It’s always important to take potential bias into consideration when weighing the merit of a suggestion somebody makes. But in spite of his history as an offensive lineman, I nevertheless find NFL analyst Brian Baldinger’s preference for the Pittsburgh Steelers to draft an offensive tackle in the first round a compelling one.
“I think there could be a really good offensive tackle there and I don’t think I would pass it up. I just think that there’s some elite guys at the top”, he told Ron Cook and Joe Starkey last week during an appearance on 93.7 The Fan. “If you want to finish the job that they started this offseason, then go get yourself a left tackle that you can plug and play”.
There are a lot of names at the offensive tackle position that could be in play in the first round, ranging from the likes of Peter Skoronski, Paris Johnson Jr., and Broderick Jones to Dawand Jones, Anton Harrison, and Darnell Wright. Some, along with others, could also be in consideration at 32.
“There’s a lot of really good offensive tackles in this draft”, Baldinger insisted. “It just depends if the Steelers want to part ways with the 17th pick for an offensive tackle. One of those guys might be there”.
At the moment, the Steelers are both thin at tackle and not top-heavy. Dan Moore Jr. has started every game at left tackle for which he has been healthy since he was drafted in the fourth round in 2021, but he has not distinguished himself with his play.
Similarly, Chukwuma Okorafor has contributed little more than yeoman’s work at right tackle in his three years as the primary starter at the position. It would be a great problem to have if he was your worst starter on the line, but when both of your tackles can be very fairly categorized as average, if not worse, it merits considering a change.
The Steelers have had success at tackle at bargain rates with the likes of Kelvin Beachum, Matt Feiler, and most notably Alejandro Villanueva. But diamonds in the rough remain rare, and those players were all coached up by Mike Munchak.
Pedigree doesn’t guarantee performance, but if Pittsburgh is in a position to land one of the top tackles on the board at 17 in a few weeks, I would hope that it would find it rather hard to pass up. At the worst, the Steelers shouldn’t escape the second round without having added one.
Pittsburgh has done much, on the other hand, to address the interior offensive line over the past two offseasons. In the last 13 months, the Steelers have signed James Daniels, Mason Cole, Isaac Seumalo, and Nate Herbig to free agent contracts—more players than they can start. It’s likely that three of them will.
Yet the tackle position remains unremarkable, at least until the draft. If the Steelers do end up taking a tackle early, it would mark the first time Mike Adams in 2012 that they take a tackle in the top two rounds. And they’ve only done it in the third round since then once—with Okorafor.