The Pittsburgh Steelers used two draft picks on offensive linemen during the 2021 NFL Draft. Both of them have displayed starter-quality traits through their first preseason, though only one of them is expected to begin his career in the starting lineup, that being third-round center Kendrick Green.
Drafted right behind him was Dan Moore Jr., the tackle out of Texas A&M. While offensive line coach Adrian Klemm said after he was drafted that the thought Moore could compete right away, it’s not clear if he has been seriously considered for a starting job out of the gate.
Nevertheless, he has managed to play extensively, both in training camp and in the preseason, in part thanks to injuries to the Steelers’ starters, Chukwuma Okorafor and Zach Banner. The rookie has logged 138 offensive snaps in the preseason, with 69 at left tackle and 69 at right tackle, which is a nice amount of playing time. That, combined with playing against Alex Highsmith and Melvin Ingram, has been a crash course for his early growth, which he said after Friday’s game has helped “A tremendous amount”.
“The amount of snaps I’ve gotten, the help that I’ve gotten from vets—offense and defense—the coaches, I think I’ve grown so much”, he told reporters. “Alex Highsmith, Melvin Ingram, Cam [Heyward], a lot of those guys. [Chris] Worm[ley], even some of the linebackers. Huge help”.
That is always the hidden advantage of having a positional strength on your team—it forces their opponents on the other side of the ball to grow, to at least be competitive, even if you’re clearly outclassed.
Moore is a natural left tackle, and he did have some rough moments, especially in this last game, working on the right side—playing against the Carolina Panthers’ starters last week, for example—but it is something he must adjust to to begin his career.
Because the Steelers evidently plan for him to be their swing tackle to start the season, rather than act as a starter, this in spite of the fact that Banner has only logged a dozen snaps during the preseason, as he works back from a torn ACL suffered 11 months ago.
Many fans, of course, are wondering when or if Moore will get a chance to start, fueled in part by a lack of enthusiasm behind the prospect of Okorafor at left tackle, taking over a position occupied by Alejandro Villanueva for the past six seasons. Could we see him transition into a starter at some point during his rookie season? I certainly don’t think we can rule it out.