The Pittsburgh Steelers might be content with their starting five offensive linemen: Dan Moore at left tackle, Kevin Dotson at left guard, Mason Cole at center, James Daniels at right guard, and Chukwuma Okorafor at right tackle. That group progressed and Pittsburgh may want to keep their continuity intact. Perhaps it’s a stretch but it wouldn’t be their worst decision.
But depth? Pittsburgh has none of that. They didn’t have it in 2022 and were fortunate it didn’t become an issue. It’s a risk they can’t take again.
Trent Scott. Jesse Davis. J.C. Hassenauer. Kendrick Green. That’s the Steelers’ depth and even some of those names are pending free agents. Finding quality o-line depth in the NFL is difficult, it’s the league’s scarcest position, but Pittsburgh is completely empty.
They’re a team that can’t bank on all five starters playing in all 17 games like they did in 2022. Pittsburgh got so lucky with their o-line health they should go buy scratch-offs. The odds of that happening in 2023 are slim and it’d be foolish for the team to assume so.
Simply re-signing Scott isn’t good enough at tackle. Familiarity with OL Coach Pat Meyer helps, that got him in the door, but he’s a guy that shouldn’t play 50 snaps, let alone 500. Fortunately, he took just one snap as an offensive tackle, briefly replacing Chukwuma Okorafor, and spent most of the year as an inoffensive tackle-eligible player. Adding a better veteran would be ideal. Someone with the versatility to play either tackle spot. Cam Irving makes sense, he also spent time with Meyer in Carolina, or a Chris Hubbard reunion also fits. Neither are All-Stars but they’re better than what this team currently has.
The interior needs help, too. Hassenauer is a restricted free agent and will likely be original-round tendered. As a center, he’s suitable, but he’s too small to competently play guard. Small guards don’t work in Pittsburgh, even in a pinch. And Green? Even with thin depth, his path to making the 53-man roster this summer is looking rough.
Ideally, the Steelers should sign a veteran tackle to backup Moore and Okorafor (or if they draft a top-end name, then Moore could move to a swing role). And in the draft, pickup a versatile interior player in the third or fourth round. It may not be perfect but it’d be far better than what the Steelers have now. This team must be proactive, not reactive.
O-line depth might not be the most obvious need. A lack of depth doesn’t get exposed until the moment you need it, just as Pittsburgh felt at outside linebacker when T.J. Watt went down in Week One. The Steelers can’t afford to find out how bad their depth is in the middle of next season.