Do the Steelers have a debate as to which offensive linemen to start?

Tommy Jaggi
Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) /

Kevin Dotson was phenomenal in his first game as a starter. Should the Pittsburgh Steelers consider shuffling players around in their starting lineup?

There was plenty of cause for concern for Steelers fans as we entered a Week 2 matchup against Denver Broncos. Despite it being a home game against one of the league’s most banged-up teams, Pittsburgh headed into Sunday with plenty of problems of their own.

While Ben Roethlisberger looked surprisingly sharp in his first game action back from elbow surgery in Week 1, there were major concerns along the offensive line heading into their matchup against the Broncos. David DeCastro was set to miss his second straight game and Zach Banner tore his ACL in the fourth quarter against the New York Giants. In addition, primary interior back, Stefen Wisniewski, suffered a pectoral injury that could end up being severe.

Last Sunday, two young players were asked to step in and fill those holes on the right side of the offensive line. While Chukwuma Okorafor had already started four NFL games prior to Week 2, fourth-round rookie Kevin Dotson was about to have a trial by fire.

Remarkably, Dotson not only held his own against the Broncos, but he graded out as the best guard in the entire league in Week 2, according to Pro Football Focus. On 43 pass-block snaps against Denver, Dotson did not allow a single pressure. He clearly proved that the jump in competition from Lousiana Lafeyette to the NFL stage was not too big for him.

Should the Steelers shuffle their starting lineup?

Though this question may be a bit premature, it’s worth asking because of how well Dotson played in his first start. David DeCastro is set to return in Week 3, and that’s where the debate comes in.

With DeCastro back, Pittsburgh’s starting offensive line from left to right would consist of Alejandro Villanueva, Matt Feiler, Maurkice Pouncey, David DeCastro, and Chukwuma Okorafor. However, you have to wonder if the best group would look a little bit different. Perhaps sliding Feiler back out to right tackle (where he was very good last year) and kicking rookie Kevin Dotson over to left guard would be their best paring.

Eventually, the Steelers would be getting a more proven player at tackle and be replacing Okorafor for Dotson. Though the rookie offensive guard has started just one NFL game, he looked very promising – already grading out as the 5th-best pass-blocking offensive lineman in the NFL, regardless of position.

In addition, an offensive guard is generally an easier spot to fill than tackle, and we’ve already seen Feiler play at a high level on the outside.

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I’m not saying this is something the Steelers need to do in order to be successful, but it’s worth considering. I’m all in favor of whichever offensive line pairing would be the best for Pittsburgh this year.