While the Pittsburgh Steelers have already made improvements to their offensive line in free agency with the additions of Isaac Seumalo and Nate Herbig, the team is likely going to address the position more in the upcoming 2023 NFL Draft. On ESPN’s SportsCenter today, former NFL offensive lineman and current analyst Damien Woody said that if Pittsburgh invests in its offensive line through the draft, he could see quarterback Kenny Pickett having a big sophomore season.
“I think it’s going to be a big jump. I really do,” Woody said. “Their offensive line has been an issue for quite some time, and I think it’s the lack of resources, particularly high draft picks, that they’ve invested in that unit. If they continue to do that, especially this year in the draft, I think Kenny Pickett, with all the weapons that he has at his disposal, and he has plenty, can really make leaps and bounds as a quarterback and really make some noise in the AFC North.”
Pickett came on strong in the second half of 2022. He limited his turnovers and the Steelers finished 7-2 down the stretch. One of the big reasons why the team improved was a run game and offensive line that got stronger throughout the year. But one of the reasons for the offensive line’s strength was its record-breaking continuity, as the team had the same starters for every game. One of Seumalo or Herbig — and more than likely Seumalo — will start over Kevin Dotson at left guard, but the team could also use help with another backup who’s capable of playing center and an improvement at swing tackle.
Even though the Steelers signed Le’Raven Clark to be their swing tackle, he isn’t the most exciting option. While I believe the Steelers would be content to start Dan Moore Jr. and Chukwuma Okorafor another season, they could add someone in the early rounds who could compete and possibly win a job at tackle or take over from one of Okorafor or Moore in 2024.
Pittsburgh’s investment in the offensive line hasn’t been as small, at least recently, as Woody made it out to be. While it’s true they haven’t spent a lot of draft capital on the offensive line, they signed both Mason Cole and James Daniels last offseason and both were Week One starters. One of Seumalo or Herbig will be as well, meaning the Steelers have signed at least three starting offensive linemen in free agency over the last two seasons.
Of course, that also goes hand-in-hand with the team being unable to draft and develop offensive linemen in recent seasons, but the team has made a commitment to strengthening the position.
I think Pickett is going to take a jump next season just due to the fact he’s able to have a full offseason of preparation as the starter, more familiarity with the playbook, and also just simply standard progression. Not just from Pickett, but if guys like wide receiver George Pickens and tight end Pat Freiermuth can take another leap forward, then the Steelers’ offense and Pickett will be improved. But adding to the offensive line through the draft will help, as will the free agency moves they’ve already made by bringing in Seumalo and Herbig.
Pittsburgh has a lot of options for how it can go about the draft with three picks in the top 50. But it wouldn’t be too surprising to see one of those picks be an offensive lineman. If it is, Pittsburgh’s offensive line could be a whole better in 2023 and 2024 than it has been in the recent past.