We started this series with a little over two weeks until the draft, knowing that nearly all of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ pertinent personnel decisions will have already been made by then. Over the course of the series, we will be reviewing the team’s roster turnover position by position in an effort to help us project what their plans will be for the 2023 NFL Draft.
The Steelers had a number of notable starters hit free agency this year, and their retention success rate was mixed, re-signing Larry Ogunjobi but losing Cameron Sutton, for example. Largely, however, what they lost they replaced, adding Patrick Peterson in Sutton’s stead.
They also had another active year in outside free agency beyond replacing missing pieces, or voluntary departures. The most notable move was Isaac Seumalo being signed along the offensive line. While Terrell Edmunds is gone, Damontae Kazee was retained and Keanu Neal was added. Likewise, Cole Holcomb and Elandon Roberts come in and replace Devin Bush and Robert Spillane.
The team did not have to make drastic moves in order to get into cap compliance, but they did release two high-salaried players in linebacker Myles Jack and cornerback William Jackson III, the latter of whom never dressed for them. As of now, they have restructured only one contract to create cap space, that being Minkah Fitzpatrick, though restructuring T.J. Watt later this offseason is very possible.
Position: Offensive Tackle
Total Positional Figure: 3
Offseason Additions: 1
Offseason Deletions: 2
Dan Moore Jr.: The former mid-round draft pick continues to mature two years into his career, starting every game for which he has been healthy. He had some significant rough patches in 2022, particularly early on as he adjusted to new line coach Pat Meyer. In spite of the progress that he has made, his starting job should not be regarded as safe.
Chukwuma Okorafor: Going into his sixth season with three years of starting under his belt, Okorafor has more or less established who he is as a player. That’s a pretty average starting right tackle. If he is your worst starter, then you’re pretty well off. But he has his limitations and you can’t ignore them when looking at the position in the draft.
Le’Raven Clark: After losing their tackle depth from last season, the Steelers signed veteran Le’Raven Clark to come in as an option to be their swing tackle. He is a fairly nondescript journeyman not dissimilar to last year’s Trent Scott, but one hopes they find a more compelling swing tackle in the draft.
Trent Scott: Signed in no small part due to his familiarity working with Meyer, Scott ended up spending the entire season as the swing tackle before leaving in free agency this year. it’s a great fortune that the starters stayed healthy.
Jesse Davis: Acquired just before the start of the season, Davis was never pressed into action. He remains unsigned, and perhaps could be a candidate to return after the draft.
Notes And Draft Outlook:
Technically, both Isaac Seumalo and Nate Herbig are capable of playing tackle in a pinch, but not to such a degree that I felt they should be included in this conversation. Seumalo will be a starting guard in this offense, and Herbig will likely be a reserve guard.
It is widely assumed that offensive tackle is right at or near the top of the Steelers’ positional needs heading into the draft. It was never likely that they would find a starter in free agency, so now, sitting at 17, they may be hoping to land a top talent.
There are potential day-one starting tackles even going into the second round as well, especially since the Steelers have the first pick of the second round. Whether they draft a tackle at 17 or not, it’s unlikely they make it out of day two without one, and there’s a good chance that player handles a significant role this year.