Prior to practice Tuesday, LT Dan Moore Jr. stopped to answer questions from the media regarding his experiences as a rookie last season, being thrust into the starting role at left tackle after projected starter Chukwuma Okorafor bounced over to the right side when Zach Banner experienced a setback regarding his ACL recovery.
Being a fourth-round pick out of Texas A&M, Moore was expected to provide depth along the offensive line and push Joe Haeg for the swing tackle role in his first season. Instead, he was thrown to the wolves, being asked to man Ben Roethlisberger’s blindside against some of the best pass rushers in the NFL.
When asked about the difficulty he faced in stepping up to the challenge, Moore didn’t hold back in describing what he went through last season.
“I mean, it was extremely difficult,” Moore said regarding starting as a rookie last season on video via Chris Adamski of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “To put that in words; it wouldn’t do it enough justice. But like I said, I was blessed enough with the opportunity, and the Steelers have enough confidence in me to allow me to stay in the position so far.”
Dan Moore Jr. was candid about his experience as a rookie, explaining that it was extremely hard for him to get a good grasp of everything and play to the level that was asked of him to help make the Steelers’ OL successful in 2021. He notably struggled last season, being called for five penalties and giving up seven sacks on 1,079 snaps according to Pro Football Focus who gave him a 57.8 overall grade. While this isn’t the performance you want to see out of your starting LT, Moore needs to be given some grace, as the expectations shouldn’t have been sky high four a fourth-round rookie that wasn’t projected to start prior to injuries forcing him into a starting role.
However, despite Moore’s struggles, the Steelers remained committed to him, letting him keep a hold of the LT spot for the rest of the season even when Banner was cleared to return. Moore did show improvement down the stretch, being more consistent as a pass protector as well as showing aggressiveness as a run blocker. Pittsburgh didn’t do anything notable in the draft or in free agency to address the OT position, suggesting that the team plans to run it back with Moore and Chuks as their bookends in 2022.
Moore is grateful for another opportunity to start at left tackle, having taken his lumps last season. Still, Moore feels that his trail-by-fire experience in 2021 will only help his chances to become a better player in 2022.
“All I want to do is to improve on last year and I knew I would make the big jump just based off of, I mean, it’s kind of natural, you know?” Moore continued. “You do something once, the second time obviously around it, you expect to get a lot better. And if you don’t, then you probably won’t be there for a long time. So, just taking that, grasping it, and not letting that opportunity slip past me.”