An offseason featuring significant roster turnover continued last week as the Pittsburgh Steelers added first-year offensive tackle Dylan Cook in free agency, inking the big, athletic offensive lineman to the 90-man offseason roster.
Cook, a quarterback in high school and his first two years in college, made the switch to the offensive line after walking on at Montana, eventually leading to him signing as an undrafted free agent with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Now, he’s a member of the Steelers and aiming to catch on with the Black and Gold under the guidance of offensive line coach Pat Meyer.
So, what exactly are the Steelers getting in Cook, who spent the entire 2022 season on the Buccaneers’ practice squad? Glad you asked.
I dove into the film from the 2022 preseason in which Cook played 73 snaps in matchups against the Miami Dolphins, Tennessee Titans and Indianapolis Colts to try and see what the former Grizzlies offensive tackle brings to the table.
Cook has really good size at 6’6″, 305 pounds with 33 1/2-inch arms. He’s a good athlete for the position, but he really doesn’t have much power to his game, especially as a run blocker.
Throughout the three preseason games, Cook showed some good athleticism overall climbing to the next level to get a hat on linebackers, and also had good footwork and quickness to reach defenders that were shaded off him.
Good job here in duo against the Dolphins with left guard Luke Goedeke, getting his inside hand on the defensive tackle for support, and then climbing to the second level to get a hat on the linebacker in the run game. While the play behind him gets blown up, you can see the functional athleticism that Cook has in space.
Similar play here against the Indianapolis Colts in the final preseason game of the year. Cook was making the transition from right tackle in college at Montana to left tackle in the NFL, and it took him a few games to look even remotely comfortable. He had some decent reps against the Colts, much like he does here on duo.
Good initial pop to the defensive tackle’s ribs, sliding him inside just a bit to create some displacement, and then he does a good job keeping his eyes on the flowing linebacker, disengaging to climb and get a hat on the linebacker in the hole.
Here against Miami, this is one of the few times where I really saw some aggression and overall power in the run game from Cook. Working on the down block, Cook does a good job of reaching and keeping his feet moving, creating some displacement.
Though he ends up on the ground at the end of the rep due to getting tripped in traffic, it was a rep to highlight for the young offensive tackle. The size and strength are there; he just really needs to tap into that aggressive mindset.
There were a few reps on tape against the Colts in which he got a little careless and slightly lackadaisical. This rep as the backside blocker against Indianapolis defensive end Ben Banogu was a real head-scratcher. He’s just leaning into the defensive end and doesn’t really show that want-to, seemingly taking a rep of in which he’s backside.
That blows up in his face as the running back tries to cut it back and Banogu fights through for the tackle.
Later in the game, he allowed a big tackle for loss from Banogu, who slipped right around him.
There’s some intriguing functional athleticism overall as a run blocker, and he flashed a bit of power against the Dolphins, but too often in the run game he looked hesitant and unsure of himself. That could be the case with him switching from right tackle in college to left tackle in the NFL, all while learning a new playbook. We’ll see on tape in the preseason — should he get to training camp and preseason with the Steelers — if he looks a bit more comfortable in the run game.
Long, athletic and relatively light on his feet, Cook had most of his success in pass protection in the preseason.
According to Pro Football Focus, Cook graded out as a 72.8 in pass protection. Decent stuff there.
He tends to trust his athleticism quite a bit in pass protection, keeping his eyes inside for help on the guard while still gaining depth in his pass set, believing he will be able to flip his eyes and find the edge rusher.
He does a good job of it here against the Tennessee Titans in the second preseason game.
Cook seems rather comfortable in pass protection, taking decent sets and then engulfing the pass rusher at the point of attack. I’d like to see him use his length more, but he does a good job of stymieing the rusher.
This rep against the Dolphins was, by far, his best one in pass protection.
Great job of getting square to the pass rusher while gaining depth, gaining control with his arms, latching on and really riding out the attempted long-arm and then rip. He completely thwarts this pass rush and showed real comfort sitting into his hips to protect the quarterback’s blindside.
Good rep here as well, which was his first rep in pass protection in the NFL.
He never looks rushed or off balance in his pass sets, and he is in good position with the spacing of his feet and the weight distribution compared to his knees, allowing him to sit into his anchor against the pass rusher, utilizing the hop technique to sit and anchor and keep a clean pocket.
That said, there are times when he looks really rough in pass protection, and that usually occurs against speed rushers, which causes him to lean and overextend.
Late to shoot his hands, and then gets caught leaning and is way off balance, allowing for an easy win from the pass rusher for the sack.
When he tends to shoot his hands late, he drops his eyes. That causes him to get out over his skis, which leads to ugly losses like the one above.
Overall, after watching three preseason games from Cook, he certainly has good size and length, and intriguing functional athleticism. I’d be curious to see the Steelers try and let him work at left and right tackle to try and become that developmental swing tackle. All reports indicate that Tampa Bay stuck him at left tackle exclusively despite him playing right tackle in college.
He needs to tap into his power potential a bit more and really needs to work on his hand usage and overall punch. But there’s a foundation there to work with, which could allow him to stick on Pittsburgh’s practice squad in 2023 and continue his development under offensive line coach Pat Meyer and assistant offensive line coach Isaac Williams.