Despite finishing the season 9-8 after shaking off a 2-6 start, the Pittsburgh Steelers enter the offseason ahead of the 2023 season with plenty of holes on the roster.
For The Athletic, no hole is bigger on the Steelers and is a greater need for the franchise moving forward than the offensive line, which was selected as the Steelers’ “biggest offseason need” in an article Monday highlighting one offseason need for all 32 teams.
“Take your pick — offensive line, cornerback, inside linebacker and defensive line. You can make a pretty convincing case for each of those positions as being the Steelers’ greatest need, but one sticks out more than the others,” The Athletic’s Mark Kaboly writes regarding the offensive line being the Steelers’ biggest offseason need. “The Steelers dumped a lot of money in the right side of their offensive line a year ago. However, there is still a lack of top-end talent, especially at left tackle. The Steelers haven’t drafted a tackle in the first round since 1996 but could address it with the 17th pick. It is highly unlikely they will go the free-agency route, leaving the draft as the main avenue. What makes this offseason unusual is that the Steelers aren’t married to upgrading the offensive line specifically. All four positions need to be upgraded in some capacity.”
Despite watching the offensive line have rather absurd continuity in the trenches throughout the 2022 season, with backup center JC Hassenauer replacing center Mason Cole for just 46 snaps total, as well as continually getting better and better late in the season, playing some of their best football down the stretch, the offensive line remains an area that garners a ton of attention for the Steelers when it comes to offseason moves and upgrades.
The right side of the offensive line was rather solid with free agent signee James Daniels playing a leading role for the Steelers in the run game and in pass protection, while Cole was steady and reliable, as was right tackle Chukwuma Okorafor. The left side of the line was the concern though as left tackle Dan Moore Jr. struggled at times in pass protection and left guard Kevin Dotson couldn’t avoid penalties and the mental mistakes.
While the left side of the line was rather solid in the run game, there remains the possibility for an upgrade on that side, especially at No. 17 overall in the 2023 NFL Draft should one of the top tackles fall to the Steelers. New assistant GM Andy Weidl made his name in the NFL in Baltimore and Philadelphia emphasizing the offensive and defensive lines, and it’s likely that’s going to be his target right away in Pittsburgh now that he’ll reportedly be in charge of setting the draft board.
After having invested heavily in the quarterback (Kenny Pickett) and running back (Najee Harris) positions in recent seasons in the draft, the Steelers would be wise to continue investing up front in the trenches, whether that’s upgrading on current projected starters, or completely rebuilding the depth and competition behind them.