Coming into this season, the Pittsburgh Steelers had zero players who started even a single game at left tackle for them. That count is now up to one, with rookie fourth-round pick Dan Moore Jr. having now started thus far every game of his career on the blind side.
The Texas A&M product was slated to be a reserve at the start of the season before a setback for Zach Banner prompted a lineup change, with Chukwuma Okorafor sliding from the left side of the line to the right, because Moore is not comfortable playing on the right side. We all have our opinions on how he has fared since being installed, but what does the man he’s protecting think, especially coming off of a game against one of the very best pass rushers in the league?
“I would think it would continue to increase his confidence”, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said of Moore following his showing against Myles Garrett of the Cleveland Browns on Sunday. “I think he still takes pride in the sack and thinking, ‘shoot, I wish I would’ve done this’, or ‘I wish I could’ve been even better’”.
He could have phrased that more precisely, of course, but Roethlisberger is basically saying that he feels Moore believes he could have played better against Garrett, who did get one sack during the game. “I think that’s awesome, to see a young guy going up against one of the best in the business, to still be disappointed with the way he played”.
While Garrett did not wreck the game, a lot of that does have to do with Roethlisberger himself, who simply gets rid of the ball quicker, on average, than anybody else in the league. The current sack leader did win a number of reps against Moore, but simply couldn’t get into the backfield quickly enough to get a hit, even if his pressure affected plays—including early releases.
As of now, there are no indications that the lineup will be changing at left tackle. Banner has been back on the 53-man roster for a couple of games now, but he has not even dressed, and we don’t know if he is going to, with Joe Haeg, who offers better versatility, serving as the swing tackle.
Banner was set to start the season at right tackle, with Okorafor at left tackle. Even if Banner eventually moves back into the right tackle spot, there’s nothing saying Okorafor will go back to left tackle, where he has not actually ever started a game in the NFL.
The fact that there haven’t been calls for a change—any change—at left tackle at least speaks to a base level of proficiency from the rookie who is playing there, though, and Moore has been getting better over the course of the season. The question is, how high is his ceiling?