Here’s your likely Week 1 Pittsburgh Steelers’ starting front five.
LT – Dan Moore Jr.
LG – Kevin Dotson
C – Kendrick Green
RG – Trai Turner
RT – Chukwuma Okorafor
It might not be pretty. In fact, it isn’t. But that’s what it is.
And in doing so, creates a little bit of Steelers’ history. For the first time in the post-merger era (1970-present), as far back as Pro Football Reference goes, the Steelers will have a brand new front five from Week 1 of one season compared to the next. In that, five players who didn’t start Week One of the prior year, in this case, the 2021 group compared with the 2020 unit. Here’s how 2020 began.
LT – Alejandro Villanueva
LG – Matt Feiler
C – Maurkice Pouncey
RG- Stefen Wisniewski
RT – Zach Banner
Villanueva was let go and signed with Baltimore. Feiler earned an impressive payday from L.A. Pouncey retired by choice, Wisniewski pretty much by force, and Banner was just shelved on IR. Left tackle, left guard, center, right guard, and right tackle. For Week 1 purposes (Okorafor did start 15 games at RT last season), brand new guys.
Referencing one tweet from NFL Network’s Aditi Kinkhabwala six weeks ago, the Steelers will be only the fourth such team over the last 30 years to have a brand new front five. Pittsburgh’s in awfully rare territory.
From its own franchise standpoint, even starting four new O-linemen is unusual. I could only find one other example. 1985-1986, when the Rostosky-Wolfley-Webster-Long-Ilkin line turned into Pinney-Rasmussen-Turk-Long-Behning. Long the only holdover.
Back to the present day. The turnover and questions about the Steelers’ offensive line is well-documented. What I’m adding here is a historical footnote. It puts in perspective how different this line is. Some of that was warranted given how disappointing this unit played last season. But change doesn’t automatically mean improvement. And this group, as Dan Moore Jr. recently admitted, is the X-Factor of the team.