night’s game, related to his recovery from the knee injury, but that theme throughout camp has given Moore plenty of time to get work in.

Moore has played about as many snaps this August as anybody else in football, both on the left and right sides, but he has primarily played on the right side in the past three games. Has that shift been about not just measuring his position flexibility, but hedging against the possibility of Banner not being ready to go?

Might he have simply earned the right to start, at least for now? Could it be that the team feels comfortable enough with Moore playing for a while until they are at a point in Banner’s recovery that they are not concerned about playing him without restriction?

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