Steelers News

Dan Moore Jr.: O-Linemen ‘Knew We Were Going To Add To The Group’ This Offseason, Had To ‘Get Better’

The Pittsburgh Steelers had one of the worst offensive lines in football last year. Even with a passing game that had a far shorter time-to-throw than nearly anybody else in the league, it was very clear that everything they were trying to do, both in the passing game and the run game, was hindered by the quality of performance that the Steelers were getting, collectively, out of their starting offensive linemen.

And outside of Kevin Dotson—and Zach Banner—it really wasn’t an issue of health. Trai Turner played the whole year. Dan Moore Jr. and Chukwuma Okorafor each only missed one game late in the season. Kendrick Green played most of the year before being injured rather late. They had stability, for the most part.

What they didn’t have was quality, especially collectively. So nobody was surprised when change was brought to the group this offseason. “We knew we had to get better”, Moore, the team’s second-year left tackle, told Chris Adamski for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “We knew we were going to make some improvements. We knew we were going to add to the group”.

While the Steelers did not draft any offensive linemen this year, they uncharacteristically splurged in free agency to add two new starters, most notably James Daniels, who figures to be their new right guard. Daniels signed the largest contract signed by an outside free agent in team history. Mason Cole was also added on a healthy three-year contract, likely to take over the starting center role.

Pittsburgh seems to be banking on its tackling pairing of Moore and Okorafor to grow and develop, but they have heavily invested in the interior now, even setting up a competition for the third starting spot, which could include Dotson, Green, J.C. Hassenauer, John Leglue, and perhaps even Joe Haeg.

Their offensive live, then, will look pretty different from last season, but that pales in comparison to the changes we saw last year from 2020. Maurkice Pouncey retired, and injured David DeCastro was waived and appears to have retired as well. Alejandro Villanueva was not retained, nor was Matt Feiler.

Banner was the only projected starter from the 2021 opener to return, but, as happened in 2021, his health prevented him from playing much. That resulted in Okorafor sliding back to his spot, after originally being slated to move to the left side, which pushed a rookie Moore into the starting lineup.

Now Banner is gone, and Okorafor was re-signed to a starter’s contract, going into his fifth season, and what should be his most stable. Moore is going into year two, and now they have two established veterans with a lot of experience in the middle.

Would the Steelers have liked to have come away from the draft with another starting offensive lineman? Absolutely. But they put themselves in a position during free agency where they wouldn’t be forced to. They were necessary moves at that time, and ones, as Moore said, that were expected, even in the offensive line room.

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