After an up-and-down first two seasons in the NFL, Pittsburgh Steelers left tackle Dan Moore Jr. may be fighting for his spot at starting tackle this summer in training camp. That is, of course, if some fans and media pundits get their way and the Steelers draft a left tackle early on in the draft. However, not everyone is sold on the fact that Moore needs to be replaced.
One of those who believe in Moore is two-time Super Bowl champion and Steeler alumni left tackle Max Starks. Starks joined 93.7 The Fan this afternoon and talked with Chris Mueller and Andrew Fillipponi about Moore’s second year in the NFL and how he believes that Moore can still grow a lot.
“I thought Dan got consistently better,” Starks said. “I think he still has a lot of room to grow, which is a great thing that he hasn’t tapped out his potential. I thought he had his worrisome moments early on, [he] got a little overwhelmed at different points. But, I think he’s growing, I think he’s getting a lot better, and getting more comfortable in his skin, trying to figure out the different styles his quarterbacks will play.
“Now he knows it’s Kenny Pickett so I think he will be more adept and ready to go, and he’s cleaning up his footwork. His footwork was really sloppy his rookie year, cleaned up a little bit and now he’s starting to understand how to study how to prepare for opponents, how to have more tricks in the bag to be able to combat a lot of the things these elite EDGE rushers like to bring. I thought he learned. I watched him learn on the fly and watched him get better from first contest to second contest.”
A fourth-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, Moore Jr. got thrown into the starting lineup early after an injury to Zach Banner expedited Moore to starting left tackle. In his rookie season, Moore wasn’t great, allowing seven sacks on one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL. If it wasn’t for quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s quickest time to throw in the NFL last year at 2.38 seconds, that number could have been higher. Moore finished the 2021 season with a PFF grade of 57.8.
After a poor rookie season, many fans wanted the Steelers to move on from Moore, but head coach Mike Tomlin chose not too and with a new offensive line coach in Pat Meyer, plus some additions to the unit such as James Daniels and Mason Cole, Moore improved a lot. In fact, if you want to give a read on Moore’s improvement on the season give our own Jonathan Heitritter’s article on Moore a read.
While he still definitely had his struggles, Moore also played a big part in Pittsburgh getting hot in the second half of the season. An athletic left tackle, Moore was able to help out a lot in a run game that was elite in the final nine games of the year.
As Starks said, when watching Moore you could see his steady improvement as the season went on. He still struggled with penalties, something he has to clean up next year, but in pass protection and run blocking he really did improve. As a fourth-round pick, some people thought he would just be a depth piece, but he ended up taking advantage of an injury to Banner and is now the Steelers starting left tackle.
With his continued improved play it may be smarter for Pittsburgh to see what they can develop Moore into instead of drafting a left tackle super early in the NFL Draft. The Steelers have a lot of needs right now, and while the offensive line certainly needs to be addressed, I’m not sure a new starting left tackle should be at the top of general manager Omar Khan or Tomlin’s draft list.