Going into the regular season, the same question remained regarding the Pittsburgh Steelers’ offense that has been there since the beginning of last season: will this offensive line be any good?
After a dreadful performance against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 2 of the preseason, many labeled the unit as worse off than last season, calling for a complete overhaul of all five starters despite re-signing Chukwuma Okorafor this offseason and signing UFAs James Daniels and Mason Cole.
However, two games into the regular season, the offensive line has seemed to stabilize itself, particularly of the right side. Daniels has been more consistent than the player that seemed lost at times trying to execute OL coach Pat Meyer’s system. While he and others along the offensive front have subtly improved their play, the most pleasantly surprising performance thus far belongs to Chuks Okorafor.
Based on the numbers, Okorafor has been rock solid to start regular season play. Many lamented (including myself to a degree) after Pittsburgh chose to bring back Chuks on a three-year deal worth $29.25 million this offseason. However, through two games, Okorafor has played like one of the better offensive tackles in the league according to Pro Football Focus, earning an 81.2 overall grade which ranks fifth at the position including an 85.6 run blocking grade, which ranks sixth out of all OTs. He has played 78 pass blocking snaps and has allowed two pressures and zero sacks.
Obviously, PFF should be considered the only source for evaluating Okorafor’s performance thus far, but rather one tool to recognize how steady he has been to start 2022. Last season, Okorafor surrendered only two sacks based on their charting, but was penalized 11 times. While we are only two games in, he has yet to record a penalty this season and looks to be playing with improved confidence and consistency along a shaky offensive line.
Okorafor may never be considered a top ten RT in the league, but given the fact that he is still only 25 years old and has an average yearly value of under $10 million, the Steelers could have made a bargain signing bringing back Okorafor, who may still be improving as a player. For a team that appears to have a lot of question marks along the offensive line, Okorafor may just make his case for no longer being a question, but rather a solution for the unit as a whole should his level of play continue this season.
What are your thoughts on Chukwuma Okorafor? Do you think that he has represented himself well thus far in 2022? Could he prove to be a value signing by the Steelers based on the going rate for OTs on the open market? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below and thanks again for reading!