2022 Offseason Questions: Could Steelers Still Flip Okorafor Back To Left Tackle?

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2021 season is over, already eliminated from the postseason after suffering a 42-21 loss at the hands of Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs. They just barely made the postseason with a 9-7-1 record and a little help from their friends.

This is an offseason of major change, with the retirement of Ben Roethlisberger, the possible retirement of general manager Kevin Colbert, and the decisions about the futures of many important players to be made, such as Joe Haden, Stephon Tuitt, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and others—some already decided, some not.

Aside from exploring their options at the quarterback position, the top global priority, once again, figures to be addressing the offensive line, which they did not do quite adequately enough a year ago. Dan Moore Jr. looks like he may have a future as a full-time starter, but Kendrick Green was clearly not ready. Chukwuma Okorafor was re-signed, but Trai Turner was not. James Daniels and Mason Cole were added in free agency.

These are the sorts of topics among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked. There is rarely a concrete answer, but this is your venue for exploring the topics we present through all their uncertainty.

Question: Could the Steelers consider flipping Chukwuma Okorafor back to left tackle as intended last year?

From the moment they drafted him pretty much up until today, Steelers coaches and front office members have espoused the opinion that Western Michigan tackle Chukwuma Okorafor is better suited to playing on the left side than the right side.

And yet virtually his entire NFL career has been spent working on the right side, including starting 33 games over the course of the past two years there. But he worked very nearly the entire offseason in 2021 preparing to move to left tackle.

That plan only changed because projected right tackle Zach Banner had a setback with his knee injury and began the season on the Reserve/Injured List. The team had not enough time to break in rookie Dan Moore Jr. at the right tackle spot, so once he was forced into the lineup, they had to scrap their plans and put him on the left side where he was comfortable and shift Okorafor back to the right side.

They would have an entire offseason to execute whatever plan they have to put into place in 2022, however. If the Steelers truly believe that Okorafor is a better left tackle than a right tackle—and they did just give him a three-year contract paying him nearly $10 million per season—it’s reasonable to wonder if they would consider giving it yet another try, whether that means Moore has to adjust to right tackle, which is entirely possible, or somebody else ends up playing there.

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