Maybe Adrian Klemm was right all along. One of the first things that he said about Dan Moore Jr. after the Pittsburgh Steelers drafted him in the fourth round of the 2021 NFL Draft was that he believed he could compete for a starting job right away.
That response was elicited from a question that presumed Moore would essentially be redshirting as a rookie, but Klemm wasn’t having that. And now, under two weeks before the regular season begins, he is taking the first-team reps at left tackle while being coached, perhaps about what not to say, by head coach Mike Tomlin before speaking to the media.
A more natural left tackle, Moore played rather well there through the first two preseason games, but then the Steelers flipped him to the right side to get work in there, where he was understandably less comfortable and less effective.
Zach Banner, though, has not been practicing, and it’s possibly setting up a week one starting lineup with Moore at left tackle and Chukwuma Okorafor on the right. But the rookie insists that he is capable of flipping to either side.
“I am. I played left tackle in college, so obviously there’s a comfortability, but either side is fine”, he told reporters yesterday. “I’m working to get better on both sides, honestly. I need work on both sides, so regardless of me having more experience on the left, I still have to get better on the left just as much as I have to get better on the right”.
If he ends up being the Steelers’ starting left tackle, he may not have to work on both sides. Alejandro Villanueva never played a snap, at least in the regular season, at right tackle (even if he is at right tackle now for the Baltimore Ravens). David DeCastro never played left guard. If you have a starting job, you don’t have to move.
Of course, we don’t really know what’s going on right now. We can only surmise based on what we see and here. Maybe Banner will be out there at right tackle for Week 1 and Moore will be the swing tackle, as was expected as recently as a couple of days ago.
But the takeaway here is that the rookie has done well early on, and shown potential starter traits, which, one way or another, is exciting for the future. For one thing, Okorafor will be an unrestricted free agent in 2022, so the Steelers may need a new starter at that point anyway.