2022 Offseason Questions: How Much Of An Upgrade Is James Daniels?

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: How much of an upgrade is James Daniels for the Steelers’ offensive line?

The consensus opinion the second that James Daniels signed with the Steelers was that he is the best offensive lineman on the roster. A young four-year starter coming over from the Chicago Bears, he has not made any Pro Bowls, but he is certainly a talent with room yet to grow.

The question is, how good is he? More importantly, how much better can he, essentially singlehandedly, make the Steelers’ offensive line in comparison to last year’s group? He figures to plug in at right guard, where veteran former Pro Bowler Trai Turner started in 2021, though the latter certainly remained a former Pro Bowler for his efforts.

Still, Turner was certainly one of the team’s better offensive linemen last season. Daniels promises to be better, but by how much? How will that really show up not just on tape, but frankly, on the scoreboard? The Steelers obviously believed that he could be a big help given the contract that they were uncharacteristically willing to sign him to.

With that being said, it’s not all happening in a vacuum. They did also add Mason Cole via free agency, who should also be an upgrade, presumably at center, and we can reasonably conjecture that Dan Moore Jr. will be better, no matter by what degree, than he was as a rookie full-time starter last year. And, ideally, there won’t be a revolving door due to injuries at left guard.

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