Despite all the upgrades the Pittsburgh Steelers have made to their offensive line over the last two seasons, one ESPN analyst believes all that has still only made them an average group.
Over the past several days, Mike Clay has been tweeting out positional group rankings, this time looking at all 32 offensive lines and placing the Steelers 16th.
Perhaps most interesting about his list is his projection of Pittsburgh’s starting five. Ostensibly, this is a list of players left to right and he projects James Daniels to be the starting left guard with Isaac Seumalo at right guard.
Last season, Daniels played right guard for Pittsburgh but Seumalo also played right guard for the Philadelphia Eagles. That creates some uncertainty for the Steelers’ 2023 configuration but Seumalo has far more career left guard snaps (2,686, per PFF) than right guard snaps (1272). It makes it more likely Seumalo will go back to left guard, replacing Kevin Dotson, with Daniels maintaining his spot at right guard. Considering how long it took Daniels to get comfortable last season in Pat Meyer’s system, moving him and having him re-learn left guard isn’t putting him in the best position to succeed.
Most likely, the Steelers will look like this left-to-right in 2023: Broderick Jones-Isaac Seumalo-Mason Cole-James Daniels-Chukwuma Okorafor.
Regardless of who is playing left or right, it’s the most probable starting five. And Clay believes it’s only an average group in the league. The Steelers rank far behind the #2 Cleveland Browns and #4 Baltimore Ravens and only ahead of the #20 Cincinnati Bengals, who have been transforming their own o-line for several seasons.
Ranking Pittsburgh’s group 16th is fair, at least to start the season. Jones is an unproven rookie; Cole is a good but far from great center. Okorafor has been stable at right tackle but won’t make a Pro Bowl anytime soon. There’s potential for this unit to threaten the top-10 by season’s end and will likely depend on Seumalo’s infusion in the system and Jones’ play. Of course, Jones has to first win the starting job, which he’ll fight Dan Moore Jr. for this summer.
Clay’s top-ranked offensive line comes as no surprise: the Philadelphia Eagles. His worst offensive line belongs to the Tennessee Titans, who were also ranked as his worst wide receiver group.