It was a rather busy offseason for the Pittsburgh Steelers under outgoing GM Kevin Colbert, who officially retired following his contract ending May 31 after 22 years at the helm of the Steelers’ front office.
The flurry of offseason moves saw the Steelers add the likes of offensive linemen Mason Cole and James Daniels, quarterback Mitch Trubisky, cornerback Levi Wallace, linebacker Myles Jack, safety Damontae Kazee, and edge rusher Genard Avery, solidifying depth throughout the roster.
Still, even after ensuring right tackle Chukwuma Okorafor didn’t leave via free agency, the Steelers’ biggest offseason need at this point remains offensive tackle, according to CBS Sports’ Josh Edwards, who highlighted the biggest need for each AFC team Monday morning.
“Cornerback was an area of concern because the Steelers lack a top tier option. Levi Wallace and Cam Sutton are solid, however, and Tre Norwood looked the part at times also. They did well to address the interior offensive line, but offensive tackle is still the biggest question mark,” Edwards writes, highlighting the Steelers’ biggest need. “Perhaps Dan Moore Jr. takes the next step in his career and Chukwuma Okorafor returns to form following an injury, but that is a lot to gamble on in a division that features Myles Garrett, Trey Hendrickson and other young pass rushers. It is not an ideal situation for a first-year starter at quarterback in their organization.”
The Steelers’ biggest need for Edwards is simply based off of looking at things on paper, rather than actually diving into the tape or the numbers.
Sure, the matchups against Cincinnati’s Trey Hendrickson, Cleveland’s Myles Garrett and even Baltimore’s Odafe Oweh are concerning on paper. However, a guy like Dan Moore Jr. more than held his own last season in those matchups overall.
In the Week 3 matchup against the Bengals — Moore’s third career start in the NFL — he allowed seven total pressures and hurries in 67 pass blocking reps. Against Cleveland five weeks later he allowed a sack to Garrett, but allowed just four total pressures and hurries in the game, which the Steelers won 15-10.
Four weeks later in Week 12 against the Bengals on the road, Moore allowed just five pressures on 47 pass blocking reps, and then closed out the year against Cleveland in Ben Roethlisberger’s final game at Heinz Field, allowing just three pressures on 48 pass blocking reps. In one matchup against the Ravens, Moore didn’t allow a single pressure in 32 pass blocking reps, scoring his highest pass blocking grade of the year from Pro Football Focus.
As for Okorafor, he allowed just two sacks and 14 total pressures all season long on 683 pass blocking reps. While it’s understandable to point to the league’s quickest time to throw from Roethlisberger last season, the tackles weren’t the issue overall with protection in front of the aging quarterback.
More often than not, Moore and Okorafor were adequate.
Currently, names like Duane Brown, Nate Solder and Eric Fisher remain on the market, but who among those names is fitting into the Steelers’ offensive scheme right away that’s an upgrade over Moore Jr. or Okorafor? None, for my money.
Realistically, the biggest need for the Steelers remains defensive line, where Pittsburgh could use an added boost to the group after the loss of Stephon Tuitt to retirement. Fact of the matter is the Steelers believe in Moore Jr. and Okorafor, as well as Joe Haeg as the swing tackle, at least for 2022.