The Pittsburgh Steelers have a lot of holes they need to fill before they can get back to seriously competing for the Lombardi Trophy. Today, Jordan Reid of ESPN listed the Steelers biggest offensive need: offensive tackle. Reid said they should try and fill this need in the draft if they do not have a pick high enough where they could take a stud EDGE rusher like Will Anderson Jr. from Alabama.
In the Steelers section for biggest need, Reid wrote offensive tackle is one of the most glaring holes on the roster.
“Offensive tackle. There are several positions that fit here for the Steelers, as the roster lacks high-end talent. Offensive line and cornerback are the two biggest glaring holes on the roster, “Reid said. “After investing a first-round pick in quarterback Kenny Pickett last April, finding protection for him is the next step,” he continued.
Reid mentioned that the high-end defensive talent at the top of this draft class may force them to take an EDGE rusher or defensive lineman, but I personally don’t think Pittsburgh drafts that high. While I do not think this is a very good Steelers team, or that they will make the playoffs, I still think they finish the season with six to eight wins. With T.J. Watt back I think the defense will carry this team to win a couple of games they shouldn’t.
If the Steelers do win a couple of extra games they shouldn’t and pick around the 7-14 spot in the draft they will probably build through the offensive line, and offensive tackle, especially left tackle is a glaring issue. The Steelers just brought in Andy Weidl as an assistant general manager this past offseason, and he helped build the Philadelphia Eagles Super Bowl-winning roster by placing an emphasis on the trenches. With him likely heading up the scouting and draft process for the Steelers, him addressing the Steelers’ subpar offensive line is very likely.
One player that stands out as a potential answer at left tackle is Northwestern’s Peter Skoronski. Skoronski is a junior and is ranked by PFF as the best offensive tackle prospect in this draft class and is seventh on their overall draft board.
Skoronski is on a bad Northwestern team, but that did not stop him from being named an AP First Team Preseason All-American. If the Steelers manage to have a chance to draft him, they must take the opportunity. He is a good run blocker and will be a great protector of Kenny Pickett’s blind side. Michael Renner of PFF wrote about Skoronksi’s amazing pass-blocking ability.
“Skoronski is in the middle of the single most dominant pass-blocking season we’ve seen in our nine years of college grading” wrote Renner. “On 383 pass-blocking snaps, he has allowed only five pressures. That’s it.”
This would be a huge upgrade over Dan Moore Jr who has struggled in his first two seasons. While Moore Jr. is not unplayable, he is much better suited as a swing tackle than the starting left tackle. Moore Jr. could also then compete with Chukwuma Okorafor for the starting right tackle position if the Steelers draft a left tackle like Skoronski with their first-round pick.
If the Steelers find a good offensive tackle, Skoronski or someone else, they should absolutely pull the trigger. Teams with bad offensive lines rarely win Super Bowls, and with high draft picks invested on the offensive position in recent years such as Pickett and Najee Harris, giving them better offensive line play will be important in maximizing their potential.