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Steelers Offensive Line Projected To Place Dead-Last In ESPN’s Pass Block Win Rate

Coming off of a disastrous 2021 season overall in the trenches on the offensive side of the football, former Pittsburgh Steelers GM Kevin Colbert went right to work in free agency addressing the deficiencies in the trenches, signing the likes of veterans Mason Cole and James Daniels to three-year deals in an effort to kickstart a rebuild at the position.

Along with Daniels and Cole, Colbert retained Chukwuma Okorafor early in free agency, inking the 25-year-old tackle to a three-year deal making him one of the top-10 highest-paid right tackles in football. The Steelers then shifted second-year pro Kendrick Green back to his natural position of left guard, opening up a competition with Kevin Dotson.

Despite all the work and the overall changes up front, including the addition of new offensive line coach Pat Meyer, the Steelers’ offensive line unit is still projected to be one of the league’s worst overall once again, at least according to ESPN’s stats and analytics department.

Friday morning, ESPN’s Seth Walder ranked the starting offensive lines across the NFL and made projections for rankings based on pass block win rate and run block win rate. Unsurprisingly, the Steelers ranked near the bottom of the league overall, placing 28th in Walder’s offensive line projections, which included a dead-last ranking in pass block win rate and a 17th overall ranking in run block win rate, which is at least a bit of a positive for the black and gold.

Walder remained rather chalk across the board in his starting five projection, going with the following, left to right: Dan Moore Jr., Kevin Dotson, Mason Cole, James Daniels, Chukwuma Okorafor.

“This is a rough tackle duo from a pass protection standpoint. Moore’s 76% PBWR [Pass Block Win Rate] ranked last — 68th out of 68 qualifiers — at tackle, while Okorafor was a bit better at 84% but still 55th,” Walder writes regarding the Steelers projection on the offensive line. “Quarterbacks Mitch Trubisky and/or Kenny Pickett are going to need to get rid of the ball quickly.”

The numbers from the 2021 season were certainly a concern for the Steelers’ offensive line, which led to Ben Roethlisberger getting rid of the ball quickly to avoid pressure and contact in the pocket. While Walder believes that Trubisky or Pickett – not to mention Mason Rudolph – will have to get rid of the ball quickly based on the numbers, there’s a good chance those three hold onto the ball a bit longer in an effort to let things develop downfield, especially with the mobility aspect all three bring to the table, and ability to throw on the run outside of the pocket.

It might not be pretty overall, but this group should be much better than they were in 2021, as Moore is now fully versed in the NFL after being thrown into the starting lineup late in training camp and then starting 17 games and one playoff game for the Steelers. Add in the return to health of Dotson, the growth of Okorafor and the additions of Cole and Daniels as solidifying pieces and this group should be much improved, which should help the Steelers perform better offensively than they did in 2021.

How much better will the offensive line be? That remains to be seen. The group can go nowhere but up though moving forward.

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