Could Steelers rookie Dan Moore Jr. be best option at left tackle in 2021?
By Tommy Jaggi
Left tackle is one of the most important positions in all of football. Here’s why Dan Moore Jr. may be the best option for the Steelers.
The Steelers have had many remarkable All-Pro players throughout their history. They are a pass rusher-producing factory and perhaps the best team in the league when it comes to drafting and developing quality defensive linemen. However, one area Pittsburgh has never been particularly strong is left tackle.
In fact, this position has been so adequate for such a long time that players like Alejandro Villanueva and Kelvin Beachum have been some of the best to play the left tackle position for the Steelers over the past 30 years. Good offensive tackles are extremely hard to come by – which is exactly why I was lobbying for Pittsburgh to move up a few spots for Christian Darrisaw or take Teven Jenkins with the 24th overall pick.
The Steelers lost two offensive tackles this offseason: Alejandro Villanueva, who manned the left tackle position for the past 6 years, and Matt Feiler, who is a right tackle by trade. In their place, Pittsburgh brought in two offensive tackles this offseason. They signed former Buccaneers OT Joe Haeg and drafted Dan Moore Jr. in the 4th round of the 2021 NFL Draft.
Mike Tomlin mentioned this offseason that the plan is to play Chukwuma Okorafor at left tackle with Zach Banner resuming the role that he played prior to tearing his ACL at right tackle.
As far as the interior offensive line is concerned, I do think the Steelers are going to be improved from where they were last year. Standout rookie Kevin Dotson is now locked into a full-time role at left guard, and David DeCastro is no longer dealing with a lingering knee issue. In addition, Kendrick Green may even be an upgrade over a washed-up Maurkice Pouncey at center at this point. However, I worry about the tackle position this year – left tackle in particular.
Is Dan Moore Jr. Steelers best option at LT?
Chukwuma Okorafor was a former swing tackle for the Steelers, but he has played primarily right tackle in his first three NFL seasons. Unfortunately, what we have seen from him has been less than spectacular, as Okorafor graded out as one of the worst tackles in the league last season, according to Pro Football Focus.
This begs the question: could Dan Moore Jr. be the best bet for the Steelers at left tackle? This would certainly be a tall task. It’s hard enough for fourth-round rookies to come in and make a difference right away, but playing a position as complicated as left tackle is even more challenging. However, it’s not impossible.
Last year, the Steelers were able to take a fourth-round pick out of Lousiana Lafeyette and turn him into a quality guard. I’m of course referring to Kevin Dotson. However, guard is a position that is easier to fill. Still, there are some traits that could make Dan Moore Jr. the right man for the job at left tackle.
While both Moore and Okorafor are considered to be athletic offensive tackles, Moore tested considerably higher in every athletic metric prior to entering the NFL Draft. According to Relative Athletic Score, Moore Jr. tested in approximately the 90th percentile of NFL tackles in terms of athleticism.
Though testing numbers don’t mean a whole lot for many positions, size and athleticism are requirements for left tackles as they are asked to contain speed rushers from pursuing the blindside of the quarterback.
The foot quickness is not an issue. While Moore could use some refinement on his technique and could stand to play more physically at times, he is remarkably quick-footed – which is probably the trait that made him most desirable for the Steelers in round four. We know that Matt Canada is going to run a zone-blocking offense, and he needs offensive linemen who can really move.
It’s unlikely that Dan Moore Jr. is able to see the field much in his rookie season, let alone get the nod as the starting left tackle; however, it’s not out of the realm of possibility. Moore is an extremely talented offensive lineman, and if he can make strides throughout training camp, perhaps he will be given the opportunity to supplant Chukwuma Okorafor sometime during his rookie season.