Now that the regular season has begun, following yet another year of disappointment, a fourth consecutive season with no postseason victories, it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically where Steelers players stand individually based on what we have seen and are seeing over the course of the offseason and the regular season as it plays out. We will also be reviewing players based on their previous season and their prospects for the future. A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasoning. In some cases, it will be based on more long-term trends. In other instances, it will be a direct response to something that just happened. Because of this, we can and will see a player more than once over the course of the season as we move forward.
Player: LT Dan Moore Jr.
Stock Value: Up
Reasoning: The inevitable was confirmed yesterday with the release of the first official depth chart for the regular season, listing rookie Dan Moore Jr. as the starter at left tackle—at least for now.
The Steelers are set to have four rookies start the season opener on Sunday against the Buffalo Bills. It was long thought since immediately following the draft that two—first-round running back Najee Harris and third-round center Kendrick Green—would get the call, but second-round tight end Pat Freiermuth also received a co-starter distinction with Eric Ebron.
And fourth-round tackle Dan Moore Jr. is, at least for now, listed as the starter at left tackle, where he has been practicing for the past week or so with the starters. Chukwuma Okorafor was slated to start there, but was moved back to the right side after Zach Banner was placed on the Reserve/Injured List, meaning he will miss at least the first three games.
Banner won the starting right tackle job last season, but tore his ACL toward the end of the opening game. Okorafor played the rest of the season there, so he obviously has a level of comfort playing there via experience. Moore is a natural left tackle and looked much better playing on that side during the preseason than he did on the right, so the Moore-Okorafor pairing, left to right, makes the most logical sense with Banner absent.
The two-fold question that we are left with, then, is how well Moore will play at left tackle over the course of these next three-plus games, and if he will play well enough to remain there. The truth is that neither Okorafor nor Banner are experienced starters—all of Okorafor’s 18 starts have come as an injury replacement—so it’s not as though is competition is stout.