The Pittsburgh Steelers didn’t make a mistake extending the contract of Chukwuma Okorafor this offseason. Here’s why he has been so good early in 2022.
If I told you during the 2022 offseason that Chukwuma Okorafor was going to be the best player on the Pittsburgh Steelers offense in the upcoming season, you would have thought I was crazy. Back in March, the organization signed Okorafor to a three-year contract, and many fans thought the team overpaid. I was guilty of thinking this as well.
Early in his NFL career, the developmental offensive tackle failed to impress. When he became a full-time starter for the team in 2020, most viewed him as the weakest link on the offense. However, just two years later, the script has completely flipped.
While we are only two games into the 2022 season, Chukwuma Okorafor has been far more than serviceable; he’s been outstanding. In fact, Pro Football Focus has him as the 4th-highest graded offensive tackle in the NFL right now among 66 qualifying players. In Week 2 against the Patriots, he earned an 84.6 overall grade, according to PFF. His previous career high was 76.7 in 2021 against the Minnesota Vikings.
This isn’t just some arbitrary number. Though many fans take PFF ratings with a grain of salt, and I understand why. However, I’m here to say that I can vouch for Okorafor’s excellent play. After re-watching the game and breaking down the all-22 film, it’s evident that Chuks has made incredible strides. His footwork and technique are excellent so far and he has developed into a much more imposing run-blocker.
His pass protection has been equally as impressive, as he rarely allows his man to even sniff the quarterback. Right now, there’s no contest: Chukwuma Okorafor is the best offensive lineman on the team. But could he also be the best overall offensive player on the Pittsburgh Steelers at this point?
Is Okorafor Steelers best offensive player so far?
Unfortunately, there’s no way to measure this objectively, and everyone is going to draw their own conclusions. From my own analysis after watching each of the first two games multiple times and breaking down the coach’s film, I would say that Okorafor is not only the best offensive player on the team right now, but he’s also one of the most important.
To me, Okorafor and Diontae Johnson have been in a tier of their own so far above the rest of the offensive players on the Steelers. While Johnson’s efficiency has taken a hit early in 2022, these numbers are largely on the quarterback. I still see a receiver who can separate at an elite level and has made some very tough catches this year.
The fact that we are even talking about Okorafor and Johnson on the same level shows how good Chuks has been for this team so far in 2022. The good news is not only that the arrow is currently pointed up, but also that we should expect this trend to continue.
Okorafor was very young entering the NFL, and he just recently turned 25 years old. Already having two years of starting experience under his belt at this point has no doubt helped aid in his development, and he’s still years away from the prime of his career as an NFL offensive tackle.
Though we should probably still expect some ups and downs at times, Steelers fans should be thrilled with the step Chukwuma Okorafor has taken in 2022. By the end of the season, we might be looking at him as the best overall player on Pittsburgh’s offense.