Success of Steelers offensive line in 2022 could hinge on one player

Dan Moore Jr. #65 of the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
Dan Moore Jr. #65 of the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) /

The Pittsburgh Steelers still have major questions along the offensive line following the NFL Draft. Here is one player who must have a good season in 2022.

The 2022 NFL Draft is now in the rearview mirror and we currently have a very clear picture of how the roster is going to shape up for the upcoming season. I loved that the Pittsburgh Steelers were able to find some exciting players on offense in addition to adding a quality defensive lineman.

Sadly, one area that was completely neglected once again was the offensive line. Last year, fans were optimistic about the new generation of offensive lineman. Despite losing players like Maurkice Pouncey, David DeCastro, Alejandro Villanueva, and Matt Feiler, some fans were convinced that their 2021 offensive line would somehow be an improvement. It was not.

With four very young players on the offensive line, Pittsburgh really struggled to be consistent in both run blocking and pass protection. While this unit flashed at times, the overall results were not good.

The Steelers at least made some effort to improve the offensive line this offseason through free agency. Though I didn’t understand the Mason Cole signing, I thought James Daniels has been a very good player for the Bears early in his career.

We may not know exactly how Pittsburgh’s starting OL will look next year, but for the most part, we can make a pretty accurate guess. Chukwuma Okorafor was signed to an extension to man the right tackle position moving forward while James Daniels and Kevin Dotson are the current project starters at guard.

The center position gets a bit trickier. After Kendrick Green struggled mightily in 2021, it could be a three-way battle between Green, Cole, and J.C. Hassenauer. However, as is the case with most teams, so much relies on the left tackle position.

Dan Moore is most important offensive lineman for Steelers

Dan Moore Jr. was thrown into the fire as a rookie in 2021. Despite being a fourth-round draft choice, the former Texas A&M product surprisingly started 16 games at left tackle in his first NFL season.

There were flashes of good play at times, but they were few and far between. Moore was routinely beaten due to poor technique or being late off the snap. Fortunately, these are issues that appeared to make some improvement late in the season, and there is hope that he could be better in year two.

Fortunately, Moore’s struggles aren’t caused by a lack of traits. At 6’5 5/8” and 311 pounds with a remarkable 83 1/2” wingspan, Moore has prototype size for the left tackle position and he tested as roughly a 90th percentile athlete, according to his Relative Athletic Score.

However, there is far more that goes into playing the left tackle position than size and traits. Last year, Moore graded out as just the 72nd best offensive tackle in the NFL among 83 qualifying players, via Pro Football Focus.

As Pittsburgh’s blindside protector, the Steelers need to see that Moore is a player they can count on. There’s a reason why left tackles are generally one of the highest-paid positions in all of football. They are incredibly important to a team’s success on offense.

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While there certainly could be other players who struggle on the offensive line this year, how well Dan Moore plays at the most important position on the offensive line could dictate the type of success the Steelers could have on offense this year. If the 23-year-old offensive tackle takes a big leap forward, this unit could be much better than it was in 2021.